If you’re planning on a staycation Wales is one of the best parts of the UK to explore. Join us as we show you 20 of the best places to enjoy a staycation in Wales.
If you’re considering a staycation Wales has an abundance of places to choose from. It has some of the best beaches in Europe, some of the best castles in Europe, some of the best mountain scenery this side of the English Channel. And a whole lot more.
We’ve written this Wales staycation guide to give you some ideas if you’re thinking about staying in the UK again this year. We begin with our top six suggestions, and show you another 14 possible staycation in Wales ideas by region. We’ve also linked to other articles on our site which go into each destination in more detail.
Staycation Wales – Our Top 6
Gower – the peninsula immediately to the west of the city of Swansea – has some of the best beaches in Europe. It was also the first part of the UK to be designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty back in 1956. Perhaps the best staycation Wales has to offer, you could spend a week just exploring the main Gower beaches, but there’s so much more besides.
Things To Do In The Gower
Many head straight to the far west of the peninsula, to Rhossili Bay, one of the best beaches on the planet (don’t ask us – rather the thousands that voted for it). It’s a 3-mile (5km) sweep of glorious golden sand, beneath a 250-foot (80 metre) cliff with an islet at one end and a tidal island – the formidable Worm’s Head, named after a Norse word for dragon – a mile away to the left.
Rhossili is the starting – or finishing – point for some of the best Gower walks, the best of which runs from Port Eynon to Rhossili. This passes through some of the best coastal scenery in the UK, including the tidal beach (i.e. at high tide there is no beach) at Mewslade Bay.
Don’t miss Three Cliffs Bay, a hidden coastal Arcadia shaped by the Pennard Pill Stream, complete with a ruined medieval castle overlooking the scene. Further east, there are more beaches in the Swansea suburbs – especially Langland and Caswell – that are great for families.
See Also: Things To Do In The Gower
Once you’re on Gower, it’s pretty hard to drag yourself away. However, it’s well worth a short drive to the Brecon Beacons. The western section, the Black Mountain, is the closest to Gower, and I’d suggest taking the scenic ‘Top Gear Drive’ – the winding A4069 out of Brynamman – and finding your way through the backroads from there to romantic Carreg Cennen Castle. Swansea and its seaside suburb Mumbles are also well worh a day of your time.
Tenby should be near the top of any Wales bucket list. It’s a gorgeous seaside town in south-west Wales, its handsome historic core perched on a headland surrounded by the four exquisite Tenby beaches. It’s also very handy for getting around Pembrokeshire, and with several big attractions close by, ideal for a family or kids staycation too.
Tenby Things To Do
There are enough things to do in Tenby to keep you and family occupied for at least a week. The town’s four beaches are among the best in Wales and the UK – North Beach has recently been voted seventh of the 10 most beautiful beaches in the world (it’s better than that!) and Castle Beach has been voted the best in the UK.
Tenby Harbour is one of the most beautiful you’ll ever see, with a row of pastel-coloured Georgian houses making it one of the most picturesque places in Europe. The historic streets above harbour all kinds of secrets, from where the future King Henry VII of England escaped to France to the origins of the ‘equals’ sign in mathematics.
Caldey Island lies a 20-minute boat trip offshore, and can be reached between April and October. It’s home to medieval churches, a Cistercian monastery and some amazing coastal scenery, including the remote Sandtop Bay beach on the west of the island. You can also go on boat trips watching wildlife around the island’s coast – but these don’t land on Caldey.
There are a whole host of Tenby attractions for kids. Folly Farm, with its zoo, traditional funfair and, yes, farm, is a brilliant place to take them, as is Manor Wildlife Park, home to two rare Sumatran tigers. Oakwood is a theme park near Narberth with an old-fashioned wooden rollercoaster and plenty of adrenaline-rush rides.
Tenby is within a 90-minute drive of just about anywhere in Pembrokeshire, which we cover in more detail below.
