Hey guys – how are we all doing? Have the late summer nostalgia feels begun to get to you as well? I know 2020 has been weird (understatement of the year), but I hope that everyone has had a chance to have some fun this summer. We just got back from the most relaxing 10 days in Wales! So I wanted to share with you all the best places to visit in Wales, should you ever decide to go. Spoiler: you should totally go!
- Why is Wales a popular tourist destination?
- What is the most beautiful part of Wales?
- Which is nicer: North or South Wales?
- How many days do you need in Wales?
- Do you need a car to access these places to visit in Wales?
- Is Wales expensive to visit?
- The Best Places to Visit in Wales
- Hurry up and get yourself to Wales!
Why is Wales a popular tourist destination?
Honestly, Wales has everything. Great food and drinks, some of the loveliest people I’ve met while traveling, so much beautiful nature (both mountains and beaches), and such picturesque towns.
You’ll definitely be surprised that some of the most beautiful places to visit in Wales are even in the UK at all – many of them could be mistaken for the Mediterranean!
I could not recommend these places to visit in Wales more for a perfect summer or even fall getaway – whether or not you’re UK-based! I really believe that Wales is worth a visit to the UK all on it’s own.
P.S. if you want to visualize all the cuteness that Wales has to offer you, peep my Instagram highlight from the trip!
What is the most beautiful part of Wales?
That depends on your preferences! Wales has everything from mountains to crystal blue seaside. Some of the prettiest places to visit in Wales are:
- Newport, Pembrokeshire
Read on for details on all of them!
Which is nicer: North or South Wales?
Again, completely down to your preferences!
If you’re looking for a quintessential beach holiday featuring fish & chips, arcades, souvenir shops and the lively buzz of holidaymaking crowds – all of which can totally be a vibe! – then South Wales is likely for you. The Pembrokeshire coast literally looks like the tropics.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for something that feels more traditionally Welsh, I recommend visiting North Wales. The Ceredigion Bay coast from Barmouth to Pwllheli is an area you’re much more likely to hear snippets of fellow beachgoers’ conversation in Welsh and really feel like you’re on holiday somewhere new and exciting. There’s certainly a more off the beaten path feel to North Wales.
No matter which part of Wales you choose, though, you’re likely to fall in love with this country and decide you’ve just got to go back to all the other places to visit in Wales next time!
How many days do you need in Wales?
With so many places to visit in Wales, both North and South, you could easily spend two weeks in Wales and feel there was more to explore. On the other hand, you could easily spend a long weekend of summer fun in Wales as well.
With that said, there are a few things to keep in mind to help you determine how many days you need to visit all of my favorite places to visit in Wales.
First, many self-catering holiday lets (i.e. rental homes where you’ll have the whole place – including the kitchen – to yourself) are on quite strictly Friday-to-Friday or Saturday-to-Saturday schedules. Some will allow you to stay the weekend, but this can often end more expensive than staying a whole week. This is especially true of the nicest, most well-decorated and comfortable properties.
Keep in mind if you’re looking to rent a house, you’ll likely need to commit to basing yourself in one place for a whole week.
On the other hand, if you are looking for more of a short break, South Wales may be the place for you… Swansea is reachable by train in just under three hours from London Paddington, and from there you’re quite close to the Pembrokeshire coast! There, you’ll easily find a hotel/B&B that will happily host you for 2-3 nights.
Do you need a car to access these places to visit in Wales?
Well, technically the Transport for Wales train network is relatively extensive and, combined with buses, it is possible to get all over Wales without a car. We did it!
However, if you really want to make the most of these places to visit in Wales, I HIGHLY suggest you rent a car. Your life will be so much easier and you’ll be able to make spontaneous decisions to stop off and check out any (every?) cute village you come across. Isn’t that what exploring a new place is all about?!
If you ARE looking to bring a car along and need to rent one, look no further than Discover Cars. I’ve always found it to be the absolute best interface for comparing prices, sorting for things like automatic transmission (sorry Europeans, I am still American!!), or weeding OUT companies I’ve never heard of.
Is Wales expensive to visit?
Not at all! At least, compared to London and other popular destinations in England, these places to visit in Wales are often much more cost-efficient holiday options. Of course, the cost of your visit will always vary based on the quality of accommodation you choose, whether you’ve decided to rent a car, etc. But there are definitely options to fit every price range, and day-to-day costs like food and entertainment are certainly quite affordable!
Make sure to avoid foreign transaction fees
If you’re visiting from abroad, remember to factor in foreign exchange and transaction fees to the cost of your trip!! Wales in part of the UK, and thus uses British pound sterling.
