Take a Welsh Adventure Before School Starts

The summer holidays tend to zoom past before we can even catch our breath, so why not make the most of those precious weeks and plan a few fun getaways with the family?

Visit Wales with your children and you can take them on some fantastic adventures around the country. Learn about local folktales and myths, and fuel their imaginations with atmospheric landmarks.

Arthur’s Stone, Gower

Take a day trip out of the city to visit Arthur’s Stone, Maen Ceti. Though officially the stone is said to belong to a Neolithic tomb, the myth tells that it’s a pebble from King Arthur’s boot. According to the legend, Arthur fished the pebble from his boot and threw it away, hard enough for it to travel from Carmarthenshire all the way to the hills of Gower – and in the process grow vastly in size.

Not only is this site the ideal adventure spot for kids interested in Arthurian legends, it’s also a beautiful place for an afternoon stroll. Another legend associated with the stone tells of its thirst – while there, tell your little ones to watch out for the stone getting up and going to the nearby stream for a drink!

Branwen’s Grave, Anglesey

Branwen is a major figure in Welsh mythology, the daughter of Llyr and the wife of the King of Ireland – a marriage that, in typical fashion, ended in disaster, tragedy and death. Local legend says that Branwen, who is also associated with Harlech Castle, was buried on Anglesey.

Today you can visit her supposed burial site, Bedd Branwen, a ring cairn with a small standing stone in the middle.

The Lowland Hundred, Borth

To visit Wales’ own Atlantis, head to Borth in Ceredigion, where you can view the remains of a sunken forest. Normally hidden under sand, it is only exposed in certain weather conditions. These ancient tree stumps – which died thousands of years ago – are believed to be proof of a lost country once inhabited by ancient peoples: Cantre’r Gwaelod, or the Lowland Hundred.

Various myths surround Cantre’r Gwaelod, many of which attribute the cataclysmic flood to human negligence. For the best chance of seeing this ancient forest, head to the southern end of Borth Beach at low tide.

The Lady of the Lake, Llyn y Fan Fach

Llyn y Fan Fach is a remote lake in the Brecon Beacons framed by a scenic mountain ridge. For slightly older children who are up to the challenge of a two-hour walk, this is the ideal day-trip destination.

The myth attached to this wild place tells the story of the Lady of the Lake, who rose three times from the water and was seen by a young man, enchanted by her beauty. The lady agreed to marry the young man, provided he did not touch her three times with metal. Needless to say, he did not manage to keep his promise, and his wife ultimately returned to her watery home.

Enjoy a picnic on the ridge overlooking the lake, telling your children to keep their eyes peeled for a mysterious woman emerging from the water…

Traditional Seaside Towns

Make the most of the beautiful weather this summer, and plan a trip to Wales for a long weekend by the seaside. Other UK hotspots such as Brighton and Blackpool may deliver on the amusement arcades, pubs and nightclubs, but Wales is hard to beat when it comes to traditional seaside towns and villages.

If you’re seeking a quiet getaway beside the sea where you can wander cobbled backstreets, visit quaint tearooms, and enjoy strolls along untouched stretches of beach, read on for some inspiration.

Beaumaris, Anglesey

Anglesey, a large island sitting just off the coast of North Wales, is the ideal destination for a summer getaway famed for its lovely beaches, excellent seafood and historic sites. In the town of Beaumaris, on Anglesey’s eastern coast, you can enjoy an iconic seaside experience.

Explore the famous 13th century Beaumaris Castle, wander down the quaint pier (first constructed in the 19th century), and admire the Georgian and Edwardian architecture on display, before heading to the beach with an ice cream.

Nearest Welsh Rarebit Hotel: The Bull

Aberystwyth, Ceredigion

Though this charming town is famous for its university, it transforms in the summer months when the students return home and holidaymakers arrive in search of sea, sun and sand. A historic market town with a sandy stretch of beach, it’s the ideal place to take a restorative seaside holiday.

The ultimate Aberystwyth day out involves a tour of the seafront 13th century castle ruins, a wander along the Promenade, which is lined with colourful Georgian houses, and a few hours spent lounging on the beach. Aberystwyth is also the starting point for the Edwardian Vale of Rheidol Railway.

Nearest Welsh Rarebit Hotel: Gwesty Cymru 

Tenby, Pembrokeshire

One of the most picturesque seaside towns in South Wales is Tenby, which is famous for its sandy beaches, medieval walls and offshore islands. Built on a hilltop and dotted with traditional pastel-coloured cottages and Georgian mansions, Tenby is an incredibly scenic town. Spend time here and you can laze down by the water, swimming, sunbathing and soaking up the views, or get lost in the cobbled backstreets, uncovering the town’s rich medieval history.

Nearest Welsh Rarebit Hotel: St Brides Spa Hotel and Grove of Narberth

Llandudno, Conwy

This seaside town in North Wales is perhaps the most historic resort on the list. Home to a 19th century pier, an Edwardian tramway and Bronze Age mines, it’s a place steeped in centuries of history. Llandudno was a favoured resort for the Victorians, and this can be seen reflected in its beautiful waterfront promenade, grand hotels, and attractions such as the Happy Valley; public gardens built to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887.

