When you think of Wales, enchanting, fairytale-like pictures pop up in your mind: green valleys, unspoilt ranges of mountains, cosy seaside towns, coastal plains, enchanting forests, magical castles and grassy pasture hillsides. Wales is rich in gorgeous natural landscapes and magnificent historical sites.
We have collected some of the most beautiful places in Wales that will make you feel as if you just stepped out of a fairytale fantasy book.
1. Tintern Abbey
You can find this Gothic masterpiece on the banks of the River Wye in the Monmouthshire countryside. This sublime Gothic abbey fell into ruin after the suppression of monasteries during the reign of Henry VIII. From the 18th century onwards, the ruins served as an inspiration in poetry and visual arts. The ivy-clad abbey is truly picturesque with its high walls and elegant arches. If you want to take gorgeous photos without being disturbed, the best months to visit the ruins are September and October.
In 1798, William Wordsworth captured the beauty of the place in his famous poem entitled ‘Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey’.
“[…] I hear
These waters, rolling from their mountain-springs
With a soft inland murmur.—Once again
Do I behold these steep and lofty cliffs,
That on a wild secluded scene impress
Thoughts of more deep seclusion; and connect
The landscape with the quiet of the sky. […]”
/ William Wordsworth /
You must experience this wild and romantic location.
2. Tenby, Pembrokshire
Tenby is probably the most enjoyable seaside town in Wales. The city is enclosed in medieval stone walls and is proud to have three family-friendly, sandy beaches. All of these stunning beaches are situated within walking distance of the centre of Tenby and offer great views.
If you would like to have a cultural experience, visit the Tenby Museum and Art Gallery. You can get familiar with the local history here and wander among beautiful paintings. If you would like to get a glimpse of the life of a wealthy merchant and his family, visit the Tudor Merchant’s House. This experience will transport you back 500 years.
Don’t forget to take an unforgettable walk on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path which is a spectacular 186 mile (299 km) long crooked national trail. The famous trail winds along many breath-taking coves and stunning beaches. The best season to have a lovely walk here is most probably spring. During this time of the year, you can see migrating birds, breeding birds and colourful wild flowers.
3. Fairy Glen, Conwy
The Fairy Glen on the bank of the Conwy River is pure magic. It is located near the enchanted village of Betws-y-Coed, which is North Wales’ most popular accommodation provider.
Since this beauty spot is located on private land, you have to respect the owner of the land, but you only have to pay a small fee for this amazing experience. You have to be prepared because the walking route is not easy. At first, the trail leads you along the bank of the Conwy River, which provides you with a lovely view. Then you need to descend to the gorge through rocky stepping stones, which can be uneven sometime. But the view at the end is definitely worth every effort. No photo can prepare you for the breath-taking scene that awaits you down in the magical gorge. Suddenly you’ll feel like you are in the middle of Tolkien’s fantasy land.
Don’t forget to read about the myths of magical creatures that are rumoured to live in the gorge! It’s tucked away, just waiting for you to discover its secluded beauty.
4. St Fagans
St Fagans is one of Europe’s best open-air museums, but it is definitely Wales’ most popular heritage site. If you are obsessed with historic buildings and want to discover how the way of life changed throughout the ages, this is a perfect spot for you. June is definitely the best month for your visit if you want to avoid the crowds.
Explore the museum, exhibitions, castles and other historic buildings that bring history to life. After that, you can wander in the fabulous gardens and discover fish ponds, fountains and vineries.
Discover the history of Welsh architecture and culture, all free of charge! Be prepared (comfortable shoes, food and drink) because it is going to be a whole day experience!
As we have talked so much about fantasy books, the last fairytale location on our list had to be the thriving Hay-on-Wye, which is also known as the ‘Town of Books’. This small and enchanting town is full of cosy second-hand bookshops, lovely restaurants, pubs, crafts and art galleries.
Hay-on-Wye also has many cultural events and international festivals taking place throughout the year. Hay Festival, for example, is one of the world’s biggest literary festivals that brings writers and readers together. These days, the town attracts many visitors who are eager to hear and see the world’s great writers, poets, philosophers, historians and musicians. It lasts for 11 days around the summer half-term holidays.
River Wye and the surrounding areas of the town offers so many possibilities for outdoor activities. If you want to have an idyllic countryside vibe, you can also explore the magical Golden Valley, which stretches southeast of Hay-on-Wye.
This town is an unmissable stop for book and nature lovers!
Also read our article about 5 places you should visit in Mostar.