The Snowdonia National Park – Parc Cenedlaethol Eryri – is the ideal place for a North Wales staycation. It’s home to the highest mountain in Wales (and England!) and some of the best mountain hikes in Britain, but there is also plenty more to see if you want to take things a little more gently.
Things To Do In Snowdonia
Snowdon is the highest mountain in the National Park, and by far the most popular, with the summit crowded on sunny summer days. Yet if you venture to neighbouring peaks such as Moel Siabod or on hikes like the Nantlle Ridge Walk, and you’ll barely see a soul all day.
Many of the best views in Snowdonia are easily accessible, especially along the shores of some of the most beautiful lakes in Wales (Llyn Gwynant, Llyn Dinas and Llynnau Mymbyr). Some of the finest castles in North Wales can be found around the National Park, including Harlech, Dolwyddelan and Dolbadarn.
Snowdonia is also the setting for much of the UK’s newest UNESCO World Heritage Site, the dramatic Welsh Slate Landscape which includes the mines and quarries that roofed the world in the 19th and early 20th centuries. You can also go on hair-raising zip-wire rides over some of these locations, including Penrhyn Quarry near Bethesda and Blaenau Ffestiniog.
Snowdonia is ideally placed for getting to the coast. – whether it’s the Llŷn Peninsula to the west, Barmouth and Cardigan Bay to the south or the island of Anglesey to the north. Conwy and Llandudno, a few miles apart on the North Wales coast, are also within easy reach. Portmeirion village also lies just outside the National Park, overlooking the Dwyryd estuary.
Barmouth is one of the best places to stay in Wales if you’re planning on a staycation in Wales without a car. Public transport in Wales is a lot more miss than hit in the countryside, and Barmouth is one of a few places where this is happily not the case. It’s where the Cambrian Coast Railway and several cross-country bus routes coincide, and you can visit plenty of North Wales attractions from there.
What To Do In Barmouth
Barmouth is an unusual mix of traditional. British seaside holiday fun and some of the most inspiring, dramatic scenery in Wales. Take a five-minute walk from the vast Blue Flag beach and you reach the breathtaking Mawddach estuary, one of the most beautiful landscapes in Wales.
In the summer season there’s also a small funfair to whip up some adrenaline after all that resting on the beach. There’s also a small ferry across the estuary from the harbour to Fairbourne, where you can catch the charming Fairbourne Light Railway, then complete a circuit by walking back across Barmouth Bridge, a recently restored 19th century wooden viaduct.
There are also several great walks around Barmouth, from the short climb to Dinas Oleu, an area of high ground above the town which was the first piece of land acquired by the UK’s National Trust , to longer hikes towards the remote Rhinog mountains to the north of the town.
The world – ok, this corner of North West Wales – is your oyster with the Cambrian Coast Railway. Several great beaches – around Dyffryn Ardudwy and Harlech – are within easy reach and World Heritage Harlech Castle is a trudge up a steep hill from the station directly below.
The train also stops at Minffordd, a 20-minute walk from the Italianate village of Portmeirion, and you can connect there with the Ffestiniog Railway that puffs its way to the slate town of Blaenau Ffestiniog. Otherwise, the train continues to Porthmadog and Criccieth, home to one of the most evocative Welsh castles overlooking the sea.
The Llŷn Peninsula is the finger of land to the west of Snowdonia, pointing west to holy Bardsey Island and the Irish Sea. Its hilly interior and stunning beaches and coast make up one of the rural heartlands of Welsh-speaking Wales, and if you’re planning on a staycation Wales – and for that matter the rest of the UK – doesn’t have much to match up to Pen Llŷn.
Things To Do In The Llŷn Peninsula
There are two gateways to the Llŷn, Caernarfon on the north coast and Porthmadog on the south. Caernarfon Castle is one of the most famous UK landmarks, and one of the most formidable castles in Europe. The north coast is dominated by the three peaks of Yr Eifl, and there some extraordinary beaches, from wide open Dinas Dinlle or Traeth Penllech to the sandy cove at Porth Iago.
