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Wales travel guide: The best things to see and do in Wales
Destinations & Inspiration

Wales travel guide: The best things to see and do in Wales

Ellena Morgan
By Ellena Morgan - 23 minute read

Only 160 miles in length and 50 miles wide, Wales is a small but mighty coun­try. From its wild moun­tain ranges, quaint vil­lages and mar­ket towns, to bustling cities, rugged coast­lines and an abun­dance of ancient cas­tles, Wales is the per­fect loca­tion for a break. And for­tu­nate­ly for us, our mem­bers have some great Welsh home swap prop­er­ties to make your trav­els even more spe­cial. So whether you’re hunt­ing for the ide­al stay­ca­tion or you’re trav­el­ling from fur­ther afield, make sure you check out this roundup of just a few of the top things to see and do in Wales.

Where to visit in Wales

We’ve high­light­ed a hand­ful of our favourite things to vis­it and expe­ri­ence in Wales, but no mat­ter how long you stay in this gor­geous coun­try, there will always be so much more that you can do! So to make it easy for you to plan your ide­al jour­ney and itin­er­ary, we’ve added our top picks to Love Home Swap’s Best places to vis­it in Wales map.

The Gower Peninsula (Gŵyr)

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Three Cliffs Bay, Gower

To get your jour­ney off to a great start, con­sid­er explor­ing the Gow­er Penin­su­la which was named as the first des­ig­nat­ed Area of Out­stand­ing Nat­ur­al Beau­ty in 1995. Just a short dis­tance from Wales’ sec­ond largest city Swansea, Gow­er is eas­i­ly acces­si­ble from many areas of the UK (direct trains from Lon­don, Bris­tol and Man­ches­ter) and is an hour’s dri­ve from Cardiff Airport.

Gow­er is famous for its out­door pur­suits – whether that’s long ram­bling walks along its 100km coastal path, cycling along its 24-mile cycle path, rock climb­ing down Three Cliffs Bay, horse rid­ing along Oxwich Bay, or enjoy­ing the many surf spots. Lang­land Bay, Caswell Bay and Rhosil­li Bay are firm favourites with locals.

Next, take a cycle along Swansea Bay and pay a vis­it to the charm­ing fish­ing town of Mum­bles. Whilst there, soak up the his­to­ry with a vis­it to the 12th Cen­tu­ry Oys­ter­mouth Cas­tle, win­dow shop the bou­tiques and art gal­leries, and enjoy a bite to eat in the many eater­ies. And don’t even con­sid­er leav­ing until you’ve had a tra­di­tion­al ice-cream from one the many Ital­ian Welsh cafes — Joe’s Ice-Cream and Verdi’s are exceptional!

Fan­cy work­ing from a home swap in Gow­er? Read Swap­star Ellena’s expe­ri­ence work­ing in Gow­er, Wales dur­ing lockdown.

House in the trees

Where to stay in The Gower Peninsula, Wales:

This stun­ning Vic­to­ri­an home in the heart of Mumbles

Where: Mum­bles, Swansea
Bed­rooms: 5
Sleeps: 11

Cardiff (Caerdydd)

If you’re look­ing for a Welsh city break, then a vis­it to the country’s cap­i­tal Cardiff is a must. For his­to­ry buffs, make time to vis­it the 11th Cen­tu­ry Cardiff Cas­tle in the heart of the city where you can enjoy the exten­sive grounds, a Nor­man keep and bomb shel­ters from WWII. If you’re look­ing for some retail ther­a­py, pay a vis­it to St David’s Shop­ping Cen­tre which is home to all the big brands, or explore the many famous Vic­to­ri­an and Edwar­dian arcades, includ­ing Cas­tle Arcade, Mor­gan Arcade, Roy­al Arcade and High Street Arcade. After all that shop­ping you’re bound to be thirsty, so enjoy a drink at Cof­fee Bark­er or Wright’s Wines — then head to the infa­mous Spillers Records to browse the records.

Castle Arcade cafe, outside seating

To enjoy the great out­doors in the city, make sure you take a trip to the pic­turesque Bute Park to enjoy the free sculp­ture park (and try and spot all 20 wood­en sculp­tures!) After that, sit back and relax on a water taxi to Cardiff Bay, Europe’s largest water­front devel­op­ment, to catch a show in the Wales Mil­len­ni­um Cen­tre, enjoy some cul­ture in the Nor­we­gian Church Art Cen­tre, or see some stand-up at the Glee Club. Not your thing? Then the Doc­tor Who tour is well worth a vis­it. If you fan­cy more relax­ing and less walk­ing, guid­ed boat tours run reg­u­lar­ly from Mer­maid Quay and typ­i­cal­ly last around 45 minutes.

