Many travelers have heard of Wales, but few have visited its ruggedly beautiful coastline, ancient castles, and national parks. On this seven-day trip, you'll experience these highlights, enjoy delicious regional cuisine, and hike among the peaks of Snowdonia National Park.
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Compared to the others, Wales is an oft-overlooked nation within the United Kingdom. This is a shame, as its countryside and coast are just as beautiful as anything in England, Scotland, or Northern Ireland. It has 869 miles (1,400 km) of coastline, in fact, along which you’ll find hidden coves and long tan beaches perfect for sunbathing in summer.
Wales is known as the “Land of Castles” due to its abundance of them—over 100 still remain, either restored to their early glory or in the form of archeological ruins. Then there are all those stone circles that dot the countryside and pre-date written history, physical echoes of the earliest humans who roamed the earth thousands of years before the common era even began.
When is the best time to visit?
If you want to spend time at the beaches in Wales, come during the summer when highs often reach a pleasant 84°F/28C. The days are longer during this season, too, which means you can take full advantage of day hikes in the Welsh mountains.
The drawback to summer travel, however, is that crowds are bigger and you will have to book accommodation further in advance. To beat the crowds while still enjoying decent weather, come during the shoulder months of April/May and September/October.
Where should you go?
The capital city of Cardiff encapsulates Welsh culture and has a lively and convivial Rugby scene. For fun in the sun, visit the beaches of Rhossili, Barafundle, and Tenby, some of the best in the U.K. For day hikes, head to Mt. Snowdon (Wales’ highest peak), Snowdonia National Park, and the Brecon Beacon Mountains and Lake Llangorse in the south.
Wales’ offshore islands are deservedly famous for their beauty, and you’ll find great beaches around Anglesey, off the northwest coast. Castles, such as the Edwardian fortress in Caernarfon, are found throughout the nation, and the oldest of Wales’ stone circles exist in Pembrokeshire.
How many days do you need?
You can experience quite a bit of Wales in a short time. In 4-7 days you could laze on a beach, hike in the countryside, and visit some of the major castles and ruins. However, if you’re a history buff planning on seeing each of the nation’s castles, know that you could visit one per day and it would still take you over three months to see all of them.
This exploration of Wales' history and legends take you deep into a magical country of King Arthur's legends. Explore the Fortress of Isca, hike in Brecon Beacons, and head west to discover the prehistoric landscape of the Preseli hills and the Pembrokeshire Coast. Drive north along the Cambrian coast to the rolling mountains of Snowdonia to explore King Arthur's legendary landscapes and politically rife Caernarfon Castle.
This adventurous itinerary checks of the top historical and recreational highlights in Wales. Hike through the Brecon Beacons National Park, get wet and wild coasteering along the Pembrokeshire coast, and explore ancient Roman ruins. End the trip in the north in Snowdonia, where jagged peaks, whitewater rafting, and the iconic Caernarfon Castle await.
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