Rugged beauty, adventure await visitors to Wales

Located in southwest Great Britain, Wales is a small country, but it’s a huge, scenic adventure land teeming with castles, mystery, mountains, nature reserves, rich rolling hills, beaches and pristine lakes and rivers. If you’re interested in a vacation spiced with steam trains, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, surfing, zip lining, pubs, cheese, dolphins and puffins, then GetAway Travel is ready to help you make some memories. 

 Culture, castles and coastlines 

 The culture of Wales is built on myths and legends and you’d expect nothing less from a country that has a dragon featured on its flag. Wales gave us characters like Merlin and Arthur and the Elvish language from “The Lord of the Rings” is based on Welsh. 

The Welsh people are incredibly welcoming and proud of their heritage and country. 

One of the prettiest cities in Wales is Criccieth, at the top of Cardigan Bay in North Wales. The ruins of Criccieth Castle are on the cape which pushes out into the bay. A trip to the ruins offers great views including Snowdonia National Park. The hills and peaks of the mountain range are magnificent and Mt. Snowdon reaches up 3,546 feet and can be accessed by train. 

Speaking of trains, residents of Wales have lovingly restored steam train railways. Many of the rail lines are owned and maintained by trusts. You can take a train to a destination, or just around the area to admire the scenery.  

Porthmadog is near Criccieth and is the home of Porthmadog Heritage Railway. Take the train on a stunning 25-mile trip through the Aberglaslyn Pass and pass Brecon Becons National Park. 

Conwy Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site is about an hour from Criccieth. Built by King Edward I, it is thought to be at least 1,000 years old. A restored spiral staircase takes you to the battlements and you can see Snowdonia in the distance. It has the most intact set of medieval royal apartments of any of the castles in Wales. Conwy Castle is considered one of the finest examples of military European architecture. 

Llandudno is nearby and it is Wales largest holiday resort and at the far end of the beach is a huge limestone peninsula. Rising 700 feet straight from the sea, views from the Great Orme are amazing. A cable car will take you to the top, but taking one of the walking trails means you can watch the kestrels swoop around. You could also get a glimpse of the sure-footed Kashmir goats. The goats are direct descendants of a pair gifted to Queen Victoria. Take a relaxing stroll on the Llandudno pier which is the longest pier in Wales. 

As long as you are in the area, don’t miss Portmeirion. This tourist destination is an Italian village set in the Welsh countryside. Designed and built by Sir Cough Williams-Ellis, it was created to show how a tourist site could exist and still have the natural beauty of the area around it. “The Prisoner” television series was filmed here. 

 Nightlife, books and cheese 

 Cardiff is the capital of Wales and renowned for its shopping and great nightlife and restaurants. But it has a lot more to offer. Tour Cardiff Castle and marvel at the Arab room with its gold-leaf decorated kaleidoscope ceiling. Then there’s the Animal Wall with amazing animal sculptures perched on different parts of the outer wall. 

Visit Techniquest, a science center with 100 hands-on interactive projects. Speaking of hands on, try your hand at throwing a pot or two in the historic pottery studio at St. Fagan’s National Museum of History. St. Fagan’s is actually a castle and throughout the acres of parkland are more than 40 historical or meticulously recreated buildings designed to show Welsh culture, history and traditions. 

Cardiff has large central sports stadiums for cricket, rugby and football and you can book a white water rafting adventure at Cardiff International Sports Village. 

Hay-on-Wye is on the border of England and Wales. Every spring the population expands to more than 80,000 for the annual Festival of Literature and Arts. If you are a book lover, visit Hay-on-Wye even if the festival isn’t going on. There are more than two dozen bookstores and you can get your hands on everything from new to first editions. 

If history floats your boat, Swansea, once a major Welsh port, has the National Waterfront Museum. The museum chronicles Swansea’s maritime history. Exhibits show how the waterfront has changed over the years and there are interactive exhibits to educate visitors about the local environment and wildlife. 

Remember, the national snack of Wales is Welsh rarebit which is savory cheese sauce broiled on toast. The country is home to award-winning cheddars and goat cheeses as well as a number of special cheeses such as Per Las which is a golden bleu cheese. Try glamorgan sausage which is a vegetarian sausage of bread crumbs, leeks and cheese. Welsh cakes are flat, round sweet breads baked on a stone — sort of a cross between a scone and a pancake. 

There are some pretty fabulous craft beers, ales and wines that hail from Wales, too. 

 Whether it’s a wonderful Wales vacation or some other getaway, the travel advisors from GetAway Travel are ready to help you make that happen. We can be reached at:  (262) 538-2140, e-mail: or 

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