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21 unmissable things to do in Wales holiday cottages

21 unmissable things to do in Wales

Laura Mackenzie 06 September 2023

From the majestic mountains and outdoor adventures of North Wales to the vibrant cities of South Wales, the beautiful beaches of West Wales and the rural charm of Mid Wales, there are plenty of things to do in Wales during your next holiday. Including literature festivals, Eisteddfods, beautiful beaches, captivating castles and more, we’ve picked some of the best days out in Wales for you to enjoy.

With three outstanding national parks, explore the towering peaks and breathtaking valleys of Eryri / Snowdonia National Park in North Wales, the 186 miles of outstanding coastal path along Pembrokeshire Coast National Park in West Wales and the marvellous mountains of Bannau Brycheiniog / Brecon Beacons National Park in South Wales.

In our guide to the best things to do in Wales, discover some of the top activities, attractions, heritage sites and superb natural landscapes that this magnificent country has to offer. Read on to discover our collection of the best places to visit in Wales.


Skip to:

  1. Discover Cardiff Castle
  2. Explore Eryri / Snowdonia National Park
  3. Discover the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and coast path
  4. Powis Castle and Garden
  5. Conquer Conwy Castle
  6. Catch a game at the Principality Stadium
  7. Pet the animals at Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo
  8. Discover the Elan Valley
  9. Enjoy the views at the Great Orme
  10. Get sandy at Barafundle Bay
  11. Learn at St Fagans National Museum of History
  12. Walk Waterfall Country
  13. Fly high at Zip World
  14. Spend a day in Tenby
  15. Visit gorgeous Gower AONB
  16. National Botanic Gardens of Wales
  17. Be enchanted by Castell Coch
  18. Visit Portmeirion
  19. Be at peace at St Davids Cathedral
  20. Go underground at The National Showcaves Centre for Wales
  21. Experience Ynyshir

1. Discover Cardiff Castle

Cardiff Castle

One of the best attractions in Wales and things to do in South Wales, Cardiff Castle stands proudly in the heart of the Welsh capital city centre with enchanting fairytale towers that conceal an elaborate and splendid interior. Climb the mighty Norman shell keep, marvel at the lavish Castle Apartments and be sure to snap a selfie at the animal wall.

Cardiff Castle is also home to a number of events from concerts featuring top acts like Tom Jones, Diana Ross and Queens of the Stone Age to festivals such as Tafwyl (an annual Welsh-language festival), and Luna Cinema showing top films. You can even get married here!

Highlights

  • Price: Adult £14.50, child £10
  • Location: Castle St, Cardiff, CF10 3RB
  • Facilities: Gift shop, WCs, cafe

2. Explore Eryri / Snowdonia National Park

Snowdonia National Park

Eryri / Snowdonia National Park is Wales’ largest national park, and its wild landscape is steeped with culture, history, and heritage. It's one of the most popular tourist attractions in Wales and shows off the amazing landscape of North Wales.

At the peak of the amazing Eryri / Snowdonia National Park is Yr Wyddfa / Snowdon, Wales' highest mountain, and if you don’t fancy the challenging hike then you can take the scenic Snowdon Mountain Railway to the summit. Get prepared and breathe in the stunning scenery and awe-inspiring views of this great Eryri / Snowdonia National Park activity in North Wales.

Take a look at our full guide to things to do in North Wales for even more inspiration.

Highlights

  • Yr Wyddfa / Snowdon
  • Snowdon Mountain Railway
  • Llyn Tegid, Wales' largest natural lake

3. Discover the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park and coast path

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

Part of the amazing Welsh coast and one of our favourite national parks in Wales, discover 186 miles of spectacular coast path covering some of the most varied coastal scenery in Britain. Pembrokeshire is home to the only coastal national park in the UK and is jam-packed full of natural beauty, stunning coastline, beautiful beaches, and refreshing walks.

One of the top active things to do in Wales, the Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail takes around 10 to 15 days to complete and includes some impressive descents and ascents to get those legs moving. You can break this up into shorter walks and this useful mileage chart helps calculate which route to take. There is also a coastal Pembrokeshire bus service that covers the whole path to help you on your way.

Highlights

  • Starts or ends at Amroth or St Dogmaels
  • 186 miles of beauty
  • Shorter routes available

4. Stroll Powis Castle and Garden

Powis Castle

Rising dramatically above the famous garden, Powis Castle and Garden is one of the most popular things to do in Mid Wales.

