Did you know that Wales has more castles per square km than anywhere else in Europe? That’s just one of the many reasons to visit Wales. We’re rounding up all the top places to visit in Wales that will entice you to add it to the top of your UK bucket list. Wales, one of the four nations that make up the United Kingdom, has often been overlooked in favor of its more prominent neighbors: England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland but once you visit Wales you’ll wonder why you never thought of it earlier.
Places to Visit in Wales
This tiny country is filled with imposing castles, striking landscapes, and amazing adventures. The Welsh are a quirky bunch who like to jump off things, dangle high in the sky, and speak an entirely different language. With a rich history and a land filled with imposing castles, Wales is also a fantastic destination for culture as much as it is for adventure.
So get ready to learn a phrase or two of the Welsh language, get your adrenaline on, and step back in time because we are going to share all the best places to visit in Wales that will make you want to pack your bags right now.
1. Snowdonia National Park
Snowdonia National Park in North Wales is one of three national parks in the country and it tops our list for its pure beauty. Located in northwestern Wales, the park covers over 800 square miles of rolling hills, lakes, and a vast rugged landscape.
Adventure lovers will love exploring the Snowdon mountains and they can hike the many trails to explore the incredible mountain views. The star attraction is going to the summit of Mount Snowdon, the highest peak in all of Wales standing proud at 1085 meters (3645 feet). Want to hike up the Snowdon Mountain Summit? Book this guided hike with an expert guide.
2. Snowdon Mountain Railway
If you have limited time, you can take the Snowdon Mountain Railway up to Britain’s highest visitor center. The century-old narrow-gauge railway opened in 1896 and its historic steam train travels up five miles to the peak of Mount Snowdon.
When you arrive you get out to do some hiking and take in the extraordinary views from the 1085-meter (3645-foot) peak. You can take the train back down or hike down the mountain. Watch our video of our trip up to Mountain Snowdon
Llanberis is a great place to make a base when exploring Snowdonia National Park. Plus there is plenty to see including the National Slate Museum, and another historic railway, the Llanberis Steam Railway.
Besides Snowdon Mountain, Snowdonia National Park houses 14 mountains over 3000 feet making it one of the best-hiking destinations in the United Kingdom. Climbing, mountain biking, and horseback riding are also popular in Snowdonia.
This sunrise hike takes you from the village of Llanberis for an early morning hike to watch the sunrise from the top of Snowdon/Yr Wyddfa with a qualified mountain guide.
Places to Stay in Llanberis
4. Bounce Below
Bounce Below is a giant underground trampoline that offers adults playtime in the ultimate jungle gym. The series of trampolines, nets, ladders, and slides make for a heart-pounding experience that gives as many thrills as it does laughs.
Located at Llechwedd Slate Caverns in Blaenau Ffestiniog, the cave is twice the size of St. Paul’s Cathedral and is the result of an old mining quarry. Let me tell you it’s huge so give yourself at least a half day to enjoy this! Read more: Bounce Below – The Ultimate Underground Trampoline for the Kid in You!
The Llechwedd Slate Caverns is definitely the place to visit for unique adventures. After jumping around at Bounce Below, make sure to do the Via Ferrata and Zip Line. This hair-raising course takes three hours to complete and takes you through a dozen zip lines while you traverse along high cliffs plunging to the caverns below.
There are caves, ropes, and bridges to cross and it’s an excellent adventure for those seeking something unique to do in Wales. If you want something really fast, head outside to the Titan Zipline, it’s the fastest in Europe!
6. Portmeirion Tourist Village
One of the most unique places in Wales is the Italian-style town of Portmeirion. Portmeirion is a quirky tourist village in Gwynedd, Wales. Nobody lives in this town, but it’s a wonderful stop on your visit to Wales that gives a quiet retreat in a very different destination.
It was designed by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis who modeled Portmeirion after the Italian Riviera village of Portofino located very close to the Cinque Terre.
Spend a day eating ice cream and have some hot coffee with fresh scones and cream as you explore the fairytale village. Or better yet, stay overnight at the Portmeirion Hotel where you feel as if you have stepped back in time.
We loved our stay at Hotel Portmeirion – The advantage of staying here is you have most of the village to yourself in the morning and evening before and after the tour busses have left.
Llandudno is the Queen of the Welsh Resorts. It is the largest seaside resort in Wales situated on a narrow strip of sand that connects the Welsh mainland and the Great Orme. The splendid Welsh resorts of Llandudno and Conwy lie between two gorgeous sandy beaches. The Hop on Hop Off bus offers two different routes to enjoy views all the top attractions.
