Waterfall at Pistyll Rhaeadr

Things to do in Wales

The land of mountains, castles and valleys has plenty to offer those seeking to escape to some fresh air, adventure and a little bit of luxury.

If you’re booking one of our exclusive Welsh countryside cottages, lodges or converted barns, you might want to base your decision around our list of the best things to do in Wales.

Llyn Llydaw and Mount Snowdon

1. Mount Snowdon and its railway

When in Wales, you have to start with Snowdon, or Yr Wyddfa in Welsh. Dominating a large portion of the landscape, this imposing landmark is pure box office.

The highest peak in Wales, Mount Snowdon rises to 1,085 metres above sea level and is surrounded by pristine national parkland. If you wish to climb the mountain to get the best view of the landscape and lakes, you’ll have six walking routes to choose from that vary in difficulty and length.

Not to be underestimated, the hike up this magnificent mountain isn’t always easy. So there is no shame in simply pitching up for a picnic instead, or hopping on the Snowdon Mountain Railway to climb three quarters of the way via track and wheel, all while enjoying the scenery.

Lake on Snowdon

2. Snowdonia National Park

Snowdonia National Park deserves its own spot in the list because there’s much more to the area than the mountain it takes its name from.

Sweeping across a vast area of land, the national park encompasses nine mountain ranges fit for exploration, as well as rivers, gorges, lakes, waterfalls and lush green valleys.

Covering 823 square miles, there’s plenty to do besides the beautiful natural surroundings, such as visiting the many small villages to experience the Welsh language and culture first-hand. As well as a range of walking routes, you’ll find historic sites aplenty in the area, including castles, roman remains and a 12th century abbey.

Central Piaza Of Portmeirion Village In North Wales, UK

3. Portmeirion Village

If in North Wales, you won’t want to miss the chance to visit Portmeirion Village, for something distinct and a little bit quirky.

Designed by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, this cute and quaint visitor attraction was created to look like a colourful Italian coastal village. Thanks to the pink, yellow and blue pastel buildings, terracotta roofs, landscaped gardens and water features, you could be forgiven for thinking you were somewhere in continental Europe.

Described as the ‘Italian Riviera meets rural Wales’, the ‘eco-friendly’ village is a sight in itself, and there’s also woodland, historic buildings, gift shops, restaurants and a spa. If that doesn’t convince you, the location was also once the setting of the 1960s TV show, Prisoner.

Woman riding on a zip line

4. Adventure Parc Snowdonia

Watersports in Wales is one of the must-dos. Combining the luxury and relaxation of a countryside cottage stay with fun and thrills of the great outdoors will make for a memorable trip.

There are many great watersports and activity services offering team building and tourist packages, across the country. But Adventure Parc Snowdonia is our pick purely for its 300-metre ‘fresh-water lagoon’.

Here you can surf on guaranteed waves, or leave the water behind to climb, take up cycle sports, hit the spa or dine in the restaurant, all amid the lovely Conwy Valley landscape, close to the Snowdonia mountains.

Conwy Castle

5. Conwy Castle

There are many castles in Wales, so if you can’t see them all, make sure you visit Conwy Castle.

A well-preserved medieval fortress with towers and a spiral staircase, built by Edward I between 1283 and 1289, Conwy Castle offers guests the chance to walk a circuit around its battlements.

You may even be able to view the Snowdonia mountains in the background on a clear day. Make sure to take the opportunity to walk the streets of the walled town of Conwy and immerse yourself in the history of the old buildings and narrow streets. It’s not a bad place for a bit of shopping, either.

Stairs leading to Cardiff Castle

6. Cardiff and its castles

As the capital of Wales, Cardiff is another destination to tick off your list. A vibrant and exciting – but still cosy and friendly – city, Cardiff makes for a fantastic day trip. Enjoy a number of museums, the bustling bay and marina filled with high-end bars and restaurants, and plenty of places for shopping and to enjoy sports.

Not least, Cardiff is home to two tremendous castles. Cardiff Castle – a great Victorian Gothic structure with an intriguing history –  is set in the city centre. Caerphilly Castle – a sprawling 13th century building surrounded by artificial lakes – is located just outside the city. Both are breathtaking and well worth visiting while you’re in the capital.

Spring Evening Light On Thrift 'Sea Pinks' In Ceibwr Bay, Pembroke, Wales

7. Surf or swim on the Pembrokeshire Coast

There are a great many places to surf in Wales, but at the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park you are sure to enjoy more than just catching some waves. A stunning Area of Natural Beauty, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to beaches, with Newgale among the most popular places if you do wish to pick up a surfboard.

With 240 square miles to explore on land, you can pair your surfing or wild swimming with scenic walks, wildlife watching, island hopping, a coastal path trail, or even a trip to the Iron Age Village.

Pen Y Fan in the Brecon Beacons

8. Brecon Beacons National Park

In the south of Wales, you’ll find plenty of natural wonders. Challenge yourself in this national park by scaling the impressive Brecon Beacons or Black Mountain ranges.

Pen y Fan is the highest peak in the area, but if you wish to avoid the crowds, there are many others to tackle, too. You can also immerse yourself in foraging activities, geocaching, orienteering, stargazing, rock climbing and abseiling. If you prefer exploring on two wheels, there are many mountain-biking options to enjoy as well.

On the water, you can explorer reservoirs, rivers and canals through kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, sailing, windsurfing or simply just rowing a boat.

Waterfall at Pistyll Rhaeadr

9. Pistyll Rhaeadr

If waterfalls are more your cup of tea, Pistyll Rhaeadr is one of the most famous in Wales.

Set four miles from Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant in Powys, you can access the 240 ft mountain waterfall via a footpath and watch the water tumble, roar and rush down the drop. As Britain’s tallest single-drop waterfall, it’s not to be missed.

Surrounded by greenery, there are plenty of relaxing walks close by, with spots perfect for a picnic and few glasses of bubbly, too. Alternatively, you can treat yourself to a warm drink, cakes or sandwiches at the local tearoom, Tan-y-Pistyll, which means ‘little house under the waterfall’ and enjoy the views from the garden or unwind by the log fire.

Train passing through the countryside in Ffestiniog

10. Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways

It’s back to Snowdonia National Park for the last – but not least – attraction on our list. The Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways won’t take you up to the top of Snowdon but they will take you an enthralling journey through mesmerising scenery.

Covering 40 miles of the national park, there are numerous steam train services to different locations, with choices including Aberglaslyn Pass, woodland and mountain vistas, past harbours and coastline, sculptures and more. Add a luxury hamper to one of the experiences to complete your ride, or save the treat time for the tea room.

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