Adorned over the years, Powis Castle is now home to a fine collection of historic paintings, intriguing sculptures, beautifully styled furniture, and intricate tapestries. The gorgeous garden is influenced by Italian and French styles and is defined by the huge yew tree hedges trimmed into abstract topiary.

Highlights

  • Price: Adult £15, child £7.50
  • Location: Welshpool, Powys, SY21 8RF
  • Facilities: Book shop, cafe, car park, dog friendly, plant shop, WCs

5. Conquer Conwy Castle

Conwy Castle

Conwy Castle and town walls are part of The Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd UNESCO World Heritage Site that also includes Beaumaris and Harlech castles and Caernarfon Castle town walls.

Conwy Castle is extremely well preserved and has the most intact set of medieval royal apartments in Wales. It paints a striking picture with the craggy mountains of Eryri / Snowdonia rising in the background, what a sight! Explore the restored spiral staircase and great towers and complete the circuit around the battlements of Conwy Castle.

Highlights

  • Price: Adult £11.70, child: £8.20
  • Location: Castle Street, Conwy, LL32 8AY
  • Facilities: WCs, gift shop, bike storage, exhibition

6. Catch a game at Principality Stadium

Principality Stadium

Nothing in the world is quite like game day at the Welsh capital’s stadium! The thrill, the crowd, and the unbelievable atmosphere will leave you with an amazing lasting memory.

Of course, it’s not just world-class rugby that is enjoyed at this striking place. The Principality Stadium is also home to world-class concerts and events hosting artists such as Harry Styles, Beyonce, Taylor Swift, and the Foo Fighters!

Head to bustling Cardiff Bay in the evening for waterside food and drinks. Pre-match, why not take one of the many boat trips from the waterfront at Cardiff Bay? Get scientific at Techniquest or take a lovely waterside walk or cycle along the Cardiff Bay Trial to pretty Penarth. Spot landmark buildings such as the Norwegian Church Arts Centre, The Pierhead, The Senedd and the Wales Millenium Centre.

Highlights

  • Price: Varied depending on the event
  • Location: Westgate Street, Cardiff, CF10 1NS
  • Facilities: WCs, tours, conferences

7. Pet the animals at Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo

Folly Farm

Folly Farm in West Wales is a fantastic day out for all the family. Including lions, giraffes, penguins, pigs, meerkats and sloths, there is so much to see and do here.

Experience the joy of the past in the lovingly restored vintage fairground with its bright colours and fun-filled atmosphere. Introduce little ones to the farmyard favourites at The Jolly Barn, from ferrets and fancy mice to miniature ponies, shire horses, donkeys, and goats – there are all sorts of cute furry animals here.

Highlights

  • Price: Adult £23.95, child £21.95
  • Location: Folly Farm, Begelly, Kilgetty, Pembrokeshire, SA68 0XA
  • Facilities: Gift shop, WCs, food, fairground rides

8. Discover Elan Valley

Elan Valley

The enchanting Elan Valley is a generous space filled with miles of dams, reservoirs, trails, and rugged Welsh countryside.  

Walk or cycle and take in the tranquillity of this special place. There are four picturesque dams on the river Elan; Craig Goch, Pen y Garreg, Garreg Ddu, and Caban Coch and are undoubtedly the biggest draw to Elan Valley.

Highlights

  • Price: Free
  • Location: Rhayader, Powys, LD6 5HP
  • Facilities: Gift shop, cafe, information centre, play area, picnic area

9. Enjoy the views at the Great Orme

Great Orme

Take in the spectacular views from the summit of the Great Orme, a remarkable limestone headland on the north coast of Wales.

The Great Orme Tramway, Britain’s only funicular, or cable-hauled, tramway that travels on public roads, will take you straight to the top in its beautifully restored tramcars. Climbing a mile through the Great Orme Country Park and Nature Reserve, The Great Orme Tramway delivers you right to the spectacular summit.

Highlights

  • Price: Adult £10.90, child £8
  • Location: Victoria Station, Church Walks, Llandudno, North Wales, LL30 2NB
  • Facilities: Exhibition centre, picnic tables, summit complex, cafe, outdoor playground

10. Get sandy at Barafundle Bay

Barafundle

One of Pembrokeshire's many beautiful beaches, this shimmering jewel in Pembrokeshire’s glittering coastal crown is one for the bucket and spade list.

