When people think of the UK, Wales is often left underappreciated. As people are distracted by the epic scenery of Scotland, the wild appeal of Ireland and the popular culture of England, Wales is often not given priority. But this country has deep, Celtic roots tightly bound and tied up with the land, rivaling any scenery, wildness or culture of the countries around it. The coast of Wales is particularly impressive – dramatically beautiful yet often friendly, local and charming. Read ahead to find out where to go and why to visit this unique coastline.
Towns along the coast of Wales
If you are looking for city breaks in Wales, traveling the coast is the right path to take. The majority of the population outlines Wales. Any urban areas are close to the sea while the middle of the country reveals expansive countryside and smaller scattered villages.
Looking for a good place to start? Cardiff is the capital of Wales – the biggest and most influential Welsh city. From here, you can continue traveling westwards, and do city hops around the coast. Cardiff has much to offer – a castle with Roman ruins, a shopping hub, and buzzing nightlife. But to stick to the coast, visit Cardiff Bay. Home to some beautiful seaside views, it is filled with cafes and restaurants and makes a great relaxed day out.
Travel about 40 miles along to get the coastal city of Swansea. The real appeal of this place is its surrounding features: a long seafront pathway, the seaside area of Mumbles and its proximity to the Gower peninsula. Move away from the city to the outskirts for more charming parts – popular with tourists absorbing the authentic Welsh atmosphere. The area of Mumbles has a cute local high street, and various cafes and restaurants look out over the water. Be sure to spend some time here, watch it light up in the evening and see the waves turn dark and mysterious.
In mid-Wales, you will come across Aberystwyth. An old market town has developed into a beautiful coastal getaway. Filled with students, vibrancy and an impressive amount of pubs, Aberystwyth is more than your typical, quiet seaside town. Its shoreline location provides beautiful surrounding scenery. A balance of energy and peace, the town is cute yet full of hidden nooks to be explored.
Not far from Swansea Bay, the Gower peninsula hosts a range of impressive beaches worth a visit. This area of coastline defines itself by its dramatic combination of green moorland cliffs flowing down into golden sandy beaches. It is a calm, slow and rustic place. You can only reach the area by a single road, reserved for campers, hikers, and general outdoor enthusiasts. You don’t need entertainment here – the natural beauty is captivating enough. But, the Gower does entice surfers, hang gliders and kayakers if you are looking for an outdoors adventure. Watch for signs to Rhossili, Three Cliffs Bay, and Oxwich – and be sure to follow them.
Because it has a cathedral, St David’s is the smallest city in the UK. The home of Wales’ patron saint, it’s as classic Wales as you can get. From here, you can take a boat and explore, not only a beach but an entire island. Ramsay Island is home to seals and puffins. You can take guided walks and boat tours to see them and share the beauty of their habitat. A genuinely lovely place, this tiny, outcropped island is a hidden treasure of the Welsh coast.
Travel along to the Northern tip of Wales to experience the beaches of Anglesey. All along this area, you will stumble upon beach after beach offering beautiful natural scenery. Wooden pathways guide you to the public beaches, but you can easily find individual places to watch the sunset on a still evening. The waves can be rough and dramatic or calm and tranquil. Indeed the character of this place is undefinable – wild and raw. Not bursting with tourists, these beaches are for those with a deep appreciation of the rugged coast of Wales.
The Wales Coast Path provides the unique opportunity to walk continually around the entire country. If you want the pure, natural and authentic feel for Wales, this is the route to take. You do not have to travel the whole way. But wherever you find yourself along the coast, be sure to journey a while on this extraordinary path. Although this walk is accessible to anyone, it offers an individual experience. You have the opportunity to find your secluded beaches and stand independently upon impressive headlands. But rather than a challenging hiking route, it is the perfect way to enjoy casually, the sea-views, and rugged coastline Wales has to offer.
Along the coast of Wales, you will find various, hotels, hostels and campsites offering accommodation. You can find fantastic hotels with sea rooms and terraced restaurants providing evening views over the water. Or, if you’re on a budget, campsites line the coastline, allowing you to set up a tent right in the center of the natural beauty. Traveling as a backpacker? YHA hostels provide dorm beds, bunkhouses and camping barns in which to stay. You can also find some fun and quirky Air B&Bs to stay at for low prices: converted VW vans and hobbit-hole houses. Either way, in the morning, you wake up to the sound of the waves and the sight of the coastline extending into the distance – urging you to follow it.
Some of Wales’ renowned National Parks are along its coast. Pembrokeshire Coast National Park lies in the southwest. Just walking is the best way to embrace this stunning area of the country. Its spectacular natural beauty is easy to find – prominent and extensive. You can stay by the sea, where the rocky cliff faces fall into rough waves. Or, journey further inland and navigate the open countryside. Pembrokeshire has a range of wildlife and invests much time and money into protecting the natural habitat of rare and beautiful species. You can take boat trips to see the dolphins that live here, as well as spotting seals and wild birds.
Further north is Snowdonia National Park – a popular holiday place for people wanting to explore the outdoors. There are various adventure camps offering opportunities to cycle, swim, climb, fish or enjoy water sports like kayaking, rafting, and sailing. Indeed, the possibilities of Snowdonia are endless. Historical sites and popular attractions are available for those who want a break from hiking. And various old-fashioned railways offer alternative and entertaining transport. These built up areas provide structured activities, but there are also many remote locations for independent travelers. Wales hosts a wild landscape – it is always necessary to check the safety advice before traveling Snowdonia alone.
Why visit the coast of Wales?
Although a small country, the potential of Wales is immense. You can only see and know for yourself the beauty that it holds. Once you do, the country and its coastline will continue to draw you back again and again. Planning a trip to Europe? You need to experience this place. Incorporate it into your plans and break up the typical, well-trodden European route. Visit the coast of Wales and return with stories of untamed, rugged beauty in a spectacular and stunning country.