Top Ten Places to See in Wales

Top Ten Places to See in Wales

Why Wales?

I have wanted to go to Wales ever since I saw Hugh Grant’s movie The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill but Came Down a Mountain. In fact, the trip that I’ll be taking next month originally started out as an England & Wales combined trip. Unfortunately, time constraints prevented us from doing both, and Hubs was pretty adamant that he wanted to see Hadrian’s Wall.  So Wales is pretty high on the list of future vacations.

I did a lot of research about Wales back when I thought we would be able to do both. Here are the top ten things I can’t wait to see when I go to Wales.

1. Hay-on-Wye.  This tiny village (population 1600) is known as a book town. In fact, it’s the world’s largest second hand & antiquarian book center. You’ll find book stores on every corner and you’ll even see unmanned shelves of books with an honor system for customers. The largest of the “honesty shops” is a row of shelves lining the castle wall.  Castle + books = I could spend days there!

wales top ten hay on why castle bookshop

2. The Straining Tower at Lake Vyrnwy.  It looks much more romantic than it actually is. Its purpose is to filter or strain out material in the water with a fine metal mesh, before the water flows along the aqueduct to Liverpool. The tower rises 104 feet above water, and is topped with a pointed copper-clad roof with a light green patina.

wales top ten straining tower lake vyrnwy

3.  Llanfair­pwllgwyngyll­gogery­chwyrn­drobwll­llan­tysilio­gogo­goch.  The town with the longest name in Britain – 58 letters! (Oddly enough, it is not the longest name in the world, though; that honor belongs to a place in New Zealand.) The name, translated from Welsh, means “Saint Mary’s Church in a hollow of white hazel near the swirling whirlpool of the church of Saint Tysilio with a red cave.” I just want to go get our picture taken under the name sign and buy a souvenir tee shirt.

wales top ten longest town name

4. Castell Coch.  This Gothic Revival Castle was built in the late 19th century as a country residence.  It is often referred to as a fairy tale castle because of its round towers.  And while the exterior of the castle appears medieval, the interior is high Victorian.

wales top ten castell coch

5. The Doctor Who Experience.  You get to see what it’s like to be inside the TARDIS, for goodness’ sake.  What else could you want?

UPDATE:  The Doctor Who Experience is no longer open. 🙁

wales top ten Doctor Who Experience

6. Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.  You can ride a boat or walk across the aqueduct, which is the highest and longest in Great Britain.  It is 126 feet high and 336 yards long.  From what I’ve read, the views from there are outstanding.

wales top ten Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

7.  Tintern Abbey.  Thanks to Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries in the 16th century, Abbey ruins are all over the British Isles.  I’ve seen photos of many different abbey ruins, and I think Tintern has one of the loveliest sites.

wales top ten Tintern Abbey

8. Pembrokeshire.  This area of Wales reminds me so much of Cornwall (my happy place). There are many beautiful beaches and small harbor towns.

wales top ten Pembrokeshire

9. Skomer Island.  It is the world’s largest puffin colony.  And, as if that weren’t enough, there are also stone circles and the remains of prehistoric houses.

wales top ten skomer puffin

10. Gladstone’s Library.  It’s a residential library, possibly the only one in the world. Bibliophiles like me can look at books all day, go to sleep when we can’t hold our eyes open any longer, then wake up and look at books again.  Yay!  As an added plus, the room rates are some of the cheapest I’ve seen in the UK.

wales top ten Gladstone's Libary

So, there you have it: my next European adventure, already planned.  I can’t wait to see these Wales top ten places in person!


15 Replies to “Top Ten Places to See in Wales”

    1. Unfortunately, I have not heard of any plans to re-open the attraction or move it elsewhere. It seems as though the collection has been broken up and is appearing in museums as a special exhibit.

  1. I am astounded that you didn’t list Caernarfon Castle. We went to Wales in 2016 and that was my favorite part of the trip. We also enjoyed Conwy Castle. Another great place for taking photos was the Tu-Hwnt-I’r Bont Tearoom. The whole building is covered in ivy providing different looks based on the season.

    1. Thanks for your feedback! I do indeed hope to visit the castles that you mentioned some day, but they are not in my top ten. (And as much as I love touring old castles, some people – including my daughter, who often travels with me – do not find them as fascinating as I do.)

  2. I’ve been to Wales once on a tour and plan on going next May for a month….the first time I went we did Caernarfon Castle and it is fabulous. Built in the late 1200’s by Edward I (Longshanks…think mean King in Braveheart) as part of his “Ring of Iron” to overtake Wales. It’s so beautiful there! And….Jimmy and Robert wrote “Stairway to Heaven” in Wales….

  3. I have lived in South Wales and visited many parts of Wales over the years as with other parts of the UK.

    Anglesey, Snowdon, Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Elan Valley, Brecon Beacons, Pembrokeshire National Park, Gower, Vale of Glamorgan, Rhondda Valleys, various castles, abbeys, cathedrals, holiday resorts/attractions, the Great Orme, etc. is a small selection.

    There are so many places with beautiful scenery and magnificent structures/buildings to see as well as various route via the railways, rivers, canals, roads and footpaths.

  4. The Gower Peninsula near Swansea in South Wales is a geographic marvel and worth seeing. Home to Rosilli beach with cliffs perfect for hang gliding and beaches that avid surfers flock to in the summer.

  5. Love the post! I actually like that you included some popular and some not so popular places. Some of the better known places can get quite crowded in season (like Hay on Wye) so it is nice to have that mix! That aqueduct looks amazing – the Brits are truly masters of great waterways engineering (Falkirk wheel, Caen Flight etc)

  6. Most of my summer holidays as a child were spent at my Taid’s (Welsh for grandfather) farm.
    That was many years ago and there was no running water to the farm except when it
    rained and the water that ran down the road was directed into a huge metal tub for doing the washing! We had to walk up the unpaved road to a stream that ran directly from a hill and down into a large, open tank in the farmyard! Imagine the uproar from the health department if you drank that water today! BUT I am still alive at 75!
    I have no doubt that many more people take a walk up that road these days and climb up the hills to Moel Fammau. That was the highest hill in the area and a popular walk for many people. I now live in Canada but often dream about those younger days.

  7. My top ten places in Wales.
    Barafundel beach voted best in the world at one point.
    Llangannon village.
    The Stackpole Inn brilliant for dog lovers great beer and food.
    The Lilly pools at Bosherton.
    The estuary walk at Poppit Sands.
    The wild life sanctuary Cardigan Island for views seals and dolphins.
    The Ferry Inn St Dogmaels watching sun set with a nice beer.
    Crabbing on Shell island camping in the dunes there awesome.
    The hills at the back of Harlech especially on a push bike.


  8. If you visit Conwy, you must poke your nose into the Smallest House in Great Britain. You won’t believe how small it is!

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