Planning a trip to the Land of Castles and wondering what are the best places to visit in Wales?
Despite its humble size, the smallest country in the UK is teeming with unique natural sites. Wales has three official national parks and spotless sandy beaches. Home to at least 60 castles, these rank high as the top Wales attractions.
Read on for our guide to the unmissable Wales tourist attractions and places to visit in Wales!
How to get to Wales
Direct flights connect Cardiff Airport (CWL) with a select number of other UK and European destinations. If you are flying in from outside of Europe, you should anticipate landing in London and then transferring via a domestic flight or by alternative means.
If you are travelling to places in Wales from the Republic of Ireland, you can take a ferry from Dublin to Holyhead or Rosslare to Pembroke. Check fares and schedules with Irish Ferries and Stena Line or consult Direct Ferries.
Trains connect London Paddington with Cardiff Central in less than 2 hours. You can travel from London Euston to Aberystwyth in 4 hours 40 minutes. Book train tickets in advance via thetrainline to save money.
How to get around the places to go in Wales
Wales has a wonderful train network in place. You can reach most of the best places to visit in Wales via rail. Shorter journeys are not costly but if you want to travel from north to south or vice versa, try to book early to avoid elevated prices.
On the other hand, for additional flexibility, you could hire a car and drive around the places to visit in Wales. Big firms such as Enterprise, Hertz, and Avis have outposts in the larger cities such as Cardiff, Swansea, Aberystwyth, and Bangor.
Best time to visit Wales
Wales is a year-round destination although the country is prone to frequent rain throughout all four seasons. That’s why the Welsh countryside is so lush and green!
Spring, summer, and autumn are the best months for outdoor adventures and activities in Wales. For a beach getaway, visit during the summer months – but try to avoid the school holidays when resorts are busier.
Best Places to Visit in Wales
- Brecon Beacons
Now that you have the basics, let’s jump in with the most beautiful and unique places to go in Wales. For each destination, we have recommended a hotel option.
One of the most unique Wales places to visit, Anglesey is an island off the coast of North Wales. The Menai Suspension Bridge connects the isle to Bangor and has a pedestrian walkway alongside the road.
The island consists of five towns and sheltered beaches with gentle swimming conditions. The 140-mile Anglesey Coast Path is perfect for hiking and cycling excursions. Llanddwyn Island is one of the best places in Anglesey for dramatic viewpoints.
Historic attractions include the Plas Newydd House and Gardens, Beaumaris Castle, and the Copper Kingdom Centre. This latter presents the dangers that faced workers in what was once the world’s largest copper mine.
Food festivals, farmers’ markets, fairs, and festivals occur year-round on Anglesey. Check out what’s on before you visit.
Where to stay in Anglesey: Lastra Farm Hotel
This pet-friendly hotel is equipped with immaculate modern rooms with private bathrooms and includes daily breakfast.
Pronounced “ ae-b-er-IH-s-t-w-ih-th” Aberystwyth means “the mouth of the Ystwyth”. It’s located on the central coast of Cardiganshire and is the setting of one of the UK’s best universities.
One of the most unique things to do in Aberystwyth is to ride the Aberystwyth Cliff Railway. This funicular has ferried tourists and residents up to the summit of Constitution Hill since 1896. Views afford gorgeous views across the Irish Sea – with the world’s largest camera obscuras on hand to help maximise the experience. Return tickets cost £6.50 or you can walk one way.
Aberystwyth Castle sits right on the shore of South Beach. It was built in the late 13th century and is a Grade I listed Edwardian fortress. The castle was established by King Edward I during his campaign against the Welsh. Nowadays, it stands in ruins and adds melodrama to this laid-back beach town. Visiting castles is one of the quintessential Wales activities and this one is free to visit.
Allow a couple of hours to roam the Ceredigion Coastal Path for an alternative perspective on the city. Not forgetting that one of the best places to visit in Wales is perfect for a day or two of bumming around on the beach during summer!
There are so many wonderful things to do in this town, be sure to check out our full guide of things to do in Aberystwyth here.
Where to stay in Aberystwyth: Maes Bach Boutique
Funky rooms make you feel right at home! Opt for the privacy of an en suite or save some cash and use the shared bathroom. A kitchen and communal lounge are also available during your stay. Book a stay at Maes Bach Boutique hotel here.
3. Snowdonia National Park
Spanning an area of 823 square miles, Snowdonia is the largest national park in the country and one of the definitive Wales tourist attractions.
Snowdonia National Park is located in northwest Wales and incorporates nine mountain ranges plus dozens of lakes, rivers, and waterfalls. There are 1,497 miles of terrain to explore via a series of easy, moderate, and challenging hikes.
The Aber Falls are accessible via an easy 2.8-mile hike. Cwm Idwal is a moderate 3.1-mile trail through a glacial valley. Its diversity attracted Charles Darwin.
Mount Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa) stands 1,085 metres above sea level and is the highest mountain in England and Wales. There are several hiking trails available if you want to hike to the summit, with the 9-mile Llanberis Path being the most popular. All Snowdon hikes are classified as difficult and require a good fitness level.
Besides hiking and exploring the viewpoints, riding the Snowdon Mountain Railway is a must. The traditional locomotive links Llanberis Station with the summit and grants 45 minutes of epic scenery each way.
Other adventurous activities in Snowdonia include mountain biking and watersports. The Titan Zipline soars over the park and Llechwedd quarries while Go Below Underground Adventures take you through subterranean caves. These are two of the most adrenaline-pumping Wales activities!
Where to stay in Snowdonia: Estuary Lodge Motel B&B
This no-frills B&B provides daily breakfast and is located within the national park limits. En suite rooms have bathtubs for post-hiking soaks and basic kitchen facilities. Book a stay at the Estuary Lodge Motel & B&B here.
