While the characteristic Welsh humility and isolation may have caused the region to escape your notice, Wales is an exceptional destination to visit. The region is often quite remote, escapes the crush of tourists found in other more visited areas in the United Kingdom, and is complete with its own unique culture, traditions, cuisine, and history. Below are four reasons we added Wales to our guided travel schedule.
Encounter Skomer Island’s Rare Wildlife
Wales is a magnificently wild place. The country is both far less developed than its neighbors and less populated, with the flocks of Welsh sheep outnumbering the amount of people that live in the country. Because of this, the Welsh wilderness is far more hospitable for wildlife, the most exciting of which lives off the coast. A visit to the remote Skomer Island is the perfect way to see this wildlife, as a large puffin population calls the island home. A puffin tour of the island includes the opportunity not only to see the quizzical birds, but also arctic terns, dolphins, razorbills, and more rarely a member of one of the few Orca schools that live off the Welsh coast.
Explore Mount Snowdon
Mount Snowdon is the highest peak in Wales, located in the Snowdonia Nature Reserve. Although the humble peak is only a bit over 3,500 feet high, the treeline at this latitude is quite low so the views from Snowdon are dramatic. The summit itself is best accessed by riding a cheerful and historic cog railway. Once at the top of the peak, there are several enjoyable trails to follow, some branching out to the nearby alpine lakes or other summits. More adventurous travelers use this cog rail to access some challenging sport climbing, while the most relaxed option is to visit the lodge at the top for a long and scenic lunch.
Delve into Medieval History
The Welsh countryside is absolutely littered with historic sites of interest with the majority dating back to the medieval period, although the occasional Roman ruin is visible as well. A fantastic pairing of historic sights is St. David’s Bishop Palace and St. David’s Cathedral. While the palace is largely in ruins at this point, the cathedral is still a magnificent sight. It doesn’t take much to imagine the Palace in its former glory either! The cathedral was erected after William the Conqueror designated the sight as a holy location. Following this, the village soon became a sight of pilgrimage and an excellent place for an aspirant monk to both study and worship. Meanwhile the palace was originally just a collection of buildings where followers of the church lived, until Bishop Henry erected a palace to honor the significant nature of the historic site.
Indulge in Unique Seafood Dishes
Welsh seafood is unlike any other cuisine on earth, in part because of two unique dishes. The first is cockles which are quite similar to a clam or mussel. This less common shellfish is gathered by combing the sand at low tide, a practice which is buoyed by the miles of accommodating coastline that runs along Wales. Cockles are eaten in stews, soups, and pies or can be enjoyed on their own as a finger food. An even more unique Welsh invention is laverbread, or bara lawr in Welsh, a dish made from seaweed. The seaweed, despite being called a bread, is most often associated with a traditional Welsh breakfast served on toast or with bacon and cockles. Laverbread is also used in various recipes, including soups, stews, and savory cakes.
Learn more about our Wales: Countryside, Castles, & Coastline trip here.