Brecon Beacons National Park
The Brecon Beacons National Park is located in the south of Wales and covers an area of over 1,300 km². At its center is a mountain range called the Brecon Beacons. The name comes from a medieval custom, where lighthouses (beacons) were lit on the mountain tops to warn of English attacks.
The Brecon Beacons National Park was founded in 1957, and its western part has been a UNESCO Geopark since 2005. In the same year, a 99-mile hiking trail called the Beacons Way was established.
Other highlights of the National Park are the Black Mountains, a wilderness of rocks and marshes, and Fforest Fawr, a large forest and former royal hunting ground.
You can climb the 886 m of the park’s highest mountain, Pen y Fan, here. Other peaks worth exploring are Corn Du wit 873 m and Cribyn with 795 m.
Something you definitely shouldn't miss are the nearby stalactite caves, dinosaur exhibition, and reconstructed village from the ice age. All of these sights are located in Dan-yr-Ogof, the National Showcaves Center for Wales.
Another beautiful area is the one surrounding the village of Ystradfellte. It consists of dense woods and four different waterfalls. At one of them, Sgwd-yr-Eira (waterfall of snow), you can even walk behind the falling water itself – make sure you don’t miss this unique opportunity! There are a few hostels available in the park, where a night in a dorm will cost you around €14.
It’s easiest if you use a rental car to travel through Wales. The next stop on your trip is Tenby, a town in the south of Pembrokeshire, about 80 km west of Swansea. Its location on the coast of Carmarthen Bay makes it a popular seaside resort. You can discover beautiful pastel-colored buildings next to breathtaking cliffs and sandy beaches here.
We highly recommend taking your time while you’re exploring the narrow cobblestone streets, as there are a lot of old-fashioned shops and cafés here that are well worth visiting.
Nearby Caldey Island is also worth seeing thanks to its Cistercian monastery. You can just cross over with the ferry that leaves – depending on whether the tide is high or low – from either Tenby Castle Beach or Tenby Harbor.
You should also visit the Tudor Merchant's House in Tenby, which dates back to the 15th century. Walking around Tenby Museum and Art Gallery is another great way to spend an afternoon.
Tenby also offers a lovely walking path along the coast, so you can enjoy the sea view in peace. Of course, you can also go swimming at one of the beaches or take a boat trip from the harbor.
In mid-September, there’s also the Tenby Arts Festival, so if you’re here in the fall, don’t forget to have a look around!
You have a few different options when it comes to choosing a place for the night, although a shared dorm at around €14 is probably the cheapest option.
After you’ve enjoyed the beach, the picturesque village, and the cute cafés of Tenby, your trip through Wales continues to St. Davids, the most western town in Wales. It is situated on the north coast of St. Brides Bay in the west of Pembrokeshire. The town lies in a hilly valley on the Alun River.
Although St. Davids only has about 1,800 inhabitants, it is also home to a large cathedral. There are actually only four main streets in the town as well as a medieval marketplace in the middle. Otherwise, there are only a few alleys.
In short, St. Davids is small and lovely, and you can reach everything easily on foot. The cathedral was an important pilgrimage site in the Middle Ages. The name of the town stems from Wales’ patron saint, St. David, who was an abbot and one of the earliest bishops in the country. He was responsible for converting most of the Welsh west coast.
As you can see, there’s a lot of history for you to discover here. Most parts of the cathedral date back to the 12th century, but there have been a lot of additions and restorations since then, for example during the Reformation and the English Civil War. The cathedral also includes the remains of St. Mary’s College and the nearby ruins of the Bishop’s Palace from the 13th and 14th century.
There’s a hostel in St. Davids where you can stay in a dorm for about €17 per night.
Snowdonia National Park
Your next stop is the Snowdonia National Park. It is one of the most beautiful places in Wales and includes the country’s highest mountain, Snowdon (1,085 m).
The Snowdonia National Park was founded in 1951. You can go hiking here or climb various mountains, like those around Snowdon. The trails have different levels of difficulty, so there’s something for everyone!
If you’re more into water sports, you also have the option of going rafting, canoeing, or kayaking here.
Alternatively, you could spend some time visiting the Sygun Copper Mine or the Llechwedd quarry, where you can learn more about the history of slate quarrying in Wales.
As you can see, there are plenty of places to explore in the Snowdonia National Park! Apart from these activities, we would also recommend just letting the scenery wash over you and enjoying the peace and quiet. It really is just incredibly beautiful here.
A night in a nearby hostel will cost you around €17.
The final stop on your journey through Wales is Cardiff, where you can also return your car. After spending most of your trip in the middle of the countryside, you now get to experience the Welsh city life. Cardiff is not only the capital of Wales but also its largest city with a population of about 336,000 people.
Cardiff is the greenest city in Britain, and we’re sure you’ll fall in love with it quickly, as there are a lot of pedestrianized areas here, where you have plenty of opportunities to buy some souvenirs.
The capital also has a lot of sights to offer. For example, the television series Doctor Who is filmed in Cardiff. A visit to the accompanying exhibition is a must for any fan of the show. The BBC also offers free tours of its studios here – and let’s be honest, who would say no to an opportunity like this?
Another highlight of the city is Cardiff Castle, which dates back to Roman times. It’s always worth a visit! There are a few hostels for you to choose from, but a bed in a dorm will usually be around €17 in any of them.
After you’ve explored Wales, enjoyed spending time in nature, and made many unforgettable memories, it’s sadly already time to go home.