Llandudno has two wonderful beaches, making the perfect place to visit in the summer. Its beautiful seaside promenade makes for a lovely stroll out to the pier that juts 700-meters (2,300-foot) into the bay. Be sure to hop on the Great Orme Tramway, the only cable-hauled tramway on a public road in Great Britain.
We stayed at Llandudno Bay Hotel and loved it. This boutique hotel is located on the Llandudno Promenade with sea views.
8. Conwy Castle
Wales is the castle capital of Europe and one of our favorite castles to visit in Wales is Conway Castle in North Wales. Commissioned by Edward I, Conwy Castle has stood the test of time since it was built between 1283 and 1289. It is considered one of the greatest fortresses in Europe and is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This magnificent castle has imposing walls taht have stood the test of time that still surround the grounds and small town of Conway today. When you go inside Conwy Castle, you’ll witness the great hall, chambers, and kitchen, and a more secluded inner ward with private chambers and a royal chapel.
When visiting Conway, be sure to stop and see Britain’s finest townhouse of the golden Elizabethan age the Elizabethan Plas Mawr, and the Smallest House in Great Britain.
9. Harlech Castle
Harlech Castle is the most dramatic fortress from Edward I’s 13th-century ‘iron ring’. and is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is located in the town of Harlech in west Wales, in the county of Gwynedd. Looking over Tremadog Bay from the top of a sea cliff is a stunning view.
Harlech Castles is one of the top places in Wales to see. Make sure to go inside to explore the castle tower. If you’d like to visit the castle, it opens at 10:00 am and costs £6.90 pp
10. Great Orme
Witness the towering cliffs of the Great Orme in North Wales to see fantastic wildlife, from seals to seabirds as you take a Sea Fishing trip in North Wales. We hopped aboard a fishing boat to learn all about lobster fishing.
This unique adventure takes people out on this unique adventure where you board his fishing boat to check his lobster traps in the bays.
Not only do you learn how to catch a lobster, but to also understand the conservation of this popular seafood entrée known as the Black Gold of the Sea. For more information on fishing trips and lobster safaris to the Great Orme visit: Sea Fishing Trips North Wales
11. Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
One of the most picturesque scenes in Wales is the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct that carries the Llangollen Canal across the River Dee. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is the highest canal aqueduct in the world.
Its 18 arches rise 38 meters (126 ft) feet into the air spanning 1000 feet. Pedestrians can walk beside the water or you can take a canal boat. But if you are looking for something adventurous, try taking a guided canoe tour
12. Pembrokeshire Coast National Park
One of the wildest and most rugged places to see in Wales is the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park located on the West coast of Wales. The best way to explore the Pembrokeshire Coast is by going Coasteering. Coasteering was invented in Wales and we decided that if we were ever going to give the adrenaline adventure of Coasteering a try anywhere, it would be here. Check it out here.
Coasteering is a unique adventure sport or coastal exploration where you traverse along the coast of Wales by rock climbing, cliff jumping, and swimming into sea caves. It offers remarkable views and as much adventure as you desire. You can jump from 10 meters or you can simply slip easily into the sea. We went Coasteering with Preseliventure, book your adventure here.
13. Pembrokeshire Coast Path
If you don’t want to jump in the water, you can hike the Pembrokeshire Coast Path. It covers a distance of 186 miles (299 km) along the west coast of Wales and offers some of the most breathtaking coastal scenery in the world. The Pembrokeshire Coast Path takes you through rugged sea cliffs, sandy beaches, and churning waters of the Irish Sea.
The Pembrokeshire Coast Path is divided into 14 sections, each offering a unique and unforgettable experience. Some of the highlights include the dramatic cliffs at St. David’s Head, the secluded beaches at Barafundle Bay and Marloes Sands, and the picturesque harbor at Solva.
Hiking the entire path usually takes around two weeks, but there are plenty of shorter sections that can be completed in a day or two.
14. St. David’s Cathedral
While in Pembrokeshire make sure to visit St. David’s Cathedral located in the heart of the city of St. David’s. Within the cathedral is the Shrine of St. David, which is believed to contain the remains of the Patron Saint of Wales. The shrine is adorned with intricate carvings and is a place of pilgrimage for many visitors to the cathedral.
The cathedral has a long rich history, dating back to the 6th century when The Patron St. David founded a monastery on the site. The original building was made of wood and was later replaced with a stone church in the 12th century. Over the centuries, the cathedral was expanded and rebuilt several times, resulting in the structure that stands today.
