Wales is the country of dragons, mountains, rugby and the longest name for a train station in the world. When tourists from around the world come to the UK, their focus is primarily on England, Scotland and even Ireland. Wales is often neglected from a visitor’s travel itinerary which is a shame as this small country of three million people has so much to offer: stunning, natural landscapes, breathtaking mountains; traditional Welsh country towns, majestic castles, beautiful woodlands, coastal walks, and wildlife. So while I was creating my travel plan for my partner who has never been to Wales, I began to realize how much of an under-rated beauty Wales really was with so much to see and do. Now at the end of our visit back home to Wales and looking back, here are the five top things I just HAD to do with my non-welsh partner:
- Explore Castles
Wales is king when it comes to historical castles. With over 600 castles to be explored, Cyfarthfa Castle, Caerphilly Castle, Castell Coch, and Conwy Castle are amongst my favourite castles to see in Wales. Built for various reasons, history and culture seep through their cracks. Most castles have an entrance fee so choose wisely when you’re making your castle bucket list.
2. Devour Welsh Cakes
Welsh Cakes are the one thing I miss most when I leave Wales. These delicious crumbly cakes are a national treasure of Wales and traditionally made with currants but there are other alternatives such as chocolate chip, coconut, jam, Nutella and plain. I’ve eaten my way around the welsh cake industry as you can pretty much buy them anywhere in the country but my favourite place to get them is at the welsh cake stall in Cardiff Market known as Cardiff Bakestones. These beauties are sensational and the market is a must visit for anyone passing through Cardiff.
- Walk the Coastal Path
The Welsh Coast offers some of the most stunning views of Wales, especially on a summer’s day. The Coast Path is 870 miles long and stretches from Chepstow in the south-east to Queensferry in North Wales. We walked the Millenium Coastal Path from Llanelli to Pembrey Country Park where we encountered abandoned warships, a beach that stretched for miles and lighthouses.
- Visit St. Fagans
This is one for the history buffs. St. Fagan’s is the National Museum of Welsh History and is FREE! Mostly outdoors and packed in the summer, you will find original buildings from yesteryear that have been taken from their original places and rebuilt in the museum. From 1800 miners cottages, 15th-century farms to pagan churches and cockpits. An absolute must see for anyone at any age.
- Conquer Pen Y Fan
Pen Y Fan is the highest peak in South Wales and is located in the Brecon Beacons. It’s constantly being used for groups and charities to raise money and achieve challenges. On a clear day, you can see miles and miles of the beacons but be careful you don’t get blown away at the top! There are many ways to get to the top of this mountain but the most popular trail will take about 2 hours to reach. However, in summer and on weekends, this site can get super crowded! I attempted to take my partner and friends here but there was it so busy, we couldn’t even get into the carpark! Okay, it was a Saturday but in the middle of January!