4. Brecon Beacons National Park
The Brecon Beacons National Park is another of the essential Wales attractions for outdoor enthusiasts. This beautiful national park has an abundance of hiking, cycling, and adventurous activities.
The landscape is gentle and bucolic with the likes of rolling hills and meadows punctuated with waterfalls, rivers, and castles – lots of castles!
Brecon Mountain Railway operates scenic rides through the valleys if you fancy a change of pace.
Carreg Cennen Castle is located in the western end of the Brecon Beacons. This ruined stronghold is one of the best places to visit in Wales regardless of whether you intend on hiking in the park.
Located in South Wales, the Brecon Beacons are convenient if you’re travelling from Cardiff and Swansea.
Where to stay in the Brecon Beacons: YHA Brecon Beacons
YHA hostels are a reliable option and this one is the perfect base for a hiking adventure. En suite private rooms are available and there is a shared kitchen plus a bar on-site. Book a stay at the YHA here.
Hay-on-Wye is a border town that officially sits in the county of Powys. Hay is a convenient base for exploring the Brecon Beacons but it deserves a special mention.
This village is one of the most romantic places to visit in Wales for couples. Enjoy leisurely strolls along the River Wye and the surrounding valleys before sitting down to a gourmet meal in the innumerable gastro pubs.
Hay-on-Wye is also a magnet for book lovers.
If that speaks to you – try to visit Hay-on-Wye during May when the annual Hay Festival takes place. This 2-week book bonanza attracts British and international writers for public talks, workshops, and book signings.
A word of warning: accommodation gets booked up around a year in advance for the festival!
Even if you can’t make it to the festival, this tiny town is packed with book shops where you can purchase your body weight in second-hand, rare, and new tomes.
Where to stay in Hay-on-Wye: Llangoed Hall
A short drive from Hay, this luxurious country house includes breakfast and dinner in the rate. Lavish rooms feature four-poster beds and clawfoot bathtubs. Book a stay at Llangoed Hall here.
Tenby is a harbour town and seaside resort in southwest Wales, popular with Welsh and English holidaymakers. It’s a huge hit with families and young children but ideal for a romantic escape during shoulder season.
The town is characterised by its pastel-hued terrace houses and its pretty harbour. Sheltered North Beach offers pristine sunbathing and swimming conditions during the summer months. Goskar Rock looms out of the water and is fun to explore and photograph. On the other hand, South Beach is a popular spot for windsurfing – one of the most popular activities in Wales.
Do take a day trip to Caldey Island – a holy isle with a Cistercian abbey and a long-standing history of monasticism.
Tenby is one of the best places to visit in Wales with a dog during winter when the beach opens up to dog walkers. Although conditions are nippy, the coastal atmosphere and bright blue skies make it the perfect getaway.
Where to stay in Tenby: Beautiful flat with harbour views
This centrally-located family-friendly apartment features a full kitchen and welcomes pets. Recommended if you want to save some money on food or simply have a space of your own. Book a stay at the harbour views apartment here.
As the Welsh capital, Cardiff is one of the unmissable places to visit in Wales.
Not sweet on huge, frantic cities? In that case, you’ll love Cardiff – the city is less than half the size of London and has a laid-back vibe.
Situated on the south coast as well as the River Taff, the city consists of a compact centre and a waterfront area.
The beautifully preserved medieval and Victorian Gothic revival Cardiff Castle is the star attraction. Download the free app when you purchase your ticket to get the lowdown on the castle’s history.
Catch your breath at the Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve – eight acres of natural habitat for flora and fauna.
Where to stay in Cardiff: The Coal Exchange Hotel
Uniquely decorated, this Cardiff Bay hotel features spa baths, fascinating decor, and an on-site restaurant. This is definitely one of the more up-market spots in the city, but it is well worth splurging for how gorgeous and comfortable it is. Book a stay at the Coal Exchange Hotel here.
8. Pembrokeshire Coast National Park
The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park is the third of Wales’s three national parks. This and the Brecon Beacons tend to be overshadowed by Snowden. However, it’s one of the most unforgettable places to visit in Wales.
Scenic beaches, secluded coves, and rugged coastal bluffs differentiate this park from its siblings. 186 miles connect the craggy volcanic outcrops to the north with limestone cliffs in the south.
Broadhaven Beach, the Blue Lagoon, and Pembroke Castle are three unmissable attractions in Wales.
Where to stay in Pembrokeshire Coast National Park: Pendyffryn Manor Bed & Breakfast
This homely inn offers oceanview rooms while some have kitchenettes. Breakfast is included in the rate and it is a short 5-minute walk to the beach from the front door. Book a stay at the Bendyffryn Manor B&B here.
Llandudno is a coastal town on the North Wales coast with all the trimmings of a classic British holiday resort.
Enjoy sunset strolls on the pier that juts out into the turbulent Irish Sea. There are plenty of food shacks where you can grab fish and chips before taking a lap on the Ferris wheel.
Ride the Great Orme tramway or cable car up to this fascinating stretch of headland which is visible from pretty much everywhere in Llandudno. The name derives from the Old Norse term for sea serpent and offers gentle hiking and awesome views.
The Happy Valley Botanical Gardens are worthy of a stroll when you tire of the gorgeous sandy beaches.
Llandudno is one of the places to visit in Wales for couples and families.
Where to stay in Llandudno: The Wildings Hotel & Tudno’s Restaurant
Snap up a sea view room at this superb hotel with private bathrooms and a complimentary breakfast. The restaurant is also one of the best in town, so you won’t have to travel far for a great meal. Book a stay at Wildings Hotel here.