Top 10 things to do in Wales

February Half Term

Posted by Clare Willcocks on 16th February 2020

top 10 things to do in Wales

Wales offers some of the most diverse activities and attractions in the UK, with majestic mountains in the north, tropical-esque beaches in the south and rolling countryside in the centre, not to mention its vibrant cities! There is so much to see and do throughout this wonderful country, it can be tricky narrowing down Wales’ attractions and unique destinations to visit during a trip.

Discover fantastic things to see like iconic local attractions, ancient heritage sites and incredible natural scenery as you explore this country. You could spend your days climbing hiking magnificent Snowdonia, exploring the streets of bustling Cardiff or spending lazy days on the sandy beaches of the Gower Peninsula.

If you are still narrowing down where you’d like to stay during your break, take a look through our collection of holiday cottages in Wales and find the perfect base from which to start exploring this beautiful country. 

Wales holiday cottages

If you are wondering where to go and what to do in Wales, we’ve got you covered with this list of our top 10 things to do in Wales. Read through these top Welsh attractions and natural sights and start planning your next exciting holiday.

1. Snowdonia National Park

Snowdonia

823 square miles of incredible landscapes captivate thousands of visitors each year Snowdonia itself needs a top 10 to take everything in. It’s easily one of the top places to go in Wales and particularly popular among keen walkers who can climb Snowdon, the highest mountain in the UK, or take the easy option and trundle up by train! There are many walking routes throughout the whole park, taking in the mountain scenery, rivers, lakes, and valleys, including lots of options for families, pushchairs and wheelchair users.

But who says you have to walk everywhere? Take to the sky with a ride on what’s believed to be the world’s fastest zipline at Zip World or roar along the ground with a quad bike adventure in North Wales. To take it down a notch, you could visit the exquisite gardens, castles and ancient burial sites throughout the mountains or explore the banks of one of the beautiful lakes, Llyn Ogwen is always a wonderful choice.

For more fantastic adventures throughout the region, take a look at our blog on Top things to do in Snowdonia and check out our National Parks guide to discover all the ways you can make the most of your time here.

Snowdonia cottages

2. Visit a castle

Castle

This country is known as the ‘land of castles’ due to the immense building work that was carried out during the Norman conquers creating many of these impressive structures, and it’s a must-do if you take a trip to Wales. There are reportedly over 600 castles in Wales, some mere ruins, others well-preserved reminders of a turbulent and dramatic past, all wonderful Welsh attractions. Here are a few of our favourite castles all across Wales:

  • Caerphilly Castle is hard to beat in terms of scale and foreboding appearance. Surrounded by water, it rises from the outskirts of town, boasting a maze of rooms, corridors, and walls to explore.
  • Caernarfon Castle is similarly impressive as it towers over the river and town, offering an intriguing history for you to discover.
  • Cardiff Castle is magnificent, boasting 2,000 years of history, and conveniently located for an afternoon visit while exploring Wales’ capital city.
  • For location, Carreg Cennen on the edge of the Brecon Beacons is beyond compare, offering 360-degree views of the Black Mountains and beautiful Welsh countryside.

Top castles in Wales

3. Beach day on the Gower Peninsula

Rhossili Bay

The fact that the Gower was the UK’s first designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a testament to its breathtaking scenery, not least its first-class beaches. Take the opportunity to hone your surfing skills, or simply enjoy a seaside sandcastle building and beach games session with the family. If your four-legged friend is in tow, take a look at our top dog-friendly beaches in Wales. Here are a few of the stunning beaches on offer.

  • One of the region’s top places to visit in Wales, Rhossili Bay is a 3-mile-long sandy beach backed by Rhossili Down – the highest point of the peninsula. It’s National Trust managed with a shop and visitor centre as well as ancient burial sites and an old shipwreck for you to uncover.
  • Popular with surfers and sunbathers alike, Llangennith is to the north of Rhossili Bay and offers a coffee shop and bistro, an ice cream shop and toilets. It’s a beautiful beach with dunes that children can enjoy exploring when they aren’t building sandcastles down by the waves - this beach is dog-friendly all year round too.
  • Three Cliffs Bay is towered over and protected by immense limestone cliffs – you can walk beneath the cliffs through an archway – and it also offers up salt marsh and dunes to explore. This sandy expanse to the south of the peninsula is one of Gower’s most picturesque beaches.
  • Finally, exquisite Caswell Bay is a great choice for families with good facilities, easy access for those with limited mobility and more facilities in nearby Bishopston village. Bishop's Wood Local Nature Reserve is 2 miles away while The Mumbles is just 3 miles.

