Wales shines out as the U.K.’s must-go tourist destination

Wales shines out as the U.K.’s must-go tourist destination

Following from our last blog post, which was concerned with tourism outside London and in the constituent parts of Great Britain (England, Scotland, and Wales), we thought we would take a closer look at Wales.

Wales neglected for so long

Wales is often regarded as the ‘Cinderella.’ of the U.K. , England is the largest country and the dominant one, Scotland has other advantages, not least of which is the enduring success of ‘Braveheart’ and other legends popularised by the works of Sir Walter Scott in the 19th century, which has given Scotland an adventurous and yet romantic allure. Plus of course the more recent successes of the Scotch Whisky industry and Golf.

The times they are changing

Now the Welsh Tourist Board is trying to change that by trumpeting the rich history and scenic beauty of Wales.And it already has some powerful allies. The Lonely Planet guide for 2017 has described the North Wales Region as one of the Top Ten Places to visit. Years of extensive marketing and work to turn Wales industrial past into a green future, seem to be finally paying off.

Former slate mining areas are now being landscaped to provide stunning leisure opportunities. Even the abandoned mines themselves are being re-invented; ‘Bounce Below’ offers underground trampolining in a disused 176-year-old mine, with a space as big as the dome of St. Pauls Cathedral.

What else does North Wales have to offer ?. Well for a start there is Surf Snowdonia the world’s biggest non-coastal surf park and Zip World, the longest and fastest zip line in Europe.

And of course, there is the hiking for the serious outdoors person or many beautiful yet leisurely strolls (for those looking for something less strenuous).

And we have not even mentioned the Castles. Wales has loads of them, from the time when the English conquered Wales in the 13th/14th century when they needed secure citadels to keep out marauding Welsh rebels.

Caernarfon and Conwy Castles are amongst the largest and most impressive (forming part of the four castles of the Gwynedd World Heritage site).These castles have survived the ravages of time, others have fallen into disuse or were destroyed in later conflicts, and now make eerie yet attractive monuments in time. There are still over 100 castles in Wales.

‘The Prisoner’ draws big crowds

A visit to Portmeirion is a ‘must’ for anyone who goes to Wales. This town is a purpose built ‘folly’ of brightly colored houses with some Italianate landscaping which feels totally out of place in North-Western Europe. It is such a bizarre place that it was the setting for ‘The Village’ in the psychedelic 1960’s sci-fi classic ‘The Prisoner.’

Last but not least. South Wales.

Finally, let’s take an excursion to South Wales and look at two very special places. Firstly the Mining Museum at ‘Big Pit’: coal mining and steel production were the signature features of South Wales in the 19th and 20th centuries. These all came crashing to a halt from the 1980’s onward and government and tourist board were left wondering what to do with this legacy. One way is to embrace it, and that is exactly what has been done at ‘Big Pit,’ the museum is open to tourists as a former working mine, you can go down to the coal face in the ‘cage’ or escalator and experience what it was like every day for the miners. Afterwards, go to the Museum itself and see the exhibitions as former coal miners explain what their lives were like in the Pit.

For history lovers, the Welsh Folk Museum, at St. Fagans, is a real treat; amongst the many buildings (including a school house and a church) brought here as examples of Welsh history, you can see a row of Miners cottages each one decorated in the style of a period, i.e., 1900, 1930, 1950, etc. It is a splendid place to soak up the history of the Welsh people in the South Wales valleys.

In conclusion, Wales is rather more than male voice choirs and has much to offer the discerning tourist.

Travel to Wales internationally is usually via one of London’s airports, though there is an airport at Cardiff, the national capital. Onward travel to Wales is by car, train or bus.

For cheap flights to London check out the search engine at

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