What comes to mind when the country of Wales is mentioned? Luscious green fields, majestic mountain ranges, and glistening lakes that create remarkable countryside scenery. A long and rich history intertwined with quite a distinct culture and preserved through remarkable castles. Being a part of the United Kingdom, Wales has long attracted tourists from all over the world. But what really makes this proud Welsh nation striking is all of those factors combined. It’s probably one of those destinations that many dreams of visiting. And if you do plan on visiting soon, you’re in luck because we’ve listed some of the best places to visit in Wales, UK!
Towards the southern part of Wales lies its capital, Cardiff. The country’s largest city, Cardiff is the seat of commercial activity in all of Wales. The government, also known as the National Assembly, as well as the media and other cultural institutions, are all found here. It’s no wonder why Cardiff receives the most tourists in Wales. Once the world’s largest coal port, Cardiff is as bustling as ever. Shopping districts flourish around Queen Street and St. Mary Street, with commercial establishments like those of St. David’s Center and Castle Quarter. Many art centers and cultural sites are also spread throughout the city, so there is something for everyone to see in Cardiff!
City Sightseeing Cardiff Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
Duration: 55 minutes
Abergavenny is a small town in Wales located about 6 miles (10 kilometers) from the English border. It’s often called the Gateway to Wales and is considered a market town, which is a term coined during the Middle Ages that describes a European community hosting a number of markets instead of villages alone. In fact, Abergavenny hosts several markets on different days of the week. These range from flea markets, retail markets, farmers’ markets, craft fairs, and antique fairs. There’s also a Food Festival every September and an annual Arts Festival too! One of the popular tourist sites here is the Abergavenny Castle, a historic structure that dates back to 1087.
Address: A465 Hereford - Neath and A40 London-Fishguard road between Monmouth and Brecon
Located in the northwestern part of Wales, Caernarfon is the site of the famed Caernarfon Castle. What used to be a military fortress is now a breathtaking castle recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site and is one of the top tourist attractions in Wales. Fun fact: the inauguration of His Royal Highness Prince Charles as Prince of Wales was held at Caernarfon Castle in 1969! Aside from the iconic landmark, Caernarfon is also the best place in the world to hear the Celtic language as many of the locals speak Welsh over English. Caernarfon also serves as a jump point to many other places in North Wales.
Address: Gwynedd, Wales
Holyhead is a port city located within the Isle of Anglesey in North Wales. It serves as the port of entry and transportation of vessels to and from Dublin in Ireland. Because of its maritime nature, many of the things to do and see at Holyhead are closely related to the sea. Some of these include a visit to the Holyhead Maritime Museum, the Breakwater Lighthouse, and the Skerries Lighthouse. Of course, fishing and sailing are highly popular activities in the area. Alternatively, there’s also a nature trail at Holyhead Breakwater Country Park for those who prefer a change of scenery.
Address: Holy Island, Isle of Anglesey, North Wales
One of the more interesting towns in Wales is Aberystwyth, which is considered a University town because a great number of its population are students from the University of Wales. In addition to this, another academic institution is also located here: the National Library of Wales, one of UK’s copyright libraries that allow them the right to a copy of every published book in Britain. The National Library of Wales houses the largest collection of books, documentaries, photographs, maps and archives in all of Wales. Funnily enough, Aberystwyth is also known to have over 50 different pubs, which is not something you’d expect from an academic environment. However, these pubs have become a frequent hangout of university students so it’s quite understandable.
A quaint little town in South Wales, Chepstow can be found by the River Wye. Like Abergavenny, Chepstow has been labeled as a market town. Some of its key landmarks include the Chepstow Castle, an 11th-century castle, the Chepstow Museum just across it and the Priory Church of St. Mary, considered the town’s parish. Chepstow is also promoting itself with the slogan “Walkers are Welcome” because it’s considered as the starting point of any traveler who wishes to walk across the entire country’s coastline. Plus they have an annual Walking Festival every March!