20 more great beaches in Wales

4. A day in Cardiff

Cardiff

Whether you’re a shop-til-you-dropper or prefer getting active, Cardiff has plenty to offer. Uncover ancient history or head straight to the sports stadium, before spending an evening at the theatre.

Cardiff cottages

For adventurers: With something for youngsters and grown-ups, everyone can enjoy a day out at Cardiff International White Water centre where you can take part in a variety of activities including white water rafting, coasteering and if you’d rather stay dry, the Air Trail. Oakwood Theme Park offers more great family adventures and is the place to go for thrilling roller coaster rides.

For theatre enthusiasts: The iconic Wales Millennium Centre has a fantastic programme of shows on throughout the year, catch a musical or drama during your trip to Wales. Otherwise, you might fancy a visit to Chapter Arts Centre where art exhibitions, film showings, and performances all take place – they offer workshops and talks too.

For shoppers: Designer brands and high street stores rub shoulders with charming independent shops, with the shopping centres of St David’s, Royal Arcade, Capitol and Queens Arcade all offering the visitor something a little different.

For sports fans: The iconic Millennium Stadium, now renamed the Principality Stadium, is not to be missed. Take a tour of the impressive stadium where Welsh Rugby Team take on challengers from around the world and football’s 2017 Champions League Trophy took place – or see if you can catch an event.

For history buffs: The National Museum Cardiff has plenty of great exhibitions showcasing world-class art and natural history for everyone to discover. Meanwhile, St Fagan’s National History Museum offers a 100-acre parkland containing over 40 original buildings from different times periods that have been re-erected for guests to explore.

More places to visit in South Wales

5. Explore the Pembrokeshire Coast

Pembrokeshire

This beautiful county is bordered by the sea on three sides making the ideal place to visit for a coastal retreat. Find a holiday cottage down by one of the exquisite beaches or with cliff views so you can make the most of the wonderful destination during your visit and make sure you get out and about exploring this scenic natural landscape.

Walk the coastal path: If you enjoy a stroll along the coast, the Pembrokeshire Coast Path is perfect with a variety of dramatic views and tranquil sandy beaches you come across during a walk and one of the best things to do in South Wales.

Jump aboard a boat trip to see the puffins: Book in for a visit to Skomer Island to see the magnificent puffins who make this island their home. But it’s not just home to puffins, there’s a wealth of other remarkable wildlife on this island to look out for including Manx shearwaters, short-eared owls and Atlantic grey seals.

Take on an adventure: With coasteering, kayaking and climbing all popular in this corner of Wales, you could get up to all sorts of fun activities. There are plenty of activity companies throughout South Wales like Celtic Quest Coasteering and Preseli Venture who can take on exciting days out along the coast.

For more fantastic ideas on what to do during a trip to this idyllic region, check out our guide to days out in Pembrokeshire.

Pembrokeshire cottages

6. Hop aboard a heritage railway

Heritage Railway

A great way to see many of Wales’ exquisite points of interest, get around fast while relaxing, and watching wonderful Welsh scenery pass by during your ride, heritage railways are the ideal way to travel. Take a ride on one of these wonderful old trains or discover another of Wales’ many heritage railways.

  • Covering a combined total of over 40 miles, the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways give a different perspective on the scenery of Snowdonia. Chug your way sedately through the countryside, past picturesque lakes and enchanting woodland and stop off at some of the pretty towns, including Beddgelert and Caernarfon.
  • You can enjoy a charming train journey on The Welsh Highland Heritage Railway which takes about an hour and stop off at The Engine Sheds where you’ll find out how the Porthmadog's small railways become famous worldwide and take a ride on the miniature railway too which carries passengers over a miniature bridge, a viaduct and through a tunnel.
  • Primarily a steam-hauled line beginning at Llangollen Station beside the Dee River Bridge, Llangollen Railway can take you on a 10-mile trip through an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to Corwen town where you can grab a bite to eat before enjoying the idyllic ride back again.

7. Llandudno and the Great Orme

Llandudno

The largest and arguably most popular seaside resort in Wales, Llandudno sprawls along a stretch of the north coast, with views out across the Irish Sea. It’s a wonderful seaside town for a family holiday or getaway with your mates as there are plenty of attractions that both children and grown-ups can enjoy! Top attractions in this wonderful North Wales town include:

  • Great Orme - Llandudno’s iconic feature is the Great Orme, a hulking ‘mini-mountain’ accessible on foot, by car, or for the most memorable experience, by the Great Orme Tram.
  • Llandudno Pier - You can enjoy wonderful days at the seaside in this charming town with a couple of delightful beaches to choose from and the Llandudno Pier where there are shops and stalls to browse, food and drink served and even live entertainment.
  • Great Orme Mines – It is the world's largest prehistoric copper mine and you can enjoy a self-guided tour through the caves; there’s a visitor centre and shop to stop by too.
  • Venue Cymru – A popular theatre offering a whole host of events and acts throughout the year including musicals and bands. Plenty is going on so take a look at the schedule and catch a show during your holiday to Llandudno.

