Top places in Wales to propose this Valentine’s Day (or any other day)

Are you planning a romantic surprise this Valentine’s Day? Whether it’s a proposal or a picnic, Wales is full of the most beautiful settings to enjoy with the special person in your life.

For that extra special surprise, you don’t have to take them on Valentine’s Day – take them somewhere special ‘just because’ to really melt their heart.

Here, we’ve picked some of our favourite stunning settings. Let us know what you think on Twitter @Rarebits

Lake Vyrnwy, Llanwddyn

Referred to as a ‘reservoir’ in Powys, the reality is much more captivating than the description. Originally built with the purpose of supplying Liverpool with water, the lake is now the setting for water sports, horse riding, cycling and other activities.

A truly breathtaking sight, the lake is also home to Lake Vyrnwy Hotel and Spa.

Roch Castle, Pembrokeshire

What could be more romantic that a real life castle? Roch Castle is a restored Norman castle, with all the mod-cons and features you’d expect from a luxury hotel.

Four waterfalls walk, Ystradfellte

 The four waterfalls walk is a popular route in the Brecon Beacons, which takes in a quartet of waterfalls along the Afon Mellte. The walk culminates in the Sgŵd yr Eira, where the footpath passes behind the waterfall itself – the perfect location for a romantic gesture.

If you want to make a weekend of it, take a look at Peterstone Court Hotel and Spa.

 Barafundle Bay, near Stackpole

Named as one of the best beaches in the world by Passport magazine, Barafundle Bay offers nothing but natural beauty. If you’re visiting, be sure to pack a romantic picnic as there aren’t any facilities on site.

If you’re heading down that way, why not use Elm Grove as a base for exploring? The house, based in Tenby, has been in the same family for 150 years. Or The Stackpole Inn makes an ideal spot to explore this corner of Pembrokeshire.



Portmeirion Village

An Italianate village in North Wales, Portmerion Village is one of a kind. If you had dreams of proposing abroad, but lack of planning or budget hampered that wish, take a look at this village.

Dwynwen – the saint for Wales’ lovers

In our first guest blog for The Year of Legends, we’ve asked Alwyn and Carl of Celticos to recount the story of Santes Dwynwen…

Image credit: http://www.visitwales.com/

On the far Western corner of Anglesey we can see Llanddwyn, the setting for the story of Dwynwen, the patron saint of Welsh lovers…

Dwynwen was the fairest of Brychan Brycheiniog’s 24 daughters. She fell in love with Maelon Dafodrill, but as always seems to happen, he was not her father’s choice, and he forbade her from marrying Maelon.

The scheming father had lined up another man who would fit his ambitions for this most beautiful daughter. The distraught Maelon, believing that it was Dwynwen who had rejected him, attacked her in his jealousy and anger.

Dwynwen fled to the wild woods where she begged that God would make her forget Maelon. She fell into a deep sleep and was visited by an angel carrying a potion that could bring forgetfulness and would turn Maelon to ice.  As she woke, she heard God declare that her wishes would be fulfilled.

She wished that Maelon would thaw from his icy state but also that she would never marry. And finally her third wish was granted – that God would fulfil the hopes and dreams of lovers through her prayers.

She kept her side of the bargain and devoted the rest of her life to God. The ruins of a church dedicated to her still exists on the windswept island, a holy well and a cross bear her name, and all lovers in Wales lovers honour her memory on her feast day 25 January.

Image credit: https://www.celticos.com/

Celticos provide bespoke guided tours and have created a series of Legendary Tours specifically for the Year of Legends – head over to their website to discover how you can explore hidden places with a Drive, Walk and Explore Tour, learn about Wales’ most iconic legend The Red Dragon and experience first hand the land of myths and legends. Click here to find out more.

7 Staycations you will never believe are in Wales

Summer may be officially over, but that shouldn’t stop you from planning your next getaway. As the winter months draw closer, the recurring daydream of relaxing on a beach in Bali or sailing around the Greek islands is returning more frequently. But who says you have to go abroad? It may not have the glorious weather, but Wales definitely has the glorious attractions that will be sure to convince you to take a ‘staycation’. We’ve detailed where to visit along with things to do and key activities here in Wales.

1) Portmeirion

The private tourist village of Portmeirion is located near Porthmadog in north Wales. With its picturesque views and pastel-coloured buildings, it’s easy to mistake this quirky place for a sleepy town on the Italian coast.

