The national history of Wales is told by its dramatic medieval ruins, abandoned castles, thrilling mountainous landscapes and horrific coastal cliffs. Wales is also valued for its pristine waters and primeval flora and fauna. Thanks to these natural wonders, Wales turns out to be a perfect destination for a weekend getaway. Here are eight activities that guarantee an unforgettable weekend in Wales.
Breath The Fresh Air Atop Snowdon, Highest Mountain in Wales
Six different paths, each taking up to six hours round trip, will lead you to the top of the highest mountain in Wales, Snowdon. Make the little village of Capel Garmon, near Betws y Coed, your departure point and enjoy the peaceful countryside, with its rocky, clear waterfalls on the River Conwy. The next day, to finish off a great active weekend, take a two-hour car trip down the coast to Pembrokeshire, where you will find the wildest coastal scenery located in the picturesque and dramatic Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.
Although the Welsh Coast is not the first place that comes to mind when you think of surfing, you will be pleasantly surprised to find out that the Gower Peninsula is a mecca for adrenaline-thirsty water sports lovers from all over Britain. There are plenty of surf schools, like Gower Surfing and Welsh Surfing Federation Surf School where you can borrow surfing equipment and take up some lessons.
To continue with the topic of extreme sports, I strongly recommend trying coasteering, a Welsh take on water sport for fearless adrenaline junkies. This unique discipline is a combination of swimming, diving, and rock climbing. You don’t need to be a fitness guru to enjoy coasteering, as the instructors maintain that this sport is for everyone. Where can you try it? There are several places that have this activity in their offer and the most famous include Llyn Peninsula in Northwest Wales, Pembrokeshire and Anglesey coastlines.
Extreme Mountain Biking
The mountainous Welsh landscape attracts many fans of extreme biking. At Coed y Brenin, passionate cyclists can find an array of paths for both beginners and experienced bikers. Apart from that, the visitors can take part in intense downhill courses held at Antur Stiniog.
World Alternative Games
Llanwrtyd Wells are famous for their quirky World Alternative Games which take place every August. The participants can try their luck in many exotic sounding competitions like Bog Snorkelling, Man versus Horse Marathon, Real Ale Wobble, Stone Skimming, Stiletto Racing, Scooter Slalom, cycling and running events and many more. Apart from the competitions, the organizers aim to showcase Welsh culture, heritage and hospitality. Be sure to save the date and prepare for some serious fun!
While in Wales, you have to try local specialties, such as the authentic cottage pie with Welsh ale and a wide selection of the world’s finest seafood. Apart from that, be sure to check out local farmers’ market near Haverfordwest, which takes place twice a month. There is also a special offer for all aspiring chefs out there – cooking class with Franco Taruschio, the founder of one of the best restaurants in Wales, The Walnut Tree.
The Welsh prove that trains are not just fun for kids. The Ffestiniog Railway, the oldest narrow gauge railway that goes directly through Snowdonia offers unforgettable views and unique travel experience. Hop-on/hop-off option allows for exploring the country even more! In 2013 the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways were voted top tourist attraction and granted the National Tourism Award.
Festivals are probably the best way to explore country’s culture. I have selected three most notable festivals in Wales that bring thousands of visitors every year:
The festival has been started by a group of friends who wanted to create a safe and welcoming space filled with new folk and alternative indie music accompanied by a variety of workshops and performances. It takes place every third weekend of August in the green fields near Crickhowell.
Run on a non-profit basis, Abergavenny’s food festival aims to promote local produce and food growers, cooks and craftsmen to raise awareness about the gastronomic wonders that Wales has to offer. The money collected during the festival is used to organize next year’s event.
For the last 27 years Hay festival has been bringing together world’s greatest writers, filmmakers, comedians and musicians to the lovely Brecon Beacons National Park to celebrate great literature, discuss, debate and share stories. Bill Clinton called it ‘The Woodstock of the mind’.
As it turns out, Wales has much more to offer than romantic ruins and abandoned castles. I hope that my selection of the finest free time activities will help you plan a great weekend.
About The Author: Cindy Boesel works at BizStats.co.uk. She is a frequent guest to Wales and is keen on the history of Wales and Ireland. Find her on Twitter.