Stroll along the immaculate beach, entertain yourself with the traditional amusements at the pier, and immerse yourself in ancient history at the megalithic hillfort and ancient mines.

Nearest Welsh Rarebit Hotel: St George’s Hotel, Sychnant Pass Country House and Bodysgallen Hall & Spa

Mumbles, Swansea

This historic resort area just outside Swansea first became a holiday destination in the early 19th century after the opening of a coal railway in the region. Home to a Victorian pier, an 18th century lighthouse and a hilltop castle, Mumbles is another seaside town steeped in history.

Mumbles is also an excellent place for foodies, known for its fresh seafood, superb ice cream parlours, and world-class restaurants. Who said a seaside holiday was all about fish and chips on the beach?

Nearest Welsh Rarebit Hotel: The Corran Resort & Spa and The Cawdor

Images supplied by © Crown copyright (2018) Visit Wales

Glorious Gardens

Summer has officially arrived, which means it’s time to slap on some sun cream, pull out that picnic blanket, and plan a delightful getaway in the UK. In Wales, you can make the most of the sunshine by heading to one of these gorgeous hotels, all of which are known for their fantastic gardens.

Tre-Ysgawen Hall & Spa, Anglesey

Tre-Ysgawen is a country house hotel and spa dating back to 1882 which is known for its fine dining. The gardens surrounding the hotel are a key attraction, and feature a laburnum arch, an old well, a snowdrop wood, and – most notably – a number of sculptures, including the 19th century “Lady”.

Bodysgallen Hall & Spa, Llandudno

This historic hotel is situated within 200 stunning acres of wooded parkland and gardens. Book a stay here and you can wander through the lovingly maintained grounds admiring the walled gardens, lily ponds, rockery, rose bushes, and follies. The crowning glory is the 17th century formal garden filled with precise box hedges.

Holm House, Penarth

Head to picturesque Penarth, a coastal town just south of Cardiff, and you can stay at Holm House. Penarth is known as “The Garden of the Sea”, so it’s fitting that Holm House boasts immaculately manicured gardens, where you can enjoy gorgeous sea views. Experience the luxury of a Holm House break by making use of this fantastic Midweek Sunset Escape offer, which includes a 25-minute spa treatment.

Bear Hotel, Crickhowell

Just named one of the Best Summer Pubs in Britain by The Times, The Bear Hotel in Crickhowell is the perfect place for a summer escape. Plan a stay in this former stagecoach inn, or simply stop by for lunch, and you can dine in the beautiful summer garden, which boasts some spectacular floral displays.

Lake Country House & Spa, Llangammarch Wells

You might book into the Lake Country House to enjoy the luxury spa treatments, but you’ll want to stay for the beautiful grounds. Stroll past the lakes and along the banks of the River Irfon, fish and play tennis, and spot resident woodpeckers in the trees.

Llansantffraed Court, Abergavenny

Llansantffraed Court is a hotel and restaurant housed in a spectacular redbrick building. Best known for its award-winning food, the hotel is also notable for its beautiful gardens. The 20 acres of grounds feature a walled kitchen garden, manicured lawns, ancient trees, a lake and fountain, and even a 16th century church.

Grove of Narberth, Narberth

The Grove of Narberth is a luxury hotel situated in the rolling Pembrokeshire hills, just a 12 minute drive from the coast. In the beautiful grounds you’ll discover centuries-old oaks and beeches, formal box hedges, a restored 17th century walled garden, and a kitchen garden. Visit during the summer, and you can expect to see rhododendrons and colourful flower borders in bloom.

Portmeirion, near Porthmadog

We couldn’t talk about glorious gardens without mentioning Portmeirion, the coastal town famously designed and constructed by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis in the style of an Italian village. Visit this curious place and take a tour of the quirky, beautifully kept gardens. Notable features include the pagoda and lily pond of the Japanese Garden, the rhododendrons, and the monkey puzzle trees.

Take a Welsh Road Trip

The road trip may be an American tradition – but who says you can’t have an awesome driving holiday in Wales?

Not only is our beautiful nation filled with stunning natural landscapes, it’s also home to countless historic sites, tourist attractions, and friendly villages boasting excellent accommodation.

To give our readers some road trip inspiration, we’ve taken a look at three fantastic routes of The Wales Way.

The North Wales Way: Castles & Coastal Villages

The first of these routes is also the shortest, at 75 miles, making it ideal for a weekend break. The official route follows the North Wales Expressway and starts just outside Chester.

The first major attraction is the 13th-century Flint Castle, which sits on the River Dee. Come off the expressway at Conwy Road Bridge and you can pay a visit to another historic site: the spectacular Conwy Castle in the picturesque market town of Conwy. This formidable fortress was built for Edward I; two more of his castles, Caernarfon and Beaumaris, can be found just off this route on the Menai Strait.

