There’s often an assumption that you have to leave the country to enjoy unforgettable experiences, but that’s simply not true. Sometimes, we overlook treasures closer to home in favour of venturing to far-flung lands. This year, why not take some time to explore hidden gems closer to home? Wales, a land of history, incredible landscapes, and some of the world’s best-selling artists, is a great place to start. Here are some of the best destinations out there to help you discover wonderful Wales.

The cities

Wales is often famed for its dramatic scenery, but you won’t be disappointed if you’re hoping to combine outdoor and urban adventures. Cardiff, the capital, is a logical place to start. Here, you’ll find an energetic vibe, with loads going on at any time of year. There’s a large student population, and you’ll be spoiled for choice if you’re looking for funky bars, clubs and restaurants. Head down to Mermaid Quay to enjoy some retail therapy or catch the rugby team in action at the Millennium Stadium. Wales’ second largest city, Swansea, is ideally located to discover the beauty of the surrounding area, as well as the hustle and bustle of the city centre. Take a trip to the Dylan Thomas Centre if you’re a literature fan or Plantasia if you’re a nature lover. Swansea Bay is an idyllic location to enjoy an evening walk.

Photo credit: Alessio Bragadini

The beaches

Wales is home to some of the UK’s finest beaches. In the height of summer, you may come across crowds on the main stretches, but for the most part, these golden expanses are tranquil and unspoiled. In the North, the traditional seaside resorts of Llandudno, Rhyl, and Prestatyn provide a perfect base for beach days and fun at the fair. Further south, you’ll struggle to beat the scenery of the Gower Peninsula. The sweeping beaches are framed by rugged dunes, and there are lots of things to do in Gower. You can canter along the sands on horseback with the wind in your hair, hike, cycle or test your aim on the greens. To the west, you’ll find the secluded beaches of Pembrokeshire. Dale Beach, a pebbly paradise, is a great spot to try water sports.

Photo Credit: Heather Cowper

The national parks

No article about Wales would be complete without a mention of the national parks, the most of which being Snowdonia. Mount Snowdon is the highest peak in Wales, and it mounts a challenge for even the most intrepid adventurer. If you conquer the summit, you can also try cycling, fishing, and whitewater kayaking. Further south, you can experience the wild beauty of Brecon Beacons National Park, an idyllic base for an activity weekend.

Photo Credit: alh1

If you’re thinking about doing some travelling this year, don’t rule out staying in the UK and visiting Wales. Whether you’re looking for a weekend away with the girls, a family beach break or a romantic getaway to the middle of nowhere, this small but perfectly formed country is guaranteed to make a big impression on you.