A small country located in the south west of Great Britain and one of the lesser explored destinations, Wales awaits you with outstanding natural beauty, dramatic coastlines, mountainous national parks, extravagant history, classy towns, Welsh culture and lots more!! Lot of people who visit UK, or live in UK tend to skip Wales, partly because it does not have any famous attractions like in Scotland or London. But I’d like to show you how beautiful Wales is and why you should definitely plan a trip here.
The best way to explore Wales is by driving around. The nearest airport is Cardiff. However, it’s quite small and doesn’t have too many flights. Bristol would be the next best airport (nearly 43 miles, 1 hour from Cardiff).
The best time to visit Wales is during the summer (from June to September). If you want to avoid the dense crowd, April, May, September and October are the best seasons.
Wales is divided into South Wales and North Wales. South Wales, being closer to the border of England is more industrial and city like, with Cardiff being its capital. The more you travel towards the north, you find more natural beauty and rugged beaches.
So, here's what we did!!
Day 1 - We drove down from London to Swansea (nearly 186 miles, 3 hours and 30 minutes). After driving around Swansea, walking around its city centre and port area, we grabbed lunch at a local restaurant, and headed towards Rhossili bay beach (nearly 18miles, 45 minutes). Located on the western end of Gower peninsula, this beach has been crowned as one of the best beaches in UK as well as Europe. The views can be best enjoyed from one of the walking routes, which feature the Worm's Head (Gower's famous landmark with the Devil's bridge), cliffs, basking seals and dolphins playing in the surf. Path 1 - Steps from Rhossili village, Path 2 - flat route towards the Coast watch Centre (No access to the beach from here) and trek up to the lighthouse for some stunning panoramic views. After experiencing these breath-taking views, we proceeded towards Saundersfoot (65 miles, 1 hour 35 minutes) where we were put up in a Bed and Breakfast for the night.
Day 2 - After having breakfast at our B&B, we headed to our next destination, Tenby (nearly 3.3 miles, 10 minutes). Tenby is a small coastal town, very charming and calm, known for its 13th century stone town walls, rows of multi-coloured houses and sandy beaches. It has 3 beaches; south, north and castle beach (castle beach being my favourite, as it has remains of the castle in the middle of the water). We walked around its slender roads, the port area and the beaches. We were very keen to enjoy at the beach, but thanks to the unpredictable UK weather, it got quite chilly and the water was freezing. It has a Museum and Art Gallery, a dinosaur park and Manor House Wildlife Park in the vicinity which can be explored. There are regular boat trips to the scenic Caldey islands as well. It is owned by monks of The Cistercian Order and has an active monastery. Since, we had other plans on our itinerary, we continued our drive from Tenby through Snowdonia National Park.
Snowdonia National Park has a lot to offer for all ages. They have several of treks, cycling and walking tours. Detailed info can be found here.
We decided to embark on the World's first preserved steam train. We parked our car at the Tywyn Wharf train station and caught out train towards Nant Gwernol. The whole journey (to and fro) takes about 2 hours. Since we were short on time, we only went up to Dolgoch and came back. The journey to Dolgoch was very scenic and took us about half an hour. There is a short trek from the station which leads to the Dolgoch waterfalls. The falls are a part of the Nant Dolgoch stream, which flows into the Afon Fathew, and form a popular walk from the nearby Dolgoch station on the Talyllyn Railway.
We picked up our car and continued driving from there to Portmeirion which took us about an hour (42 miles). Portmeirion is an enchanting Italian style tourist village in Gwynedd. It is now run by a charitable trust. It is mainly famous for its unique architecture and for the shooting of the popular mystery show - The Prisoner, which was aired in the 1960s. The village is located by the Dwyryd's beach. This place offers a lot and is a must visit. It has an entry fee of £11 for adults and £7 for children above the age of 5 years.
We continued our drive to our Bed and Breakfast which was located in a beautiful countryside. Enroute we stopped at Caernarfon which was 40 min (22 miles) from Portmeirion. Honestly, apart from the castle this place doesn't have anything else which is worth to see. Also, I have seen better castles in UK than this!!
We grabbed a subway sandwich for dinner and went to Anglessey beach (nearly 21.3 miles, 30 minutes from Caernarfon) which was recommended to us by the owner of the B&B we were put up in for the night. It had a beautiful sandy coastline and is a very famous beach for picnics. It had parking space for vehicles and caravans. You could even do camping here. Paths were also made for walking along the coastline. We chose a silent corner and at down on wooden logs to have our dinner. After a long, tiring but an eventful day we finally hit our beds!!
Day 3 - After treating ourselves to a scrumptious English breakfast, we started early towards Llandudno (nearly 37 miles - 50 minutes). Llandudno is Wale's largest resort with abundance of hotels, B&Bs and a gorgeous pier. It is uniquely situated between the Great Orme facing the award-winning beach, the North Shore. It is a typical English style, old-fashioned town with a Victorian style pier. The pier has 2 entrances, one begins on the sea front, where all the hotels and houses are, and the second is towards the road that leads up to the Great Orme.
Great Orme is a limestone headland which can be explored either by a tramway, cable car or via road. We chose to drive along the marine route. When visiting Wales, Llandudno and Great Orme are a must visit (my personal favourite as well)!! Throughout the drive, we witnessed a stunning coastline on one side and the majestic limestone mountain on the other.
Our next stop was Conwy, which was 5.6 miles (20 minutes). Conwy is a walled market town with a cute little harbour area and a grand castle. The castle is worth a visit for the spectacular views it offers. The castle is also famous for its suspension bridge. This town is also famous for Britain's smallest house known as the Quay House. The red painted one up one down measures only 3.05m x 1.83m (10 x 6ft) and was last lived in by Robert Jones, who was 6ft 3 inches tall. Squeeze in and see how it felt, living in that matchbox!!
Our journey back to London was a long one, around 268 miles (5 hours). To make it eaier, we stopped by Chester which was nearly 44.6 miles, 1 hour. Chester is a small picturesque town with the largest Roman Amphitheatre in Britain, has the oldest racecourse and also a 1000 year old cathedral. This quaint yet chirpy town can be explored by foot starting from it's beautiful city centre. Chester is known for its Tudor style of architecture. Before we could head back home, we stopped by a local cafe for some English Tea and Scones with clotted cream.
Wales is a very under rated country in the United Kingdom. With the abundance of beauty it has to offer, it is definitely a must visit.
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