Attractions in Wales

12 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Wales

The smallest of the British mainland states, Wales offers many wonderful reasons to visit. The south includes cosmopolitan Cardiff, a good base from which to explore the rest of the country. With its beautiful castle, arcades and historic buildings, it is a city with many places to visit and do. When you’re ready to venture further afield, you’ll find an abundance of attractions, including more than 400 castles and fortifications, gardens, breathtaking scenery and heritage railways. However you decide to spend your time in Wales, you can be assured that you are in good hands; the Welsh are some of the most interesting, easy-going people you will find anywhere.

1 Snowdonia

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Snowdonia

Think of Wales and you’ll probably think of Snowdonia, the beautiful range of mountains and hills in the county of Gwynedd. Comprising 14 majestic peaks over 3,000 feet high – the most famous being the 3,546 foot Snowdon the summit is accessible by train – Snowdonia can be seen as far away as Porthmadog on the West Coast. When you’re here, it’s easy to understand why the area has been featured so often in local legends, including the legends of King Arthur , who locals will insist was Welsh. Snowdonia National Park is also one of the most popular walking and climbing destinations in Britain, stretching from the coast all the way to Bala Lake .

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Snowdonia

Read also: 25 Top-Rated Things to Do in Wales

2 Brecon Beacons National Park

Brecon Beacons National Park
Brecon Beacons National Park
 

Brecon Beacons National Park encompasses one of the most beautiful parts of Wales. This hiker’s paradise is bordered by two very different sets of Black Mountains . The first, to the west, is the source of the River Usk , while to the east the range is known for its wild ponies. Most of the mountains in this 520-square-mile park are higher than 1,000 feet, many more than 2,000 feet, and are named for the red sandstone that makes them resemble the beacons of light once used to warn of intruders. Be sure to explore the park’s many caves and waterfalls, especially Henrhyd Falls on Coelbren . Just outside the park, near Abergavenny, you can visit a coal mine called Big Pit National Coal Museum .

Accommodation: Where to stay near Brecon Beacons National Park

3 Devil’s Bridge south of Hafod Estate

Devil's Bridge south of Hafod Estate
Devil’s Bridge south of Hafod Estate
 

Located 12 miles from the seaside town of Aberystwyth , Devil’s Bridge is actually three bridges spectacularly stacked on top of each other, the oldest dating from the 11th century and the newest built in 1901. They span the Rheidol Gorge , where the River Mynach plunges 300 feet deep into the valley. Follow the Falls Nature Trail to the bottom. It’s a bit of a return climb – especially those steep, slippery steps of Jacob’s Ladder , the segment leading to the oldest bridge – but the views are incredible.

Then visit Hafod Estate , 200 acres of lovingly restored woodlands and 18th-century gardens once considered the finest in Britain. Although the mansion is long gone, visitors can enjoy pleasant walks along well-marked paths past waterfalls, ancient trees and the estate’s ancient walled formal gardens. And if you’re looking for an idyllic cottage holiday, the beautiful old Hawthorn Cottage offers guests an unforgettable experience.

Address: Hafod Estate, Pontrhydygroes, Ystrad-Meurig, Ceredigion

Official site: www.hafod.org

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Aberystwyth

4 Wales per spoor

Wales per spoor
Wales per spoor
 

Wales was once famous for its mining activities, in particular the mining of slate used for roofing is still so common here. While most of these mines and pits have closed, the narrow gauge railways used to move goods (and later Victorian-era tourists) across the country have been restored and now offer scenic excursions. More than 10 heritage railway lines reach some of the most popular sights, including mountains, seaside resorts and castles, just by hopping on a steam train. Many of the larger lines, such as the 14 mile-long Ffestiniog Railway loop through Snowdonia National Park, offer unique training courses and volunteer opportunities to add to the experience.

Official site: www.greatlittletrainsofwales.co.uk

5 Caernarfon Castle

Caernarfon Castle
Caernarfon Castle
 

Built by King Edward I in the 13th century as a seat for the first Prince of Wales, Caernarfon Castle is one of the largest castles in the country. With its 13 towers and two gates, this massive castle is recognized as one of the most impressive and best-preserved medieval fortresses in Europe. Located on the site of an even older Norman castle, Caernarfon Castle dominates the waters of the River Seiont and the Strait of Menai on one side and is protected by a moat on the other. Its royal heritage continues to this day and in 1969 it was the scene of Prince Charles’s investiture as Prince of Wales .

Accommodation: where to stay in Caernarfon

6 Conwy

Conwy Castle
Conwy Castle
 

On the north coast of Wales, a short distance from Manchester, Conwy offers something for everyone: a beautiful castle, medieval architecture and plenty of shops. The best views of Conwy Castle and River Conwy , with its suspension bridge designed by Thomas Telford, are of the 13th-century city walls built by King Edward I to keep the Welsh at bay. The National Trust’s Aberconwy House is Conwy’s only surviving 14th-century merchant’s house and one of the first buildings built within the town walls. Other interesting houses include the Elizabethan Plas Mawr , and the Smallest House in Britain .

