If you are planning a trip to Wales, you might consider
purchasing the Great British Heritage Pass
to save money on admission fees to many of the UK's best
See the advertisement on the right edge of this page for more
Read our recommendations on the best places to visit in Wales. We believe
that the cities and regions described below are the country’s key tourist
destinations, contain Wales's best attractions and urge you to visit them
during your travels in Wales.
England, Scotland and Wales are commonly referred to as Britain and formally
as Great Britain. In 1927, six northern counties of Ireland became part of
this union and its name was changed to the United Kingdom of Great Britain
and Northern Ireland, commonly Known as the United Kingdom and abbreviated
as the UK.
When you see this
map symbol, click it for a detailed highway map. Also, the map has a
"satellite" button that will allow you to see the area from above.
Names in Teal are regions of Wales.
Wales offers a distinct landscape and culture. Although passing
into Wales is "seamless", it differs from England and the Welsh revel in the
difference. "Ambiwlans" is ambulance, "gammon" is ham, and you might hear
about witches on the local news (we did)!
Wales lags England in economic development and evidence of the disparity is
obvious, especially in towns and villages of former mining areas.
Wales offers the tourist beautiful countryside, outstanding castles, and the
stunning Snowdonia National Park.
Snowdonia National Park
Over 800 square miles in area, Snowdonia National Park in northwest
Wales, encompasses wilderness, agricultural areas and villages. It
offers a unique mix of recreation, conservation and community that meld
with beautiful scenery and stunning vistas.
- See the website of the Snowdonia National Park Authority for
Betws-y-Coed is the main village in the Snowdonia area and is a good
source for accommodations and information on the area.
While in Snowdonia, you might be interested in taking a ride on the
Snowdon Mountain Railway that ascends Snowdon (the highest mountain in
England and Wales).
The Railway is open only from mid-March to the beginning of November.
This is a rack and pinion railway and the journey is 2.5
hours roundtrip. The views from the top are gorgeous in good
The railway operates from Llanberis. Visit their website for more
information on the
Snowdon Mountain Railway
Wales offers the traveler a variety of castles of exceptional
quality. The Castles were built to ensure the Welsh remained loyal
subjects of the Crown. The castles add both mystery and
magnificence to the countryside and you should not pass up the
opportunity to explore these monuments to the past.
Be prepared: most castles will not live up to your expectations
regarding size and grandeur. Living in castles was tough duty, though
not as difficult as living outside of one.
Gwynedd, located in north Wales, offers several well preserved castles
that were erected by King Edward in the 13th century to colonize the
Welsh and to defend his recent victory over the Welsh forces. In all,
about a dozen castes were constructed in Wales by Edward or by
others at his request. The greatest of the new castles, however,
were constructed by Edward's architectural genius James of
Each of the castles occupies a site that possessed significant
defensive characteristics that were enhanced during the construction
process. The plan for the new castles was to build them with a
concentric design that incorporated massive gatehouses, where the
Wandering any of the castles recommended below will take an hour or
two (depending on the size of the castle and its state of
preservation). The castles and their namesake towns are well worth a
visit. The finest castle, all UNESCO World Heritage Sites, are:
Beaumaris Castle, the last of the string of castles built by Edward,
stands guard over the eastern end of Menai strait, a body of water
that separates Angelsey from mainland Wales.
Many regard Beaumaris as the most beautiful of Edward's castles in
Wales. Its moat has been partially restored and its walls
remain in good shape, although the castle was never finished due to
a lack of funds and changing strategies.
Beaumaris Castle has a concentric design and was constructed
to allow direct supply by ship.
Caernarfon Castle is regarded as the most impressive of the castles
built by Edward. In addition to its defensive purpose, many
scholars have commented that it was also built to convince the local
populace of the king's determination to establish English
dominance over Wales. Caernarfon is the largest and most
highly ornamented of the Welsh castles. It was built with an
unusual number of towers and its curtain wall includes rows of
different colored stones.
In 1969, Caernarfon served as the location for the investiture of
Charles, Prince of Wales.
Harlech Castle (close to the town of Harlech) is sited in an
attractive location on the shore of Cardigan Bay. A harbor was dug
to supply the castle by sea, enhancing its strong defensive
Harlech Castle was endowed with a powerful gatehouse that included a
number of unobtrusive defensive additions. You will enter the
castle through the gatehouse, so take a close look at the danger
that waited for the enemy who tried to enter this castle.
Heading north from Harlech towards Snowdonia, you will near
Portmerion, an idyllic, small village built to show the
compatibility of development and natural beauty. Visit to see the
village, its garden and for some fun shopping. If the name
sounds familiar, it may be because Potmerion Pottery (in
Stoke-on-Trent, England) was founded by a daughter of the man who
funded Portmerion's development.
Of course, the latest Portmerion Pottery is available in the
Ship Shop in the village.
Good values can be found at the Portmerion Pottery Seconds
Warehouse, that sells factory seconds at great prices.
See the Portmerion official tourism website for more
Castle Conwy was sited to overlook the River Conwy and control its
traffic for both supply and defensive purposes. The
construction effort at Conwy also included a town that is considered
one of the premier examples of a fortified medieval town.
You will find the Conwy River Valley quite beautiful. If you
are interested in gardens, the Bodnant Garden, part of the National
Trust, is a world famous garden noted for its botanical collection.
Castle Ruthin (Ruthun)
Located in Ruthin, the Castle (now a hotel) offers elaborately staged,
fun-filled "Mediaeval Banquets", serving mead, good food, songs, and
jests provided by fully costumed lords and ladies. The event is
worth the price, the entertainment professional grade, but the only
silverware provided is a dagger - so make sure you trust your fellow
lords and ladies!
The castle was built for Edward I by a lord who constructed it on
his own land. Although attractive, Ruthin is not in same league as
the four castles referenced above.
Cardiff is the capital of Wales and busy, working city. The
Castell Caerdydd (Cardiff Castle) is the major attraction; The site has
been occupied by a fortress of one sort or another for 1900 years and
endured endless tinkering by the Romans, Normans, and the Welsh. The
modern "castle" ( there is also a Norman keep) was built in
the 19th century and has a beautiful interior.
Visit the town's official
tourism website for more details on what to see and do in Cardiff.
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The official tourism website for Wales in
Visit Wales. The website provides additional details on our
recommended best places to visit, as well as details on attractions that did not
make our list.
If you are going to be traveling in Wales, you might want to consider adding
some of the destinations below. You can research them through these links
Best Places to Visit in Scotland
Best Places to Visit in England
Best Places to Visit in London
Best Places to Visit in
For country facts on the United Kingdom (which includes Wales), as well
as travel information related to visas, driving rules, safety, medical
conditions, visas and other travel-related information, see this page on
United Kingdom Travel from the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the
U.S. State Department. Regardless of your home country, we think
you will find the information provided to be useful when planning a trip
to the England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or Gibraltar.
If you need information about another travel destination, try our
Destination Guide Index
or Googling ThereArePlaces.
Map of the Best Places to Visit in
the United Kingdom (UK)
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