Llangollen is a lovely little town in northeastern Wales surrounded by rolling green hills and the River Dee. It’s an ideal place to simply relax and enjoy the town’s ambiance and nature’s offers. Victoria’s Promenade and Riverside Park are among the best places to hang out and relax, perhaps even have a picnic. To get around, try the unique options like the steam railway or a horse-drawn boat. Llangollen prides itself as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, spanning from the Gledrid canal to the Horseshoe Falls.
Address: Denbighshire, Northeast Wales
The small town of Bala is part of a greater area known as the Welsh Lake District. It’s also located near the famed Snowdonia National Park and by Lake Bala, therefore you’re sure to have breathtaking views of the mountains, valleys, rivers, and lakes surrounding Bala. This picturesque little town is also considered a market town with various shops selling local produce, including Welsh butchers and delis. One of the most popular activities here is canoeing or more commonly called white water kayaking.
Abersoch is a lovely little coastal village located in the community of Llanengan in Gwynedd, Wales. People flock over to Abersoch mainly for seaside activities like surfing, windsurfing, and jet-skiing. Best to visit during the summer months because during the winter the place can get quite lonely. Just be prepared for the peak in tourists though! It’s also located close to Snowdonia National Park; in fact, Snowdon is seen from Abersoch Bay on sunny clear days.
Address: Llanengan, Gwynedd, Wales
About 12 miles (19 kilometers) northeast of the capital Cardiff lies Newport. Before Cardiff, Newport was the hub of coal production. Even today, it still remains a center for engineering, manufacturing, and commercial activities. The city is only 90 minutes by train from London’s city proper, so it’s a pretty reachable and urban area. Some of the top tourist destinations here include the Caerleon Roman Fortress, Newport Castle, the Transporter Bridge, and the Fourteen Locks Canal Centre.
Address: Monmouthshire, South Wales
Often visited simultaneously with neighboring town Rhyl, Prestatyn is a seaside community in the northeastern part of Wales. Aside from the usual beach activities, it’s also a perfect destination for nature lovers mainly because of Offa’s Dyke Path, perhaps Prestatyn’s top tourist attraction. The path is a 176 mile (283 kilometer) stretch of walkway which technically takes you through the border between England and Wales. Prestatyn is also home to many historical sites ranging from the prehistoric Neolithic period, the Roman occupation, the Medieval ages then onto the present day. The town also holds special events like an annual Flower Show every last Friday and Saturday of July and the Prestatyn Carnival that happens every summer.
Address: Denbighshire, Wales
Another lovely seaside town on the northwestern coast of Wales is Barmouth. Because of its location, there are a great many things to do in the outdoors - kayaking, cycling, paddle-boarding, swimming or even simply walking. It’s any nature lover’s paradise. Some also say that the sunsets here are some of the most beautiful they’ve ever seen. Explore the ports, harbors, and beaches in the area; if you’re lucky, you may even get to catch a sailing or yacht race!
Address: Gwynedd, northwestern Wales
Conwy is a historic walled city found on the northern coasts of Wales. The most notable historic sites include the Conwy castle, which was built along with the city walls by Edward I at the time of his conquest of Wales sometime in the 11th century. Other significant structures include the Conwy Suspension Bridge and the Conwy Railway Bridge. Conwy is also home to Britain’s Smallest House, as recorded by the Guinness Book of Records and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Address: Conwy County Borough, North Wales
Cardigan is a community in Ceredigion county located on the western coast of Wales by the River Teifi. Enjoy the scenic views of the heritage coastline of Cardigan Bay with its beautiful beaches, secluded coves, and pristine waters. If you’re lucky you might even get to catch sight of some dolphins or seals! Further inland you will find the Teifi Valley, a lush woodland teeming with wildlife. Wherever you go in Cardigan, it’s sure to be a picture-perfect spot!
Address: Ceredigion county, West Wales
Located next to the town of Conwy in the north is the lovely town of Llandudno, also a seaside getaway. Its Victorian-era style of houses makes it unique from other seaside towns. It is said that Queen Victoria herself was fond of this place. They have amazing beaches including Colwyn Bay Beach and Llandudno Beach. Other sites to see are the Llandudno pier and cable cars. Oh, and if you’re a fan of the story of Alice in Wonderland, Llandudno is a perfect place to learn about the story of Alice Liddell, the real Alice in Wonderland!
