10 of the best places to stay in Wales

Accommodation, Days out

Posted by Kate A on 27th August 2019

Best places to stay in Wales

Please be mindful that it is always necessary to plan your trip carefully. Whilst accurate at the time of writing, please be aware that the availability of amenities such as lifeguard cover, shops, cafes, toilets and car parks at UK beaches may vary from time to time, especially in the current circumstances. Make sure you check carefully before leaving home to avoid disappointment. For an up-to-date list of beaches that are lifeguarded, visit the RNLI lifeguard patrol website before making your journey.

Home to lively cities, charming seaside towns and three beautiful National Parks dotted with castles, historic homes and fascinating natural landmarks, there are plenty of great places to stay in Wales.

Famed for its dramatic coastline, magnificent mountain ranges and lush river valleys, the land of King Arthur offers plenty for the outdoor adventurer. Or if you’re bringing the family, you’ll find a wealth of exciting attractions scattered amongst the country’s friendly towns and cities.

From cool capital Cardiff, with its wealth of shops, galleries and restaurants, to the snow-capped peaks and adventure sports of Snowdonia, we have picked out some of the best places to enjoy a staycation in Wales this year. And if you’d like to see our full collection of holiday cottages in Wales, just click the button below.

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Cardiff city

Cardiff: best for attractions and entertainment

Vibrant, multicultural and brimming with shops, restaurants, attractions and nightlife, the Welsh capital city, Cardiff, is one of the best places to stay in South Wales to keep everyone entertained. It is situated on the meeting point of the River Taff and the Severn Estuary, and despite being the largest city of Wales, it’s very easy to explore its compact city centre by foot.

If you’re feeling peckish, pick up some local produce at Cardiff Central Market, which you can spread out on a picnic in beautiful Bute Park, or enjoy a delicious meal at one of the top-notch restaurants in the Brewery Quarter. Shop ‘til you drop at Queen Street, St David's Shopping Centre or the Victorian Arcades and if you fancy an adrenaline rush in between, feel your heart racing at Cardiff International White Water, the only white-water rafting course in South Wales. For lovers of art and history, explore the Gothic Revival opulence of Cardiff Castle, before admiring work from some of the world's most renowned artists in the elegant halls of the National Museum Cardiff. And no trip to the capital would be complete without a stroll along the glittering waterfront at Cardiff Bay.

Highlights:

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Garth Pier in Bangor

Bangor: best for history lovers

One of the oldest cities in Wales and one of the smallest in the UK, Bangor is one of the top places to stay in North Wales for those who’d like to immerse themselves in the rich history and heritage of the area. It’s also a brilliant choice for families, with a great selection of attractions, beaches, shops and restaurants to enjoy in and around the city.

This quaint yet lively Welsh city is situated in Gwynedd near the tranquil waters of the Menai Strait and is home to what is believed to be Wales’ longest high street. Another highlight is the 6th-century Bangor Cathedral, one of the oldest bishoprics in Great Britain and the resting place of the last king of Wales and his two sons, Owain Gwynedd and Cadwaladr. Just behind the cathedral is the Gwynedd Museum and Art Gallery, also known as Storiel, with a fascinating display of museum collections relating to various aspects of life in Gwynedd through the ages. And don’t miss the dramatic National Trust neo-Norman manor house called Penrhyn Castle, built in around 1822 with its two art galleries, a doll museum and an industrial railway museum.

Highlights:

  • Enjoy a night at the theatre in the iconic Pontio
  • Take a stroll along the Grade II-listed Garth Pier
  • Soak up the views at the Menai Suspension Bridge

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Swansea

Swansea: best for family adventures

Found on the bay of the beautiful Gower Peninsula, Swansea is one of the best places to stay in Wales for those who would like to combine an exciting city escape with a relaxing beach break. This is the second-largest city in Wales and is renowned as a vibrant cultural hub, offering everything from the Dylan Thomas Centre to filming spots for BBC’s Doctor Who.

Stroll around the buzzing city centre to peruse its shops, restaurants, pubs and cafes, before taking in some history at the stunning Marina and Maritime Quarter, home to the National Waterfront Museum and the Swansea Museum. Sports fans can catch a game at St Helen’s Rugby and Cricket Ground or Liberty Stadium, while literary lovers can follow the Dylan Thomas Trail around some of the iconic landmarks in this Welsh poet’s life and works, including his birthplace. The Gower Peninsula on which this waterfront city stands is Britain's first designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, flaunting award-winning beaches, alluring coastal paths and rolling hills. Wander down the promenade at Swansea Bay and enjoy 5 miles of golden sand or venture further to the spectacular Rhossili Bay and Worm’s Head.

