I gleaned the information in this post during a sponsored trip with Visit Wales. All opinions are my own. All images were created by me with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 MII.
Wales! Who knew! I honestly didn’t expect to love visiting Wales as much as I did though I knew I was going to like it because I love places that are similar. Especially places like neighboring Scotland.
I visited in March and was surprised to find how warm it was on some days of our trip. We were able to go without jackets and we never needed anything really heavy. Even at night. A light jacket over a sweater was sufficient for the whole trip. The heaviest layer I ever used was a wool blazer over a sweater on the days without sun or at night for dinner out in town.
2017 is the year for visiting Wales in my opinion because it is their Year of Legends. All kinds of special events are going on all over the country related to the legend of King Arthur and other stories that are still very much a part of Welsh culture and lore. Castles abound and for the enthusiast of such structures there really is no bad time to visit. However this year the castles and large homes will be part of festivities all over Wales in an expanded way.
I want to write a lot more pieces about visiting Wales because though it is not very large there is a LOT to talk about. Before I do, I thought it would be wise to make a sort of primer about the basics. This does not cover all of Wales. I flew into Manchester in England, drove through Wales with a group of journalists and bloggers that included my friend Lesley Murphy, and then I flew to Ireland from the city of Cardiff which is where our tour ended.
What to Do
There’s no shortage of things to do in Wales, nor places to explore. This is particularly true if you like gorgeous landscapes. These are in abundance. And castles, if you have a thing for castles then visiting wales should be on your list! There were over 600 castles in Wales at one time. Over 100 are still standing as ruins or restored buildings.
Go shopping at Trefriw Woollen Mill. I purchased the most amazing wool skirt there that I will wear forever.
Walk on the walls of Conwy Castle and look out over the fishing boats in the harbor.
Stack your height against the door of the Smallest House in Britain.
Enjoy Dolbadarn Castle which looks like a set right out of Game of Thrones
Drive through Snowdonia and Brecon Beacons National Park. Stop at Mt. Snowdon!
Have a khaleesi moment at Caernarfon Castle (like Lesley)!
Walk the Roman ruins at Caerleon
Watch a local match, there’s bound to be one somewhere!
Explore Cardiff Castle and its stunning interiors with a guided tour.
Just walk around Cardiff, it’s a very underrated city!
Where to Eat
Food in the whole of Great Britain gets a rather bad rap, but as holds true for Scotland and England, in my experience — the food in Wales far surpassed my own expectations and the stories I had heard before visiting Wales for myself. I particularly loved the emphasis on local ingredients and seasonal produce. This is a larger movement in the culinary world but they were cooking this way in Wales long before it was trendy.
Palé Hall Hotel – this was my favorite meal of the whole trip by far. There are no words for how good it was. And the setting was exquisite.
Hayloft Restaurant at Bodnant Food Centre
The Castle Hotel’s Shakespeare Restaurant
Hotel Portmeirion’s main dining room by the water
The Potted Pig in Cardiff (best Welsh Rarebit I’ve ever had and a lovely white wine!)
Where to Stay
As I said, we drove through much of Wales so we stayed in a different place every single night. My top pick is: Palé Hall Hotel, member of SLH. It’s incomparable in my opinion based on what other places I experienced in Wales, just stunning and the owners are fantastic.
The Castle Hotel in Conwy
Hotel Portmeirion (made famous by TV show ‘The Prisoner’)
The Dragon Inn in Crickhowell
How to Get Around while Visiting Wales
You can take a car, bus, train or ride a bike when visiting Wales. You can also take a walking holiday! I really appreciated being driven around by our guide. As we drove, we could listen to his stories and we were able to see more because we had our own vehicle. With public transportation you become limited, only able to stop at scheduled intervals. Guided vehicles are limited in size in Wales because of several factors. This too I appreciated because it kept our group size intimate. Our guide, shown here, was Alwyn Griffith of Celticos.
Lastly, it was THIS VIDEO with Welsh actor Luke Evans that convinced me I wanted to have my own adventure visiting Wales. If you’ve read this far, and you watch that, but you still don’t want to go to Wales — what could I share with you that would change your mind?
I’ll be writing more posts about the country so I’d love to know what you’d like to see me share! Thank you.
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