Adventure holidays in Wales holiday cottages

Adventure holidays in Wales

Courtney Kelly 24 February 2023

Wales is a land where people come to find themselves, embark on a voyage of discovery and do the things they never thought possible. With opportunities for unusual activities such as underground ziplining, sea-level traversing and aqueduct canoeing, you’ll never be short of a story to tell.

We’ve outlined the most popular adventure activities below and included the best providers from all over Wales. Safety is paramount when it comes to these types of escapades so be sure to Adventure Smart whilst enjoying your adventure holidays in Wales.

Keep on reading to get a dose of adrenaline or click the button to start searching for your Welsh base of operations.

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Activity holidays in North Wales

Activity holidays in North Wales come in all sizes and shapes. From outdoor adventures on the coast or further inland to subterranean escapades suited to those comfortable with tight spaces. Read on to find out more or click the button to book your North Wales holiday.

North Wales holiday cottages

Surfing in North Wales

A surfer catches some air

One of the most popular activity holidays in Wales has to be surfing, and North Wales offers copious opportunities to carve up beautiful, natural breaks but also manmade ones too.

The Llyn Peninsula is where most boarders head to, with its south-westerly winter swells proving too good to resist for most. Hell’s Mouth (Porth Neigwl) is one of the more consistent spots on the peninsula - its 4-mile shoreline is suitable for all levels of surfer.

Anglesey's rugged coastline offers the best winter conditions when south-west winds and large swells tend to come in. Rhosneigr is great for beginners and Aberffraw is best surfed at high tide but watch out for the strong rip tides (see here for safety advice on rip currents from the RNLI).

However, you don’t need to be near the coast (or even in the sea) to enjoy surfing in North Wales. In 2015, the world’s first inland surf lagoon was introduced at Adventure Parc Snowdonia, meaning you can be 9 miles from the nearest beach, yet the surf conditions will always be perfect!

Coasteering in North Wales

Coasteering in North Wales

The clue is in the name so you may have guessed that you need to be near the coast to enjoy coasteering, and adventure holidays in Wales don’t come much more refreshing than when partaking in this activity.

From humble beginnings in Pembrokeshire, this adrenaline-fuelled activity has spread up to the north coast and involves slipping on a wetsuit and then scrambling, swimming, jumping and climbing along the coastline, whilst the sea tries its darndest to soak you with its crashing waves.

Like with surfing, Anglesey and the Llyn Peninsula are among the top spots in North Wales for coasteering. The former is an AONB but both offer incredible beauty by way of hidden beaches, cliffs and sea caves. For Anglesey, try the terrain around Holy Island and for the Llyn Peninsula, one of the best spots is Morfa Nefyn.

White water rafting in North Wales

Getting wet in the rapids

If you’re looking to go white water rafting in North Wales, there is one clear choice. The National White Water Centre in Bala has over 30 years’ experience in this field (well, river) and utilises the raging rapids of the River Tryweryn superbly to give you an experience you won’t soon forget.

White water rafting is a great idea for a family activity holiday in Wales, as you won’t have to cancel if the heavens open. Similarly, it’s perfect for an adventure weekend in Wales with a group of friends.

There are lots of other providers offering rafting experiences in the region. If you’re looking for slightly tamer waters (but don’t want to miss out on stunning natural surroundings), head to the River Dee in Llangollen, which provides ideal waters for beginners.

Kayaking and canoeing in North Wales

Kayaks on Llyn Padarn, Snowdonia

You may think that these two activities are the same, and yes, they have similarities, but there are important distinctions too. For example, the paddles are different for particular types of propulsion and manoeuvrability, and the boats themselves are specific to their purposes with canoes used more for leisure, whilst kayaks carry fewer passengers and are sleeker in their design, equipping them with more speed.

So regardless of whether you want a relaxing canoe ride surrounded by your family (as well as beautiful scenery) or you’re looking for a one-person white water experience, North Wales is the place to be. This part of the country has some of the best sea kayaking opportunities in the world. This is due in part to the jet streams and the Atlantic rollers that regularly come in from the west, but also because of the vantage points you’ll be offered. The craggy cliffs and headlands of this coast (as well as the island of Anglesey) are home to frequently unseen flora and fauna, and you may even find some secret bays and coves to explore.

For calming canoeing, the gentle waters of Llyn Padarn and Bala Lake are perfect for soaking up the beautiful Welsh landscapes with your loved one beside you … and in front of you … and behind you!

Ziplining in North Wales

Four friends go ziplining

Undoubtedly, you’re aware that North Wales is the ziplining capital of the world. Well, perhaps you weren’t aware, but it is, and for good reason. Not only do participants get to experience phenomenal views (flying over national parks, suspended over forests or delving into yawning, cavernous abysses), but they’ll also get to partake in some record-breaking ziplining.