Highlights:

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Tenby

Tenby: best for traditional seaside charm

With its charming cobbled streets lined by pastel-coloured fishermen’s cottages and elegant Georgian mansions, Tenby in Pembrokeshire is one of the prettiest places to stay in Wales by the sea. Best known for its horseshoe-shaped harbour where fishing boats are moored in neat rows beneath the striking St Catherine’s Fort, picture-postcard Tenby is a star of the Welsh coast.

Hidden within its circle of medieval walls are a plethora of ice cream parlours, independent gift shops and friendly pubs – and during the summer, the narrow little lanes are pedestrianised, allowing plenty of opportunities for al fresco dining in the sunshine at the pavement cafes. There are jaw-dropping coastal views at every turn, enlivened by castle ruins, an old lifeboat station and, if you’re lucky, a passing porpoise or two. Seaside fun can be found by the bucketful on one of the town’s three ribbons of velvet-sand beaches, North, South and Castle: top up your tan, enjoy some water sports or hone your sandcastle-building skills. And don’t miss the Tenby Museum and Art Gallery near the harbour, it is the oldest independent gallery in Wales.

Highlights:

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The Mumbles

The Mumbles: best for foodies

Heralded by many as one of the nicest places to stay in Wales, the Mumbles is a mile-long seaside resort, west of Swansea and within a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Loved by wordsmith Dylan Thomas and the birthplace of actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, this Welsh coastal village has an exclusive charm.

Meander along the promenade, dipping in and out of its swanky wine bars and gourmet restaurants with specials boards advertising fresh-off-the-boat seafood, before stopping for a world-class ice cream on the Victorian pier. The ‘Mumbles Mile’ is always a hit with visitors - a row of delightful little pubs along the seafront. Located on the Gower Peninsula, you can enjoy sunny strolls along sandy beaches, hit the waves with a variety of water sports, or clamber the hilltop to Oystermouth Castle to gaze at the boundless blue of Swansea Bay. You’ll soon see why the Mumbles has been frequently named as one of the best places to live in Britain.

Highlights:

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Beaumaris

Beaumaris: best for mesmerising views

One of the most captivating places to visit in Wales, Beaumaris enjoys a gorgeous spot on the coast of the Isle of Anglesey. This lovely North Wales seaside town charms visitors with its beautiful mix of medieval, Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian architecture painted in soft pastel colours, housing a wonderful selection of cafes, pubs, restaurants, art galleries and antique shops.  

An amble along the seafront reveals the town’s 19th-century pier where you can join fishermen and children crabbing, and drink in the spectacular views across the Menai Strait to the peaks of Snowdonia. Quite often here boats are waiting to take eager passengers on fishing trips or cruises around Puffin Island, with a chance to see puffins, seals and other wildlife at close quarters. The jewel in the crown is undoubtedly the 13th-century Beaumaris Castle, a World Heritage Site and a perfectly symmetrical, moated masterpiece that demands a visit. Though it was never completed, this towering fortress is the finest example of castle architecture in all of Wales, with its four successive lines of fortifications.

Highlights:

  • Tee off at the 18-hole Henllys Golf Club
  • Spend time crabbing off the pier
  • Gaze out to sea with an award-winning Red Boat ice cream

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Brecon

Brecon: best for natural beauty

The timeless market town of Brecon shares its name with the majestic mountain range encompassing it. One of our favourite places to stay in the Brecon Beacons National Park, this historic town is surrounded on all sides by rolling hills, woods, caves and waterfalls, and the winding Rivers Usk and Honddu flow through its heart, as well as the Brecon and Monmouthshire Canal.

If you’re looking for places to go in Wales with an abundance of museums and historic sites to discover, then you’ll find plenty here including the Regimental Museum of The Royal Welsh, the Brecknock Museum and Art Gallery, and the remains of Brecon’s medieval walls which can be found on the Captain’s Walk. Quaint cobbled streets showcase Georgian houses and shopfronts, and there is a fine cathedral to explore which dates back nearly 1,000 years. On the second Saturday of every month, Brecon hosts the largest farmers’ market in the area, offering a Breconshire-rich bounty, with mine-matured cheeses, mountain-bred lamb and the award-winning tipple, Penderyn Welsh whisky.