Many visitors to the UK forget that they’ll need to consider the cost of exchanging foreign currency. Now, you may have a travel credit card that boasts no foreign transaction fees — in which case, great! However, these can be difficult to obtain, and expensive if you’re not able to stay on top of payments.
If you try other options, such as ordering cash before you leave for your trip or using your regular debit card, you will definitely have to pay some hefty fees. They may be hidden, but trust me – they’ll be there.
Want to avoid these annoying and, frankly, unnecessary fees?!?
The best way to eat and shop your way right through these places to visit in Wales while keeping your bank account happy is with the Wise multi-currency account debit card!
Wise offers a free “multi-currency account”, which is basically an account where you can securely load your own currency, but then you can pay in local currency (with Transferwise’s extremely low exchange fees) as if you had a “local” card. It automatically converts your home currency to the local one at the current exchange rate as you’re making a transaction!
There are three main reasons I think this card is your #1 must have for traveling:
- You are gonna save so much money. At the end of the day, it’s never going to be completely free to change currencies. But after living abroad for four years now, I can speak from experience that no other service has ever exchanged my money for cheaper than Wise has. There is literally no better way to spend in a foreign currency.
- This card is no thoughts, just vibes. Gone are the days of stressing about whether your bank will lock your card, limit your withdrawals, or otherwise add stress to your trip. This card is made for travel.
- It’s extremely secure. Your money is held with big-name financial institutions and everything is two-factor authenticated. Wise boasts that their customers move over $8 billion every month, so they know what they’re doing.
If you’re planning to visit Wales any time soon, you (and your bank account) will thank yourself for getting a Wise debit card. And now, let’s check out the places to visit in Wales where you’re gonna spend those £££ guilt-free!
Learn more about how Wise can save you money:
The Best Places to Visit in Wales
Perfect for: small town vibes and not so crowded beaches
Criccieth was our first stop on the Wales holiday train!
We chose Criccieth as our first home base for a few reasons, the main one being that we liked the accommodation options the best. While we were there, we took some day trips to a few of the other nearby towns we considered staying, and I feel confident that we made the right choice.
Criccieth is located in North Wales, and the train will drop you off nearly in the center of town. The entire area is completely walkable, and you can also access the rest of the area within an hour or two by bus or train (less probably by car if you’re lucky enough to have one).
Truly a small town, Criccieth has less than 2000 people. Located in one of the most Welsh-speaking parts of Wales, Criccieth will make you feel like you’ve truly traveled abroad.
The beaches are uncrowded and local, and the water is a super pleasant temperature. The vibe is beachy and casual. There are even a decent number of restaurants in town, despite it being so small. (Please love yourself and get the tuna melt at No. 46 Cafe and a breakfast bap at Tir a Môr.)
I would come back to Criccieth in a heartbeat. It’s the type of place you go for the feeling you get there, more than the things you can do there.
Perfect for: the best of both the coast and Snowdonia
Porthmadog is smack between Barmouth and Criccieth. It sits on the Afon Glaslyn Estuary, so the waters are a bit calmer (and potentially warmer I would assume). The town is livelier than Criccieth, but not nearly as much of a beach resort as Barmouth. A short distance away from Pormeirion with great access to other towns by train, Porthmadog is probably the most centrally located North Wales town you could situate yourself in.
Home to the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway and Ffestiniog Railway (which I highly recommend by the way!), as well as the Purple Moose Brewery, Porthmadog has a wealth of things to keep you busy. The beaches here are beautiful, and the location lends you access to Snowdonia – especially if you have a car with you.
Perfect for: the quintessential beach vacay
Barmouth is exactly what you would expect from a British beach town. There is an arcade, tons of cute shops and plenty of places to eat. Going through Barmouth makes one immediately crave cotton candy, if you know what I mean. Located south of Porthmadog and a bit more centrally on the coast, Barmouth can be a great choice if you’re just looking to flop onto the beach and not leave for as long as you’re there.
However there’s more to it than that. Barmouth will also give you great access to Snowdonia, and so many lovely nature walks. Also, because it’s smack in the middle of the Welsh coastline, you can easily visit North or South Wales for a day trip if you wanted.
Perfect for: taking on Mount Snowdon
Llanberis is a small village that sits at the base of Mt. Snowdon, and one of the quaintest places to visit in Wales. If you’ve come to hike, I cannot think of a better home base for you. The village, perched right on the edge of a picturesque lake, is adorable. Home to several historic railways (one of which goes up Snowdon), it’s more than just a passing through point. Llanberis boasts a winery, as well as several lovely restaurants and ice creameries (Georgio’s will change your life), all nestled in the beautiful Snowdonia scenery.