Cardiff Bay

Cardiff Bay

Our mem­bers rec­om­mend a range of dif­fer­ent restau­rants and cafes to try while you’re there. Pur­ple Pop­padom is a firm favorite, along with Hap­py Gath­er­ing and Chez Fran­cis. And don’t for­get that our mem­bers have sev­er­al great cen­tral Cardiff prop­er­ties to choose from dur­ing your stay, all locat­ed near these fab­u­lous spots!

Pontcanna town house- open-plan kitchen dining area

Where to stay in Cardiff, Wales:

This styl­ish town­house in the trendy sub­urb of Pontcanna

Where: Pont­can­na
Bed­rooms: 4
Sleeps: 5

Puffins on Skomer Island

Puffins on Skomer Island, Pembrokeshire

Pembrokeshire coast (Sir Benfro)

With 1,680 miles of coast­line on three sides of the coun­try, Wales has its fair share of stun­ning, rugged coast­line. Pem­brokeshire is no excep­tion – a large penin­su­la that juts out into the Irish Sea, the coun­ty has incred­i­ble scenery around the coastal path with scat­ter­ings of pret­ty coastal fish­ing vil­lages like the pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions of Ten­by, St Davids and Fishguard.

Make sure you pay a vis­it to St Davids, the small­est city in Britain with a pop­u­la­tion of just 1,600. Enjoy wan­der­ing around the ancient streets and then take to water with a dol­phin and whale watch­ing trip. Alter­na­tive­ly, take a boat to Skomer Island, famous for being home to 10,000 puffins, mak­ing it one of the most impor­tant puf­fin colonies in the UK.

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The fish­ing town of Ten­by, Pembrokeshire

Anoth­er hotspot that should be on your must vis­it’ list is the charm­ing Vic­to­ri­an sea­side town and The Sun­day Times Beach of the Year 2019 Ten­by. Grab a take­away cof­fee from The Stow­away and head to the gold­en sand of Ten­by har­bour beach to indulge in a lit­tle peo­ple watch­ing. Near­by you can also enjoy the Blue Flag award­ed Cas­tle Beach.

If you fan­cy trav­el­ling out­side the colour­ful town, you can vis­it Caldey Island, just 20 min­utes by boat to mar­vel at the light­house and learn more about the Cis­ter­cian monks that live here.

Tenby harbour - the town looks over the harbour at high tide.

Where to stay in Pembrokeshire:

This gor­geous apart­ment in the heart of fish­ing town Tenby

Where: Ten­by, Pem­brokeshire
Bed­rooms: 2
Sleeps: 3

Snowdonia (Yr Wyddfa)

Snow­do­nia is the ulti­mate trav­el spot for thrill-seek­ers. Sur­round­ed by stun­ning moun­tain ranges, Snow­do­nia has become a mec­ca for those look­ing for an adren­a­line rush. It’s home to theworld’s fastest zipline in Pen­rhyn Quar­ry where you can enjoy tak­ing in the Welsh views at speeds of up to 100mph! If that’s a bit too heart-rac­ing, the cen­tre also offers activ­i­ties like tram­polin­ing in the caves or tobog­gan­ing through the forests.

Train tracks leading to Snowdon's summit

Train tracks lead­ing to Snow­don’s summit

And of course, don’t for­get the star attrac­tion that is sum­mit­ing Snow­don! At 1085m in height, it’s the high­est point in the coun­try — and is undoubt­ed­ly one of the best things to see in Wales. Vis­it Snowdonia’s walk­ing guides have a host of dif­fer­ent routes that are tai­lored for every abil­i­ty, time frame and alti­tude. If hik­ing isn’t your style but you still want to con­quer Wales’ high­est moun­tain, you can ride to the sum­mit in style by catch­ing a train to the Clog­wyn sta­tion. But be quick, tick­ets tend to sell out, so book yours in advance. Whichev­er way you choose to reach the sum­mit, make sure you pay a vis­it to the Hafod Eryri, Snowdonia’s vis­i­tor cen­tre for the most pic­turesque cof­fee break you’ll ever have!

