Road Tripping in Wales!
Being very honest, apart from Cardiff, I had barely heard anything about Wales nor had I seen any images of it on Social Media. Now I really wonder why? Since this year I had no option but to either stay in England and Scotland or explore a bit of Wales too, I finally decided to do the latter to tick off another country. I wasn't keen on going there since my heart always resides in other European countries (brutal confession), but oh boy! It definitely took me by surprise!
So here I am going to list down some of the things you just CANNOT miss out on in Wales! As well as some tips.
The cheapest way to get to Cardiff is definitely by a bus, which costs around £12 return ticket. They depart from Victoria Coach station in London and arrive at Cardiff Central station taking around 3.5 hrs. Trains take around 2 hrs and cost 85 However, best/most affordable way to get travel across Wales would be to rent a car. We rented a car from London for £250 for 6 days and made our way to Cardiff where we were staying for two nights. Journey from London to Cardiff is approximately 3-3.5 hours.
Buses from London to Conwy takes around 9 hours and cost £33
The language spoken here is Welsh, but almost everyone speaks in English so we had no issues. Currency remains GBP so yay!
Here’s what my itinerary looked like:
Cardiff Town Centre
Pembrokeshire National Park
Conwy Town Centre/Conwy Castle
Hike up to Mt Snowdon!
Now let me tell you some of the places you shouldn't miss out on, in Wales.
In Cardiff we were staying at Park Plaza Cardiff, which was located at an extremely convenient area, right in the town centre with just 0.2 kms from Cardiff Castle. So you can literally see the castle walls from your hotel. If you want absolute convenience I will highly recommend this hotel. It is well equipped with a spa, pool and gym too! Not to forget the scrumptious breakfast spread! From here, Castell Coch is around 20-30 mins drive. We decided to visit it before our arrival in Cardiff so it was one thing off the list! Check out the hotel photos below.
Castell Coch: also known as the Red Castle, is beautiful 19th century gothic revival castle on the outskirts of Cardiff. The first castle built here was actually for the protection of the city of Cardiff! It is located in the middle of lush green forests which definitely adds to the beauty and you can find some gorgeous drone shots of the castle on google! You can visit it by paying £7 but theres also a tea room there and you're free to visit it (thats exactly what I did lollll) .The interior is stunning as well but we still thought £7 was a steep price for what it offers. Parking is free here.
Is definitely a must visit while you're in Cardiff. It is a medieval castle and Victorian Gothic revival mansion located in the city centre of Cardiff, Wales. The original motte and bailey castle was built in the late 11th century by Norman invaders on top of a 3rd-century Roman fort. Tickets to the castle cost £13.50 which also includes the beautiful castle apartments. However, if you want the Bute’s Family house tour, which also includes the magnificent Arab room, you can upgrade your ticket by £3.75.
The next day we went on to visit Tenby, a beautiful walled coastal town famous for its north beach just 1hr 50 mins drive from Cardiff. The vibrant colourful shops lined up on the beach were stunning. This was by far the most crowded place I had visited in Wales, but it wasn't anything bothersome. You can easily spend 2-3 hrs in towns. Go for dip in the sea, soak up the sun, stroll around the colour little town, look at the souvenir shops, indulge in a gelato or just grab a scrumptious seafood lunch. Not to forget plenty of photo opportunities for all us social media enthusiasts! Funniest part was, this wasn't even on my places to visit list, we just decided to stop by while on our way to Pembroke! It was totally worth it! The parking cost 50 p per hour, and the postal code is SA70 8AP. If you are planning on taking a bus, they depart from Cardiff Coach Station and reach Tenby in 3hr 40 mins. Return trip costs £19. We spent a total of 2 hours here, which I thought was quite less, and after having an ice cream and a quick lunch we hurried onwards to Pembroke at around 1 pm.
Pembrokeshire National Park:
After our quick tour of Tenby we made our way to Pembrokeshire National Park, which is actually one of the three national parks of Wales. This was the place I had zero knowledge of, yet it was in my list. I had no clue where to go here since its a huge area! I came here looking for coastal views. There are plenty of coastal walks here ranging from 1hr onwards. We decided to park our car at St David’s, which also happens to be the smallest city of UK! Choosing St David’s was an absolute coincidence since that’s the only public car park postal code I could end up finding right then and there (yep, researching is always beneficial…).
So just in case you do not wander off in Pembroke without any knowledge about what to do, here are some of the things you can do in Pembrokeshire:
Visit the magnificent Pembroke Castle (tickets cost £6)
Make a visit to the beautiful Skomer Island to see the Puffins! However, entry to the island is limited to 250 people/day so you might want to book in advance. Boat fare £12, Island Fee £11. It was an absolute bummer that I had to miss out on it, but hopefully you’ll be able to make it!
