Explore the UK’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Croeso i Gymru! There is no better place to spend St David’s Day than in Wales itself. Known for its rolling valleys, roaring night-life, medieval castles, extreme sports and postcard-perfect villages, there is something for everyone in Wales this weekend.
For Family fun
Families are spoilt for choice in Wales. Follow the south coast for some stunning beaches and forest parks, off the beaten track. Did you know that the UK’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is in Wales? Visit Gower to see what all the fuss is about, then view the coast from a completely different perspective with a spot of kite surfing.
There are no shortage of picnic areas in Wales – from the shores of Llyn Dinas lake in Snowdonia, to the beaches of Barafundle in Pembrokeshire, to the Carmarthenshire’s Dinefwr Park and Castle. Pack the perfect lunch and relax with your family in the great outdoors.
For Novelty value
It’s the classic pub quiz question: what town has the longest name in the world? Of course, the answer is Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (or Llanfair PG, to locals). The town itself is little more than a train station and a souvenir shop, but it is an absolute must-see for any visitor to Wales. Turn your camera settings to ‘widescreen’ and get a photo of yourself with the town’s sign, then pick up a stick of rock and a postcard from the souvenir shop across the road.
Cardiff is a truly cosmopolitan city, with some of the best night-life in the country. St Mary’s Street is where most of the action takes place, with everything from house music, to EDM, to R’n’B, playing in clubs of various sizes. Top name DJs frequently play at Cardiff clubs, so it is worth checking ahead of time to find out where your favourites are going to be.
Less energetic visitors may prefer the Cardiff pub scene, which includes some of the oldest pubs in the country. Try The Rummer Inn, which claims to have its own poltergeist in the cellar, or The Old Arcade, one of the world’s most famous rugby pubs.
The rugged west coast and towering mountains of Snowdonia are an adrenalin junkie’s dream. Rock-climbing, abseiling, scrambling, rafting, hiking, and even skiing are all at your fingertips, while qualified experts are there to teach you the basics, or just keep an eye on things. Hire a mountain bike and spend a few hours on the winding roads of Snowdonia, or simply pack a hearty lunch and set off on a day-long hike. Of course, make sure you take all the usual safety precautions – tell someone where you are planning to hike, and take provisions and a phone with you at all times.
The Welsh Highland Heritage Railway is one of the most beautiful train routes in the country. Setting off from Porthmadog, the journey lasts around one hour, taking you up to the famous Engine Sheds where visitors are encouraged to explore the cabs of the old locomotives. Trainspotters will be in heaven, and kids will adore the ornate trains, which are like something out of Thomas the Tank Engine.
The Barmouth Bridge is also worth a visit for transport fans. Traversing the estuary between Morfa Mawddach and Barmouth, this is a single-track wooden bridge which first opened in 1867. Pedestrians can walk alongside the track and feel the rush of the trains flying past – you may even get a wave from the train driver as he overtakes you!
For History buffs
Caernarfon: one of the most stunning castles in Europe
Forget France and its châteaux – Wales has some of the most stunning castles in Europe. Caernarfon Castle is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built by Edward I, it is one of the best preserved examples of medieval architecture. Cardiff Castle and Conwy Castle are just two more Wales-based former medieval strongholds, and well worth a visit.
Go further back in time at the Caerleon Roman Fortress, which is thought to be the only viewable Roman Legionary Barracks in Europe. Further evidence of Roman settlements can be seen at Caerwent Roman Town, which contains the ruins to the former Roman settlement of Venta Silurum.
For Nature lovers
The Brecon Beacons National Park needs to be seen to be believed. One day is simply not enough time to explore the wild hills, hidden groves, and deep forest that the park has to offer. It doesn’t end at sundown, either – the Brecon Beacons have some of the darkest skies in Britain, meaning stargazers can see more of the night sky here than anywhere else. Bring your telescope, or simply lie on a blanket on the ground and ponder the mysteries of the universe from one of the most beautiful spots on earth.