The village is especially magical at night, when it closes to the public but remains open for hotel guests. So why not choose between two of our luxurious hotels and suites and experience the beaches, hidden coves and woodlands after dark?

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2) Llanrwst

Situated between Conwy and Betws-y-Coed, Llanrwst is the perfect place to base yourself if you’re visiting Snowdonia. This village could be high in the Himalayas and it’s easy to forget that the outside world exists when you’re there. Sitting deep in the Conwy Valley, the iconic three-arched bridge next to the Tu Hwnt l’r Bont tearooms passes over the river and acts as the main focal point for this picturesque place. What’s more, we offer accommodation with beautiful lawns and wooded grounds in the nearby Sychnant Pass Country House, ensuring your stay will be stunning in every way.

3) Skomer Island

Skomer is located less than a mile off the stunning Pembrokeshire coast. The main attraction is its wildlife; the island is home to puffins and you might spot  dolphins and seals in its waters, giving the island a tropical feel.

In the spring, the island becomes covered in a beautiful blanket of bluebells, with no piece of land spared.

4) Tintern Abbey, Chepstow
The village of Tintern boasts outstanding landscapes complemented by the imposing structure of its ruined Cistercian Abbey. Located between Chepstow and Monmouth on the Welsh side of the River Wye, Tintern Abbey’s romantic yet gothic appearance is sure to blow you away. Being able to see the thick woodland peering through the Abbey’s structure allows you to appreciate the surroundings, which are especially beautiful on a bright day.

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 5) Merthyr Mawr sand dunes

Wales is lucky to have so many unspolit stretches of coastline and the Methyr Mawr sand dunes are particularly enchanting. These dunes are the second highest in Europe and look like they belong in the middle of the Sahara.

This location is definitely holiday-worthy, with the medieval Candleston Castle and the Norman Ogmore Castle waiting to be explored nearby.

If you’re looking for a more unusual activity, many people enjoy bringing their snow sledges to the dunes and having fun on the slopes. So why not give it a go?

6) Blaenau Ffestiniog

In the heart of Snowdonia National Park is the town of Blaenau Ffestiniog. Having made its name from its industrial heritage, it is now home to two adrenaline-fuelled adventure activities – Bounce Below and Zip World Caverns. Makes a change from hiking!

Housed in a psychedelic underground cave and boasting three trampolines and a network of slides and ladders, Bounce Below is perfect for staycationers looking for an active and fun-filled trip. Similarly, Zip World Caverns offers numerous tunnels, bridges and balance beams to ensure that your experience is action packed. The best part? You don’t even need to rely on good weather.

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7)Lake Vyrnwy

Sitting on the border of the Snowdonia National Park, Lake Vyrnwy looks like something out of a children’s story. It has vast and lush views, which complement the romantic architecture of a large dam and its fairytale tower. Its surroundings are equally breathtaking, with rolling meadows, thick forest and steep waterfalls.

While you’re here, why not try the Lake Vyrnwy Hotel and Spa and enjoy the stunning sunset views from your balcony?

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If you’ve been inspired by these staycations and want to visit Wales, take a look at our offers page for some last-minute deals.

Top six places to spend Christmas in Wales

The 100-day countdown to the most wonderful time of the year has begun. If you have yet to decide how to spend Christmas, we’ve done the hard work for you and compiled a list of recommendations.

1.Laugharne 

If you’re familiar with the classic Christmas film ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales’, you’ll recognise this town in Carmarthenshire, West Wales.

Pronounced ‘Larn’ and known for being the home of Dylan Thomas, it holds many of the wonders of Dylan’s world, including his old boathouse and his favourite pub – Brown’s.

The Corran Resort & Spa is a great place to stay to explore Dylan Thomas’s Christmas world. The hotel is pet-friendly and offers Christmas Day lunch to enjoy with all the family.

2.Crickhowell

Gliffaes-Crickhowell-Christmas-Break-Snow

image credit: http://www.gliffaeshotel.com/2015/10/christmas-afternoon-teas/

Crickhowell is a small, cosy town located in South Wales. The variety of local shops make it perfect to stock up on Christmas nick-nacks, and its proximity to the Brecon Beacons National Park means you’ll be surrounded by breathtaking scenery.

Gliffaes Country House Hotel is the perfect luxury base for your exploration of the Brecon Beacons. It’s located in the heart of the national park, and offers spectacular views combined with delicious meals made from local produce.

