The breathtaking scenery of the Brecon Beacons, Wales
Photograph: ShutterstockThe breathtaking scenery of the Brecon Beacons, Wales

The 14 best places to visit in Wales

Cymru, the capital of castles, the Land of Song. Whatever name you know it by, here's where to go to see Wales at its most magnificent.


There can be no such thing as too much appreciation when it comes to Wales. This small but mighty country has spectacular landscapes, a fascinating history and an all-round warm and welcoming spirit that makes it hard not to love. 

And you can encounter its wonderful Celtic magic in so many places. The beach options are endless, the foodie scene is thriving, the castles house centuries of stories and the peaks are breathtaking. From Cardiff in the south and Snowdonia in the north to the coastal towns of the west, here are the very best places you have to visit in Wales. 

🍴 The best restaurants in Cardiff
👀 The best things to do in Cardiff
🌤️ The very best things to do in the UK

This article was recently updated by Amy Houghton, a writer from the Brecon Beacons. At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines.

Where to go in Wales

1. Pembrokeshire

Of course, Pembrokeshire is a collection of places, but this spread of gorgeous coastal villages and unbeatable walks deserves all the attention it gets. The beaches of this western county win awards regularly, while its fishing villages may just be enough for the first-time visitor to consider the merits of such a life. Explore the UK's smallest city, St Davids, visit the serene little settlement of Dale or take an invigorating trek along the coastline. Pembrokeshire is one of the best destinations in the UK, let alone Wales.

2. Brecon Beacons

Pen Y Fan (South Wales’s highest mountain) is the centrepiece of the Brecon Beacons, a gorgeous expanse of nature that serves as another great example of this nation’s natural beauty. Some of the walks in and around the Beacons are incredible, while the lakes, cirques and waterfalls showcase the variety that makes this part of the world so very special. Keep your eyes open for dinosaurs – this was the filming location for Jurassic World 2 and there's an award-winning dino park at Dan-yr-Ogof Showcaves. 


3. Gower Peninsula

Way back in 1956, the Gower Peninsula became the first region of the UK to be designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. That alone makes it a must-visit corner of this gorgeous country, but the Gower has plenty of brains to back up its award-winning beauty. Swansea is a centre for culture and literary innovation, while the adventurous should seek out Paviland cave (between Port Eynon and Rhossili, for the record) to discover the final resting place of the Red Lady of Paviland. Still, it all comes back to nature, and it doesn’t get much better than this.

4. Cardiff

Cardiff has only been the capital of Wales since 1955, but the largest city in the country was hugely influential long before official recognition came its way. One of the greatest sporting cities in the UK, it is also a hotbed of culinary innovation and cultural excitement, with a raucous nightlife and gorgeous parks to boot. The Cardiff Bay area is one of Europe’s finest water developments, while the range of architectural styles across the city is almost tailor-made for celebrating across social media.


5. Snowdonia National Park

Climbing to the top of a country is a real bucket-list achievement. Snowdonia National Park is one of the most popular areas in Wales, and rightly so, with the mighty Snowdon peak (1,085m into the air) standing tall above rivers, lakes and mountains as far as the eye can see. Scaling the peak and heading back down takes between five and seven hours, although the scenic Snowdon Mountain Railway will get you to the top in just over an hour.

6. Conwy

It is difficult to argue against Conwy, perhaps the country’s prettiest town. The double-whammy of the toll bridge and the town’s famous castle cause jaws to drop right out of the gate, while the abundance of cafés, restaurants, pubs and shops in the idyllic centre are among the region’s best. Conwy is also home to the smallest house in the UK, a bright red cutie that manages to be tiny and impossible to miss all at once.


7. Aberystwyth

Famous for its heady student population and annual murmurations (of starlings that is, not the students), Aberystwyth is arguably the most popular spot on the west coast. Known as the cultural capital of Wales, the town manages to be instantly recognisable as ‘Aber’ from north to south, which is impressive when you consider the abundance of towns with that classic Welsh suffix. Aberystwyth Castle is another to add to the list, while the students ensure this is one of the best nights out in Wales.

8. Abergavenny

 Abergavenny might well be Wales's foodie capital. The borders town hosts a tremendous food festival every autumn while serving delicious dishes all year round, accentuating a stunningly quaint town centre full of cafés, bars, pubs and restaurants. The town’s castle and museum are unique among the best on the nation’s roster, with a story of treason and violence that contradicts its current peaceful atmosphere. Not far away you've got the small town of Crickhowell, which welcomes thousands of music fans to the beloved Green Man Festival each summer. 


9. Anglesey

Head up here for the longest train station name in the world, more adventure than you can shake your fist at and a conveyer belt of natural beauty that is as good as anything found in the south. Anglesey is a little bit different and that’s how it should be, something that is as apparent in Menai Bridge as it is in Cemaes Bay. Beaumaris Castle may well be the highlight, although night paddleboarding, rib-riding and the rest of the adrenaline-centric activities come close.

10. Porthmadog

Fan of aesthetically pleasing ports that are major hubs for narrow gauge railways? Sure, that’s a niche collection of interests, but Porthmadog is one of those places built for adoration. Porthmadog’s maritime history is its major pull, but the town also serves as a tremendous base for exploring the region, whether that means Snowdonia National Park or fairytale-like Portmeirion.


11. Llŷn Peninsula

Wales is at its best when the air is still, and it doesn’t come more tranquil than the Llŷn Peninsula. The most isolated paradise in Wales still marches to the beat of its own serene drum, an area of outstanding natural beauty that has the paperwork to back that up. This is just about as unspoilt as Wales gets, with cliff-top walks and island views to die for. The Llŷn Peninsula is all forts, extinct volcanoes and the rest. Want Wales all to yourself? Head here.

12. Cardigan

One of Time Out’s best places to visit in 2023, this market town was the birthplace of the Eisteddfod – a cultural stalwart of the Welsh calendar. Beyond that, Cardigan has a bustling creative community and so, so many delicious food spots. For a hearty brunch check out Crwst Bakery’s venue on Priory Street and for dinner overlooking the River Teifi, head to Pizzatipi. The gorgeous beach at Poppit Sands is a short drive away and a few miles further north you'll find Mwnt Bay. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins! 


13. Hay-on-Wye

Thought Timbuktu wasn’t a real place? Well, it is. And Hay-on-Wye is its UK twin. This small Wye Valley town proudly proclaims to be the world’s first ever book town and is famed for its annual book festival that has attracted the likes of Hillary Clinton, Dua Lipa and Stormzy. With over 30 bookstores, this is a bibliophobes mecca. If you had to go to just one, make it Richard Booth's – an emporium of new and used books spread over three glorious floors.  

14. Machynlleth

This Powys settlement tends to fly under the radar when it comes to roundups of Wales’s best bits. But mark our words, there’s a wealth of cultural innovation happening in Machynlleth. It hosts an annual festival dubbed the comedy world’s best kept secret, where well-known comedians try out their rawest material. And if you’ve got some money to throw around, feast on the 30-course menu at Ynyshir, Wales’s first ever two-Michelin star venue. Don’t miss the modern art museum and the wildlife thriving in the surrounding Dyfir Biosphere.

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