Highlights:

  • Take a leisurely boat trip down the canal
  • Walk up Pen y Fan, the highest peak in South Wales
  • Enjoy a scenic bike ride on the 55-mile Taff Trail

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Betws-y-Coed

Betws-y-Coed: best for an active holiday

Walkers, climbers and adventurers wondering where to stay in Wales should head to the principal village of the Snowdonia National Park, Betws-y-Coed. This exceptionally pretty, North Wales village offers cascading waterfalls, hill-top lakes, glistening river pools and ancient bridges over the River Conwy - and has a plethora of shops devoted to all things outdoors. Many artists and poets have been drawn to Betws-y-Coed over the years, attracted by the enchanting woodland and mountain scenery. There are numerous walks from the village and the local Tourist Information Centre offers a great selection of maps. The riverside walk up to Swallow Falls is a firm favourite, said by many to be one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Wales. Or for a little tranquillity, head into the leafy glades of the Gwydir Forest.

When you need to refuel, there is a variety of pubs, cafes and restaurants serving delicious local fayre, such as Welsh rarebit, buttered Bara Brith and Glamorgan sausages. And for some local history, head over to the Conwy Valley Railway Museum which is brilliant for kids with its miniature steam train trips, or take a walk to the 14th-century church, St. Michael's, one of the oldest churches in Wales.

Highlights:

  • Tackle the incredible heights of Mount Snowdon nearby
  • Delight in a Treetop Adventure at Zip World Fforest
  • Visit Tŷ Hyll, the mysterious house built of huge misshapen boulders

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St Davids Cathedral

St Davids: best for water sports, walking and wildlife

When it comes to the best places to stay in West Wales, the smallest city in Britain known as St Davids, is one of our favourite spots. Anchored on the western tip of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park on the St Davids Peninsula, the city is not much bigger than a village with a population of less than 2,000. It is, however, an important religious centre as it is the birthplace of St David, the Patron Saint of Wales.

St Davids Cathedral is quite simply spectacular and was historically a place of pilgrimage from the time of the Crusades. This bewitching 12th-century Gothic construction is Wales' holiest site, built from beautiful pink and grey local stone. It is complemented by the ruins of the Bishop’s Palace which sits next door and often hosts outdoor theatrical productions in the summer months. Wander into the historic centre decorated with bunting, with its cluster of art galleries, gift shops and cafes, before making the most of the excellent hiking, surfing and wildlife-watching in the surrounding national park. The Pembrokeshire Coast Path runs right around the city and there are a variety of boat trips to the island nature reserves of Ramsey and Skomer, with the chance to spot whales and dolphins.

Highlights:

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Hay on Wye

Hay-on-Wye: best for culture vultures

On the English/Welsh border and on the fringes of the Brecon Beacons National Park, this charming town punches above its weight when it comes to culture. Of course, it’s most well-known for the Hay Festival, a literary celebration for a fortnight in May and June. But there is plenty more to see and do for the rest of the year.

Explore the ruins of Hay Castle which tower above the town, wander the quaint streets dipping in and out of the many antique shops where you might find a hidden gem, or make a beeline for the Thursday Market in the town centre which has a wide range of quirky wares for sale. If you’re after some outdoor pursuits, you can stroll along Offa’s Dyke Path, hike to the top of Hay Bluff or meander down the River Wye in a canoe. And that’s without mentioning the many charming cafes, restaurants and pubs dotted around the town. Plus, no visit to Hay-on-Wye is complete without browsing one of the many bookshops in the town – and with more than 20 to choose from, this activity alone could easily fill a day!

Highlights:

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View our top 10 on a map


Need more inspiration?

We have plenty of captivating guides to Wales to help inspire your next holiday. Take a look at:

Whether you are looking for a relaxing break complete with cosy cafes and golden beaches, or a more active getaway amongst mountains and waterfalls, there is an abundance of places to stay in Wales to suit everyone. Enjoy a memorable holiday in this enchanting Celtic land in one of our self-catering cottages in Wales. Just click the button below to explore our full collection, or take a look at our pick of the top cottages in Wales.

Retreat to Wales



Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.