Llanberis is a great option if you want to unplug, but you don’t want to be off the grid. And you definitely won’t have to spend time worrying about how to get yourself to and from Mt. Snowdon. The (family friendly) Llanberis Path starts right at the edge of town!
Perfect for: nature lovers looking to unplug
Ok, so this one isn’t a town. Snowdonia is a national park that covers a large swathe of north Wales. Depending on where you’re coming from, and potentially where you’re going next, there are dozens of cute little spots you could stay in the park… in fact, Llanberis is one of them!
Within Snowdonia there are countless adorable glamping spots, fairy or hobbit houses, and quaint cottages that are perfect for anyone trying to just get away for a bit – something we all need these days. If you aren’t strictly interested in climbing Mt. Snowdon, you can narrow your location based on the different lakes, rivers, and hikes that the rest of the region has to offer you.
6. Newport, Pembrokeshire
Perfect for: quaint village vibes on the coast
We only stayed one night in Newport, but I could have stayed much longer. Of all the places to visit in Wales, this is one of the hippest!
Newport has the beautiful and cozy feel of a medieval town – think winding roads and stone houses – but is only a stone’s throw from the beach! There’s also a neolithic burial site, sort of like a little mini Stonehenge, sans the hoards of tourists and guards. You can actually touch this one and even go under it… in fact when we found, it a little girl was playing underneath it. It’s nestled within a neighborhood. Can you even imagine living there??
Newport has two main roads that cross each other at the center of town, and on them you’ll find several pubs and beer gardens, a second hand collective type store, an antique store, several ice cream shops and a bunch of restaurants. Up on the hill is a lovely looking church and castle (that appears to be occupied by inhabitants!). If you’re traveling around Wales by bus, it will conveniently drop you off right on the main road. I could see myself easily spending the summer in Newport. Also, of everywhere we went, this village had the best COVID-19 precautions in place, by a longshot.
We stayed at The Golden Lion Hotel, which has been a pub there for over 300 years! I would highly recommend it, though there are only a few rooms. If you can book ahead, I HIGHLY recommend this staying at this place for the history, vibes, and food!
Perfect for: some of the best beaches in the UK and a quintessential beach town to go with
I was pleasantly surprised by Tenby. Honestly, I think it was my favorite place after Criccieth! We only went for the day, but I found myself seriously wishing we had more time. While Tenby has most of the marks of a typical beach town, it felt much quainter and friendlier, not ready to grab all your money in exchange for cheap sweets and new beach towels.
The old town area was so cute, we easily spent the entire (grey) day roaming around, and of all the places to visit in Wales, it may have some of the cutest restaurants and shops. Make sure you grab a coffee and a cake at Loafley, and get some unbelievably tasty pizza at Top Joe’s while you’re there.
Tenby also boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in all of the UK, and it doesn’t take much to understand why. Walking on the soft, white sand, it’s almost unbelievable that you’re so far north, and not in some undisclosed island location. If you want more on this wonderful town, check out my list of the best places in Tenby!
Perfect for: access to beautiful beaches without the tourist trap feel
Saundersfoot was our location of choice in South Wales.
I actually loved Saundersfoot because it wasn’t nearly as crowded as Tenby, but by the same token, there was less to do. Obviously, that’s not inherently a bad thing, it just depends what you’re looking for!
The beach in Saundersfoot is beautiful, and there are a decent amount of restaurants. Everything is easily walkable – including Tenby by way of a lovely 7km coastal trail (or you can take the bus!). While there were surely a lot of tourists with us in Saundersfoot, it felt much more lowkey and local than Tenby did.
We had some of the best fish and chips I’ve eaten in my life in Saundersfoot, and some pretty amazing ice cream as well. We stayed at Malin House, which was so cute because it had an indoor pool and an adorable lobby/games/breakfast area. Just note that it was at the top of a massive hill (massive to me, okay, don’t judge me).
Hurry up and get yourself to Wales!
Whether you’re looking for beaches, mountains, or something in between, this round up of the most beautiful places to visit in Wales truly has something for everyone.
I will be seriously jealous if you end up going to Wales and stay in any of the Airbnbs I’ve shared here… which obviously means you need to tell me if you do! Bonus points for any fish and chips selfies or Snowdon summit pics.
Cael taith ‘n glws!