Zip World at Penrhyn Quarry in Bethesda is home to the fastest zip wire in the world, which also happens to be the longest in Europe. Dangling over this disused Victorian slate quarry, you’ll reach speeds of up to 100mph. Zip World Llechwedd in Blaenau Ffestiniog boasts Titan 2, the largest zip zone in Europe. With four parallel wires, you can take in the views at a more leisurely pace or try your best to race your pals over the 2,000-metre course.

Sticking with Zip World, if you want a more verdant experience, whiz over to Betws-y-Coed where the amazing forestry setting means you’ll be zooming from tree to tree as high as 20 metres off the ground.

Lastly, for a wholly different experience, plunge down to the deepest publicly accessible point in Wales with Go Below. This underground adventure involves the longest subterranean zip wire in the world and it will be an encounter unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before.

Mountain biking and mountain walks in North Wales

Mountain biking through the woods

If you’re looking for unrivalled beauty, fresh mountain air and car-free tracks perfect for families, then North Wales has cycle routes and walking paths to please everyone. For those of you on two wheels, there are long-distance trails to test your legs and world-class mountain bike tracks to torment your reflexes (in a good way).

Visit the Gwydir Mawr Trail for huge climbs that reward you with views of the mountains of Snowdonia/Eryri and rocky descents through dense forest. Pedal hard for Llandegla and Coed-y-Brenin for two of the best mountain biking centres in the UK, or use the mountain bike uplift service at Antur Stiniog in Blaenau Ffestiniog (which some say is the best uplift service in the world) so that you save your energy for the 14 first-rate, gravity-fed trails.

With regards to mountain walking, you know that North Wales must be special when you learn that Sir Edmund Hilary and Sherpa Tensing trained in Snowdonia/Eryri before tackling their ascent of Everest. Mount Snowdon/Yr Wyddfa alone has six main routes to its 3,560ft zenith, but there are gentler hikes on offer too. Like those around the nearby village of Beddgelert which can include meandering rivers, a lake, a disused mine and Gelert’s Grave!

Head north-east towards the AONB of the Clwydian Range for the beginning of Offa’s Dyke, or 20 miles south of this will bring you to Llangollen and the Berwyn Mountains that surround the town where you can hike in relative isolation.

Caving in North Wales

A happy caver with a hardhat on

Caving or potholing (also hilariously known across the pond as spelunking) is simply about the joy of exploring underground caverns and cave systems. It’s an activity that will test you both physically and mentally but it’s all part of an attempt to see what few get to experience in their lifetimes: the unappreciated beauty of what Mother Nature has taken her time to create right beneath our feet.

Stalactites, stalagmites and crystal pools are all on offer, as well as ferns and other flora that thrive in low-light conditions: this is another activity holiday in Wales that won’t get ruined by the rain.

Many of the suitable caves in North Wales are coastal or relatively small, but through the vigilant work of local caving clubs, there has been excellent development in gaining access to all the major cave networks in North Wales. These include Ogof Llyn Parc, Park Western Vein Caverns, Ogof Llyn Ddu, Ogof Dydd Byraf, Ogof Hesp Alyn, Ogof Hen Ffynhonau (Poacher's Cave), and Ogof Cefn-y-Gist.

And if you’re not sure if this is for you, give it a go indoors first.

North Wales activity providers

Get exploring all that North Wales has to offer by setting up base camp at one of our self-catering cottages.

North Wales holiday cottages

Activity holidays in West Wales

When looking for activity holidays in Wales, Pembrokeshire and the rest of West Wales may well be your first port of call. Having the UK’s only coastal national park means that this region is a mecca for adventurers, especially those who don’t mind getting sloshed by the sea.

So, if West Wales is your chosen destination, why not explore our range of properties by clicking below.

West Wales holiday cottages

Surfing in West Wales

A surfer checks out the sets as they come in

Technically, the Llyn Peninsula and Anglesey are on the west of the country, but seeing as we’ve already covered those off, we’ll head a little further down the coast.

Starting with Tywyn at the southern tip of Snowdonia National Park/Eryri, this beach break is known for its consistent surf throughout the year and therefore attracts both beginners and experienced surfers. There are lefts and rights on offer along this long stretch, just watch out for the wooden groynes along the beach.