This route also boasts highlights such as the Conwy Brewery, the Welsh Mountain Zoo, and the 19th-century South Stack Lighthouse. The village of Rhoscolyn on Anglesey, meanwhile, is the perfect place to stop for a spot of lunch and a stroll along the beach.

The Coastal Way: Beaches & Wildlife

If you’re seeking a longer road trip, try out the 180-mile Coastal Way, which runs from St David’s all the way to the Llyn Peninsula.

Early highlights include St David’s Cathedral, the Abeireddi Blue Lagoon, and the charming Melin Tregwynt Woollen Mill. As you head north you’ll have the opportunity to sample some local fare at the Bluestone Brewing Company, NOMNOM Chocolate, and Caws Cenarth Cheese.

The key attraction of the Coastal Way is the opportunity to visit gorgeous beaches and spot local marine life. At Cardigan Bay, you can hop on a boat and see dolphins and seals. Other fantastic coastal sites include the Borth Submerged Forest, Barmouth Beach, and the quirky village of Portmeirion.

For the ultimate coastal experience, extend your stay on the Llyn Peninsula, and spend some time exploring the gorgeous beaches. You can even take a boat over to Bardsey Island to do birdwatching and seal spotting.

The Cambrian Way: Mountains & Cities

The longest route in the Wales Way family is the Cambrian Way, which runs for 185 miles down the spine of Wales.

Starting in Llandudno, you’ll take the A470 into the heart of Snowdonia. Here you can visit the Swallow Falls, Surf Snowdonia, and Castell Dolwyddelan – not to mention hike, cycle or horse ride through the spectacular mountains.

Coming out of Snowdonia you’ll rejoin the A470, and drive through beautiful mountainous countryside as you come into the Brecon Beacons. Highlights here are numerous and include Pen y Fan, the highest peak in south Wales, Cyfarthfa Castle, and the Brecon Mountain Railway.

From here you’ll head into our vibrant capital city, Cardiff, where you can catch a game of rugby at the Principality Stadium, visit the historic castle and explore the museums, shops and world-class restaurants. With Newport and Swansea only a short drive away, you can easily continue your city tour of southern Wales.

The only question is… which route will you choose?

Photography supplied by Visit Wales Image Centre © Crown Copyright (2018)

A Culture-Packed Weekend: 48 Hours in Cardiff

Cardiff is often unfairly overshadowed by the other UK capitals – but if you book a trip to this vibrant, historic city you’ll see that it holds its own against the likes of London and Edinburgh.

If you’ve booked a weekend away to Cardiff (or if you’re considering doing so soon) here’s our ultimate guide to enjoying a culture-packed 48 hours in our exciting capital.

Friday PM

Arriving at Cardiff, you’ll want to check into your hotel and get moving. The city is filled with fantastic hotels, but a stay at No. 10 Cardiff or Cathedral 73 will put you in chic modern accommodation in a great location. Alternatively, you can stay a little out of the centre in a suburb like Penarth – Holm House Hotel being a highlight.

From here, venture out into the city to experience the nightlife. You can grab a casual dinner in the Brewery Quarter, or something more refined on Pontcanna Street, before heading to the trendy bars on Mill Lane or down at Mermaid Quay.

Saturday AM

Once you’ve finished your full Welsh breakfast (complete with cockles and laverbread), you’ll want to start sightseeing. The best place to begin is Cardiff Castle, which is famed for its elaborate interiors, hidden wartime shelters and hilltop Norman keep.

Banqueting Hall, Cardiff Castle

From the castle you can wander over to the National Museum (just 10 minutes on foot) and immerse yourself in the art and history of our wonderful nation.

Historic Gallery, National Museum Cardiff

Saturday PM

After lunch, spend your afternoon doing something a little different. Book far enough in advance and you can catch a rugby match down at the Principality Stadium. Alternatively, book tickets to a matinee at the National Theatre Wales, or the Wales Millennium Centre.

Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay

Later on, you can enjoy dinner at one of Cardiff’s finest dining establishments. There are many to choose from, but one of our favourites is the award-winning Restaurant James Sommerin on the seafront in Penarth. You can get here in just 25 minutes by hopping on a train from Cardiff Central.

Restaurant James Sommerin, Penarth

After dinner, stick around to enjoy a cocktail in one of the nearby bars – just don’t forget that the last train from Penarth leaves just before 11.30!

Sunday AM

Make the most of your Sunday morning by heading down to Castle Street and hopping on a bus to St. Fagan’s National Museum of History. This open-air museum is free to enter and open seven days a week; at its heart is a 16th century manor house surrounded by other historic buildings.

National History Museum, St Fagans

Wander through the museum complex and you can learn about the history of the Welsh people, getting a key insight into how people here have lived through the ages. Bring a picnic and you can enjoy it on the grounds – alternatively, you can grab lunch at one of the onsite cafés.

Sunday PM

Before you head off, spend your last hours in Cardiff enjoying a leisurely stroll through one of the city’s green spaces (weather permitting). There are plenty to choose from, but Bute Park is our favourite.

As for the journey home? We suspect you’ll spend it planning your next visit to our beautiful capital…

 

Images © Crown copyright 2018 (Visit Wales)