The south coast has longer beaches, including vast Black Rock Sands and Pwllheli beaches, and the glorious sheltered sands of Llanbedrog and Abersoch (see below) and the surfers’ mecca of Hells Mouth (Porth Neigwl).
Aberdaron is the westernmost village on the Llŷn, and is often called the ‘Land’s End of North Wales’. This village has a fantastic beach and is the departure point for Bardsey Island – Ynys Enlli – the object of pilgrimage for well over a thousand years.
See Also: 15 Best Llŷn Peninsula Beaches
Places To Visit From The Llŷn Peninsula
Snowdonia and Anglesey are the obvious choices – the A499 and A487 are good, quick roads, making both areas within comfortable reach.
The isle of Anglesey is ideal for staycations in Wales, with plenty of outstanding beaches, amazing views of Snowdonia and just a few minutes’ hop from the Welsh mainland. It also has some of the best staycation hotels in Wales, including the superb Chateau Rhianfa, and some of the best restaurants in Wales to entice you further.
Things To Do In Anglesey
There are a great many Anglesey beaches to explore including some of the finest in North Wales. We particularly recommend Llanddwyn Island, a stunning tidal island at the end of the sublime Newborough Beach, though there are many more around the Anglesey coast, from the surfers’ favourite up the road in Rhosneigr to the fine sands and rockpools of Church Bay on the remote north-west coast of the island.
Anglesey is the largest of all Welsh islands, and has a few more scattered around its own shoreline. Holy Island, which includes the busy port of Holyhead, has its own magnificent coastline, which includes one of the top UK landmarks, South Stack lighthouse, surrounded by mighty cliffs on the western side of Holyhead Mountain.
There are also some awe-inspiring Anglesey walks, particularly along the rugged northern coast, and just inland from there is one of the most unusual landscapes in Wales, the copper mine at Parys Mountain near Amlwch. You’ll also find the World Heritage Beaumaris Castle and the village with the longest place name in the UK and second longest in the world, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwlllantysiliogogogoch. Locals prefer to call it Llanfair PG.
Staycation Wales – North Wales
We’ve included Abersoch separately from the rest of the Llŷn Peninsula as it’s a world away in feel and, mostly price bracket. It’s a village on the south coast of the Peninsula, with lovely Llanbedrog a few miles to the north and the windswept wilderness of Porth Neigwl (Hells Mouth), a favourite among the North Wales surfing community, just over the hill to the west.
Things To Do In Abersoch
You come to Abersoch (pronounced Aber-sawkh, though many prefer to call it ‘Aber-sock’) for the beautiful sheltered beaches with their views of the peaks of Snowdonia on the horizon. They are fantastic beaches, and the headland behind keeps the waters calm. In summer, they’re constantly abuzz with activity, from bathing, swimming and paddling to taking short boat trips in the bay.
If you can haul yourself away from the outstanding beaches, there is more of a choice of places to eat and drink than anywhere else in North Wales of comparable size – indeed there are as many restaurants in Abersoch as in some small towns in North Wales.
If you’ve travelled this far down the Llŷn Peninsula, I’d suggest staying local to see what it has to offer. Close by, Porth Ceiriad is a superb sandy beach frequented by few, and Llanbedrog, 4 miles to the north, has one of the best beaches in North Wales.
We can also recommend getting lost in the tangle of country lanes to the west Abersoch, eventually heading up to the fascinating Plas yn Rhiw and, eventually, Aberdaron.
Conwy is one of the most impressive towns in Wales, with its awe-inspiring Castle and Town Walls and relaxed riverside vibe.
What To Do In Conwy
For a small town, there are surprisingly many things to do in Conwy. The Castle – one of the most beautiful in Europe – is one of the most compelling in the country, and remains an imposing sight seven and a half centuries after it was completed. The Town Walls were added at the same time, and it’s well worth taking the walk along the tops to get some great views over the town.