Moving further south to Pembrokeshire, you’ll be flooded by the tidal wave of surfing options before you. If you’re looking for a more isolated spot and don’t mind a walk to get to your surf breaks, you might try Marloes Sands, which, due to its rip tides and rising tide that can cut you off, is better for more experienced surfers. Another great remote spot is Abereiddy, which has high cliffs to shelter it from the winds and can produce an immaculate hollow left over a reef. Due to this reef, it’s probably another one for seasoned boarders.

For beginners, the somewhat gentler waves of Newgale are perfect for longboarders and those just starting out. Manorbier can get busy, so novices should stick to the sandy region to the left of this stretch. One of the most consistent surfing beaches in Wales is Freshwater West, with both reef and beach breaks, and we recommend utilising the surf school here if you are inexperienced.

Coasteering in West Wales

The Blue Lagoon in Pembrokeshire

If you crave the ultimate activity holiday in West Wales, then the purist in you should choose coasteering. Why, you ask? Because Pembrokeshire is the home of coasteering which originated in the early 1980s when daring surfers started scrambling up cliff faces to gain an additional adrenaline rush.

It has since spread to other parts of Wales and indeed the rest of the world, but by coming to the coastline of West Wales, you’ll see the beauty and majesty that first inspired those intrepid surfers.

Head to TYF Adventure and Coasteering in St Davids, the company credited with inventing the sport way back when. From humble beginnings, they’ve grown, and these trailblazers have now taken over 100,000 neoprene-clad adventurers around the remarkable St Davids coast.

The stretch of coastline between St Davids and Fishguard is where most of the action takes place, yet providers operate further south at Newgale and up north in Cardigan Bay. And if the sea seems too rough, you can always travel to the Blue Lagoon in Abereiddy where the sea-swamped slate quarry provides a gentler approach to this ambitious sport. When it comes to coasteering, Pembrokeshire really does have something to (wet)suit everyone.

White water rafting in West Wales

A team of friends battling the white water in a raft

White water rafting is an interesting activity in that sometimes it’s a leisurely pursuit, where you can take in the scenic waterside landscapes and breathe a sigh of contentment, and then a moment later, you’re soaked to the bone and fuelled by adrenaline as you try to steer your group through the electrifying rapids.

With white water rafting, you usually need a decent amount of rain for the conditions to be suitable and the upper section of the River Teifi in Ceredigion is no different. Start here for some hair-raising rapids as you career towards Henllan Falls, finishing up at the lower section of the Teifi. The journey from here is more tranquil and you’ll pass through the untouched Teifi Gorge, as well as past the castles of Cilgerran and Cardigan. By this latter castle, the water becomes tidal meaning you started in fresh water and finished in salt water – a rafting experience not many others can match!

Kayaking and canoeing in West Wales

The limestone coastline of West Wales

With such a huge coastline on offer, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to kayaking and canoeing in West Wales. The coastal national park of Pembrokeshire is an obvious place to start, with the short paddle from Abereiddy to Abercastle being a favourite amongst the more experienced kayakers. You may even wish to head a little further out to sea towards Ramsey Island in the hope of spotting some seals.

Less proficient paddlers may prefer the sheltered north end of St Brides Bay where the small coves and inlets from Porthclais to Newgale provide a serene rite of passage.

Heading further north, the Teifi Estuary also provides a sheltered excursion, whilst Cardigan Bay offers a slightly more turbulent ride. The expedition from Llangrannog to Cwmtydu gives you the chance to disembark from your vessel and enjoy a sea swim.

But it’s worth remembering that when you’re playing along the Welsh coastline, you need to keep yourself, and those around you, safe. For advice and coastal tips, read the RNLI advice here.

Ziplining in West Wales

A tree-top zipline trail

Undeniably, ziplining in Wales is dominated by providers at the northern and southern ends of the country. However, there is a place in Pembrokeshire where you can test your mettle across balance beams, cargo nets, high ropes and zip lines.

Tree Tops Trail in Tenby (that’s a lot of Ts) is a great way to spend your time when visiting Pembrokeshire. There are three senior tree top trails (for participants aged ten and older) and even a trail for little tots. You’ll need to hold your nerve to tackle the rope bridges and cargo nets, before swinging through the canopies and returning to base via the white-knuckle ziplines.

These trails are part of a wider attraction that features go-karting, zorbing, archery and more, so you’ll be sure to find something for those members of your group who like to keep their feet firmly on the ground.

Mountain biking and mountain walks in West Wales

Ponies on the Preseli Hills with Ynys Dinas in the background

When it comes to exploring Pembrokeshire and West Wales, there’s probably not a better way to do it than on two wheels. There are trails to suit all levels of fitness, so get out on the open road and start breathing in the varied scenery made up of forest tracks, coastal paths and bridleways.