Visitors can take a guided tour of the cathedral to learn more about Welsh history and architecture, or simply explore the many nooks and crannies of the building on their own. St. David’s Cathedral is considered one of the holiest sites in the country
The village of Porthgain is so picturesque that the BBC Movie, The Finest with Bill Nighy and Sam Claflin of Hunger Games fame shot here while we visited. There is an excellent pub that you must stop in for a pint, the Slooth, and it is also a picturesque coastal walk that is so perfect, that the Red Bull Cliff Diving Event took place here in 2013.
You don’t have to jump off the massive cliffs, but walking along the coast offers extraordinary views of the coast of Wales. For hiking this is an excellent place in Wales.
16. Gower Peninsula
If you are looking for another place in Wales for beaches, the Gower Peninsula in South Wales is known for its long sandy beaches and clear waters. Rhossili Bay is an iconic beach with dramatic sea cliffs stretching 3 miles (5.8km) to Worm’s Head which got its name from the Viking word for a sea serpent.
Some beaches to check out in the Gower Peninsula include Llangennith Beach, Three Cliffs Bay, Oxwich Bay, and Rhossili Bay. Caswell Bay is popular with surfers.
Cardiff is the capital city of Wales and no trip would be complete without visiting this bustling urban center. It’s a great place to make a base while exploring South Wales and there are plenty of things to see and do.
Book this Cardiff guided Walking Tour with a local guide to admire the Cardiff Castle, National Museum of Wales, Cathays Park, and the Cardiff Civic Centre which was built during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
A good place to make a base is Hotel Indigo located in the heart of Cardiff near all the major attractions including the castle, St David’s Hall and principality stadium.
18. Cardiff Castle
One of the most popular things to do in Wales is to visit Cardiff Castle. This medieval castle is located in the heart of the city and dates back more than 2000 years. In the 11th century, the castle was the seat of the Welsh king, Rhys ap Tewdwr, and later served as the residence of various powerful Welsh lords and princes.
In the late 13th century, the castle was seized by English forces under the command of King Edward I, who rebuilt and expanded the fortress to help secure his hold over Wales.
Today, visitors to Cardiff Castle can explore its ornate Gothic-style mansion, its impressive clock tower, and the Welsh Military Museum.
19. National Museum Cardiff
If you are a history buff, the National Museum Cardiff is not to be missed. The building features a stunning atrium, a beautiful rooftop garden, and a range of galleries and exhibition spaces ranging from historic artifacts to contemporary art.
There are permanent and temporary exhibits that are fun for the whole family. Kids will love the interactive exhibits where they can explore a replica Victorian schoolroom, try on medieval armor, and learn about Welsh history, myths and legends.
One of the best things about the National Museum of Cardiff is that admission is free.
20. Carreg Cennen Castle
There are more than 100 castles to explore in Wales that are in excellent condition and there are countless more ruins. We were told that if there is one castle to visit, make it Carreg Cennen Castle just north of Cardiff.
This dramatic fortress is part of King Edward I’s 13th-century ‘iron ring. They weren’t lying when someone told us that we can often be the only person there. We had it all to ourselves. The castle’s walls are still standing but what makes this castle so special is the fact that it is in ruins.
21. Brecon Beacons National Park
The third installment of the three national parks to visit in Wales is Brecon Beacons National Park is an outdoor lovers paradise. From stargazing to mountain biking its rolling hills, there is something for everyone. With four mountain ranges, there are plenty of places to explore within its 520 square miles.
Brecon Beacons National Park houses the Fforest Fawr UNESCO Global Geopark and it is a dark sky preserve. The Beacons Way is a 100 mile route through the national park and the Taff Trail is a long-distance cycling route that goes through the park from Brecon to Cardiff.
Book this adrenaline adventure from Cardiff to Brecon Beacons. Start with a guided tour of world famous Rhondda Valley in Southeast Wales before beginning your adrenaline-fuelled adventure of canyoning, swimming, and jumping into crystal clear mountain streams
Llandeilo is another picturesque fishing village in the county of Carmarthenshire in Wales and is a good base to explore Dinefwr Castle and Park, the Brecon Beacons National Park, and the Carreg Cennen Castle. When in Llandeilo, you will also be near two notable Gardens – The National Botanic Garden of Wales and Aberglaseny Gardens.
Llandeilo has a history that dates back over 1,000 years, and there are a number of historic landmarks to explore in the town. One of the most notable is the ruined Llandeilo Castle, which dates back to the 13th century and offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside.
Llandeilo is particularly famous for its food scene, with a number of high-quality restaurants and cafes serving up delicious Welsh cuisine and locally sourced produce.