3.Lake Vyrnwy

Lake-Vyrnwy-Christmas-Break

image credit: http://showmewales.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/a-fairytale-welsh-christmas-at-lake.html

You will have seen pictures of Lake Vyrnwy, even if you haven’t heard the name before. Situated in beautiful mid Wales, the lake itself is a protected reservoir and is home to some incredible scenery.

The area provides the perfect location for an escape in Wales, and the hotel itself offers a staycation deal during the Christmas period. The four star hotel and spa hosts events to entertain you from Christmas Eve to Boxing Day and provides traditional food to really indulge this festive season.

4.Aberaeron

Aberaeron is a small harbour town on the coastline of Cardigan Bay, home to an impressive range of colourful Georgian architecture. Visitors will be able to revel in the bustling atmosphere of the fishing town while enjoying views along the harbour.

The Harbourmaster offers both beautiful sights and delicious seafood, giving visitors over the festive period a Christmas dinner with a difference.

5.Llandudno

Located in north Wales, Llandudno provided the inspiration for ‘Alice in Wonderland’ meaning your Christmas break is sure to be injected with a bit of magic.

Adults and children alike can follow the ‘Alice Trail’, taking you on a tour of the pretty town.

The seafront-based St George’s Hotel offers traditional Christmas delights between Christmas Eve and Boxing Day within its award-winning restaurant.

6.Portmeirion – near Porthmadog

image credit: http://www.portmeiriononline.co.uk/product/5_Cerdyn_Nadolig_Portmeirion_5_Christmas_Cards_0

image credit: http://www.portmeiriononline.co.uk/product/5_Cerdyn_Nadolig_Portmeirion_5_Christmas_Cards_0

The last, but by no means the least interesting, destination on our list is Portmeirion. A small village in north Wales built in an Italian style, it has a unique charm that will appeal to those after something a bit different this Christmas.

The three-night Christmas package at Hotel Portmeirion includes a festive afternoon tea, Christmas lunch and a black tie dinner.

Wales’ Best Beach – our top five picks

Wales is full of breathtaking coastlines with endless stretches of golden sand and beautiful clear water. With our pick of the top five to visit, you’ll never need to travel abroad for a relaxing beach break again.

1. Abersoch, Llyn Peninsula

abersoch-beach-north-wales

Located in the Llyn Peninsula, the peace and beauty of the beach will be sure to capture your heart. The area has been designated an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ and we can see why. The sheltered conditions are ideal for sunbathing and watersports alike, and the beach is a popular destination for international events like sailing, wakeboarding and windsurfing.

Why not stay at Porth Tocyn Hotel in Abersoch? The coastal location and superb views make it the perfect place to spend a summer weekend.

2. Harbour Beach Tenby, Pembrokeshire

tenby-beach-pembrokeshire

Tenby is host to several glorious beaches, but this is our personal favourite. Tenby North is an enclosed golden beach that creates a glorious suntrap, even in the colder weather. The beach surrounding the prominent Goskar rock is overlooked by Tenby town and the impressive North Cliffs. Offering superb views over Carmarthen Bay, we can see why it is such a popular tourist destination. It has even received a coveted Blue Flag for its cleanliness.

Penally Abbey Hotel is just minutes away from Tenby and offers the perfect combination of feeling secluded whilst being so close to the town.

3. New Quay Beach, Cardigan Bay

new quay-beach-cardigan bay

The seaside resort of New Quay is renowned for being the inspiration of the famous Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. With its pretty harbour and stunning beaches, it has become an extremely popular visitor attraction. The area is also home to the UK’s largest pod of dolphins, making it the perfect place to take a boat trip and enjoy some wildlife spotting this summer.

4. Cefn Sidan, Camarthenshire

cefn sidan-beach-carmarthen bay

Cefn Sidan translates to ‘silk back’, which accurately describes the smooth eight-mile stretch of golden sand. Located within Pembrey Country Park, the beach is surrounded by a belt of impressive sand dunes that are a site of Special Scientific Interest. It’s ideal for long walks, and there are also many historical shipwrecks to explore – the most visible being the SV Paul, dating back to 1919. This beach is also easily accessible making it a great spot for family trips.

5. Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire

saundersfoot-beach-pembroekshire

The wide sandy beach and harbour is situated in front of the quaint village of Saundersfoot. It’s a beautiful and tranquil place during the summer months, and should therefore be a definite on your list to visit this year. As another Blue Flag beach, it’s the perfect place to go for a refreshing dip in the clear water. The gradual slope of sand also creates plenty of safe paddling opportunities for children.

St. Brides hotel overlooks Saundersfoot beach, and the stunning view can be seen from almost every room.