A hammock hanging in a lovely garden

Where to stay in Snowdonia, Wales:

This quirky retreat near the coast and the moun­tains in Snowdonia

Where: Harlech, Gwynedd
Bed­rooms: 6
Sleeps: 8

Menai Suspension Bridge

Menai Sus­pen­sion Bridge

Anglesey (Ynys Môn)

Only 25km from main­land Wales and a short fer­ry from Dublin, the island of Angle­sey is just off the north west coast of Wales and is known for its coun­try­side and 124 miles of stun­ning coast­line. The first sight­see­ing spot you’ll see when you arrive at the island is the Menai Sus­pen­sion Bridge, which was the first mod­ern sus­pen­sion bridge in the world.

Once you’ve safe­ly crossed the bridge into Angle­sey, you’ll be greet­ed by charm­ing rail­way town of Llan­fair Pwll­gwyn­gyll, also known as Lan­fair­p­wll­gwyn­gyll­gogerych­wyrn­drob­wl­l­l­lan­tysil­i­o­gogogoch. Yes real­ly. The town has the longest place name in Europe and the sec­ond longest one-word place name in the world, so be sure to snap a pic­ture next to the rail sign!

Twr Mawr lighthouse on Llanddwyn Island

Twr Mawr light­house on Lland­dwyn Island

In terms of explor­ing the rest of the island, there’s a host of his­toric attrac­tions on your doorstep, includ­ing cas­tles, old har­bours and even Neolith­ic bur­ial cham­bers!

If you fan­cy being immersed in nature, there are many wildlife trails to choose from. Top picks include South Stack Cliffs RSPB Reserve and trekking out to enjoy the incred­i­ble views of Ty Mawr Island on Lland­dwyn Island . On top of this, you can also scu­ba dive and go sail­ing in a num­ber of dif­fer­ent loca­tions, so there’s tru­ly some­thing for everyone!

A Townhouse in  Beaumaris, Anglesey

Where to stay in Anglesey, Wales:

This charm­ing Welsh Chapel school con­ver­sion in the heart of medieval down Beaumaris

Where: Beau­maris, Angle­sey
Bed­rooms: 3
Sleeps

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Carmarthenshire (Sir Gaerfyrddin)

Nes­tled in the Bre­con Bea­cons Nation­al Park, Car­marthen­shire is a coun­ty rich in his­to­ry and cul­ture. First stop would be to mar­vel at Car­marthen Cas­tle in the ancient town of Car­marthen – the old­est town in Wales and the sup­posed birth­place of Celtic magi­cian Mer­lin. Oth­er charm­ing mar­ket towns in the region include Llan­dei­lo that offers bou­tique stores, bistros and cafes and local art gal­leries. Pick up some sweet treats from choco­latiers Heav­en­ly then enjoy some retail ther­a­py in Pep­per­corn and TOAST (the orig­i­nal store before it grew nationwide.)

Whilst vis­it­ing Llan­dei­lo, take the short detour to Dine­fwr Cas­tle, which fea­tures a cas­tle ruin and a his­toric New­ton house set in a nature reserve and deer park. Enjoy the spa­cious grounds and remem­ber to climb the hill to the ruin to enjoy panoram­ic views over the Riv­er Tywi and Pax­ton Tow­er.

Georgian townhouse in the heart of Llandeilo

Where to stay in Camarthenshire, Wales:

This Geor­gian town­house in the heart of Llandeilo

Where: Llan­dei­lo, Camarthen­shire
Bed­rooms: 5
Sleeps: 12

This is just a taster of the amaz­ing expe­ri­ences you can have on a trip to Wales. From the gor­geous scenery of The Gow­er Penin­su­la to the great his­toric cas­tles scat­tered around the coun­try, there is so much to see and explore in this lit­tle but mighty coun­try! If you’re plan­ning a trip, then you might find our round up of the Top UK Love Home Swaps of 2020 useful.

If you’re still mak­ing your mind up on where you want to go, take a look at our blog for more trav­el inspi­ra­tion and guides.

Already been to some of the places men­tioned (or are you a local?!) then share your swap tips on our social media chan­nels using #welove­home­swap. And don’t for­get that we always want to hear about your best trav­el expe­ri­ences! If you’d like to share your sto­ry or sug­ges­tions with our com­mu­ni­ty, then get in touch with us, or pop into our friend­ly Face­book groups to meet like-mind­ed travel-lovers.