Planning Your Trip to Wales
As part of the United Kingdom, Wales shares a lot with its neighbors. But the Welsh have their own unique identity and culture and their own Celtic language (Cymraeg), based on a history spanning 12,000 years. The longer your visit, the more you will appreciate this fascinating and enriching aspect of any journey.
Given Wales' small size, you can cover a lot of ground fairly quickly, assisted by an excellent road and rail infrastructure. Nonetheless, Wales is an extremely mountainous country (roughly divided into Snowdonia in the north; the Cambrian Mountains of mid-Wales; and the Brecon Beacons in the south). Most towns of significant size are dotted around the country's coastal perimeter and its eastern border with England. Despite the lure of the rugged coastline, with its craggy cliffs and dramatic scalloped bays and beaches, the smaller towns tucked in the many valleys that dissect the uplands are worth adding to any itinerary.
For planning purposes, it helps to think in terms of Southern Wales, Central (Mid) Wales, and Northern Wales. For shorter visits, concentrate your time in one region. Then add the two other areas like building blocks, depending on how many days you have available.
Wales in 5 Days
Wales is small enough to sample extensively in four or five days easily.
This five-day culinary tour of Wales also combines hiking, a spectacular coast drive, plus visits to medieval castles and monasteries, sleepy harbor towns, and the rugged mountains of Snowdonia. Throughout, you'll savor regional gourmet treats at choice restaurants.
You'll start your adventure with a drive through the Wye Valley to Brecon Beacons National Park to tour the Penderyn Whisky Distillery and Acre Hills winery. You'll then head east to Pembrokeshire Coast National Park for a boat tour to view the puffin colonies of Skomer Island and the Cistern monastery on Caldey Island. Now drive north along the rugged Cambrian coast to Harlech and the Mediterranean-style village of Portmeirion. End your adventure by exploring Snowdonia National Park, perhaps including a ride on the mountain railroad to its summit.
Check out this article for more five-day itineraries.
Customize your trip with help from a local travel specialist.
Wales in 1 Week Days
With one week, you can see the greater part of Wales or concentrate on a particular region of interest for a more in-depth experience.
Active travelers will like to immerse themselves in Wales' outdoor recreational and historical highlights. Begin by driving through the Wye Valley and Brecon Beacons National Park to hike amid the latter's wild uplands riddled with limestone formations and studded with prehistoric stone circles and Iron Age hillforts. Then head west to Pembrokeshire Coast National Park for scenic clifftop hikes, coasteering and sea-kayaking, and spotting dolphins, basking sharks, and puffins. In Snowdonia National Park, you'll enjoy mountain biking, gorge scrambling, canyoneering, and even whitewater rafting before ending with a tour of Caernarfon Castle.
History buffs will enjoy this seven-day itinerary that immerses you in Wales' rich culture and historical sites. You'll start in Cardiff, teeming with monuments like Cardiff Castle and the National Museum. After exploring St. Fagans National Museum, head west to Pembrokeshire to roam its sandy beaches and woodlands, plus view puffin colonies on a boat trip to Skomer Island. On day four, explore Pembroke Castle, and the next day, visit prehistoric sites, trek the scenic Preseli Hills, and enjoy sea-kayaking and birdwatching. You'll end your adventure in and around Snowdonia National Park, stopping to visit 13th-century Conwy Castle.
Check out this article for more week-long itineraries.
Wales in 9-12 days
With at least 10 days, you can explore Wales in-depth, be it to fulfill a personal interest or tour the country in its entirety.
Gourmands and active travelers will start in Ludlow, to visit the Three Tuns Brewery in Bishops Castle, plus the nearby industrial-age Ironbridge Gorge. Head to Snowdonia for hiking and to the seaside resort of Llandudno. On day four, you'll explore 13th-century Conwy Castle and/or take the mountain railway to the summit of Snowdon, then head south via the Italianate Portmeirion. Your final days are spent in nature in and around the Pembrokeshire Coast and the Brecon Beacons and offer a visit to the Penderyn Whisky Distillery and culinary experiences that are a hallmark of every day. To make it 10 days, consider tacking on a day in Cardiff from the Beacons.
This self-drive trip takes in Welsh culture, castles, and the coastline. In Cardiff, you'll explore cultural highlights. Then in your rental car, you'll head west to the Gower Peninsula, where a boat trip to Worm's Head provides a chance to spot seals and dolphins. The following days include light-hearted storytelling on a guided walking tour of Tenby; a boat tour to enchanting Caldey Island; plus a tour of the coastal university town of Aberystwyth by motorcycle and sidecar, ending in Portmeirion. Finally, you'll take the mountain railway and hike in Snowdonia; spend two nights in Conwy; and enjoy a ride on the Llangollen Heritage Railway.
Check out this article for more 10-day itineraries.
More Great Wales Itineraries
Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Wales? Check out these other Wales itineraries, with outdoor adventures, cultural trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights.