Best places to go in Wales – from someone who’s Welsh

Shwmae a croeso! Looking for a good day out? Here are the best places to go in Wales. 

  1. Pen y Fan
A landscape with hills and a body of water in the distance

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Pen y fan. Credit: Sophie Flowers

Pen y Fan, based in the Brecon Beacons National Park in Mid Wales, is the second highest peak in Wales after Cadair Idris in Snowdonia.

The mountain contains four walks: the gentle one, the epic one, the quiet one and the tough one. You can choose any of the paths, obviously based on your ability, as they are all manageable. The view at the top is also incredible and is a popular photo spot with the cairn.

2. Elan Valley

Another beautiful destination in Mid Wales is Elan Valley dams. The valley contains a total of six dams all with unique styles.

Caboan Coch in Elan Valley

The first dam you come across is Caban Coch, the lowest of all the dams built in the Elan river. It resembles a simple, natural waterfall when the reservoir is full and overflowing over the dam wall. The dam was built over the lost village of Nantgwyllt. It contributes to the water supply to Birmingham when the water is at a normal level.

Garreg Ddu in Elan Valley. Credit: @CallumBacoe

The second dam you come across is Garreg Ddu, which is also built in the lower Elan Valley river. The dam itself is completely submerged which maintains a constant supply of water to Birmingham. The pillars supporting it are topped by a road accessing the neighbouring valley of River Claerwen.

The third dam up the same river is Pen y Garreg, which looks very similar to Craig Goch. The dam itself contains an access tunnel to the central tower. It is lit by slim holes in the wall which guide the way to the centre. The dam itself is the least popular of them all but definitely the dark horse.

Craig Goch in Elan Valley

The fourth and final dam of the Elan Valley river is Craig Goch, the highest upstream of the series of dams. The dam itself is seen as the most attractive with an elegant, curved wall and a roadway across the top. It contains a tower in the central which can be accessed by the road

Claerwen in Elan Valley. Credit: Kevin Davies

The last two dams are located in the River Claerwen, the valley next to Elan. The first one you come across is Claerwen. These two dams aren’t as popular as the Elan Valley ones and are harder to find. The biggest dam of all six, it holds as much water as the dams in neighbouring Elan Valley. The construction of the dam itself took six years with a workforce of 470. The design of the dam makes the water look as if it’s falling in sections. It was opened by newly crowned Queen Elizabeth in October 1952.

The final dam, Dol y Mynach, is known as the “unfinished dam”. It was intended to be finished when additional water supplies were needed for Birmingham. Built at the same time as Caban Coch which is a reservoir with a top water level, Dol y Mynach was built as it would be below the level of foundations at Caban Coch in the adjacent valley.

3. Snowdonia

Lakes at Snowdonia. Credit: @JoshKirk

Snowdonia, one of the three peaks of the UK, is the mountain range based in North Wales. Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa), offers beautiful views of its mountain range, Snowdonia, Anglesey, Pembrokeshire and Ireland.

It contains six different paths which are: Llanberis path, Pyg track, Miners’ track, Watkin path, Rhyd-Ddu path or the Snowdon Ranger path. Each path ascends up different sides of the mountain with some more miles than others and taking approximately six hours to the peak and back.

The mountain also has a railway so, if you’re not into hiking and are looking for an easier alternative, the train would be the best option. It runs from Llanberis station all the way to the summit, apart from in Winter and Spring when ice and snow are obstacles, which is when it stops at Clogwyn station. I went to Snowdon back in 2014 and trekked to the top by the train. The views were incredible from the peak, the only downfall is that there’s no toilets so make sure you do your business before heading up!

4. Portmeirion

A small village based in North West Wales, Portmeirion is full of bright coloured buildings. It contains the Central Piazza which opened back in 1926, and is seen as a “propaganda for good manners.”

Just outside the village is a Victorian ‘gothic’ style castle which has now been converted into a hip-hotel and goes by the name Castell Deudraeth.

Portmeirion village. Credit: @TomWheatley

I went to Portmeirion, again, back in 2014 with my family and it was a beautiful village to visit. I would highly recommend going if you’re into sight seeing and walking.

5. St Fagans

Based down in Cardiff, St Fagans National Museum of History is a free-entry museum that is a great day out for anyone! The site contains historic buildings from around Wales that have been rebuilt and restructured. This took place from 1948 when the site opened.

St Fagans, Cardiff

The site takes a whole day to venture around, and you can learn all about the Welsh history behind each building. Throughout the year, the museum holds traditional festivals, music and dance events.

The site has been used for filming, such as the series ‘The Woman Who Lived’ which included ‘Game of Thrones’ star Maisie Williams.

I have been to St Fagans several times with friends, family and my school and honestly, I could never get tired of it. There is always so many things to see and activities to do, it’s a very fun day out and easy to get too.

6. Devil’s Bridge

Devil’s Bridge, Aberystwyth

Built a few miles out of Aberystwyth, Devils Bridge has many myths to it. There are three bridges built on top of each other, which has never been seen anywhere else in the world!

There is a myth that a lady who built the original bridge once saw a devil underneath the bridge. The devil agreed to help build the bridge on the condition he would take the first living soul that crossed it. Obviously this is how the attraction got its name

The entry fee is £1 and after the gates you see a steep fall of steps all the way down to the bottom of the river that runs underneath the bridge.

The first series of ‘Hinterland’ was filmed at Devils Bridge which has also given the place a lot of attraction.

7. Royal Welsh Agricultural Showground

One of the biggest agricultural shows in the UK! The RWAS is based in Builth Wells, Mid Wales and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year!

There is a bit of every thing there from clothes to animals to food to machinery. As I’m from Builth, I go over there every year with friends or family and if I’m not going over I’m working and meeting the people who have walked over from the show ground into town.

The RWAS includes animal shows with horses, sheep, pigs and many more! They also have small holdings with rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens and ducks which is good for younger children.

As a whole, Wales is a must visit if you’re looking for somewhere spontaneous to go. There are a wide variety of attractions here for everyone, no matter what you like or enjoy doing!

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