You’ll also find other remnants of medieval Conwy, from half-timbered Aberconwy House to Plas Mawr, a grand 16th century town house that has been impeccably restored inside.
Also head down to the river and Conwy Quay, where you can sit outside the Liverpool Arms with a drink looking across the river and over to the Castle, or put your head around the door (not much else will fit) to see the inside of the Smallest House in Great Britain.
Places To Visit Near Conwy
One of the advantages of a North Wales staycation in Conwy is the ease of getting around, whether it’s to nearby Llandudno, along the coast to Bangor and Anglesey or into Snowdonia, via Bethesda or Betws-y-Coed. Don’t overlook the charms of the Conwy Valley – one of the most beautiful in Wales – either.
We’ve included Llandudno in our staycation Wales selection despite it being just 4 miles (6 km) from Conwy because it’s markedly different from its neighbour. It has often been called the ‘queen of resorts’, and is one of the best seaside towns in Wales, with a whole host of things to do and very good public transport connections.
Things To Do In Llandudno
There is a regal splendour about Llandudno’s Promenade, with its fine hotels stretching along the North Shore seafront. The town is rich in Victoriana, with its extravagant Pier (the best in Wales – sorry Bangor!), traditional Punch and Judy shows and architectural details galore.
Alice Liddell, the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland, regularly enjoyed holidays in Llandudno, and you can follow a trail around places associated with her in the town.
The vast limestone headland, the Great Orme, rises high above Llandudno, and there are several attractions to explore and ways to get around. You can take a boat trip around It or catch a cable car to the summit or hop on the Great Orme Tramway. You can also drive around it or walk or even run around it too.
The Great Orme summit area is worth visiting for the views along the North Wales coast and the Great Orme Copper Mine. The Mine dates from the Bronze Age – around 4,000 years ago. You follow a self-guided tour around the network of tunnels – it’s a fascinating place only discovered in 1987. I can remember reading about it in the newspaper (remember them?) at the time.
Betws y Coed
There are enough things to do in Betws-y-Coed to keep you around the village for a day or three, but it’s best-known as the main gateway to the Snowdonia National Park. The village – on the edge of the Gwydyr Forest and the National Park itself – is a wonderfully quirky little place, and we’ve used it as a base for exploring North Wales countless times.
What To Do In Betws-y-Coed
Betws-y-Coed is quite different in feel to the other villages in Snowdonia. The first place to head is Pont y Pair – the Bridge of the Cauldron – a centuries-old stone bridge spanning the Afon Llugwy. It works up quite a froth over its short course, and you usually have to raise your voice sitting by the riverside to make yourself heard over the roar of the rapids.
One of the most famous waterfalls in Wales, Swallow Falls, is formed from the same river two miles or so upstream. The River Conwy is also spectacular, with Conwy Falls and the narrow ravine at Fairy Glen. Betws-y-Coed is also a good base for exploring the Conwy Valley, from Bodnant Garden to the remote lakes Llyn Crafnant and Llyn Geirionnydd.
Things To Do Near Betws-y-Coed
Betws-y-Coed is on the main A5 and A470, so is ideally placed for exploring the rest of Snowdonia, or making the quick trip to Anglesey and its brilliant beaches. Conwy and Llandudno can be reached by bus and train as well as car, and Portmeirion and the Llŷn Peninsula are also a short drive away.
Llangollen, a few miles from the English border, is one of the most beautiful towns in Wales, in a gorgeous location in the Dee Valley, which is part of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty along with the Clwydian Range to the north. It’s on the A5, an hour from Betws-y-Coed and Snowdonia, and ideally placed for exploring the North Wales Borderlands and the remote Berwyn Mountains to the south.