For long-distance cyclists, take on the coastal paths and riverside trails of Sustrans’ Celtic Trail West, or the Lon Teifi Trail, which makes up part of the National Cycle Network’s Route 82 from Bangor down to Fishguard. For easier expeditions, try the Brunel Cycle Route from Brunel Quay at Neyland along bridleways, or the Canaston Cycle Trails in Canaston Woods near Narberth for great family-friendly routes.

The Preseli Hills or, for the sake of this section, the Preseli Mountains, rise to 536m above sea level. Now, whilst this may be modest when compared to what other parts of Wales have to offer, these heights are in contrast to the lowlands of the southern part of Pembrokeshire. For fantastic panoramas and views across to Snowdonia/Eryri and even Ireland, hike up Foel Eryr, the most westerly point of the Preseli Mountains. Or for a longer hike, follow the Golden Road, an 8-mile trek along the spine of the hills, which is said to date back to the Neolithic period.

Caving in West Wales

Two cavers stop to contemplate the underground beauty around them

1966 was a great year for sport; the Aberystwyth Caving Club was formed. And since then, they’ve been exploring caverns and taverns in West Wales most weekends. There are lots of beginner-friendly trips on offer so it doesn’t matter if you don’t have any experience, and the club provides all the kit you’ll need. Yes, you’ll get wet and a little muddy, but you’ll get to open your eyes to an underground world that few dare to breach.

West Wales activity providers

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West Wales holiday cottages

Activity holidays in South Wales

People come from far and wide to experience activity holidays in South Wales. The natural landscape of beaches, waterfalls, caves, forests and mountains provides a bounty of prospects for thrill-seekers and those just wanting to get out and about.

Keep scrolling to find out more or click the button to find a home-away-from-home in South Wales.

South Wales holiday cottages

Surfing in South Wales

The surf at Worm's Head

South Wales rivals even the meccas of Cornwall and North Devon when it comes to surfing. Those untamed Atlantic rollers have no preference whether they land on remote beaches or on the surf-washed city of Swansea; both offer gorgeous coastal vistas for you to enjoy as you’re waiting for the sets to come in.

The Gower Peninsula is where most of the good South Wales surf is centred. The UK’s first AONB is an amazing spot to visit for any occasion and even better when you’re trying to harness the raw power of the ocean. Three Cliffs Bay, for example, offers unrivalled beauty as well as a respectable beach break at high tide. It doesn’t get too busy either due to being less accessible than other beaches in the area.

Pete’s Reef is one for the more experienced surfers, with its left- and right-hand reef breaks coming out fast and hollow. Come here at low tide for the best rides. The 2-mile stretch of Llangennith Beach provides plenty of space for both novices and experts, which is just as well as this is one of the most popular surf sport in South Wales, if not all of Wales. This beach break is surfable at any stage of the tide, meaning you’ll likely find consistent waves whenever you visit.

Moving away from Gower, Porthcawl is another great spot for beginners with Black Rock, The Esplanade and Rest Bay providing slow, user-friendly breaks.

Coasteering in South Wales

Coasteering in South Wales

We head off to the south coast of the Gower again, as this is where you’ll find the cream of the crop of coasteering possibilities. The towering cliffs and giant sea arches provide the perfect foundation for flinging yourself into the sea like the cavalier scoundrel you are.

There’s lots of terrain to choose from and plenty of activity providers who will guide you through the process every step of the way. Caswell Bay offers the chance to swim through a cave, while the scenery at Three Cliffs Bay will stop you in your tracks. And if you fancy something a little special, try sunset coasteering over Worm’s Head at Rhossili.

If, after all this, you still need something to whet(suit) your appetite, scramble over to the Glamorgan Heritage Coast where the multi-layered cliffs lend themselves well to this exhilarating activity.

White water rafting in South Wales

White water rafting in South Wales

Drops, boilers, weirs, stoppers and eddies? No, this isn’t a 1950s gang register, this is white water rafting! South Wales is an appropriate choice for this energising activity as you have the rivers Usk, Rhondda and Wye to choose from.

If you love getting wet and you adore the thrill of white water, South Wales has plenty of experienced providers just waiting to take you on a white-knuckle ride. So, don your helmet, slip into your wetsuit and see if you’re brave enough to take on these ferocious rapids, one of which on the River Wye goes by the name of ‘Hell Hole’!

Some of the providers don’t operate during the summer months due to river levels and accessibility, however, all is not lost. Cardiff International White Water offers a man-made looped course that certainly packs a punch. As the water is controlled by man, rather than nature, you can personalise your experience somewhat and enjoy gentler circuits or turn it up to the max.

