UK & Ireland

Our bucket list: 8 of the most beautiful places in Wales

From gorgeous golden beaches to myth-bearing glacial lakes on mountaintops, here are some unmissable, beautiful places to visit in Wales

Given its relatively small size, Wales certainly packs a visual punch. It’s an incredibly varied country. From its stunning, fully-walkable coastline and its sky-high inland waterfalls to its quaint, pastel-coloured houses and abundance of bountiful trees, Wales is a feast for the eyes.

Whether you’re keen to kick back with a traditional Welsh delicacy in one of the prettiest towns in Wales, take a dip in one of the most beautiful beaches in Wales or even grab some enviable pics for the ‘Gram at the most picturesque places in Wales, you are sure to find something unforgettable. Here are eight of the most beautiful places in Wales for you to fall in love with:

1. Waterfall Country: The region of cascading waters


There’s a part of Mid Wales where epic waterfalls are in abundance. “Waterfall Country,” as it’s known, is found on the southwest edge of Brecon Beacons National Park. Four rivers, namely the Mellte, Hepste, Pyrddin and Nedd-Fechan, weave through gaps in the trees that line hillside gorges before hurtling over rocky edges.

To see numerous falls in one day, you can’t beat the Ystradfellte Four Waterfalls Walk. It’s a five-mile circular walk through lush woodland that takes you to Sgwd Clun-Gwyn, Sgwd Isaf Clun-Gwyn, Sgwd y Pannwr and Sgwd-yr-Eira. The latter waterfall requires a walk down many steep steps, but the sight that awaits you at the bottom is worth it. You can even walk behind the falls if you’re feeling brave!

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2. Abereiddy Beach: Pembrokeshire's Blue Lagoon


The UK’s smallest city, St. Davids, is a place of Christian pilgrimage. But travel a few miles to the nearby Abereiddy Beach to find another borderline Biblical scene: the sparkling turquoise waters of the Blue Lagoon. It’s a dramatic, breached slate quarry that fills with seawater.

Starting from Abereiddy Beach car park, facing the sea, take the right-hand footpath. Follow it around the cliffside and you can’t go wrong. Soon you see the 25-metre deep Blue Lagoon in front of you, its vivid waters greened by the slate buried far below. You can paddle in the lagoon or hire a coasteering instructor to show you the safe places to jump in from (it’s a popular spot with daredevils).

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3. Italy in Wales: Multicoloured, man-made Portmeirion


On the coast of Gwynedd, North Wales, lies an Italianate village that is so unlike anywhere else in the UK. Portmeirion was built between 1925 and 1976 by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, a man who envisioned a naturally beautiful coastal village of tightly-packed buildings that fuse architectural styles, shapes and colours.

Standing in the Mediterranean-style piazza, which sits at the top of a woodland-covered cliff, you can see why the paintbox-like village is regarded as one of the most picturesque places in Wales. Every quirky building that winds along the hillside is worthy of being photographed. The neighbouring ornamental gardens seem straight from a fairytale, while panoramic glimpses of the vast Dwyryd Estuary below leave you questioning which country you’re in.

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4. Heavenly harbourside: Beaches, boutiques and boats in Tenby


The quaint seaside market town of Tenby is one of the prettiest towns in Wales. It can be roughly divided into three areas, namely the beaches, the harbour and the inner town. Each one is beautiful in its own way. For sea and sandcastles, choose from the small but lively Castle Beach, the vast golden sands of North Beach or the spacious, dune-backed South Beach. Bound inside the remains of its medieval stone walls are tiny streets of independent shops, ice cream parlours and pubs.

Tenby harbour has a beach, too, with good opportunities for fishing, people-watching or photographing the pastel-coloured houses dotted along the hill down to it. From there, you can take a boat trip to the nearby islands of Caldey and St. Margarets, or go on a sea life-spotting safari. Seals, porpoises and rare seabirds are often seen on this edge of the Atlantic Ocean.

5. Nature unleashed: Pure beauty on South Stack, Holy Island


South Stack, located on Holy Island, is the most westerly point on Anglesey – an island off the northwest coast of Wales. Being so remote, it’s a place where nature rules supreme. Dramatic, 100-metre tall sea cliffs stretch out into the sea, supporting the thousands of puffins and guillemots that visit the island’s heathland-covered RSPB reserve.

On a clear day, you can see for miles. Take in the glimmering waters of the Llyn Peninsula, seek out Bardsey Island (also known as the ‘Island of 20,000 Saints’) and see if you can spot Ireland’s Wicklow Mountains. One of its most iconic sights is the working lighthouse, whose stark white walls contrast with the wild, dark sea.

As it is on a small island itself, you can only reach it by taking a steep route down the cliffs – approximately 400 steps. Challenging, hairy, but so worth it.

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6. Frozen in time: Llyn Cau lake and Cadair Idris


Below the summit of Cadair Idris, the highest peak in southern Snowdonia, lies a beautiful glacial mountainside lake. Named Llyn Cau, it sits in a crater-like dip overlooked by the mountain peak some 400 metres above. Popular with wild swimmers, photographers and walkers, the lake dazzles as the sun hits the hillside, surrounded by stunning views over Snowdonia National Park.

It is also steeped in mythology. According to Welsh folklore, King Arthur captured a Welsh dragon and set it free in the apparently bottomless lake, where the dragon still lives. It’s a fairly challenging walk to reach the lake, with the option to make a day of it by going on to the summit of Cadair Idris afterwards.

Park at Dôl Idris Car Park, then join the Minffordd path. This path takes you via pretty woodland and alongside the rugged Craig Cau cliff edge to a fork in the path. Head straight on to get to the lake, where you’ll find a circular trail around its perimeter. To extend the walk, return to the fork and take the left-hand path up to the summit.

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7. The lungs of Cardiff: Bute Park gardens


Bute Park sits right in the middle of Wales’ bustling capital city. The park spans both sides of the River Taff, which carves its way through the park’s green expanses, woodland, wildflower meadows and the arboretum.

There’s plenty to explore in its 130 acres, with lots of different routes that you can take to suit your fancy. See huge blooms and bursts of colour along the herbaceous borders; look out for woodpeckers, goldcrests, blackcaps and treecreepers; try to spot an otter, heron or cormorant on the river; follow the Champion Tree Trail around the enormous, rare specimens of the arboretum; relax in one of the cafes or take a river ride in the water taxi.

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8. Craggy coast: Oxwich to Three Cliffs Bay walk, Swansea


Arguably the best walk for taking in the Gower Peninsula coastline, this route from Oxwich to Three Cliffs Bay crosses golden sands, rocky cliffs, undulating dunes and dense woodland – all with plenty of opportunity to be awestruck by the beauty of the area. It’s a route best enjoyed on a clear, sunny day so that you can admire the endless views across the sand and water.

If you choose to walk at high tide, stick to the top of the cliffs. If it’s low tide, you can walk along the beaches most of the way. For a scenic route, start off by walking from Oxwich along the coast to Oxwich Wood. You soon reach Oxwich Point, an area of headland with incredible coastal views.

Then, retrace your steps until you’re back at Oxwich. From there, follow the Wales Coast Path north. Go through Oxwich National Nature Reserve, which has more than 600 species of plants, the vast Oxwich Burrows sand dunes and Tor Bay. Eventually, you reach the unmistakable Three Cliffs Bay.

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