Things To Do In Llangollen
Llangollen is a small town next to the loud rapids of the Dee, which is spanned by the fine medieval stone arched Llangollen Bridge. The scant – yet romantic – ruins of Dinas Bran Castle are a stiff uphill walk away, as is one of the best sections of the entire Offa’s Dyke Path National Trail, which runs coast to coast from North to South Wales. This runs high above the romantic ruin of Valle Crucis Abbey, one of the most atmospheric in Wales.
The best thing to see in the town is Plas Newydd, a delightful black-and-white half-timbered house in extensive gardens. It was once home to the famous Ladies of Llangollen, Sarah Ponsonby and Eleanor Butler, who lived there for many years, attracting famous visitors including Shelley, Byron and Wordsworth.
Four miles downstream from Llangollen, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, carries the Llangollen Canal high above the Dee Valley. It’s one of the most impressive bridges in Europe, and in 2009 was designated the third UNESCO World Heritage Site in Wales.
See Also: Things To Do In Llangollen
Places To Visit Near Llangollen
Llangollen is ideal for exploring North East Wales, one of the most overlooked parts of the country, and also venturing south along the border with England or to the remote moorland of the Berwyn Mountains.
National Trust-owned Chirk Castle is a few miles to the west, and Powis Castle, one of the most magnificent in the UK, is an hour’s drive south. The Berwyn Mountains are incredibly remote – I’ve never seen a soul while walking there – but they are a great vantage point over North Wales.
You could also catch the Llangollen Steam Railway ten miles west to Corwen, and visit two remarkable churches there – Rug Chapel and Llangar Church, both of which are run by Cadw.
Staycation Wales – Mid Wales
The Brecon Beacons are a series of mountains – and ranges – between the formerly industrial South Wales and the rural heart of Mid Wales. The main Brecon Beacons range is immediately to the south of the town of Brecon, with the moorland of the Black Mountain to the west and the steep ridges of the Black Mountains to the east, reaching the English border.
Things To Do In The Brecon Beacons
The Beacons are enormously popular with hikers, from occasional ramblers taking on the quick route up the highest peak, Pen y Fan, to aficionados tackling multiple summits in a day. The terrain is very diverse, and as well as the windswept ridges and summits there are also plenty of rivers, particularly in the limestone valleys of Waterfall Country in the south of the National Park.
The area is rich in history, from Carreg Cennen Castle in the far west to the stunning ruins of Llanthony Priory in the east, just inside the border with England.
There are also several great towns in the Brecon Beacons, including Hay-on-Wye, Brecon and the lovely Crickhowell, on the River Usk below the Black Mountains.
Day Trips From The Brecon Beacons
Much of southern Wales is within easy reach of the Beacons, including Cardiff, the Gower Peninsula and everywhere in between. Mid Wales, including the Elan Valley and Aberystwyth, are a longer but manageable drive too.
New Quay and Cardigan Bay
New Quay – not to be confused with its Cornish near-namesake – is one of the best seaside resorts in Wales. It’s on the Cardigan Bay coast, close to a string of superb beaches and a pod of bottlenose dolphins which reside a few miles along the coast.
Things To Do In New Quay
New Quay – Cei Newydd – is the one seaside town in Wales to give Tenby a run for its money in the picturesqueness stakes. There are two beaches in the town, and the Harbour Beach is the pick of these. The colourful streets of the town run like ribbons above the beach, a gorgeous sight.
Apart from indulging in the usual British seaside pleasures – especially ice cream and fish and chips, both of which are extremely good here – one of the most popular things to do in New Quay Wales is to take a boat trip down the Ceredigion coast to spot the resident dolphins and porpoises. You’re just as likely to see Atlantic grey seals basking in the tiny hidden coves.
The town was also briefly home to Welsh poet and writer Dylan Thomas, and is believed to be the inspiration for Llareggub, the setting for his play for voices, Under Milk Wood.
Places To Visit Near New Quay
The elegant Georgian town of Aberaeron is just four miles (6 km) up the coast, and has a pretty harbour and a couple of pebble beaches to entice you. The food at the Harbourmaster is also excellent.
