Cities featured in major TV productions, buzzing little seaside towns, breathtaking green landscapes, and… sheep – Wales has it all. If you’re dying to explore the fabulous countryside the United Kingdom has to offer, this article is for you.
A few days ago I went on a short five-day trip around Wales (+ one traveling day), exploring a part of the UK I didn’t have the chance to visit before. And let me tell you a thing: This was one of the best trips through the UK I did so far! (You can read about some of my other trips here and here)
Now I am usually not much of a hiker or outdoor fanatic, but Wales convinced me to embrace my outdoorsy side more in the future (I actually went on a run today – outside, the grey clouds hazardously floating over me). During my trip, I went on two short hikes and explored some parts of the Welsh coast. I got muscle ache in my legs and sunburn in my face. It was a thoroughly successful journey. But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
WHERE TO START
For everyone not having their own car or not being able to rent one yet, Cardiff may be the best option for you to begin your trip (or even if you fly to Wales directly). There is a train line running to the capital city of Wales from Birmingham and London and several National Express bus lines drive there as well (for cheap fares, google “national express fun fares”). From Cardiff, it’s easy to get to the nearest national park – Brecon Beacon – as well as to the coast side around Swansea (however, I went to the West side of Wales, to Aberystwyth). I was lucky enough to get a lift by a super nice couchsurfer who had rented a car for a week. So basically, we just went on this little Wales-adventure together. It may be worth looking into Couchsurfing or BlaBlaCar if you’re planning on traveling by car. Otherwise, public transport runs more or less regularly from Cardiff.
DAY 1: CARDIFF
Cardiff itself is, of course, worth a visit, especially if you are a huge Doctor Who fan like me. I went to the famous Doctor Who Experience while I was there, rescued the Earth with the Doctor and luckily escaped the Daleks (entrance fee £14 online, £16 on the door)*. If you are not a time traveler by heart and have no idea what I’m talking about (I’m not crazy) – fear not, Cardiff has still something to offer to you. The city centre is a colourful mix of little shops and passages, where you can have a lovely afternoon stroll. Don’t forget to try Welsh Cakes while you’re passing through the Cardiff Central Market.
* these prices are according to the official homepages, which I accessed on the 01.06.2016. Please check the up-to-date entrance fee online.
DAY 2: BRECON BEACON NATIONAL PARK
As already mentioned, I was lucky enough to meet up with a fellow traveller who rented a car and he basically gave me a lift for the rest of my trip (thank you so much!). As I normally travel by public transport, here is this information for you as well: There is a bus line running from Cardiff to Brecon and several other towns around the national park. You can look up the bus times on this website here. Bus line T4 travels from Cardiff all the way to Newtown, passing through the Brecon Beacons National Park on its journey and is, therefore, known as the route with a view. You can find the timetable for this bus here.
The day was spent in a stunningly green landscape and I made good friends with the numerous sheep you can find everywhere in Wales. We did a hike up the famous Pen y Fan, the highest peak in south Wales which offers a panoramic view over the national park. The hike took three hours (both ways) and is great for everyone who isn’t much of an experienced hiker. The national park is a truly idyllic place to be. It’s a place where you sit around a bonfire at night, wrapped in a cozy blanket, looking at the dance of the flames, and exchanging kind words with other travelers. In the mornings, you only hear the birds chirping their songs. It’s pure outdoors.
DAY 3: HAY-ON-WYE
Bookshop town. That’s what this place is famous for and reason enough to go there. If you haven’t figured it out by now – I’m a geek. Books are my companions. So, what better place to go than a town that is famous for its many bookshops? Besides the bookshops, Hay-on-Wye is an excellent example of a Welsh town: colourful doors, narrow streets, historic buildings, all surrounded by green landscapes. The day I was visiting, there was also a street food market and I had some very yummy falafel.
Ein von Kathrin Hälbich (@theambitiousbee) gepostetes Foto am
DAY 4 & 5: ABERYSTWYTH
Think of the smell of the sea. That smell that reminds you of family holidays and building a sandcastle, hunting crabs and sunscreen on your face. That’s Aberystwyth. Well, at least during the spring. In winter, it’s pure wilderness and feeling small when looking at the waves banging forceful against the lighthouse. The grey sky mingling with the deep greenish-blue of the sea. But the smell of salt and nature is still there.
As Aberystwyth is one of the biggest towns in the West of Wales, you can take a train or bus from here to Birmingham or London (or back to Cardiff) OR you can continue your travels to the Snowdonia National Park. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to go there.
All in all, it was a really successful trip and I can totally recommend traveling to Wales!
Have you been to any of the places I mentioned? Let me know your travel stories in the comments below.
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