Forget Cardiff and Swansea, the Welsh countryside and coastline makes for an unforgettable adventure holiday right here in the UK.
Wales is a country with a deluge of culture, wildlife and history. A mountainous land, it boasts three national parks, five areas of outstanding beauty and more than 50 islands for travellers to explore. Here, we’ve picked five places to put at the top of your Welsh adventure bucket list.
1. Climb the highest Welsh mountain at Snowdonia National Park
A mountainous region in north-western Wales, Snowdonia National Park encompasses 832sq miles of land with hiking and cycling trails throughout. Steeped in culture and with more than half of its population speaking Welsh, the biggest tourist attraction here is climbing Snowdown ‑— the highest mountain in Wales and the second highest in the UK, at an elevation of 3,560ft. For its rare flora and fauna, the park is a designated national nature reserve, with some rocks and hills in the park formed by volcanoes from the Ordovician period. The park is also home to one of the largest natural lakes in Wales, as well as a wealth of picturesque villages like Betws y Coed and Beddgelert. There’s also a roller coaster, Zip World Fforest, which traverses through the national park, and Zip World Slate Caverns underground adventure playground and zip line.
2. Explore wildlife at Skomer Island
Skomer Island sits just off the coast of Pembrokeshire, in the west of Wales. The main draw to the island is its wildlife — around half of the world’s population of Manx shearwater birds set up their nests on the island and the Atlantic puffin colony here is the largest in southern Britain. The Skomer vole, meanwhile, is unique to the island. Skomer is a national nature reserve managed by the Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales, but it’s also known for its archaeological sites, including ancient stone circles, standing stones and prehistoric remains of houses that have all led to much of the island being designated an ancient monument.
3. Walk the Pembrokeshire Coast Path
Stretching out for 186 miles, mostly at cliff-top level, the Pembrokeshire Coast Path is a designated National Trail in Pembrokeshire, southwest Wales, that hugs much of the beautiful coastline in this region. The walks available on the path take in coastal scenery and a range of wildlife-spotting opportunities. Its highest point (Pen yr afr on Cemaes Head) reaches 574ft, while its lowest (Sandy Haven crossing at Milford Haven) is just 6ft above water level. Dubbed as one of the best long-distance trails in the world, the path eventually meets up with the Wales Coastal Path, an 870-mile walking route encompassing the whole coast of Wales.
4. Enjoy the rolling hills of Brecon Beacons National Park
The Brecon Beacons range of hills in southern Wales is the centre point of this national park, which spans 519sq miles. The national park is known for having wide open space and rolling hills. Henrhyd Falls is a top sight, a 90ft-high waterfall that can be reached by hiking through the valley. There are four distinct regions within the park: the solo Black Mountain in the west, with moors and glacial lakes; Brecon Beacons flat-topped hills in the centre; Fforest Fawr, an ancient woodland with several nature conservation spots, also in the centre; and the group of Black Mountains, with rolling heathland ridges, in the east.
5. Tour the National Botanic Garden of Wales
Located in Llanarthney in the River Tywi valley in Carmarthenshire, the National Botanic Garden of Wales has been one of the country’s biggest tourist attractions for decades, and a centre for conservation and botanical research. Known as Waun Las National Nature Reserve, the gardens offer more than 400 acres to be explored, including an enchanting mosaic of flower-rich meadows, evocative woodlands, waterfalls and cascades. The gardens feature the world’s largest single-span glasshouse which shelters most of the botanicals, used for research into biodiversity. There’s a range of themed gardens including a Victorian walled garden and a tropical glasshouse with an abundance of colourful butterflies, with many paths weaving throughout the gardens for visitors to walk on. Being a registered charity, the botanical garden is reliant on funding from its visitors. During the past five years, more funding and labour has been poured into the gardens to restore this landscape and unearth historic features.