Several of the best Cardigan Bay beaches can be found to the south of New Quay, including Llangrannog, Tresaith and Penbryn. Mwnt beach is another favourite, just a few miles along the coast from the town of Cardigan, which has been rejuvenated somewhat after the restoration and opening of its 13th century Castle.
Otherwise, the Cambrian Mountains and the wilds of Mid Wales beckon to the east. Or there’s Pembrokeshire to the south-west or Aberystwyth to the north.
If you’re contemplating a staycation Wales has so many hidden places to discover, and the Cambrian Mountains is one of the least explored areas of all. It’s sometimes called the Green Desert of Wales, though the Empty Quarter of Wales is perhaps more apt. Most of it consists of moorland, forestry or lakes, and you could walk for days across this beautiful area of Wales while scarcely seeing another soul.
Things To Do In The Cambrian Mountains
The Elan Valley reservoirs are the best-known part of the Cambrian Mountains – a series of lakes and dams built to supply the English city of Birmingham with water. You can do a 20-mile circuit drive from the Mid Wales town of Rhayader, or extend your scenic route down to Cwmystwyth and Devils Bridge, terminus of the Vale of Rheidol Railway from Aberystwyth.
Plynlimon is the highest peak in the Cambrian range, offering up superb views of Mid Wales and Cadair Idris for the few who make it to the summit. This is one of the most rewarding hikes in the Cambrian range, as is the section of Glyndwr’s Way long distance trail from Llanidloes past Llyn Clywedog to Machynlleth.
There are also several great driving routes through the Cambrian Mountains, from the 20-mile Abergwesyn Pass from Tregaron to Llanwrtyd Wells to the B4518 and minor road run from Llanidloes to near-deserted Dylife.
Places To Visit From The Cambrian Mountains
Most of the Cambrian Coast – from the fringes of Snowdonia to Pembrokeshire – are within reach, especially Aberystwyth, Aberaeron and New Quay.
Aberystwyth is one of the highlights of the Mid Wales coast, a university town by the sea and by far the most cosmopolitan place in this part of the world. It’s ideal for venturing in either direction along the coast or inland to the Cambrian Mountains or southern Snowdonia.
Things To Do In Aberystwyth
Aberystwyth seafront is the place to start, with two beaches, one of a few piers left in Wales, one of Edward I’s 13th century castles and the extraordinary Old College, a Gothic Revival masterpiece that could have been lifted straight out of a Bohemian forest.
It’s also well worth making the climb – on foot or by the Cliff Railway – up Constitution Hill, for the views along the coast or a visit to the Camera Obscura.
Aber is very much the cultural capital of Mid Wales, and the National Library of Wales, up on Penglais Hill next to the main university campus, is an outstanding place to visit. Aberystwyth is also well blessed with pubs catering to the student population, giving it an eternally young feel.
Places To Visit Near Aberystwyth
Seaside towns like New Quay and Aberaeron to the south are easily reached, as is Borth to the north. Borth is a one-street village straggling along the road parallel to the excellent beach , which, at exceptionally low tides, reveals its amazing secret, the remains of a petrified forest. Ynyslas, the northern continuation of Borth beach, has exceptional sand dunes and walks along the estuary looking across to Aberdovey.
The Cambrian Mountains are also on Aber’s doorstep, and you can take the wonderful narrow-gauge Vale of Rheidol Railway up to Devils Bridge.
Hay-on-Wye is the second-hand bookshop capital of the world and a wonderful place to get lost in literature at any time of year. It’s also close to some gorgeous countryside across the border in Herefordshire and up in the Black Mountains, the easternmost redoubt of the Brecon Beacons National Park.
Things To Do In Hay-on-Wye
Many come to Hay for the annual Hay Literary Festival or, at other times of year, for the books. The heyday of Hay – when there were over 50 bookshops – is some way in the past, but there are still 15-20 and you could easily lose yourself browsing there for days.
