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Five Charming Destinations For First-Time Visitors To Wales

While most visitors to Great Britain tend to stick to England and Scotland, the country of Wales is home to an incredible array of attractions all on its own. From ancient mountain ranges to serene beaches that wouldn’t look out of place in the Caribbean, this historic Celtic nation is renowned for its spectacular natural beauty, while also being home to a wealth of charming villages and modern cities scattered all across the country. If you’re planning your first visit to this captivating destination, the following parks and settlements serve as the perfect introduction to the charming culture and landscapes found across Wales.

Penderyn

Just an hour northwest of the Welsh capital, the idyllic village of Penderyn offers an opportunity for newcomers to get a taste of the true spirit of Wales. Upon arrival, visitors can kick off their holiday with a trip to the crown jewel of the town—the aptly-named Penderyn Distillery. Guests are welcome to book a tour for some insight into the history of distillation across Wales, then head to the tasting room to sample a wealth of spectacular spirits ranging from fragrant chocolate orange gin to the award-winning Penderyn Madeira, a local favorite that’s finished in ex-Madeira casks. After the distillery visit, be sure to head to the abundantly-charming Red Lion Inn for some classic Welsh cuisine in a 12th-century manor, then head to the nearby Ty Newydd Country Hotel to get some rest—or another pour of whiskey, if you’re feeling bold.

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

Charming villages and splendid cliffside vistas can be found in abundance throughout Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, a sprawling preserve located in the westernmost reaches of Wales. There’s no shortage of attractions scattered along the 186-mile Pembrokeshire Coast Path—structures like the intricate St Davids Cathedral and massive Manorbier Castle have been drawing in visitors for centuries, while Barafundle Bay is home to some of the most picturesque beaches in all of Britain. If you’re planning on overnighting in the park, Tenby is a top-tier destination—the cozy Billycan is located right in the heart of town, serving as the perfect base for exploring traditional pubs like the Coach & Horses and Hope & Anchor.

Llandudno

In need of a relaxing seaside holiday? Head to Llandudno, a northern Welsh resort town that’s been renowned for its high concentration of luxurious hotels since the mid-19th century. Upon arrival, visitors can drop their bags at the stunning 1850s-era St George’s Hotel, then take the local cable car to the top of the Great Orme—a roughly 700-foot limestone formation—and soak in the picturesque seaside views. Down by the shore, the Llandudno Promenade and 700-foot-long Llandudno Pier are top spots for an idyllic afternoon stroll, while seafood fans can find top-tier fish and chips at a wealth of local spots ranging from Tribells to The Cottage Loaf.

Snowdonia National Park

While the south of Wales is home to the bulk of the national population, the northern region is home to one of the most spectacular natural attractions to be found in the country—Snowdonia National Park, to be precise. Measuring in at over 800 square miles of protected land, Snowdonia is the largest national park in Wales, and is renowned across Britain for its rugged mountains and serene lakes. For the outdoor adventure-inclined visitor, a hike to the peak of Mount Snowdon on the Miners Track should certainly be on the itinerary, while those in search of a less strenuous excursion can head to Cwm Idwal, a glacial valley that’s famous for its diverse plant life and stunning scenery.

Cardiff

Of course, no trip to Wales is complete without exploring Cardiff, the capital city and largest population center in the country. Famous attractions abound across the area, ranging from the National Museum Cardiff—a stately institution with a massive array of botany, zoology, and fine arts exhibits—to the Cardiff Castle, a medieval structure whose walls date back to the 11th century. While the city is perfect for a deep dive on Welsh history, it’s also a top spot for drinking and dining in the modern era. If you’re in the mood for intricate cocktails, The Libertine offers a wide array of options right in the heart of the city, while City Arms is a top spot for fans of fresh craft beer sourced from all across the United Kingdom.

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