Discover spectacular coastlines and rich culture on this 12-day self-drive journey through Wales. After catching a train from London to Cardiff, you'll get behind the wheel and make your way up the wild Welsh coast, embarking on fascinating tours and excursions. Spot seals and dolphins on a boat trip along the Gower Peninsula, walk across the famous Devil's Bridge, ascend Mount Snowdon by train, and discover local lore and legends in the walled town of Conwy.


  • Take a food tour through Cardiff's multicultural culinary scene
  • Discover the stunning Gower Peninsula by boat
  • Learn about local myth & legends on a ghost walk through historic Tenby
  • Explore the Welsh countryside by vintage motorcycle & sidecar
  • Take the Snowdonian Mountain Railway up Wales' highest peak

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive at London Heathrow, Train To Cardiff & Afternoon Food Tour Cardiff
Day 2 Free Day in Cardiff Cardiff
Day 3 Drive to the Gower Peninsula, Wildlife Boat Tour Mumbles
Day 4 Tenby Historic Ghost Walk, Drive to St David's St David's
Day 5 Tour the Holy Island of Caldey St David's
Day 6 Aberystwyth Sidecar Tour, Drive to Portmeirion  Portmeirion
Day 7 Free Day in Portmeirion Portmeirion
Day 8 Ride the Snowdonian Mountain Railway, Drive to Conwy Conwy
Day 9 Conwy Guided Trail, Explore the Northern Coast Conwy
Day 10 Drive to Llangollen, Ride the Llangollen Heritage Railway Llangollen
Day 11 Drive to Manchester, Eat the City Tour, Train to London London
Day 12 Transfer to London Heathrow Airport & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive at London Heathrow, Train To Cardiff & Afternoon Food Tour

Taste your way through Cardiff on a food tour 
Welcome to Wales! Upon arrival at London's Heathrow Airport, you'll catch a train west to Cardiff, where you can get settled into your hotel. Situated on a tranquil bay, the Welsh capital is full of museums and monuments, including a medieval castle in the city center. Among all of its rich history, Cardiff has a thriving multicultural culinary scene–which you'll explore this afternoon on a Cosmopolitan Cardiff Food Tour.
From cafés, delis, and restaurants to markets and festivals, a tour of the city's foodie hotspots will allow you to enjoy delicacies from all over the world as you discover the city center. Stroll from one venue to the next, learning about Cardiff’s varied and lively history as you admire the city’s wonderful architecture and many landmarks, including Cardiff Castle, City Hall, and Principality Stadium (the home of Welsh rugby). Your welcoming Welsh guide will share unique and personal stories about the capital—and you might even learn a few words of Welsh along the way.

Day 2: Free Day in Cardiff

Sunset over Cardiff Bay

Today is free for you to explore more of the capital at your own pace. Discover 2,000 years of history inside the walls of Cardiff Castle, marvel at masterworks in the National Museum (which has the largest collection of impressionist art outside Europe), or take a stroll along the bustling piers of Cardiff Bay.

Day 3: Drive to the Gower Peninsula, Wildlife Boat Tour

Take a boat tour along the spectacular Gower Peninsula
Today you'll pick up your rental car and set out west along the wild Welsh coast towards the Gower Peninsula. Britain's first recognized Area of Outstanding Beauty, this protected promontory is famous for its sweeping beaches, rugged cliffs, and remarkable birdlife. 
Upon arrival in Oxwich Bay, don your warm (and waterproof) clothing and board a boat for a spectacular two-hour trip to Worm's Head. As you hug the scenic coastline, watch seals basking on the rocks, keep an eye out for harbor porpoises and common dolphins, and listen to stories about historic caves and smuggler's haunts. Reaching the westernmost point of the peninsula, you'll be met with the sights and sounds of hundreds of seabirds that make their home on the tidal island of Worm's Head.
Back on dry land, you'll make your way to the charming fishing village of Mumbles to settle into a cozy hotel for the evening.

Day 4: Tenby Historic Ghost Walk, Drive to St David's

The colorful fishing town of Tenby
Continue west today into beautiful Pembrokeshire, where you'll stop in the 13th-century town of Tenby for a spine-tingling walk through its local history. With a blend of light-hearted storytelling and haunting tales, you'll learn about the town's fascinating customs, peoples, and places. From ghosts, fairies, and witches to omens, mystery, and murder, the colorful past comes to life against a backdrop of magnificent coastal views. 
Plan your trip to Wales
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Back on the road, you'll make your way west to historic St David's for the evening and check into your hotel.

