This post is written in cooperation with Visit Britain as part of a project with iAmbassador. As always, all opinions are my own.
Often overshadowed by more touristy European destinations, Wales often goes unnoticed — but that’s what makes it the hidden gem that it is. I visited the Pembrokeshire Coast in Wales last year and instantly fell in love with this country. Here are my top reasons why Wales should be your first pick for a fun getaway this year.
7 Reasons You Should Travel to Wales in 2016
The pound is at a 30-year low, and the dollar is strong – get the most bang for your buck! With free admission to 8 national museums, historic sites, and many castles, Wales offers some priceless experiences for a fraction of the cost of other European destinations. For additional discounts on entry fees, consider purchasing a Royal Oak Foundation membership.
Wales is safe travel destination for everyone, including solo travelers! A predominantly English-speaking country makes for easy communication, and violence or theft is very rare. Use common sense when it comes safety, but take comfort in knowing Wales is one of the safest places in Europe.
Although the Welsh are known for being shy, local residents will go out of their way to be friendly and helpful – a comfort for novice travelers or those traveling alone. The warm hospitality offered by cozy B&B’s are popular for travelers, especially those who like to bond with locals and get authentic insight of the culture around them.
Beautiful scenery is abundant, from elegant oceanside villages like Tenby to awesome city views of Cardiff. Pembrokeshire is the only coastal National Park in the U.K. – and is also home to the gorgeous St. David’s Cathedral – so this is definitely a “must” for those who enjoy the outdoors! Scattered waterfalls and historic castles (over 640 of them!) also make a strong case for Wales’s beauty. Oh, and there’s sheep to accompany the views.
It’s Easy to Navigate
British Airways offers direct flights into London from 22 cities in the US — including Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, and New York — where you can easily pick up a train into Wales. Once you’re in Wales, public transportation is easy to navigate, and you of course have the option to rent a car.
Driving by car is very straightforward and perhaps one of the best ways to see the country, so consider renting a compact car (convenient on the narrow paths) and hit the road! The well-established footpaths for walking are also great for a more personal and exciting experience.
Unwind & Connect With Nature
Wales is home to stunning mountain ranges, gorgeous beaches, and wildlife you can’t find anywhere else – escape touristy hotspots and take it all in! With places like the National Wetlands Centre, Anglesey Sea Zoo, and three National Parks to explore, there’s no shortage of sweeping scenic views and nature to immerse yourself in.
Discover Pembrokeshire National Park to catch a glimpse of dolphins, turtles, and puffins found on the coast, or red kites in Mid Wales. Families wanting to adventure off the beaten path can even download the Geocaching app and go on a treasure hunt for secret capsules hidden by locals!
Sporting events, music festivals, craft beer – it’s all here. Rugby and football are popular throughout the country, and lively music festivals like Greenman and Wakestock give you the opportunity to have fun with the locals!
Food festivals with seafood and traditional Welsh cuisine are common in warmer months, but each pub’s varying microbrews are available year-round. Fine arts, like opera and theatre, are also popular in larger cities and villages so don’t miss a chance to take in an experience truly unique to Wales.
Packing Essentials for Wales
Layers: Pack plenty of layers! The weather can be very unpredictable in Wales. I wore my fleece leggings almost every single day.
Rain Gear: Just like the rest of the UK, you should always come prepared for a little (or a lot) of rain. Umbrellas generally don’t work well near the coast because of the wind factor. Bring a really good waterproof windbreaker and a pair of Wellies. I lived in my Wellies in Wales!
Comfortable Shoes: If you plan to do any hiking, bring a good pair of hiking shoes. It can get very muddy on the trails.
Daypack: If you plan to get out in nature (which you absolutely should!) you’ll want a daypack to carry your extra layers. Make sure to bring a bag that has its own attached rain cover to keep your camera gear and other valuables dry. I use this backpack with attached rain cover on all of my hiking trips.
Beanie: It’s always good to have a warm beanie to keep your ears warm on windy days.
Camera: Don’t forget your camera gear! See our complete guide on how to choose the best travel camera.