Tiny Wales — jutting out of the west coast of the Isle of Britain — is largely covered in green, sheep-dotted pastures that end at 750 miles of scenically windswept coastline overhanging the Irish Sea. The south, with a less-rugged topography, is where two-thirds of the people live (and its best sights are conveniently near Bath and the Cotswolds). But the more distant north Welsh coast has the country's highest concentration of castles, natural beauty, and attractions. No matter where you visit, make time to connect with Welsh culture. Open your ears to the sound of Welsh, one of Europe's oldest languages still spoken. Clamber over a castle, eat a leek, count sheep in a field, catch a rugby match, or share a pint of bitter with a baritone.
At a Glance
▲▲▲ Conwy Strollable coastal town surrounded by the best medieval walls in Britain, cradling a handful of fun sights, and crowned by Wales' best castle — one of the most purely delightful towns of its size.
▲▲ Caernarfon Salty, scruffy town worth visiting just to explore Wales' most famous castle.
▲▲ Snowdonia National Park Home to hobbit-cute villages (Beddgelert, Betws-y-Coed), the excellent National Slate Museum and a tourable working slate mine, several historical railways, the dramatically set Harlech Castle, and tall-by-British-standards Mount Snowden.
▲▲ Llangollen Picturesque red-brick village perched just over a rushing river gorge and featuring the fascinating 18th-century manor home of Plas Newydd.
▲ Portmeirion Fun, flower-filled folly of a faux-Italian resort, nestled between Snowdonia National Park and the sea.
Beaumaris Charming workaday town on the Isle of Anglesey boasting a never-finished moat-ringed medieval castle.
Ruthin Low-key, untouristy market town that's appealing in its ordinary Welshness.
▲▲ Cardiff Rejuvenated capital city with a sumptuous medieval castle complex and a people-friendly harborfront brimming with striking architecture and fun dining and nightlife options.
▲▲ St. Fagans National History Museum Expansive open-air folk-life museum just outside Cardiff with more than 40 reconstructed houses welcoming visitors to immerse themselves in bygone Welsh ways.
▲▲ Caerphilly Town just north of Cardiff with Britain's second-largest castle (and the best in South Wales), featuring a leaning tower inhabited by a heartbroken ghost.
Wye Valley Lush, mellow land along the English border and surrounding the evocative ruins of ▲▲ Tintern Abbey, with the bustling market town of Monmouth at its north, and the historic castle burg of Chepstow at its mouth.