Backpacking Wales

Britain’s most western country might be its least well-known one as well, but, as anyone who’s been to Wales will tell you, there is no good reason for this. Sure, the weather can be quite damp, but that’s also just part of the beautiful marshes and meadows. There are hundreds of old castles dotted around the hills, and exploring them will take you right back in time. Have fun following our backpacking route through Wales!


Important Basics

Official Languages

English, Welsh

Basic Vocabulary
EnglishWelsh
Yesydw
NoNa; Nage
Thank youDiolch
HelloHelo; Bore da
Goodbyehwyl fawr
Capital City

Cardiff

Form of Government

Parliamentary constitutional monarchy

Phone Country Code

+44

Currency

Great British Pound (£)

Climate

Highest temperature by day: 7–19 °C

Highest temperature by night: 3–13 °C

Summer: June to September

Winter: December to February

Fun Fact

Wales has more castles per square kilometer than any other country in Europe.

Cities

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.

Tenby

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.

St. Davids

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.

Cardiff

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.


Brecon Beacons National Park

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.

Tenby

Tenby

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.

St. Davids

St. Davids

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

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.

Cardiff

Cardiff

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.

Wales Route Map

Itinerary and Stops.

Tag
Route/Station
Transport
Unterkunft
1. Home – Brecon Beacons National Park
Home – Brecon Beacons National Park
Flight+Rental car
30
Dorm
14
2. Brecon Beacons National Park
Brecon Beacons National Park
-
Dorm
14
3. Brecon Beacons National Park
Brecon Beacons National Park
-
Dorm
14
4. Brecon Beacons National Park – Tenby
Brecon Beacons National Park – Tenby
Rental car
Dorm
14
5. Tenby
Tenby
-
Dorm
14
6. Tenby
Tenby
-
Dorm
14
7. Tenby
Tenby
-
Dorm
14
8. Tenby – St. Davids
Tenby – St. Davids
Rental car
Dorm
17
9. St. Davids – Snowdonia National Park
St. Davids – Snowdonia National Park
Rental car
Dorm
17
10. Snowdonia National Park
Snowdonia National Park
-
Dorm
17
11. Snowdonia National Park
Snowdonia National Park
-
Dorm
17
12. Snowdonia National Park – Cardiff
Snowdonia National Park – Cardiff
Rental car
Dorm
17
13. Cardiff
Cardiff
-
Dorm
17
14. Cardiff – Home
Cardiff – Home
Flight
30

Total price.

Flights 60,00
Transportation 67,00
Tours 0,00
Accommodation 200,00
Total327,00

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Dos and Donts, Food & Drinks, Costs.

Breakfast

Bara Brith: is a sweet bread baked with dried fruit. It’s usually served with honey or syrup. Of course, tea and coffee are also part of any Welsh breakfast.

Soups

Leek soup : is a popular lunch option among the Welsh.

Beef stew : is often very liquid here and therefore served as a soup. Usually, you’ll also have some cabbage and carrots in there.

Main courses

Cawl: is a lamb stew, which is cooked with leeks and potatoes.

Welsh rabbit: is the name of a type of cheese toast that is usually had for lunch. This Welsh specialty is particularly popular with backpackers.

Caviar: is one of the country’s specialties and is often eaten with laverbread, a spinach-like seaweed.

Glamorgan Sausage:  is made from breadcrumbs, cheese, and leeks and has therefore nothing to do with meat. It’s a popular side dish and perfect together with some chips.

Drinks

Beer: Ale is Wales’ most popular beer.  

Wine: production is also an important industry in Wales, and you should definitely try some of the local red wines while you’re here.

Wales

The exchange rate for £1 is around €1.09 (as of March 2020). See prices for certain products and the cost of living below.

Cost of living

Food

Free time

Personal Hygiene

Dos

Respect Wales: Wales often gets overshadowed by England, so respect and appreciate the Welsh identity.

Explore: just hanging out? There’s so much to discover in Wales, it would be a shame not to spend all of your time walking or exploring.

Go shopping early: if you want to cook at a hostel, remember to get your ingredients early, as supermarkets start closing at around 6 pm.

Don'ts

Wales and England: don’t call people from Wales English. They’re two different countries and cultures, and any generalization is often taken as an insult.

Urban experiences: Wales doesn’t have many big cities, but it offers a lot of beautiful landscapes instead.

Unsuitable clothes: Wales is known for its harsh climate, so you should bring weather-appropriate clothing.

Visa, Visa, Passport & Vaccinations

Passport

Yes

Temporary passport

Yes

National ID

No

Temporary national ID

No

Child’s pass

Yes

Visa

(Not necessary)

Vaccine

Robert Koch Instituts

Additional Remarks.

Your travel documents have to be valid until the end of your trip. Please also find out about the current entry regulations regarding COVID. You can find further information at your country’s Foreign Office.

The team at Backpacker Trail wishes you lots of fun and an unforgettable trip!

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