You'll find some of the best beaches, the finest rivers and the most beautiful scenery in the world
Things To Do
To discover life in a coal mining town, Blaenavon in the Welsh Valleys is designated as a World Heritage Site for its industrial contribution over three centuries. Go deep underground – 300 feet to be precise – at the Big Pit National Coal Museum. Visitors descending the mineshaft wear the very same equipment – helmet, cap lamp, belt, battery and ‘self rescuer’ – that were used by miners.
For some long distance walking, follow Glyndŵr’s Way, named after the 15th century Welsh warrior and self-proclaimed Prince of Wales. The route crosses east to west – or rather west to east and back again between Welshpool, Machynlleth and Knighton. At Knighton, you can also pick up the well known Offa’s Dyke Path, which runs north to south along the Welsh border.
Go stargazing in the Brecon Beacons National Park. On a clear night you can see the Milky Way, major constellations, bright nebulas and meteor showers. As an International Dark Sky Reserve, there are numerous stargazing events that take place throughout the year, often in the presence of an astronomer that will help you to appreciate and understand the night sky.
Visit the charming seaside village of Manorbier in Pembrokeshire, which was a popular haunt with writers such as George Bernard Shaw and Virginia Woolf. There’s a very picturesque castle there, or otherwise move on towards St Govan’s Head to see the tiny clifftop chapel.
For fans of all things Darlek and Tardis-like, visit Wales and head to the Doctor Who Experience. The TV show is filmed at studios in Cardiff (and at many places around the Welsh Valleys) and the attraction sheds light behind the scenes with a multitude of special effects.
When To Visit
No spring is complete without the annual festivities on the first day of March to celebrate St David’s Day – you’ll find something going on in most Welsh towns, with a big celebration in Cardiff. Neither would Hay-on-Wye be the town that it is without the internationally renowned Hay Festival for literary lovers, held every May.
Rugby fans can, of course, be kept occupied with Six Nations matches in Cardiff between February and April, while walkers should head to the Gower Walking Festival, held during June. And for music lovers, there’s the Brecon Jazz Festival followed by the Green Man Festival, a folk offering, both held in August.
Wales is renowned for its fabulous local produce too, and this is celebrated throughout the region, whether with Pembrokeshire Fish Week at the end of June, the Cardiff International Food and Drink Festival in July or The Big Cheese, Caerphilly’s take on foodie revelry – free of charge, too. Though the biggest day in the rural/food calendar is the Royal Welsh Show, held at the national showground in Builth Wells, which takes place in July.
The M4 crosses into South Wales north of Bristol, with access from the south west and north via the M5. The M4 travels as far west as Pontarddulais, seven miles west of Swansea, where the A48 picks up to Carmarthen and Pembrokeshire. Crossings on the two Severn Bridges are tolled westbound only, i.e. you have to pay to get into Wales on this route, but you can get out for free! Motorhomes are charged the same fee as a standard car. The ‘old’ Severn Bridge (the M48) is best for heading to Chepstow and the Wye Valley, while the Second Severn Crossing (the M4) is direct to Newport and Cardiff.
The M50, a spur off the M5 near Tewkesbury, is a useful alternative route to Monmouth and the Brecon Beacons, with the A40 and A449 dual carriageways providing an usually quiet and very picturesque route.