Other fantastic attractions that can be visited throughout the area include Welsh Mountain Zoo, The Smallest House In Great Britain and National Trust - Bodnant Garden.

Discover more incredible sights and attractions in our guide on our top things to see and do in North Wales and feel inspired or start browsing our holiday cottages in Llandudno.

Llandudno cottages

8. Museums throughout Wales

Big Pit National Coal Museum

Travelling to a new destination gives you a great opportunity to delve into the past, uncovering old stories and people who lived amazing lives. During your time away, why not stop by one of Wales’ fantastic museums and get to know this amazing country?

  • One of Britain’s leading mine museums, the Big Pit National Coal Museum offers the unusual opportunity to descend 300 feet underground in the company of a former miner to find out what life was like working on the coal face – and it’s free entry!
  • Love a humble dinner of beans on toast? Then you’ll get a thrill out of this fun and unique museum in Port Talbot. The Baked Bean Museum of Excellence is dedicated to all things baked bean and full of objects relating to this much-loved haricot.
  • The Internal Fire Museum of Power is all about internal combustion engines and boasts a large collection of stationary diesel engines, as used for generating sets and pumping station, perfect for any engineering buffs out there.
  • A small yet wonderful museum set amidst fantastic coastal surroundings, the RNLI Moelfre Lifeboat Station in a small village yet with a remarkable history of brave crew members who’ve been awarded 37 medals for gallantry. Visit to discover their stories.

These are just a few of the many museums all across the country revealing extraordinary histories, make sure you stop by an intriguing museum wherever you end up holidaying in Wales.

9. Follow in the footsteps of Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas

One of Wales’ most famous people, Dylan Thomas, was a poet and writer born in Swansea. Today, his legacy can be explored throughout South Wales, starting at the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea.

The Centre houses an interactive exhibition telling the story of his life and work, as well as exploring the cultural context of his poems and writing. They run talks and tours and can direct you to Dylan Thomas walking trails throughout this region including The Mumbles and Gower, and the Swansea City Centre. Once you’ve found out a bit more about him, you can visit the house where he was born, 5 Cwmdonkin Drive in Swansea.

Swansea cottages

A little further afield, the Boathouse in the seaside town of Laugharne was the home of Dylan Thomas from 1949 and inspired his work.

Visit the Dylan Thomas Boathouse where he lived with his family, check out his Writing Shed that’s located above the Boathouse, and get a bite to eat at the tearooms there. Down the road, you’ll find Browns Hotel one of the pubs he most frequented where you can enjoy a meal and perhaps even listen to some live music while there.

Laugharne cottages

10. Go caving in Wales

Showcaves Wales

The incredible country is, of course, known for towering mountains of Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons and these impressive landscapes of filled with caverns and caves waiting to be explored. Head out to one of these fantastic caving attractions with friends or family and enjoy a terrific day trip.

  • Dan Yr Ogof is a fantastic collection of caves which has earnt it the title of the National Showcaves Centre for Wales. Enter the underground cave system where you’ll find stunning formations including the “Rasher of Bacon”, the heavenly “Angel” and the “Alabaster Pillar” and be awestruck by the waterfalls which cascade through the aptly named Cathedral Cave. In Bone Cave were found the remains of 42 human skeletons and their items.
  • Meanwhile, in mountainous Snowdonia, the Llechwedd Slate Caverns make for a wonderful day out. You’ll be introduced to the world of slate on a The Slate Mountain Adventure tour, which you on a journey that begins with an off-road adventure in an ex-military truck, stopping for tea and hot chocolate before heading underground in Britain’s steepest cable railway.
  • King Arthur’s Labyrinth is the perfect place to delve into the history and legends of Wales – best of all, you enter this magical cave by sailing beneath a waterfall! Enter this mythical world filled with dragons, giants, and knights where lights, sounds, and dramatic scenes bring these stories to life. You’re even guided through the caves by a hooded Dark Age Boatman.

These are just a handful of experiences waiting for you in Wales, but luckily a cottage break offers you plenty of time to explore! Discover more incredible places to visit and things to do all across the beautiful country before retiring to your very own holiday home to relax. 

Begin planning your big holiday by browsing through our collection of holiday cottages in Wales and find your ideal holiday cottage break. 

Wales cottages

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.