Wales’ popularity as tourist destination has been growing rapidly over the last few years, and with good reason – this southwestern territory of Great Britain offers attractions and adventures in all guises and sizes, including epic castle tours, adrenaline-fueled zip wire excursions over sweeping lakes, festivals and fetes of all sorts, mountain summit opportunities and so much more.
Named as one of the top regions in the world for travellers in 2017, Wales is most certainly at the top of our list of must-visit destinations in the coming year. Here are a few important bits and bobs to know before you go:
Wales is part of Great Britain and the United Kingdom, but the Welsh are Welsh, not English
When you interact with Welsh locals, refrain from saying ‘England’ when you mean Britain or the UK, and don’t using it as a blanket term to refer to all inhabitants of the British Isles either – it’s like calling an Australian a Kiwi or referring to an American as a Canadian and could ruffle a few feathers over a pint. To wit, although most Welsh citizens are able to speak English, roughly one-fifth of the population speaks Welsh – one of the oldest languages in Europe and recognised as the country’s official language by the National Assembly.
Oceanside attractions abound in Wales
Located to the west of England, Wales is roughly half the size of Switzerland and surrounded by the ocean on three sides, which means there are a lot of beaches and plenty of coastline to enjoy. In fact, Wales is the only country in the world that has a continuous coastal walkway that runs along its entire length. If you were to walk the entire 300km of the Pembrokeshire coastline it would take you the better part of three weeks! However, there’s no need to lace up your hiking boots if you only have a short time to explore – you can simply soak up the scenery or partake in a spot of water sports or dolphin spotting at one of its many world-renowned beaches and resorts.
Cardiff is the country’s capital & cultural hub
Situated on the south coast of Wales, where the River Taff meets the Severn Estuary, the port city of Cardiff has been the nation’s capital since 1955. This bustling metropolis is home to the National Opera and orchestra, as well as various theater and dance companies. Other notable attractions include Cardiff Castle, the National Museum of Wales and Cardiff Bay – the city’s waterfront that houses the Wales Millennium Centre and offers a wide array of entertainment options and top-notch eateries.
It’s foodie heaven
One thing’s for sure, when you visit Wales and Cardiff you’ll be extremely well fed and watered. Welsh cuisine is fresh, local and seasonal and there is a great selection of craft beverages to sample, including single malt Welsh whisky and local beers that vary from one pub to the next. Keen to sink your teeth into a quintessential Welsh dish? Try a luscious Welsh Rarebit dinner, fruity Welsh cakes or the ubiquitous Glamorgan Sausage.
It’s lush & verdant to a fault
Wales is one of the greenest countries in the entire world. The weather can be a little unpredictable, but no worse than the rest of the UK. Summer runs from June to September, and when the frosty months roll around, Cardiff transforms into a magical winter wonderland with festive attractions that range from ice rinks and fairground rides to an authentic Alpine village and Santa’s grotto.
Rugby is the national sport and it’s huge
The Welsh take their national pastime seriously. Cardiff regularly plays host to world-renowned rugby events such as the Six Nations, Heineken Cup and World Cup, which can easily see in excess of 500 000 fans flooding through the city’s gates. Time your visit to coincide with a major rugby event if you want to immerse yourself in the singular atmosphere of a nation united behind their national team.
So whether you’re keen on an oceanside retreat, cultural excursion, historical amble of foodie adventure, Wales is the place to be! Keep an eye on the blog in coming months as we share more tips and insight into this wonderful United Kingdom travel destination.