There are other things to do in Hay-on-Wye besides shopping for books. Hay Castle has just been restored and been re-opened as a centre for literature and learning. Or you can go canoeing on the river Wye down as far as Glasbury, four miles upstream.
Places To Visit Near Hay-on-Wye
Hay is 20 miles (32 km) from the cathedral city of Hereford, and the county has several beautiful Black and White Villages, with many centuries-old half-timbered houses.
It is also close to the Black Mountains and Llanthony Valley, which you can reach via the Gospel Pass road that runs beneath the summit of Hay Bluff. This valley is one of the most beautiful places in Wales, with two wonderful country churches (at Capel-y-Ffin and Cwmyoy) and the wondrous ruins of Llanthony Priory.
The rest of the Brecon Beacons is within a half-hour drive of Hay, and the Elan Valley and Cambrian Mountains are just over an hour away.
Staycation Wales – West Wales
St David’s is the smallest city in the UK and second smallest in Europe after the Vatican City. This unlikely city in the far west of Wales has a population of less than 2,000, but its Cathedral is the spiritual centre of Welsh Christianity, and its sublime coastline draws beach lovers and hikers alike.
What To Do In St Davids
The one place in St David’s that everyone should see is the Cathedral, which dates from the 12th to 16th centuries and stands on the site of a monastery founded by St David, patron saint of Wales. It’s the finest church in Wales, its simple exterior hiding away some extraordinary architectural wealth within, from the wooden nave roof to the central tower vault.
The ruined building across the Alun stream is the St Davids Bishops Palace, a very substantial residence for the wealthiest bishops in Wales dating from the 13th century.
Most other things to do in St Davids are along the coast. Whitesands Bay and Caerfai Bay are superb beaches, both within two miles of the city. Just along from Caerfai Bay, serene St Non’s Bay is the presumed location of the birth of St David. His mother, St Non, is another prominent Celtic saint, revered as far away as Brittany, and there’s a beautiful, simple stone chapel dedicated to her, as well as the ruin of a medieval chapel and holy well.
These all sit just above the magnificent cliffs which are the birthplace of coasteering, a far from serene activity involving clambering around sea cliffs and jumping into the water. This activity has spread elsewhere around Pembrokeshire, Wales and indeed the world, but this is where it all started.
Places To Visit Near St David’s
You can reach most of Pembrokeshire from St Davids, and we’ve written more about the county as a staycation Wales destination in the following section.
The westernmost county of Wales has everything – gorgeous beaches, some of the best coastal scenery in Europe, wildlife, beautiful towns, attractions geared towards families and kids, not to mention several great castles and thousands of years of history, including the source of the stones used at Stonehenge.
Things To Do In Pembrokeshire
Tenby and St David’s are tremendous staycation destinations, but there’s much more to Pembrokeshire to explore. North Pembrokeshire is the less explored, wilder part of the county, and the hike from Newport (Pembrokeshire) to St Dogmaels is one of the most dramatic in the whole of the UK.
The nearby Preseli Hills are also part of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, and these long ridges supplied he stones that were used in Stonehenge – indeed, it is now believed that the Preseli Hills may have been the original site of the stone circle, which would then have been moved to its present site in Wiltshire some time later.
The Pembrokeshire Coast has a great many more treasures, from the wide open sands of Newgale and Freshwater West, both beloved of surfers, to sandy coves like Porthmelgan, close to St David’s Head, or Skrinkle Haven near Tenby.
Add in a few treasures like the humble stone St Govan’s Chapel, at the foot of a cliff, and Abereiddi, with its famous Blue Lagoon and hidden beach at Traeth Llyfn, and you have one of the best staycation UK destinations on your hands.
Staycation Wales – South Wales
Our old hometown is by far the best place to visit if you’re looking for city breaks in Wales. The capital of Wales is by far its biggest and most cosmopolitan city, its cultural hub and home to two of the best museums in Wales. It also plays host to many major sporting events, including Wales rugby internationals.
