Why not venture into the depths of Wales? Your next adventure could be right on your doorstep, says Katherine Price
Pembrokeshire's coast is home to some of Wales' most beautiful, secluded beaches – ideal for surfers and water sports enthusiasts over the sunny weekend ahead – and coastal walking trails for all levels. Barafundle Bay concludes a fun jaunt over craggy cliffs and wide, open fields overlooking the sea, while Stackpole Quay is home to some of the most visually fascinating cliff faces and natural rock formations, beaten and battered by the rough sea.
For a more secluded, historical ramble, Manorbier offers coastal walks along the backdrop of the ruins of the 12th century Norman Manorbier castle. If you're looking for a proper trek, then Pembrokeshire's section of the new Wales coast path should sate your thirst for nature, wildlife and coastal views. This section alone covers 186 miles of coastline from Poppit Sands to Amroth, and provides a wonderfully secluded path for more experienced walkers. Stop off for an ice-cream in the one large town along the path, Tenby, and take in the sweet little candy-coloured town and one of the most recognisable beaches in Wales for a few hours.
Cardiff is a city often overlooked, but with impressive renovations over the last ten years, it's a capital to be reckoned with. Cardiff City centre is home to some of the only remaining Victorian arcades – hence why it is 'the city of arcades' – so take time to appreciate the history and architecture of these indoor high streets. In Duke Street Arcade you'll find the wonderful Garlands Cafe – stop in for the hot chocolates, freshly made cakes and traditional Welsh dishes.
Cardiff Bay is now a beautiful hotspot for modern architecture, and a beautiful location to watch the sun go down and the bay light up over dinner. Bosphorus is a fantastic Turkish restaurant that is perched over the water on stilts, and commands an excellent view back onto the bay.
Hay-on-Wye is just as buzzing and fascinating even outside of its huge literary festival. The town is known for its second-hand books and, by the sheer number of used book stores, it's easy to see why. Its small town charm works on even the hardest of hearts, and if that isn't enough to sweeten you up, then The Fudge Shop certainly will be, with its hundreds of different flavours on offer (we recommend the sweeter-than-sweet chocolate fudge!). Abergavenny market is also renowned for its fabulous local produce, hidden gems and cutesy little tea shops.
Of course there is Snowdon, as well as its many brothers and sisters, but Snowdonia offers so much more than its rugged mountainous landscape – lakes, forests, and tiny little villages all make up Wales' biggest national park. The views from some of the mountains here can stretch as far as the tips of Ireland on a very good day and historical landmarks abound throughout the park. Remnants of a time long gone still remain: the National Slate Museum, the birthplace of Lloyd George and St Cadfan's Stone, inscribed with the earliest known example of written Welsh.
Snowdon and some of its higher surrounding peaks are particularly popular; skip the crowds and instead choose one of the spectacular walks along Snowdonia's lower peaks:Y Garn, Cadair Idris, Moelwyn Mawr or Elidir Fawr. Avoid the hordes taking the train and instead enjoy the peace and solitude and views of the stunning landscape around you uninterrupted. Keep an eye out for rare wildlife – otters, polecats, red kites and Merlins have all been spotted in the park, so keep your binoculars out, and the Snowdon lily can also be spotted in the northern part of the park.
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