Wales Travel Guide
A rural antidote to the sprawling urban nature that defines much of England to the east, Wales is a charming trip back to the days when life moved at a slower place, and where you truly knew your neighbour.
From quaint towns where meeting locals over a pint will prove to be an easy task, to weathered hikes up some of the United Kingdom’s most ruggedly beautiful mountains, Wales will leave a mark on your soul that will never fade through the passage of time. Some countries have that effect on people … this nation is one of them.
Currency: British Pound
Languages: English, Welsh
What To Do
From a cultural/historical perspective, Wales is well known for its castles, which have emerged from ancient times in stunningly good condition, with many thanks to their dedicated upkeep by locals.
Conwy Castle is an example of a structure that shouldn’t be missed on a visit to this nation, as its grandeur will induce awe even in the most jaded individuals. Built in the 13th century by Edward the 1st after conquering Wales. UNESCO recognizes it as one of the best landmarks of its type from the time it was erected, so you’ll be sure to find its ramparts impressive if ruins from days gone by are one of your main interests when traveling.
If these ancient keeps are a favorite of yours, then seeing Caernarfon Castle as well will also prove to be a wise use of your time in Wales. Serving as Northern Wales’ administrative centre in the 14th century, this fortification is also massive in its footprint upon the land like Conwy is, with an additional wall encircling the adjacent town of Caernarfon that continues onward from the castle.
While viewing these medieval fortifications are impressive in and of themselves, mix in a visit to the National Museum Cardiff so that you can learn about the history behind them, as well as other aspects of the prior years of this corner of the United Kingdom. Containing sections that cover topics from archaeology to zoology, this comprehensive institution covers every facet of the story of Wales, so do dedicate an afternoon in order to explore this museum in detail.
One of the biggest drivers of the Welsh economy in the past few centuries (up until the latter half of the 20th century) were the extensive coal works that fed the furnaces of the Industrial Revolution. Changing times dried up the demand for this black, crumbly rock, but its legacy lives on through the Big Pit National Coal Museum in Blaenavon.
Opened to the public only a few years after the working mine was closed for good in 1980, this place aims to educate the public on the realities, daily routines, and stories that have come out of generations of coal mining. This is not a neatly polished tour, as the mine is or more less in the same shape it was when it was actively producing coal, but safety is taken extremely seriously, allowing you to fully appreciate the life of a miner while being assured that yours is in good hands.
Fans of nature will find much to love about Wales as well, as mountainous terrain can be found throughout its interior. Some of the best sightseeing can be found in Snowdonia National Park, as the moorlands, rugged peaks, and numerous picturesque lakes that can be found here will take your breath away. This park is very popular with hikers in the high season, but be sure to bring rain gear, as this park is pelted by more than 4,400 millimetres of rain every year.
If seaside vistas are more your speed, than you will find plenty of scenic areas along Wale’s lengthy coastline. If your time in limited though, definitely find a space in your itinerary for Great Orme, which is one of the most gobsmacking promontories in the United Kingdom.
Found in County Conwy, this dramatic peninsula is made of dolomite limestone, making for striking formations, and together with rare wildflowers, a feral herd of Kashmir goats, and a number of ruins ranging from medieval times to the Second World War (gun emplacements), there is much to see here for the inquisitive tourist.
What To Eat
While it is merely a snack suitable for the dour, wet weather that it is commonplace outside of the summer season, Welsh Rarebit is the dish that Wales is best known for throughout the world. Consisted of a toasted piece of bread covered in a savoury sauce made from cheddar cheese, beer and Worcestershire sauce, it is a simple delight that many visitors will take to with delight.
With plenty of sheep dotting the abundant pastures throughout Wales, perhaps it should come as no surprise that Roast Lamb is a popular main course on the dinner tables of many homes and restaurants. Often served with a healthy dollop of mint sauce and fresh vegetables in season, it is a meal that you should splurge on at least once during your time in this country.
When it comes time to treat yourself, grabbing some Welsh Cakes will prove to be an authentic way to satisfy your sweet tooth. Filled with dried fruit and coated in sugar, these lovely pieces of heaven are best had fresh off the grill … you’ll love it!