I’m moving to Wales everyone. EEEK. In some ways it is an overwhelmingly terrifying reality, and yet I am so excited that I don’t care about how scary it is. Right now I am trying to focus on what is ahead, rather than all the wonderful things I am leaving behind. I don’t mean to sound cruel, but one had to deal with FOMO somehow.
Today I am presenting my Welsh bucket list, or 20 places I have to explore while in Wales. If this list doesn’t convince you to come visit me, I don’t know what will : (
1. Ironworks/Big Pit tour and museum.
This free-to-visit old mine site showcases the awe-inspiring remains of the Welsh coal industry. You can meander around blast furnaces or watch history come to life with the on-sight interpretations and reconstructions.
2. Hay-On-Wye – the city of books
There may not be many residents of the tiny village of Hay, but they certainly have their fair share of bookstores. Often called the city of books, Hay is filled from top to bottom with every kind of bookstore imaginable, including the largest second-hand bookstore in the world. Many old buildings, from the fire station to the local castle, have been converted into bookstores as well. It is the heaven of bibliophiles and also the location of an annual literary festival that president Bill Clinton dubbed “the Woodstock of the mind”.
Snowdonia is a national park in the North of wales (the 3rd national park to be established in the whole united kingdom). I could try to describe it to you, but any attempt would be futile. Do yourself a favor and look it up on google images.
4. National Coast Line Trail
Wales is the first country to provide walking paths for its entire coastline. The national coastline trail covers a whopping 870 miles of stunning natural landscape weaving past towns, historical landmarks, nature preserves, and of course, fantastic beaches.
Walking into the village of Portmeirion is like walking onto a picture perfect movie set. Actually it was used as the set for the 1960s TV show “The Prisoners”. The entire village was designed and built in the early to mid 20th century by a man who wanted to replicate a perfect Italian village. And boy did he deliver.
6. The Clink
The Clink has consistently been voted as a top fine dining restaurants in Wales. But what makes it truly special was that it was set up to provide training opportunities for prisoners, which means that all the servers are in fact convicts who want to be trained to start a new life. Because it is technically a prison, you’ll have to eat everything with plastic cutlery, which means they don’t serve much steak, but I’ve heard that there specially crafted selection is delicious nevertheless.
7. Indoor Market (Cardiff)
The Cardiff Indoor Market is a festive farmer’s market with all the usual flowers and food and such located within two stories of a gorgeous victorian building in the city center. There has been a farmer’s market operating in that same location since the 18th century.
8. Welsh Chorus
The Welsh are famous for the poetry and music that have sustained them throughout their tumultuous history. Chorus music is so closely associated with their national identity, that Wales is often referred to as “the land of song”. Hayley Mill’s nervous solo in Tiger Bay was cute, but sometime while I am there I want to see the real thing.
9. Cardiff Castle
Sitting proudly in the center of Cardiff are the ruins of a grand castle. The imposing stone walls guard nearly 2,000 years of Welsh history as the grounds have served to host Roman forts, A Norman castle, a WWII bomb shelter and much more.
10. Tintern Abbey
This abbey built in the 12th century has become one of the most picturesque ruins in the entire world. The ruins are so extraordinary that they have inspired works of art by the likes of William Wordsworth, Alfred Lord Tennyson, J.M.W. Turner and other geniuses.
11. Lots more castles…
Wales has more castles per a capita than any other country in the world. Seriously guys, in Wales, castling is a verb.
12. Cardiff Bay 10k Trail
I love hiking and jogging and am so glad that Cardiff has so many public parks and trails running through it. I can’t wait to explore them all.
13. St. Fagans Living History Museum
St. Fagans is an open-air history museum that showcases Welsh history and culture in a vivid way. In 2012 it was named the favorite attraction in all of the United Kingdom by Which? magazine. And the best part is that, like all of the museums in Wales, admission is completely free. .
What better way to explore the gorgeous Welsh coast then by swimming, jumping, and rock climbing through it all. Basically, coasteering means exploring the coast whatever the cost. Count me in.
15. Zip World
And since we are on the subject of thrilling adventures, Wales is home to Zip World a park that boasts to having the longest zip line in the Northern hemisphere and fastest zip line in the world. If your need for adrenaline isn’t quenched, they also host Europe’s only four-person zip line and the world’s longest fully underground zip line.
16. Gower Peninsula
The area around Gower is home to remarkably unspoiled beaches.
17. St. David’s Cathedral
Named after Wales’ patron saint, St. David’s cathedral is one of the most iconic in all of the United Kingdom. Since the founding of the monastic community in 539AD, it has been a witness of an unbelievable amount of history from Viking raids to William the Conquerer stopping by to pray in 1081AD. Stop me before I faint.
18. Taff Trail
Well whadya know, yet another amazing hiking trail. The Taff trail was built in the 18th and 19th centuries to transport coal from small mining villages to Cardiff bay. Now it is a 55-mile trail that runs alongside a river and is paved well enough to make for a comfortable bike ride.
19. Even more castles
With over 400 castles scattered across the gorgeous countryside, I’m pretty sure I’ll have plenty to explore.
20. Learn to cook Welsh food
Like welsh cakes and… more welsh cakes.
And there you have it. Are you gonna come visit me or what?