Wales has a unique and rich history, often overlooked to that of its towering neighbour, a history that shines through the vast and wild terrain of the Welsh landscape. From the icy high peaks of Snowdonia to the cliff-side coastal walks lies an abundance of medieval architecture, mythological sagas and, of course, a castle around every corner. Enjoy the view!
The beautifully historic region of Pembrokeshire, located on the west coast of Wales, is a 2-hour drive from Cardiff and serves an excellent base to the Welsh traveller. As the birthplace of the Celtic magician Merlin in the legends of King Arthur, it goes without saying this county oozes history in every corner. Perouse the remains of Manorbier and Carew Castle, and the awe-inspiring St. Davids Cathedral, home to the patron Saint of Wales, just to name a few. With the town highlight being Tenby, where you can stroll through the old streets by the sea, enjoy world-class dining or brush up next to the fire at the local pub sampling the amazing local brew and cheese.
Wales undoubtedly hosts some of the most spectacular coastlines in Britain and offers a range of world-class coastal walks to help you explore its wild shores. The Pembrokeshire Coastal Walk is amongst the most famous, and covers over a third of the entire county region at approximately 300km. Many sections of this path are easily accessible and trail along the breathtaking cliff-top terrain. A beautiful and often secluded walk, unless you count the herds of sheep and cattle roaming the cliff pastures, who are just as delightful and friendly as the locals.
It’s a rare sight to see such beauty in one place, and the National Park of Snowdonia (or to the locals Eryri) offers it in abundance. Located in the north of wales in the county of Gwynedd, Snowdonia is home to some of the highest peak in the British Isles. With a vast coastline and the biggest lake in the country complimenting the mountainous landscape, this north Walian treat is steeped in natural beauty. Luckily for us, Snowdonia offers an abundance of trails and outdoor activities. For those who prefer to go off the beaten track, there is plenty of landscape to explore, but as with any mountain hiking, always check with the local authorities!
Possibly the best region to experience Welsh life with its great historic preservation, including the native language! It has been noted that more than half of the local’s first language is Welsh, which is more than any other region in the country.
After a trip on the mountain, why not roam the historic town of Caernarfon. Home to Caernarfon Castle, the most famous castle in Wales (and they have a few!), alongside the medieval architecture and narrow streets traversing the picturesque sandy beach, it’s a must!
The Paleolithic cliffs of the Gower Peninsular
Down at the southern tip of Wales lie the limestone cliffs of the Gower Peninsula, which traverse the Bristol Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Dispersing the scenery are historical remnants; from the medieval churches to the remains of forts and Castles. Inland, in Cefn Bryn, lies the enigmatic 8 Standing Stones, or Menhirs that have been unknowingly placed, likely for ceremonial use – think Stonehenge. By the sea lies the Upper Paleolithic burial cave is known as the Red Lady of Paviland showing evidence of the oldest known burial site in Western Europe, placing Wales on the historical map much earlier than initially thought.
Anglesey (Ynys Môn) is the largest island off the northwest coast of Wales. Famous for its 220 square miles of unspoilt coastline, and so beautiful that it has been declared an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), which means it’s been designated for conservation due to the significant value!
Anglesey also notorieties the longest town name in the world, yes, the world! Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, or known as Llanfair PG to the locals, can roughly translate to St Mary’s church in the hollow of the white hazel near to the fierce whirlpool of St Tysilio of the red cave. Imagine having to spell that out to the bank teller each time, puff!
We also recommend heading to Llanddwyn Island (Ynys Llanddwyn), which is a small tidal island (so checking the tidal times is a must!) off the west coast of Anglesey. Llanddwyn Island, meaning the church of St. Dwynwen, who is the Welsh patron saint of lovers, makes this island the perfect spot to picnic with a loved one. Especially if you’re travelling through on the 25th January, St Dwynwen’s Day, which is often celebrated by the Welsh with the exchange of cards and flowers similarly to Valentines Day. And if that’s not quite your thing, well, Llanddwym Island offers spectacular views of the Snowdonia mountain range.