The Green Bridge of Wales:
This is what I wanted to visit Pembrokeshire for! However, Stack Rocks and the Green Bridge of Wales, lie within the Castlemartin army tank range and the roads aren't accessible at certain time of the day. Though it is usually open to visitors the access road from Merrion can be closed at any time for firing practice.
Pembroke Visitor Centre – 01437 776499 or Castlemartin Range – 01646 662367
Do one of their coastal walks which is what the national park is actually famous for! You can check their official link and choose the path which suits you best.
There are daily buses departing from Cardiff Coach Station to Pembroke range between £15 to £19 depending upon the timings, and the duration is around 3 hrs.
We got back to Cardiff after about a 4 hour drive since we stopped at another village in between. Grabbed a fulfilling good old McDonalds meal at the town centre and slept peacefully, all pumped up for the next day. We had planned on leaving Cardiff at about 9 am so that we got to Portmeirion at a good time. Sadly, we decided to shop for our shoes and get some groceries before heading to Snowdon, hence got a bit carried away…
This was truly a hidden gem of Wales! A cute little man made Italian village snuggled up close to Snowdonia. I am always up for anything and everything colourful and was SO glad when I found out about Portmeirion. If you easily fall in love with colourful European villages you're going to love it for sure! The village was built by a Welsh architect from 1925-1973 and has some really interesting history to it. The famous classic Tv series, The Prisoner (1963), used Portmeirion as a backdrop, and every year fans of this TV series hold an annual festival too! You can also stay at two of their extravagant hotels or visit their spa and award winning restaurants. If you're not interested in splurging, just stroll around their historical cottages, exotic gardens, iconic quirky architecture, souvenir and pottery shops, or indulge in some yummy gelato from the Italian ice cream parlour! And did I mention it is an Instagrammer’s dream land! All the more reason to go ahead. They also have a cute little train which takes you around their gardens for free! Tickets cost £11 per person.
If you're going via public transport you can check out the link below for more information regarding railways to Portmeirion.
Other places you might want to visit: Gower Peninsula and Three Cliffs Bay. Not too far from the city of Swansea is the stunning coastline and area around the Gower Peninsular, Once here, make sure to spend lots of time exploring the beautiful and totally vast sandy beaches. If you are really fond of seaside, you're going to love it here.
We spent a total of 2-3 hours at Portmeirion and then made our way to Conwy where we had booked a cozy little Air bnb for ourselves. Conwy was 1 hour away from the village and the same distance from Mount Snowdon.
We got to Conwy at around 8 pm, dumped our luggage and headed straight to the town centre for dinner! Conwy itself is a beautiful little town and is famous for its Conwy Castle. It has good access for getting to Llandudno and Snowdonia so a great place to stay at. It’s a small medieval, market town with plenty of pubs, restaurants, shops and a quayside. Best part is, it is totally free to walk up its castle town walls which are sprawled across its town centre. Here’s a tip, do witness the sunset from up there! Absolutely divine! Also, did you know that Conwy is famous for the smallest house of Britain? Anyway, my trip to Conwy was short-lived as we had to get ourselves ready for our next adventure at 4 am in the morning: Mount Snowdon!
Snowdonia National Park:
If you're in Wales, you've got to visit Wales largest national park full of diverse landscapes and defiantly a treat for your mind, body and soul! Cannot stress upon the fact that it is definitely a must see while you're there. It attracts millions of visitors around the year for different outdoor activities as well as the mesmerising lakes, waterfalls, wildlife, mountains, cute little villages such as Betws y Coed. For this I am planning to dedicate an entire blogpost to! But what I had planned was a hike up Mount Snowdon. Since I had just one whole day there, in which we took around 7 hrs going up and down the mountain (yes it takes time!) I could barely squeeze in other activities. Swallow falls was also on my list but we obviously didn't make it there because it also started raining!
Snowdonia is around 3hrs away from Cardiff by road and 4.5 hours from London. There are plenty of trains and buses which run in between Cardiff/London and Llandudno or Betws y Coed (Snowdonia) You can check the schedules below:
Other activities you can do in Snowdonia:
Zip lining/Trampoline Park at Blaenau Ffestiniog’s slate mine
Visit the Caernarfon Castle/Harlech Castle
Caider Idris Crater
Go Mountain Biking at Coed-y-Brenin forest
Canolfan Tryweryn, White Water Rafting
Visit Betws y Coed and other nearby villages
Visit the lakes, Bala Lake, Lake Cwellyn
Walk along one of the circular routes: Cwm Idwal walk
Hope you found this blog helpful! Let me know in the comments below if you got to visit any of these places!