Official site: www.visitconwy.com/homesub.php

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Conwy

7 Pembrokeshire Coast

Pembrokeshire coast
Pembrokeshire coast
 

Wales is surrounded by water on three sides and has plenty of dramatic coastline. Some of the most impressive can be found along the coast of the Pembrokeshire Peninsula, which overlooks the Irish Sea. You can explore it on foot along the dramatic Pembrokeshire Coast National Trail , finding villages such as the picturesque little town of Tenby, still partly enclosed by its medieval walls. Other highlights of the Pembrokeshire coast include Pembroke Castle , St. David’s Cathedral (in the town of the same name), and idyllic fishing ports such as Laugharne , where Welsh poet Dylan Thomas lived much of his life; his boathouse above the bay is now a museum. As elsewhere in Wales, adventurous travelers can find unique places to stay, including classic old farm cottages, gypsy wagons or vintage railway carriages.

Accommodation: where to stay along the Pembrokeshire coast

8 Portmeirion

Portmeirion
Portmeirion
 

Portmeirion is a beautiful hotel resort and visitor attraction on the coast of Snowdonia National Park in Gwynedd , North Wales . Built between 1925 and 1975 by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, Portmeirion was designed to resemble a typical Italian fishing village. Overnight visitors get the whole place to themselves once the gates are closed, when they can explore the beautiful gardens, fountains, church and coastal paths of the lower village. This has been the location for countless films and TV shows, including the cult 1960s show, The Prisoner .

Address: Minffordd, Penrhyndeudraeth, Gwynedd

Official site: www.portmeirion-village.com

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Portmeirion

9 Bodnant Garden

Treurige laburnum in Bodnant Garden
Treurige laburnum in Bodnant Garden
 

Bodnant Garden, a legacy of the National Trust, is one of the most beautiful gardens in Britain, created over many years by generations of the McLaren family and brought to its current height by the 2nd Lord Aberconway. Highlights of the spectacular gardens include the grand formal terraces , overlooking the River Conwy and Snowdonia, and the famous Laburnum Arch . This curving walk of about 50 meters is covered in golden rain, whose profuse, long blossoms cover it in cascades of yellow in late May and early June. Spring is also when the Dell, a deep valley where trees tower over streams, blooms with rhododendrons. But the wide variety of flowering plants ensures that the gardens are full of color all season long. Among the trees are 40 UK Champion Trees , rated the best examples of their species in Britain. The elegant Georgian Pin Mill moved here from Gloucestershire.

Address: Bodnant Rd, Tal-y-cafn, Colwyn Bay

Official site: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bodnant-garden

10 Pontcysyllte-aquaduct en Llangollen-kanaal

Pontcysyllte-aquaduct en Llangollen-kanaal
Pontcysyllte-aquaduct en Llangollen-kanaal
 

It took 10 years to design and build the aqueduct that carries the Llangollen Canal across the wide valley of the River Dee in North East Wales, and it remains a feat of civil engineering, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site . The 18-arch bridge is built of stone and cast iron, the arches rise 100 feet above the river and are over 1000 feet long. In 1801, when the aqueduct was built, canals were an important means of transportation for manufactured goods and raw materials, and aqueducts were a more efficient means of carrying them across deep valleys than canal lock steps. This is the longest navigable aqueduct in Britain and the highest in the world. A narrow walkway with a railing allows pedestrians to cross the bridge, but it is much more fun to cross it on a tour boat . It is not for those with acrophobia, as the boat sits high on the shallow channel, and it is a long way to the river. For a less vertigo-inducing ride, horse-drawn tour boats take tourists on a shady stretch of the canal from nearby Llangollen wharf.

Location: Llangollen Wharf

Official site: www.pontcysyllte-aqueduct.co.uk

11 Anglesey

Anglesey
Anglesey
 

Separated from mainland Wales by the mile-wide Menai Strait – spanned by the Menai Suspension Bridge (1818) – the Isle of Anglesey is home to a number of quaint little fishing villages dotted along its more than 100 miles of attractive coastline. Along with its sandy beaches and landmarks such as South Stack Lighthouse , the island’s mild climate makes it popular for day trippers and campers. The smaller Holy Island , linked to Anglesey by bridge, is a popular holiday resort with two promenades (one of them 1.5 miles long), while the small Salt Island offers fantastic views and an opportunity for birdwatching. Finally, one of the world’s most famous photo ops is on the railway platforms of the city with the world’s longest place name: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllandysiliogogogoch.

Accommodation: where to stay in Anglesey

12 Llandudno

Llandudno
Llandudno
 

Dubbed as the “Queen of Welsh Resorts”, Llandudno is the largest seaside resort in Wales. Located on the north coast overlooking the Irish Sea, this picture-perfect tourist destination lies between the Welsh mainland and the Great Orme, a peninsula that has been inhabited since the Stone Age. The town’s unique promenade is free of the usual seaside shops and cafes, cleverly placed behind the seafront to offer Victorian visitors a more peaceful experience. The best views of the city and surrounding area are from the Great Orme , easily reached by a historic tram line. Well connected by rail and road, Llandudno is a good base for exploring Wales’ spectacular north coast.

Official site: www.visitllandudno.org.uk

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Llandudno

More must-see destinations in and near Wales

The vibrant capital Cardiff is a good place to start your trip and a good base from which to explore South Wales. Cardiff is not far from the interesting port city of Bristol, just across the border in England. When exploring the beautiful mountains and countryside of North Wales, consider popping over the border to visit Chester, a charming walled city on a canal.

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