Kayaking and canoeing in South Wales

Canoes on the River Wye

With a number of rivers, lakes and canals in South Wales, as well as the vast coastline that rubs shoulders with the sea, you’ll never be short of aquatic wonders to explore in your kayak or canoe.

Llangorse Lake near Brecon is a calm natural body of water that has been deemed a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The fact that the water is tranquil means it is great for novices; conversely, due to it being an SSSI, it can get rather busy.

If you’re after something a little more potent, head to Glasbury to join the River Wye and head downstream over the rapids to Hay-on-Wye. If the thought of river kayaking is too confining, the Gower Peninsula comes to the rescue again. This time, the destination is Oxwich Bay where you can head out on the open water and drink in the diverse surroundings … just don’t drink in the sea water!

Again, Cardiff International White Water is an option if the inland waterways and the briny deep of the Atlantic aren’t for you. Perfect for beginners as you can keep going around and around, and the savagery of the white water can be adjusted to suit your ability level.

Ziplining in South Wales

Ziplining in South Wales

Like its counterparts in the north, Zip World leads the way when it comes to ziplining in South Wales. Zip World Tower, just outside of Hirwaun in Rhondda Cynon Taff, is the fourth site to open and the first in the south of the country.

It’s home to the Tower Climber obstacle course and Tower Flyer zip line, but more importantly, it’s where you’ll find Phoenix, the fastest seated zipline in the world (and Zip World’s steepest). It can reach speeds of 70mph as you fly down the Rhigos Mountain and over the Llyn Fawr Reservoir, covering nearly a mile all in all.

Another option available to you in South Wales is Morfa Bay Adventure in Pendine, where the high ropes and ziplining don’t quite match the grandiosity of its more established neighbour, yet it still delivers fun in spades. Swarm over the Jacob’s ladder, tyre wall and cargo net before soaring down the 100m-zipline. There are myriad options for further outdoor activities at this provider too, click their link further below.

Mountain biking and mountain walks in South Wales

Mountain biking in South Wales

There are far too many wonderful mountain biking trails in South Wales to fit into this small section but we’ll do our best. There are some beautifully crafted trails at the bike parks and centres dotted over the region, including the Black Mountains Cycle Centre and Brechfa Trail Centre. The Afan Forest Park Trail Centre has over 60 miles of world-class singletrack trails, and Bike Park Wales is home to possibly the best variety of top-notch tracks in the whole of the UK.

However, if you want to shift gears, try the plethora of natural rides this territory has at the tips of its gloved fingers. Crug Mawr in the Black Mountains offers a lot of inland variety, while the route along the Gower coast to Rhossili deals in incredible beach views along singletracks and bridleways. Sarn Helen, originally built by the Romans, is one of the oldest and longest biking routes in Wales and promises a fun ride along forest roads.

When it comes to mountain walks in South Wales, you’ll be blessed with the mountain ranges of the Bannau Brycheiniog /  Brecon Beacons. Skirrid Mountain, which is separated from the main Black Mountain range thanks to the Gavenny Valley, rewards summit reachers with spectacular panoramic views. Then there’s Sugar Loaf, Pen y Fan (the highest point in South Wales), Rhos Dirion and Fan y Big which offer a mixture of rocky peaks, wild moorland and enchanting valleys. Stay nearby in one of our lovely Bannau Brycheiniog /  Brecon Beacons cottages

Caving in South Wales

Caving in South Wales

Almost all of the caving in South Wales is focused on the Bannau Brycheiniog / Brecon Beacons National Park and there are so many varied and exciting caving areas in this region that all levels of ability are catered for. Routes on many caving excursions can even be amended mid-trip by the guides in case you need more of a challenge or if you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.

Porth Yr Ogof is one of the most popular caves to delve into, with hidden passages to explore, hollowed-out chambers to marvel at and narrow sections to crawl through. For more information, Caves of South Wales gives an extensive list of all the major caves and caving systems in South Wales.

You may even feel like you’re in the tail-end of The Goonies as you squeeze through the rocky underground corridors … unfortunately, One-Eyed Willy’s treasure will not be on offer at the end of a day searching these sunken cavities.

South Wales activity providers

The time is now to find your perfect adventure holiday in South Wales. First things first, discover your perfect holiday cottage by clicking the button below.

South Wales holiday cottages

Map of adventures and activities in Wales

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Choose your self-catering cottage in Wales

After all these adrenaline-charged activities, you’ll need a cosy bolthole you can retreat to - one with comfortable sofas, inviting bedrooms and fully equipped kitchens for creating hearty breakfasts prior to another white-knuckle day ahead. Luckily, we have this and more in our fantastic collection of self-catering holiday homes in Wales.

Cottages in Wales

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.

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