The best of Wales! Readers' Choice
Happy St David’s Day! We’re celebrating early for Wales’s birthday on Saturday, as the daffs are out, we’ve added several more Welsh sites and well, Thursday is practically the weekend.
‘Go Walesward’ is our cry for the week: we asked our Facebook fans for their recommendations on what to see and do in Wales, and combined these with a few Pitchup.com favourites. Narrowing the list down was a tad traumatic, and we now suspect we must go and live in Wales for at least a few years, but we think we may have covered the basics. Most of them. Let us know your own favourites if we’ve left them out!
Not the biggest Welsh attraction but one of our all-time faves, the village of Portmeirion is one of those brilliantly bonkers British things. It was built between 1925 and 1975 by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, who claimed he modelled it on the Mediterranean in general and denied it was based on Italian village Portofino in particular. More importantly (to us), the TV series The Prisoner and four episodes of Doctor Who were filmed here, it inspired a song by Iron Maiden and there’s now a Festival Number 6 every year.
Snowdonia National Park
Climb Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales, walk the 37 miles of coastline or the hundreds of miles of trails inland, make a splash at highest Welsh waterfall Swallow Falls or make like The Jam and go underground at the many mines…we’d have to write in a teeny tiny font to fit in everything to possibly do in Snowdonia, Wales’s first national park. Getting to the Snowdon summit is the must-do Snowdonia activity for Pitchup.com peeps, so some of you may be relieved to know that the Snowdon Mountain Railway will puff non-climbers to the top in scenic style.
Pembrokeshire has more Blue Flag beaches than any other county in the UK and has Britain’s only coastal national park. Quite naturally then, it’s a hit with Pitchup users: Freshwater West , the National Trust managed Barafundle and Tenby Castle Beach are all favourites, as are the waters at St Davids Head , the summer hue of which one reader says would fool you into thinking you’re in the Caribbean.
Sandwise, Wales has over forty Blue Flag beaches and 42 per cent of its south and west coastline is designated Heritage Coast, with stretches of coast and sand known variously for watersports, walking and staring at/photographing the lush landscape. Other watery recommendations in Wales:
Abersoch Beach : a suntrap beach in Gwynedd, with internationally recognised sailing waters
Barmouth Beach , Gwynedd: Snowdonia’s seaside resort
Into the mines! Wales has cavernous amounts of attractions based on its old slate, coal and metal mining industry, and we’d send you first to Blaenau Ffestiniog in the Snowdonia mountains, the former slate capital of Wales and once known as ‘the town that roofed the world’. Delve into the Llechwedd Slate Caverns for the tale, then have a jaunt on the Ffestiniog Railway down to Porthmadog. Bring the camera.
Also in Snowdonia National Park, gold rushers can pan for gold and see stalactites and stalagmites (which is which?) at the Sygun Copper Mine and find out what it’s all about at the Welsh Slate Museum in Llanberis. And elsewhere in Wales, we recommend:
- Big Pit National Coal Museum , Monmouthshire : Wales’s biggest mining museum, near the World Heritage Site in Blaenavon
- King Arthur's Labyrinth , Powys : boating underground – perfect. Also in Corris, the Corris Slate Mine , left just how it was when abandoned.
The Welsh, they loved their castles. Hundreds were built, over a hundred are still standing and Wales is often called the castle capital of the world: a 2011 study found that visiting Welsh castles was top of many overseas visitors’ to-do list . (As it is ours on a weekly basis.) Pitchup.com readers particularly recommend three of the ten castles on the VisitBritain top 10 Welsh castles list:
Also recommended by a reader is Rhuddlan Castle , Denbighshire and by us is Raglan Castle , Monmouthshire, from which we pretended to be medieval and surveyed our land last year. Immense historic fun.
A lack of light pollution in many areas and areas awarded Dark Sky Discovery Site status (the latest site was the National Botanic Gardens in Carmarthenshire ) means that Wales is one of the best places to be with a telescope. Readers’ recommended Welsh stargazing sites includes gazing at the Milky Way from star sites the Llŷn Peninsula and Snowdonia – we heartily agree, as did Idris the giant, who used Snowdonia’s mountain Cadair Idris as a large stargazing armchair.
Also take the telescope to the Brecon Beacons National Park, one of only five International Dark Sky Reserves and the only one in Wales: the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority lists its stargazing top ten here .
Someday – very soon, we hope – we shall walk every bit of the 870-mile long Wales Coast Path , opened in 2012 and running north to south from Chepstow to Queensferry. Well, most of it. It’s one of many coastal walks to wear one’s boots down in Wales: buy a new pair for the 186-mile Pembrokeshire Coast Path from Amroth to St Dogmaels, which leads northwards along Cardigan Bay to join the 66 miles of the Ceredigion Coast Path . The Menai Strait and Anglesey Coastal Path , part of the Wales Coast Path, are also recommended by readers, particularly South Stack and its RSPB reserve.
Other walks in Wales:
- Cadair Idris , Gwynedd: hike giant territory
- Waterfall Country , Brecon Beacons National Park
- Glyndŵrs Way : national trail between Snowdonia and Pembrokeshire
Like we say, we’ll have to move to Wales for a few years to fit all these in. A few more suggestions for what to see and do in Wales – from readers and from us:
Pontcysyllte aqueduct World Heritage Site and the Dee Valley, north Wales
Cable car rides, dry ski slopes and the longest toboggan run in Britain at Llandudno
Mountain biking at Coed y Brenin , Britain’s biggest mountain biking centre
Thanks to everyone who shared their tips! To find your own Welsh holiday for St David’s Day and beyond, have a look at our 100+ Welsh campsites , glamping sites and caravan parks available to book directly on Pitchup.com, all filterable by options including leisure on site or nearby, rules on site, accommodation type and dozens more. Happy St David’s Day!