Wales - The Country of Castles
Wales is characterised by spectacular landscapes and an abundance of castles. You feel the Celtic roots the Welsh are so proud of and see modern Wales, which is full of lively places such as the capital of Cardiff.
Geography - From Cardiff to Bangor
Wales is a region in the west of the United Kingdom, which borders on England in the east as well as the on the Irish Sea in the north, south and west. It has an area of about 20,779 km², is divided into 22 council areas and has about 2.9 million inhabitants. Before 1972, Wales had 13 counties - a division which is accepted and widespread to the present day. Geographically speaking, Wales consists of North Wales, Central Wales, West Wales and South Wales. The capital of Cardiff is located in the south at the Welsh coast. Other cities which are of interest for tourists are Swansea, Wrexham, Hay-on-Wye, Newport and Bangor. Due to the Gulf Stream, the climate is mild to temperate with maritime influences. Wales is one of the most humid countries in the world and has a much higher precipitation probability than England.
Nature - Whale watching at Wales' west coast
Wales' nature is incredibly diverse and breathtakingly beautiful. The country fascinates with a wonderful coastal landscape consisting of dramatic steep cliffs and long, wide beaches. The heartland offers the Cambrian Mountains, vast meadows, numerous marshes and smooth hilly landscapes. Lovers of nature will enjoy the region's three national parks: the Pembrokeshire National Park in the south-west, the Brecon Beacons National Park in the south-east and the Snowdonia National Park in the north-east. The latter accommodates Snowdon, which is Wales' highest peak with a height of 1,085 metres. Lovers of marine animals will love Wales because they find the greatest dolphin school in the whole of the UK in New Quay in Cardigan Bay. They can watch the intelligent animals here every day between June and October. Common bottlenose dolphins, porpoises, common minke whales, fin whales, basking sharks, leatherback sea turtles and grey seals live here. You can see whales and dolphins at Wales' west coast at any time of the year. You can watch the animals from the harbour walls in New Quay but the perfect stating point for watching tours and to learn about the animals (for free) is the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre. In addition, you see many bird species such as sulids, Atlantic puffins, cormorants and black-legged kittiwakes along the coast. The highland is home to birds of prey like the merlin, hen harrier and red kite.
Culture - Prehistoric buildings, medieval castles and Europe's youngest capital
Due to a long and exciting history, Wales offers numerous historical sights, myths and legends. The Celts and Romans left their mark on the region. There are 641 castles, one more fascinating than the other. Caernarfon Castle, Caerphilly Castle, Conwy Castle, Castell-y-Bere, Powis Castle and Raglan Castle are particularly worth seeing. In addition, many age-old buildings like the Neolithic Pentre Ifan, the Iron Age fort of Tre'r Ceyri, the Roman amphitheatre in Caerleon and fantastic sacred buildings decorate Wales' cultural landscape. Holidaymakers who do not want to travel back in time that far should visit the lively city of Cardiff, which is considered to be Europe's youngest capital. It impresses with its beautiful city centre, which accommodates Cardiff Castle the Wales Millennium Centre, the National Assembly and the Norwegian Church in Cardiff Bay as well as with the National Museum Cardiff, which does not only hold archaeological, geological and natural-historical treasures but also an impressive art collection. Near the border of England, you find a small town called "Hay-on-Wye". Due to its about 40 book shops, it is a mecca for literature enthusiasts. Another highlight is Holy Island with the lighthouse of South Stack.
Experience - Celtic roots as the source of regional identity
Wales is one of six Celtic nations and very proud of this heritage. The Welsh are generally proud of their identity and do not like it if you refer to them as English. Nevertheless, the Welsh are a very friendly nation and welcome travellers with a "croeso", which is "Welcome" in Welsh. Holidaymakers quickly notice the bilingualism of the Welsh because most signs are in English and Welsh (Cymraeg) as are the announcements at the stations. The Welsh cuisine hardly differs from the English one. Most kinds of accommodation serve the Full English Breakfast, which is so substantial that you only need a sandwich for lunch. In the vening, you can have another warm meal. A popular dish is roast lamb with mint sauce in Wales and a hearty soup called "cawl mamgu". Common beverages are beer and tea. The nightlife in Wales - as in England- mainly takes place in the pubs, which you see all over the place. Travellers easily get to know the locals here.
Activities -Hiking on the Wales Coast Path
Travellers who come to Wales wan to enjoy the region's spectacular landscapes and explore its countless castles. You can best do this on foot, by bike or on a horse. The Wales Coast Path, which is 1,400 kilometres long, is one of the most popular hiking trails and made Wales the first country in which you can walk along the whole coast in 2012. The path runs along breathtaking landscapes and offers lovers of nature an impressive and memorable experience. Another place which is popular with hikers and walkers is Nash Point in the south of Wales. Travellers who are looking for a rush of adrenaline should climb Snowdon in the Snowdonia National Park. There are different routes with varying levels of difficulty. Once you have reached the summit, you are overwhelmed by the view and you will quickly forget the exhausting ascent. The national park offers a number of activities, including caving, canoeing, rafting and climbing in high rope courses. In addition, travellers should cross the impressive Pembrokeshire National Park or the Brecon Beacons National Park and take in the region's natural beauty. Holidaymakers who want to enjoy sports in a more passive way should watch a rugby match, Wales' national sport, during your stay, for example in the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
You reach Wales in different ways – by plane, car, ship or train. Arriving at the airport in Cardiff, you can take a rental car or train to reach your desired destination. Alternatively, you can fly to London and go to Wales by car. It only takes a few hours and even less time by train. Thanks to the Channel Tunnel, you can also arrive by car from the European mainland. Cardiff and several other cities have harbours, from which you can travel to Ireland or the European mainland.
A trip to Wales is a true adventure, a journey through time following the traces of the Celts and Romans in the middle of breathtaking natural landscapes. Wherever you look, you see historical sights, especially castles. Besides the three spectacular national parks, the coasts are a feast for the eyes.