Things To Do in Cardiff
Don’t miss Cardiff Castle, the best-preserved of the many castles in South Wales, with its sumptuous, unique Victorian interiors. And while you’re in the city centre, visit some of the gorgeous Edwardian arcades, home to many of the best independent shops in Cardiff.
Also visit the National Museum Cardiff, which tells you the story of the Evolution of Wales, and is home to one of the best collections of Impressionist paintings outside France, including one of Monet’s rare Venice sunsets.
Or take a 20-minute bus ride from the city centre to the remarkable St Fagans National Museum of History, which has a collection of historic buildings from around the country, each painstakingly rebuilt. It’s one of the best museums we’ve visited anywhere in the world.
Cardiff Bay is very close to the city centre, built on the site of the former docks. It’s a bit of a mish-mash with a collection of chain bars and restaurants, pleasant enough for an evening by the waterfront. The highlight is undoubtedly the Wales Millennium Centre, one of the great landmarks of Wales and finest concert venues in the UK.
Check out our guide to all 6 Cities in Wales.
Vale of Glamorgan
The Vale is right on Cardiff’s doorstep and, if you’re driving, makes for a wonderful Welsh staycation, Its mixture of sandy beaches, spectacular coastal scenery and bucolic inland country lanes can make for a quiet break away, but with the M4 motorway running along its northern edge you can branch out and explore further very quickly.
Things To Do In The Vale Of Glamorgan
The Vale is perhaps best-known for Barry Island, the setting for the famous TV comedy Gavin and Stacey. Its main beach is one of the most popular family day trip destinations in South Wales, and the funfair and amusement arcades behind give you a flavour of the traditional British seaside.
Penarth overlooks Cardiff Bay,and has its own beach and recently renovated Pier. It’s very different in feel to Barry, and a quiet base from where you can catch the train down the hill to Cardiff.
We have always loved the Glamorgan Heritage Coast, a series of bays backed by stunning stratified cliffs – especially Nash Point and Southerndown – with some great walks along the tops.
Inland, you’ll find several beautiful old villages, lovely Dyffryn Gardens, a few small medieval castles and the beautiful old town of Llantwit Major and the splendid St Illtud’s Church, one of the finest churches in Wales.
Places To Visit Near The Vale of Glamorgan
Most of South Wales is within easy reach from the Vale – Cardiff, Swansea, Gower, the Valleys, the Brecon Beacons.
The most popular and scenic stretch of the Wye Valley runs south from Hereford to the Bristol Channel, and the river forms the border between Wales and England for much of its final run to the sea. It’s a beautiful forested area, ideal for a South Wales staycation with time for plenty of forays across the border.
Things To Do In The Wye Valley
The Wye Valley was the birthplace of British tourism. The first package tours – in the late 18th century – were a slow two-day trip down the river from Ross-on-Wye to Chepstow, with stops along the way to sketch or paint picturesque scenes.
Hereford makes a great place to start – it’s one of the most underrated cities in Europe, but is home to one of the finest cathedrals in England, with the extraordinary Mappa Mundi, a 13th century map of the world. One of the best Wye Valley viewpoints, Symonds Yat, is a short drive south near the Welsh border.
Monmouth is one of the most intriguing towns in Wales, with the unique fortified Monnow Bridge the one must-see in Monmouth. From there, the Ä466 winds along the contours of the river, eventually reaching the amazing Gothic ruin of Tintern Abbey, one of the greatest landmarks in Wales.
Chepstow Castle is a few miles south, overlooking the tidal river and border.
Day Trips From The Wye Valley
The Wye Valley is close to many great places to visit in England as well as Wales. The Forest of Dean and Gloucester – one of the finest landmarks in England – are very close by, while the Cotswolds are an hour’s drive.
On the Welsh side, the rural county of Monmouthshire, the cities of Newport and Cardiff and the Brecon Beacons National Park are also within easy reach by car.