Wonderful Things to Do in Wales
Take a look at these things to do in Wales that will knock your socks off.
The land of our fathers is a truly beautiful place to visit. Although it’s a mere two hours from London by train, it is emphatically its own country and has a very strong identity, with its own language, customs, foods and traditions – not to mention some of the most spectacular scenery in the British isles. Here’s our Plum Guide pick of the best things to do in Wales. Awn ni! (That’s ‘let’s go’ for those of you who aren’t lucky enough to speak Welsh).
When you combine 1,000 square miles of unspoilt beauty, the tallest mountain in all of the UK and a home to many birds of prey, what do you get? Snowdonia National Park, of course.
This really can’t be missed when you’re looking for things to do in Wales. One of the oldest national parks in the country, spending some time here is the perfect way to get away from it all and bask in some of the most stunning landscapes you’ll see anywhere in the world. Definitely make time to get to the top of Mount Snowdon, either a 1,085m upwards hike or a mountain railway ride away (let’s be real – we all know you’re going to pick the railway option). The views from the summit are incredible (as long as it’s not cloudy and raining, which we admit is a distinct possibility). When you’re following the hiking trails make sure to keep an eye out for red kites, native to the park. There’s even a special breeding centre nearby to help raise chicks.
This cosy yet roomy stone cottage is just 15 minutes away from the park entrance, so you couldn’t get a more convenient enough location if Snowdonia is at the top of your list to visit. A wood burning stove in the living room means you can look forward to cosy nights curled up in front of the fire.
When you get to Portmeirion, you’ll do a double take. There’s almost no more unexpected sight than this faux-Italian village nestled in the hills of the Welsh countryside. One of the most unique places to visit in Wales, it’s the brainchild of Sir Clough William-Ellis, who bought the property in 1925 when it was a neglected wilderness. He spent the rest of his life designing, building and perfecting the tiny, incredibly detailed Italian-inspired village you see there today.
While the large variety of building styles can be slightly overwhelming (ranging from Baroque to Arts and Crafts to Classical, as well as ruins and the salvaged parts of other buildings incorporated in), Portmeirion is an entertaining and beautiful day out. As well as the pastel-coloured houses, reflecting ponds and ornamental lawns, there are also innumerable follies, sculptures and other architectural curiosities. Take your camera and get some inspiration for your next home extension.
If you’re of a certain age, you’ll remember that the village was made famous thanks to its appearance on the 1960s British cult classic TV show The Prisoner (don’t worry...even if you remember that, you’re still not THAT old) and holds a ‘Prisoner’ weekend annually. There’s a restaurant on site, so you can extend your experience into an evening out at dinner if you’re too fascinated by Portmeirion to leave.
For accomodation with a folly of its own, this impressive house will suit you down to the ground. In addition to a four poster bed in the master bedroom and a pizza oven outside, there’s a huge bespoke treehouse in the garden that you’ll have to fight the children for the right to occupy. Or for something more grown up, the greenhouse in this manicured house will have you as green as the Welsh countryside with envy – but for a few days, it can be all yours.
Go book shopping in Hay-on-Wye
This gorgeously crumbling market town on the River Wye is the location of the biggest event in the literati calendar: the Hay Festival of Literature. Filled with all the glamour the literary world can sweep up – which is a lot – it’s a conglomeration of readings, talks, signings and dinners. Attending the festival is definitely a must-do when it comes to things to do in Wales, but if you don’t have a ticket, Hay-on-Wye has a lot to offer all year round.
The first bookshop was opened here in the 1960s and there are now too many of them to count. For bibliophiles, this is heaven. Spend the day going from fabulous bookshop to fabulous bookshop, ranging from a bookshop in a restored cinema, to Rose’s Books, specialising in out-of-print and rare children’s fiction, to Murder and Mayhem, the horror and crime bookshop.
In addition to the books, the food market here is second-to-none and the Welsh produce draws people from miles around. The whole town has a vaguely scruffy, anarchic air that no amount of gentrification can snuff out – you might just find it too charming to leave.
For a house not too far from Hay, you can’t beat this charming pad with views over the Welsh rolling hills. Cosy up on the outdoor sofas and watch the sunset with a glass of wine in your hand, then have one of the most blissfully silent sleeps of your life in the exceptionally comfortable bed.
So, now you know all about the best things to do in Wales, you're probably looking to start planning your trip. Start by browsing our hand-picked collection of homes, meticulously vetted by our home critics to guarantee the perfect stay.