Wales may be a little on the small side but this country certainly knows how to pull out all the stops when it comes to dramatic scenery, award-winning beaches and castles.
If you’re keen to get away from it all this summer, it’s the perfect place to reconnect with nature.
Here, low-impact and eco-friendly holidays are easy thanks to the rise in cycling holidays and epic walking trails in the three national parks.
You can amble around castles to your heart’s content, go dolphin watching while supporting vital marine research or spend a day exploring charming seaside towns and off-grid ecovillages.
From the windy mountains of the north to the picturesque coastal getaways of the south, here are the best unique things to do in Wales this summer.
12 Of The Best Things To Do In Wales
1. Ride the heritage railways
What better way to see the Welsh countryside in all its glory than on the historic Ffestiniog & Welsh Highlands Railways?
At almost 200 years old, the Ffestiniog Railway is the world’s oldest narrow-gauge railway and a must-see on your Wales itinerary.
Passengers can ride the 13 ½- mile journey from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog, climbing 700 feet above sea level into the mountains along the way.
The Welsh Highland Railway is the UK’s longest heritage railway, running from Caernarfon to Porthmadog with highlights including Mount Snowdon and Beddgelert. It’s easily one of the best days out in North Wales.
If you want to see more of these iconic railways, Ffestiniog Travel is hosting a 5-day behind the scenes tour which will take you to sections of the line that’s not normally seen by the average passenger.
2. Go for a cycling holiday
Wheely Wonderful Cycling offers a range of walking and cycling holidays across the UK to suit every level.
For Wales, there are six cycling holidays to choose from, including shorter and longer excursions.
Each route starts from their base at Petchfield Farm near Ludlow and depending on your chosen route, you can expect to see breathtaking views of the Brecon Beacons, Radnorshire Hills and Cader Idris on the Welsh coast.
Two take you on the Lon Las Cymru (Welsh National Cycling Route) which is a signed cycle route through the whole of Wales.
Prices start from about £350 per person and include all accommodation, luggage transported, bikes and equipment.
3. Have a ‘Bikecation’ in Carmarthenshire
For another bucket list cycling holiday in Wales, Carmarthenshire has launched a brand new series of Bikecations.
Choose between two moderately challenging weekenders or a longer pick and mix route to suit your difficulty level.
Whichever one you go for, each one has stops built into the itinerary so you can catch your breath and see the best of Carmarthenshire.
The first Bikecation is a weekend of castles and coastline along the Tywi Valley and Carmarthen Bay Coastal Route.
The second Bikecation is for the more experienced cyclists wanting epic climbs and views to match including the dramatic ascent of Y Mynydd Ddu/Black Mountain.
Bikecation three is a choice of 23 routes to build a week that suits you and your level.
4. Hire a skipper on a narrowboat
Fancy relaxing on the water in Wales this summer?
Beacon Park Boats offer luxury boating holidays in Brecon Beacons National Park.
You can explore stunning canal routes on a 5-star narrowboat that sleeps 2-8 people and allows up to two dogs.
The boat hire makes it easy for beginners to get started but you can also make use of their brand new ‘Hire a Skipper’ service.
The bespoke service can be as hands-on or hands-off as you like, whether it’s guidance through the locks, getting to grips with how everything works or simply helping you find unmissable spots and attractions on your trip.
5. Go dolphin watching in Cardigan Bay
Cardigan Bay is an inlet that carves out the distinctive curved shape of the Welsh coastline.
Joining the Lleyn peninsula in the north with Pembrokeshire in the south, the inlet is just 50 metres deep and home to wide beaches, coves, islands, estuaries and rich marine life.
It’s common to see bottlenose dolphins, harbour porpoise, whales, Atlantic grey seals and plenty of birds throughout the year.
If you want to see the wildlife up close, head to New Quay and join one of the Dolphin Survey Boat Trips.
This ecotourism boat operator supports vital research carried out by the Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre and often has a volunteer researcher onboard.
6. Tour Lammas Eco Village
Lammas Eco Village, based in Glandwr near Crymych in Pembrokeshire is a low-impact, off-grid ecovillage comprising nine households and a community hub.
