Rich in history and natural beauty, Wales has a living Celtic culture distinct to the rest of the UK. Travelers are attracted to Wales because of its beautiful landscape, including the mountains and coast of its stunning national parks, the wealth of history and large number of imposing castles. Here are 8 reasons why you should visit Wales:
- The language
Wales of course has its own language – Welsh – which today is spoken or used by more than one fifth of the population. You’ll hear Welsh spoken in more rural parts of the country, where it is some people’s first language, and on the radio and Welsh TV channels as well as seeing it on the road signs. One sign to look out for is for a place called Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch… a town in north Wales with the second longest place name in the world. Wales’ nickname of ‘the land of song’ is reflected in the sing-song sound of the language. There is a strong tradition of singing in the country, which can be enjoyed today through choirs, operas, singing festivals like Gymanfa Ganu or at an eisteddfod – a Welsh festival of literature, music and performance, a tradition which dates back the 12th century.
The local cuisine
Wales is rapidly becoming a destination for discerning gastronomes. The Walnut Tree, near Abergavenny, Tyddyn Llan, at Llandrillo in Denbighshire, and The Checkers at Montgomery, have long boasted Michelin stars, Ynyshir Hall, in Machynlleth, and The Crown, at Whitebrook, joined the prestigious Michelin club in 2016, and this year two more got the nod: Restaurant James Sommerin in Penarth and Sosban and The Old Butchers Restaurant on Anglesey.
It’s home to Britain’s smallest city
With just 1,800 inhabitants, St David’s is hardly a teeming metropolis. Nevertheless, this diminutive destination enjoys city status thanks to its spectacular cathedral, which is the final resting place of St David, Wales’s patron saint. Other notable attractions include Pebbles Espresso Bar and Gallery, Oriel y Parc Gallery and the crumbling ruins of Bishop’s Palace.
A beach holiday might not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of visiting Wales, but perhaps it should be: the country’s coastline has some of the finest stretches of sand in the UK, including Coppet Hall in Pembrokeshire and Llanddwyn Bay in Anglesey. And Gower’s Rhossili beach was ranked the best in Britain by TripAdvisor back in 2014 and the ninth best in the world.
Wales may be small but this little country has had over 400 castles. Apparently there are more castles per head than in any other country in the world. Around 100 of them are still standing today.
Besides the beaches and Snowdonia National Park (a must see), the Welsh countryside has plenty more scope to unwind and get back to nature. Just for starters, the small island boasts an impressive 216 Wildlife Trust nature reserves and 4,122 sq km of National Park land, providing ample opportunity to stretch your legs and appreciate the foliage and wildlife. That’s a remarkable amount for a country only 20,761 sq km large. If that’s not enough, you can even catch a glimpse of bottlenose dolphins off the coast of Cardigan Bay – in fact, it’s quite a common occurrence in summer.
Wales’s rugged coastline, windswept islands and verdant valleys offer bountiful opportunities to spot the country’s endemic wildlife, which includes red kites, falcons, puffins, basking sharks, dolphins, orcas and whale. Top spots include: Puffin Island, The Skerries, Grassholm, Anglesey, Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons.
You can ride the Ffestiniog Railway
Riding this iconic narrow gauge railway is much easier than pronouncing it. Some 13 miles long, this heritage track runs from the harbour at Porthmadog to the slate mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog, wending its way through the forests and foothills of Snowdonia National Park en route.