Remote and stunning, pack a picnic and enjoy the clifftop walk to this beautiful bay and sit and relax the day away. Stackpole Quay National Trust car park is around half a mile from the beach; from here, you can also enjoy the circular walk around beautiful Bosherston Lily Ponds and Broad Haven South Beach. Take a look at our full guide to things to do in West Wales for even more coastal inspiration.

Highlights

  • Price: Free (except parking)
  • Location: Stackpole Quay National Trust car park, SA71 5LS
  • Facilities: Parking

11. Learn at St Fagans National Museum of History

St Fagans

Dive into Welsh culture and history at St Fagans open-air museum and be in awe at the original buildings from different historic periods that have been re-erected in the 100-acre parkland.

Learn about the rich history and story of Wales and be inspired by the workshops where craftsmen continue to demonstrate their traditional skills. St Fagans comes to life as traditional festivals, music and dance events are celebrated.

Highlights

  • Price: Free
  • Location: Cardiff, CF5 6XB
  • Facilities: Parking, cafe, restaurant, WCs

12. Walk Waterfall Country

Waterfall Country

Admire the many waterfalls of Waterfall Country set right on the south-westerly edge of the beautiful Bannau Brycheiniog / Brecon Beacons National Park.

From Henrhyd Falls, South Wales’ tallest waterfall and the set for Batman’s Bat Cave in the Hollywood Batman blockbuster The Dark Knight Rises, to Sgwd Clun-Gwyn Waterfall at the start of the Four Waterfalls Walk, Bannau Brycheiniog / Brecon Beacons' waterfalls are filled full of wonder just waiting to be discovered.

Highlights

  • Price: Parking charges apply
  • Location: Gwaun Hepste - Four Falls Trail Car Park, Aberdare, CF44 9JF
  • Facilities: Limited WC facilities at the car parks

13. Fly high at Zip World

Zip World

Experience the fastest zip line in the world at Velocity. Soar over Penrhyn Quarry while taking in unique views of Eryri / Snowdonia.

Zoom down the 1.5 kilometres with up to 2 hours of incredible outdoor adventure. Spectators can dine at the bistro-style Blondin Restaurant which also enjoys stunning views of Eryri / Snowdonia. You can also try out the UK’s only Quarry Karts, or take a tour of the fascinating history of Penrhyn Quarry.

Highlights

  • Price: £92 for 2 hours
  • Location: Zip World Penrhyn Quarry, Bethesda, LL57 4YG
  • Facilities: Restaurant, cafe, WCs, parking, shop

14. Spend a day or two in Tenby

Tenby

Delightful seaside town, Tenby, with its pretty pastel townhouses lining the seafront and photogenic harbour, is a must-see. Home to four beautiful beaches, a host of delicious places to eat and plentiful gift shops, a stay in Tenby is sure to be memorable.

A family favourite, Tenby is packed full of seaside charm and wonder with quaint cobbled streets and a colourful array of mouth-watering ice cream flavours to dive into.

Highlights

  • Caldey Island
  • Castle Beach
  • Lose yourself in the eclectic gift shops

15. Visit the gorgeous Gower AONB

Gower

With beautiful beaches like Rhossili, Three Cliffs Bay and Langland Bay along with some amazing coastal walks, it's no surprise that the Gower Peninsula was named the first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the UK!

Dotted with lovely country pubs and mouth-watering places to eat such as Beach House Oxwich, a Michelin-Star restaurant overlooking the iconic Oxwich Bay, Gower is a foodie's delight.

Gower is also very popular with surfers and is a paradise for water sports with a fine collection of surf schools, shops and surf hire available for all experience levels. Popular Gower surf spots include Llangennith, Langland Bay, Caswell Bay Beach and Rhossili, all offering a variety of surf depending on the tide.

Highlights


16. Watch life bloom at the National Botanic Gardens of Wales

National Botanic Gardens of Wales

Perfectly placed in Carmarthenshire with its lush green landscapes, The National Botanic Garden of Wales is one of the loveliest things to do in Wales. Within a soaring glass dome lies a plethora of some of the most endangered plants on the planet from California, Australia, the Canary Islands, Chile, South Africa, and the Mediterranean Basin.

You'll also discover relaxing walks and the British Bird of Prey Centre with jaw-dropping free-flying shows, each starring a different species of raptor. Be amazed at the golden eagles, red kites and peregrine falcons swooping within inches of you!

