Wales is something of an enigma. On the one hand, you have the industrial communities dotted along the south coast of the country, looking out over the Bristol channel. Steelworks and industrial buildings run for fifty miles, if not more, along the coast.
But compared to Wales in its entirety, these eyesores are a vanishing fraction of what’s out there. Wales is, in many ways, a hidden playground in the UK. If you know where to go, there’s no need to travel thousands of miles abroad. The region has got it all: waterfalls, endless white-sand beaches, and mountains rivalling those of anywhere else in the country.
Here’s why you’re missing out if you’ve never been to Wales.
The Low, Low Prices
If you think a holiday to Benidorm is inexpensive, then wait until you see the prices in Wales.
Wales doesn’t have any tourist “hot spots,” so to speak. The landscape is so diverse and wild that many of the country’s hidden treasures remain a secret across a vast swathe of the popular.
This factor means that prices in Wales are incredibly low. You can get a night in a caravan park in Wales in the middle of some of the most picturesque countryside in the world at a fraction of the price you’d pay elsewhere. Pub drinks and meals are fabulously inexpensive, and parking is either free or dirt cheap.
Wales, therefore, is a holidaymaker’s dream. Not only does it provide all of the sightseeing opportunities that you could ever want, but it lets you preserve your bank balance too. That’s a lot of value at an extraordinarily low price.
The Whitesand Beaches
The beaches in Wales are something to write home about. Not only are there are a lot of them, but years of bombardment by the Atlantic Ocean has transformed many of them into idyllic coves with plenty of fine sand.
Recently, Rhossili Bay Beach near Swansea was voted the best beach in the UK by Trip Advisor. The beach has a classic, horseshoe shape, and a shallow gradient. It’s framed by rocky crags and green, undulating hills, making it a particularly spectacular location and a must-visit if you’re in the area any time soon.
For centuries, the English tried to gain control of Wales and wrest it from the indigenous Celts. Part of that process meant building a series of massive castles at strategic locations along the coast.
The countryside in Wales is littered with medieval fortresses: there are more than 400 of the things. Not all of them are still standing, but a good 100 are in a sufficiently fit condition to merit a visit.
Perhaps the most impressive of all Welsh castles is the fortress at Caernarfon. Sitting on the coast in the northwestern tip of the country, the castle retains all of its original battlements and permits visitors throughout the year.
Wales is a mountainous, undulating region with huge geological variety. And for people who love waterfalls, this mix of rocks is a dream come true.
Wales is home to some of the largest waterfalls in the UK, as well as a large selection of ponds and rock pools. One of the most impressive waterfalls is at Pistyll Rhaeadr. It’s more than one hundred feet high, and when viewed from below, it looks as if it gushes from a hole in the mountainside.
You can also go on a tour of the four waterfalls along the River Mellte in the Brecon Beacons. You can either walk from the car park and then retrace your steps or get a shuttle service with a tour operator.
Many people think that Welsh is a dead language. But if you visit Wales, you’ll hear it spoken all over the place. Welsh is alive, and well, it seems.
For outsiders, the language can sound strange. Written down, it’s almost comical. When the Welsh were developing the language, they didn’t anticipate how it might affect the modern world. It’s not uncommon, for instance, to enter a small village or town and find that the signposts are extended to accommodate the length of the word. Some place names are a mouthful and a half. What’s more, many signposts around the country provide a phonetic translation for non-native speaks, showing you precisely how you should pronounce the names of various places that you encounter. It’s a helpful touch if you find yourself presented with an impossible string of consonants.
The Italian-Style Village Of Portmerion
While Port Talbot might not be the most beautiful city in the world, Portmerion, a town about an hour’s drive from Liverpool, has a shot at the title.
The strangest thing about Portmerion, however, isn’t the fact that it’s beautiful, but that it looks like it’s been lifted straight out of Tuscany. How could somewhere in Wales possibly look like it originated in southern Europe?
The reason for the town’s existence has to do with wealth. Wealthy architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis wanted to create an idyllic village in the Welsh countryside based on his trips to Portofino in Italy. Portofino was, at the time, an architectural masterpiece with no counterpart in the UK. Williams-Ellis, therefore, began a mission to construct a settlement that would capture the charm and beauty of the original and named it Portmerion. The village still stands today. The whole place has an uncanny ability to make you feel happy.
The Mountain Biking
Unlike many parts of the UK, there are mountains in Wales. But for mountain bikes, the Welsh hills are particularly appealing. The countryside is littered with biking trail centres and bike-friendly tracks for off-road cycling.
Perhaps the most impressive of all of these is Antur Steniog on the heart of the Welsh highlands, near Snowdonia. The venue offers several blue, red and black-graded downhill tracks for you to practice your skills, as well as a van uplift service, providing you with dozens of opportunities to shred to your heart’s content.
So there you have it: Wales in a nutshell. Do you fancy visiting it?
*this is a collaborative post*