Day 5: Tour the Holy Island of Caldey

Caldey Island Monastery
Discover the Cistercian monastery on the holy island of Caldey
Today's tour takes you to the enchanting island of Caldey, less than a mile off the Pembrokeshire coast. A holy site that traces its roots back to the 6th century, the island's Cistercian monastery is still home to monks that farm the land and produce artisan items like chocolate and lavender. A relaxed walking tour will guide you through the island's rich Celtic history and includes visits to the Old Priory and the churches of St Iltud's, St David's, and the Abbey

After returning to the mainland, the rest of the day is free to explore more of St David's and the surrounding coast.

Day 6: Aberystwyth Sidecar Tour, Drive to Portmeirion 

Steps to the Devil's Bridge on today's tour
Today's drive turns north as you make your way up the west coast to the charming resort and university town of Aberystwyth. Here you'll meet your guide and tour the area's highlights in style—with a vintage Triumph motorcycle and sidecar. From your comfy sidecar seat, you'll visit the ruins of Strata Florida, one of the largest Cistercian abbeys in Wales, and stop for a walk at the famous Devil's Bridge. Descend a "Jacob's ladder" of stone steps to see three bridges and a waterfall where the River Mynach drops 300 feet (90 m) below.
After a stroll (and some honey ice cream) in the picturesque town of Aberaeron, you'll be driven back to Aberystwyth to continue your journey northward to the magical Italianate village of Portmeirion

Day 7: Free Day in Portmeirion

Whimsical Italian-style gardens in Portmeirion
Spend today discovering the eclectic charms of Portmeirion at your own pace. Constructed in the early twentieth century by architect Clough Williams-Ellis, this colorful piece of the Riviera on the Welsh coast has countless romantic plazas, gardens, and villas to explore.

Day 8: Ride the Snowdonian Mountain Railway, Drive to Conwy

Sweeping views from the Snowdonian Mountain Railway
North Wales beckons today as you drive into the wilds of Snowdonia National Park and the shadow of Mount Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa). Here you'll experience a once-in-a-lifetime journey toward the summit on a two-hour climb aboard the Snowdonian Mountain Railway. Traveling from Llanberis Station to Clogwyn Station, the scenic train ride takes you 3/4 of the way up the highest peak in England and Wales. Breathtaking scenery surrounds you during this unforgettable experience, so make sure to keep your camera handy.

Afterward, you'll continue driving north to reach your base for the next two nights in the charming walled market town of Conwy.

Day 9: Conwy Guided Trail, Explore the Northern Coast

Conwy town
Conwy Castle towers over the market town below
History comes alive this morning with a walking tour of Conwy—led by a local guide in traditional costume. As you explore fascinating sites like the 13th-century Conwy Castle, the Elizabethan house of Plas Mawr, and the "smallest house in Britain" you'll be regaled with stories of the town's rich history and past and present inhabitants—real and ghostly alike. 
The rest of the day is free for you to discover more of the surrounding area at your leisure. Within reach are the grand castles of Caernarfon and Beaumaris, the genteel seaside resort of Llandudno, and the wild Anglesey, an island steeped in legend and lore where you can still find echoes of its druidic past. 

If you're looking for something more adventurous, this area of Wales also offers rich opportunities for surfing, sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, kitesurfing, powerboating, paddleboarding, walking, and birdwatching. 

Day 10: Drive to Llangollen, Ride the Llangollen Heritage Railway

Llangollen Railway
Board the Llangollen Heritage Railway toward Carrog
Bid the coast farewell this morning as you turn inland toward the beautiful riverside village of Llangollen. After settling into your hotel, board the Llangollen Heritage Railway for a 10-mile (16-km) round trip journey following the course of the River Dee through the idyllic Denbighshire countryside. 

The afternoon is free to enjoy the tranquil town of Llangollen—strolling along the river, cruising down the idyllic canals, and enjoying a memorable meal at one of the town's many excellent restaurants. 

Day 11: Drive to Manchester, Eat the City Tour, Train to London

Fish and Chips
Sample regional favorites like fish and chips on today's food tour
Drive northwest today to cross the border into England and reach the energetic, multicultural city of Manchester. Here you'll head out on a gastronomic adventure to sample some of the best food and drink the city has to offer. Make sure to start with an empty stomach—over the course of the day you'll be offered eight tastings across the city and discover some favorite local haunts. 
As well as treating your tastebuds, the tour will reveal fascinating facts about Manchester and England’s food history as you explore the food and drink stories of the city from the ice cream vendors of Ancoats Little Italy and the diet of the Victorian mill worker to the birth of vegetarianism. 
In the afternoon, you'll drop off your rental car and head to the station to catch a train south to London. 

Day 12: Transfer to London Heathrow Airport & Departure

Bid London farewell today

Your journey draws to a close today as a private transfer takes you to London's Heathrow Airport to catch your departing flight. Safe travels! 

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. 


Map of Self-Drive Wales: Culture, Castles & Coastlines - 12 Days
Map of Self-Drive Wales: Culture, Castles & Coastlines - 12 Days