Highlights

  • Price: Adult £16.86, child £8.65
  • Location: Middleton Hall, Llanarthne SA32 8HN
  • Facilities: Parking, cafe, WCs, shop, garden centre

17. Be enchanted by Castell Coch

Castell Coch

This gorgeous castle looks like it’s been plucked straight out of a fairytale. Wonder at the intricate decoration, beautifully depicting lavish portraits of the natural world.

Castell Coch sits peacefully in the woodland with its wonderful towers setting the scene for a perfect river image. You’ll be sure to fall in love with this fairytale place and you can even get married here, the perfect romantic setting for the big day.

Highlights

  • Price: Adult £8.70, child £6.10
  • Location: Cardiff, CF15 7JS
  • Facilities: Parking, cafe, WCs, gift shop

18. Visit Portmeirion

Portmeirion

This colourful slice of the Italian Riviera on the North Wales coast is home to an oh-so-pretty village. Brainchild of Welsh architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, Portmeirion is most famous as the setting for the 1960s TV series, The Prisoner.

Wander this picturesque place along with checking out the Gwyllt, a 70-acre sub-tropical forest. There's also the Amis Reunis, the famous "Stone Boat" of Portmeirion. Stroll along the white sandy beaches of the Dwyryd Estuary and discover hidden caves, gullies and a flurry of interesting plants.

Highlights

  • Price: Adult £18.00, child £11
  • Location: Minffordd, Penrhyndeudraeth, Gwynedd, LL48 6ER
  • Facilities: Village, gardens, estuary, eateries, shops

19. Be at peace at St Davids Cathedral

St Davids Cathedral

St Davids Cathedral has been a place of peace and pilgrimage since the Middle Ages. Ornately decorated and with beautiful surroundings, this special building which marks the UK's smallest city is well worth a visit and is one of the real top things to do in Wales. With a range of music events and a refreshing refectory café, inspire body and soul at this sacred place.

St David is Wales’ patron saint, born on a Pembrokeshire clifftop during a fierce storm where a nearby holy well is said to have healing powers. St David’s Day is celebrated on March 1st, the day St David died, and was later buried at the site of St Davids Cathedral. His last known words, ‘Be joyful, keep the faith, and do the little things that you have heard and seen me do’ have inspired many and ‘Gwnewch y pethau bychain mewn bywyd’ or ‘Do the little things in life’ is a well-known saying in Wales.

St Davids is a lovely place to visit in Wales full of lovely boutiques and places to eat. You can also take a boat trip nearby around some of Pembrokeshire’s beautiful islands such as Skomer and Ramsey where you may even spot some pretty puffins and delightful dolphins!

Highlights

  • Price: Free
  • Location: St Davids, Haverfordwest, SA62 6RD
  • Facilities: WCs, cafe

20. Go underground at The National Showcaves Centre for Wales

The National Showcaves Centre for Wales

One of the more adventurous things to do in Wales is travel underground at The National Showcaves Centre, a great family day out. Explore some of the most accessible caves in Wales, including the magnificent Dan yr Ogof and the creepy Bone Cave.

Above ground, you'll find a dinosaur park, an Iron Age village, and a Shire Horse Centre, enough to keep all ages entertained.

Highlights

  • Price: Adults £18.50, children £15
  • Location: Abercrave, Swansea, SA9 1GJ
  • Facilities: Cafe, shop, WCs, dogs welcome on a lead in the Showcaves, but not in the farm park or Shire Horse Centre

21. Experience Ynyshir

Fine food

Wales' only restaurant with two Michelin Stars and one of the most exclusive things to do in Wales, Ynyshir is a truly immersive dining experience, a thrilling culinary journey with personally curated music.

Let the theatre of the kitchen engulf you as you consume around 30 or so intricate and highly imaginative dishes over 4-5 hours.

Highlights

  • Price: from £375 per person
  • Location: Eglwysfach, Machynlleth, SY20 8TA
  • Facilities: Weddings, exclusive restaurant hire, weekend hire

Map of things to do in Wales

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Stay in Wales

Wales holiday accommodation

There are endless amazing things to do in Wales and an activity holiday based from a comfortable cottage will allow you plenty of time to experience all the wonders that Wales has to offer.

Discover romantic retreats, family-friendly stays, group getaways and dog-friendly breaks in unique locations right across Wales. Just click the button below to browse our complete collection of self-catering accommodation.

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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