One of the most colorful places in Wales is the lovely seaside town of Aberaeron. Make sure to try its honey ice cream in which has been locally made by the Holgate family for 35 years.
We stayed at the Harbour Master Hotel, a lovely hotel overlooking the sea with a great restaurant. Aberaeron is also known as the Lobster Capital of Wales, so be sure to enjoy locally caught lobster in the evening.
24. Devil’s Bridge Falls
Devil’s Bridge is a village named after the bridge it is famous for. It has been a tourist attraction since the 1700s. Devil’s Bridge is actually a series of three bridges built on top of one another. The original dates back to medieval times. Instead of demolishing the bridges when they became unstable, they simply built another atop them.
Legend has it that it got its name after an old woman lost her cow and saw it grazing on the other side of the river. The Devil appeared and agreed to build a bridge in return for the soul of the first living thing to cross it.
So, when the bridge was completed the woman threw a crust of bread for her dog to retrieve. When the dog jumped over the bridge, it was the first living thing to cross the bridge.
Aberystwyth is a seaside town in West Wales, in the county of Ceredigion. One of the main attractions in Aberystwyth is its beach, which is a long stretch of golden sand that is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports.
The beach is backed by a promenade that offers stunning views of Cardigan Bay, and there are a range of cafes, restaurants, and bars nearby where visitors can enjoy a meal or a drink.
Aberystwyth is also home to a number of historic landmarks and attractions, including Aberystwyth Castle, which dates back to the 13th century and offers stunning views of the town and the surrounding countryside.
Other notable landmarks include the National Library of Wales, which houses a collection of Welsh books and manuscripts, and the Vale of Rheidol Railway, which takes visitors on a scenic journey through the Welsh countryside.
26. Caernarfon Castle
Located in the town of Caernarfon, Gwynedd, in North Wales, Caernarfon Castle is a medieval castle that was built by King Edward I. A Unesco World Heritage Site, the castle was built between 1283 and 1330, with the intention of serving as a royal palace and a military stronghold. King Edward, I wanted to make a statement about his conquest of Wales and to reinforce the English Crown’s authority over the Welsh people.
The castle has a connection with the Prince of Wales began in 1911, the future King Edward VIII was invested here as the Prince of Wales. Since then, the investiture of each new Prince of Wales has taken place at Caernarfon Castle.
The castle features a series of impressive towers and ramparts. One of the most notable features of the castle is its polygonal towers that visitors can climb to the top for views of the surrounding Welsh countryside.
27. Hay on Wye
Hay on Wye is the country’s national book town located in Powys near the border with England. The town is famous for its large number of second-hand and antiquarian bookshops, as well as its annual literary festival. The Hay Festival has been running since 1988.
The festival is a celebration of literature, arts, and culture, and brings together a wide range of writers, poets, artists, and musicians from around the world. The Hay Festival takes place over 10 days in Mid May and June in Hay on Wye and has featured the likes of Margaret Atwood, Bill Clinton, and Salman Rushdie.
Hay on Wye was founded in the early 19th century as a market town, but it became famous in the 1960s when Richard Booth, a local bookseller, began promoting the town as a center for books. Today, Hay on Wye has around 20 bookshops, many of which are located in historic buildings and offer a wide range of rare and unusual books.
28. Center of Alternative Technology
To step out of history for a bit, The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) is a great change of pace. Thie educational and research center located in Machynlleth, Wales was founded in 1973 by a group of activists and environmentalists who wanted to promote sustainable living and demonstrate practical solutions for a low-carbon future.
CAT is set on a 7-acre site and is home to a variety of educational exhibits and interactive displays. Visitors can learn about renewable energy, organic gardening, sustainable building techniques, and many other topics related to sustainability and environmentalism.
Getting Around Wales
The best way to get around Wales is by rental car. We flew into Machester, England, and picked up our car at the airport before heading out to explore Wales in a counter-clockwise direction. It was a great route to see all the top Wales attractions over the course of 8 days in Wales. Check rental car prices at RentalCars.com
The Welsh Language can be a bit of a tongue twister to get your head around but don’t worry everyone speaks English in Wales. The hardest part of the trip is just trying to read some of the signs. But then again, isn’t learning another language part of the fun of traveling?
So there you have it! These are our recommendations for the best places in Wales. From its imposing castles to rugged coast, there are so many things to do in Wales, I’m surprised it isn’t on more people’s radar.
While writing this article, it made me want to go back. There is still so much more to see and do. What’s your favorite place in Wales?
Read More About Travel in Great Britain
Our trip to Wales was in partnership with Visit Britain and Visit Wales