Visitors can take guided tours of the village and there are opportunities to learn about woodcraft, winemaking, willow basketry and sculpture.
7. Be adventurous with a social enterprise
Fuel your inner adrenaline-junkie and support a good cause with Down to Earth’s adventures on the stunning Gower Peninsula.
Activities include climbing and abseiling on some of the best beaches and cliff tops of the South Gower coast.
You can try the Down to Earth experience which is a full day of fun things to do such as climbing to the top of an oak tree, carving your own walking stick and baking handmade pizza in a wood-fired earth oven.
You can also go coasteering, sea kayaking and rock jumping.
Down to Earth is a social enterprise that supports vulnerable and disadvantaged young people and adults through hands-on sustainable and practical activities.
8. Hike epic trails in three national parks
Wales is home to three stunning national parks – Pembrokeshire, Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia.
Each one has plenty of one-day and multi-day trails that can easily accommodate a walking holiday.
Pembrokeshire’s popular route is the Coast Path, an epic 186-mile stretch of Welsh coastline. Inland, the Beacons Way is a 99-mile walk that takes eight days.
The route is demanding with high uphill ascents but the views make it worth your while.
Head to Snowdonia National Park to climb Snowdon, the tallest peak in Wales. There are six routes to the top and the entire round trip takes between 5-7 hours to complete.
Alternatively, you can also do the Snowdonia Way, a 97-mile long trail through the spectacular mountains of North Wales.
9. Go castle hunting
If you’re looking for things to see in Wales, make it castles. The country has more than 600 of them. That’s more castles per square mile than anywhere in the world!
Each castle has its own character and charm. Some still stand while others are ruins left from times gone by.
Channel Game of Thrones and build yourself an epic castle-themed road trip or cycling holiday with all the best that Wales has to offer en route.
10. Have a seaside day out in Tenby
Tenby is a charming seaside town located in Southwest Wales.
It’s best known for its striking 13th-century town walls, sandy beaches and colourful fisherman’s cottages.
Take a stroll through the streets before stopping at Tenby Harbour. There you can relax on the beach, grab a bite to eat at a neighbouring restaurant or take a boat out to Caldey Island.
You won’t want to miss the award-winning Castle Beach for soft sand and shallow water.
Although it’s fairly small, it’s been named the best beach in the UK. You’re also within easy reach of ice cream. How’s that for one of the best places to visit in Wales?
11. Sleep in a luxury tree tent
Glamping is a growing trend. It invites you to enjoy the best of nature with all the luxury and comfort of a proper bed and a good night’s sleep.
It also allows for unique holiday accommodation that adds a bit of novelty to your weekend break.
One such example is the Red Kite Tree Tents by Chillderness.
Located on a private conservation estate in Powys, near Builth Wells and Newbridge-on-Wye, the Red Kite Tree Tents are slightly alien-looking woodland escapes, suspended among the trees.
There are two tents each with its own private firepit, kitchen area, shower and toilet. The tents sleep two and are fully insulated, have double beds, a wood-burning stove to keep you cosy at night no matter what.
12. Walk the Pembrokeshire Coast Path
The Pembrokeshire Coast Path National Trail hugs the coastline for 186 miles of some of the most breathtaking coastal scenery in Britain.
Lying almost entirely within the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, the trail displays an array of coastal flowers and birdlife, as well as evidence of human activity from Neolithic times.
From St Dogmaels in the north to Amroth in the south, the trail covers almost every kind of maritime landscape from steep limestone cliffs, undulating red sandstone bays, volcanic headlands, beaches, estuaries and flooded glacial valleys – highlighting some of the most beautiful places in Wales.
Completing the coast path in one go takes 10 to 15 days so most visitors walk a section at a time.
The hotel has ten guestrooms, a charming terrace and garden, and a restaurant and bistro using local ingredients.
Wales’ best beaches are just a five minute drive from the hotel, including Manorbier, which is popular with and seals alike; Barafundle Bay Beach, which has won numerous international beach awards; and Freshwater East.