Llandudno City Sightseeing Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
Duration: 45 to 60 minutes
16. St. Davids
Known as the smallest city in the United Kingdom in terms of population and area, St Davids only has less than 2,000 residents. However, despite its small geography, it has a great history behind it. This is where Saint David, the patron saint of Wales, was laid to rest. Perhaps the most iconic landmark in this historical town is St David’s Cathedral, best admired from outside as well as inside because of its remarkable library. Other significant sites include the 14th-century Tower Gate and the Celtic Old Cross. Whitesands Bay is also a top tourist favorite because of the various water activities.
Porthmadog is a small coastal town with only about 4,000 people living in the area. There are also the nearby villages of Borth-y-Gest, Morfa Bychan, and Tremadog within its vicinity, which gives tourists more options to explore. Porthmadog also has great railways to see including the Ffestiniog Railway, Welsh Highland Railway and Welsh Highland Heritage Railway which will let you see the beautiful sceneries. Porthmadog is also a great place to hear the Welsh language at its best.
Address: Eifionydd, Gwynedd, West Wales
The second-largest city in Wales after Cardiff, Swansea is often called the second city of Wales. It has long been a top tourist destination because of its beautiful scenery from the rolling hills to the lush parks, and from the beautiful waterfalls to the sandy beaches. There are also several historical places to see like the Swansea Castle, Oystermouth Castle, and Arthur’s Stone. Make sure to not miss out on the many museums and cultural events either. Even if much of Swansea was destroyed during the air bombings of the Second World War, it still persevered and found a way to keep its reputation as a popular tourist spot.
Known to be the largest town in northern Wales, Wrexham enjoys both scenic views of old buildings and beautiful landscapes. It’s perfectly located between the Welsh mountains and the Dee Valley near the English border. Wrexham has quite the history as well. The town commemorates this through the Wrexham County Borough Museum, which was once a police station. There are also a number of other historical sites such as the Valley Crucis Abbey, Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, and Erddig Hall which have been preserved through the years. After touring the sites, go around for a bit of shopping as Wrexham is known to be a shopping district especially for tourists.
20. Caldey Island
For a more unique experience, take a day trip to Caldey Island which is only 0.6 miles (1 kilometer) from the coast of Tenby in Pembrokeshire. Caldey Island is known as one of Britain’s holy islands because of the monastery of the Cistercian monks who have lived there for thousands of years. The island is a peaceful and tranquil island that offers day tours for visitors to see their lovely little island. Aside from tourism, the monks turn to chocolate and perfume making as well. There are also other tourist spots like the Church of St Illtyd, a 13th-century structure, an ogham cross from the sixth century, a Norman chapel, and Caldey Abbey.
Address: Off Tenby, Pembrokeshire
Website: Caldey Island
Prestatyn’s neighboring town, Rhyl, is an urbanized seaside town. Unlike the former, which is a nature lover’s paradise, Rhyl is quite different due to its more urban culture. After walking through nature in Prestatyn, head on over to Rhyl for a good dose of nightlife - Welsh style! There are loads of pubs and clubs in the area including favorites like J D Wetherspoons, Shooters, The Barrel and Honey’s, among others. The community efforts in Rhyl are also worth noting because the town has been working to restore Rhyl’s traditional Victorian-era ambiance which was what it was originally famous for.
Address: Flintshire, Northeast Wales
Tongwynlais is a small village north of Cardiff. It only has a population of fewer than 2,000 people. It’s usually a stopover of tourists coming from Cardiff heading up north. But don’t just stop and go, there are also quite a few things to see and do at Tongwynlais. Its most famous landmark is the Castell Coch, a 19th century Gothic Revival structure and popular tourist destination. The Tongwynlais Library is also available to the public and bibliophiles out there.
With its etymology literally meaning “little town of fishes”, it’s no wonder why Tenby is one of the top destination for a beach holiday in Wales. Aside from being the jump point to Caldey Island, Tenby has its own share of beautiful scenery. Tenby is so small you can go around the entire town on foot. Take note that they highly discourage the use of cars. One of the most scenic places to see here is the quaint little pastel-colored houses by the cliffs and all across town. There are also other wonderful sites such as St Lawrence’s Church and the Tenby Museum and Art Gallery.
24. St. Asaph
Known to be the home of the smallest cathedral in Britain, St. Asaph is located by the River Elwy in Denbighshire. It is iconic primarily because of its history. The structure has been destroyed many times throughout the years by fires and by conquests but today it stands as a remarkable landmark for many tourists to see and admire. The North Wales Music Festival is also held inside the Cathedral every September. Aside from the Cathedral, enjoy beautiful sceneries including lush mountains and beautiful coastlines.
Address: River Elwy, Denbighshire, Wales
Website: St Asaph
25. Merthyr Tydfil
Merthyr Tydfil, or simply Merthyr, is a town approximately 23 miles (37 kilometers) from Cardiff. According to legend, the town was named after the martyr Tydfil, and it quite literally got its name from there with Merthyr roughly meaning “martyr”. It’s a traveler’s paradise because of the many things to do. Take a tour of the Cyfarthfa Castle and Park, discover the Redhouse Cymru, or go around the Merthyr Tydfil town center. For the little more adventurous, a number of activities are available to do especially biking, rock climbing, and kayaking.
Address: County Borough, South Wales
Website: Merthyr Tydfil
Located in Pembrokeshire, Haverfordwest is known to be the most populous urban area in Pembrokeshire with about 12,000 residents living in the area. It’s also the county town of Pembrokeshire. This little town takes pride in its rich history through the many castles and museums located here. Some of the notable ones are Haverfordwest Castle, Llawhaden Castle, Picton Castle, and Wiston Castle. Little fun fact: Hollywood actor Christian Bale was born in Haverfordwest!
Address: Pembrokeshire, South Wales
Situated in the northwestern part of Wales, Bangor is said to be the oldest city in Wales. Like Aberystwyth, Bangor is also considered a University town with 10,500 out of 18,808 as students at Bangor University. The town also prides itself in the world of culture and arts. The newly established Pontio is a venue where many performances are held such as films, concerts, theater performances, and circuses. Snowdonia National Park is just a short drive from Bangor while it’s also common for tourists to spend the night here before heading on to Holyhead to travel to Ireland.
Barry is a coastal town located within the Vale of Glamorgan in South Wales. It’s known to be the largest town in South Wales. There are a number of family-friendly activities to do and see here including beach trips, shopping centers, and lovely parks. Notable ones are the Knap Lake and Gardens where you can go boating on its lake and Porthkerry Country Park, a perfect spot for a picnic complete with barbecue areas. The town is also proud of its maritime history because of its location beside the sea.
Address: Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales
Porthcawl is another seaside town with a number of beautiful beaches in the area, namely Trecco Bay, Rest Bay, Coney Beach, and Pink Bay. Aside from the usual water sports and activities, Porthcawl has amusement parks located by their beaches which allows a more fun and thrilling atmosphere for all ages. Porthcawl also takes pride in its promenade which was built in 1887 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee and the addition of the promenade allowed tourism to flourish in the area. There are several eating places along the promenade which is great especially if you’re looking for a nice spot to enjoy the view and relax.
Address: Mid Glamorgan, South Wales
Flintshire is a county in northeastern Wales and is rich in history. Its towns are Connah’s Quay (which is the largest), Flint, Buckley and Mold. One of the prominent structures is Flint Castle, built by Edward I and has seen a great number of battles throughout history between the Celts and the Romans, the British and the Saxons, and then the Welsh and the Normans. Flintshire also holds a lot of markets in its several towns and attracts a number of tourists each year.
Address: Northeast Wales
Experience the best of Wales
Wales is simply not a country to miss out on. Each town seems like it was pulled out of a Shakespearean play or an Arthurian legend yet each one has its own unique feature and description. With many beautiful landscapes, quaint towns, and remarkable castles, there are too many reasons why you should put Wales on your bucket list right away!
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