What is the "must see - must do" list for Wales anytime/Fall? Starting in Cardiff and driving from there. We will end up back in Cardiff. Letting it up to you folks to help craft the list, and I'll need to whittle it down to a 5-7 day itinerary. Thanks in advance
The traditional would include Tintern Abbey (should not be missed), Wye valley and the Northern Castles. An interesting alternative would be to go soth, holiday resorts, some small ruined castles (more manor houses), traditional coal and slate mining villages
I suggest that you craft the list of those things which interest you, and helpers here may have comments which help you whittle it down... I'd start with a guidebook or three, pick those things which interest you, make a list in a sensible order and post it here. We will chip in with plenty ideas, suggestions on trip length and stop duration, and a sense check. We can't write a guidebook for you though...
If you do not already have a guidebook, I recommend The Rough Guide series. (They have guidebooks to places that Rick Steves does not write a full guidebook on.) http://www.roughguides.com/website/shop/products/Wales.aspx You will want to see some of the fantastic castles there; that should be high on your list. The Rough Guide will have profiles of each castle, maps of the area, and suggestions on where to stay & eat. Much more info than we could give you here. Well worth the money.
The other guidebook I would recommend is by Lonely Planet. http://shop.lonelyplanet.com/wales/wales-travel-guide/
I'll be a sport and write the stinking quidebook. Make a clockwise, circular trip starting from Cardiff. Tie it to the castles and a couple of other points and you can't go wrong. You don't have to see all the castles about to be listed, but going to where they are lets you see all the other good stuff. None of the castles on the list suck. That first day in Cardiff, backtrack thirty minutes to Chepstow. That little castle is pretty intact and gives you a really good idea of how a castle is supposed to work. That's going to take about three hours. Go back to Cardiff (which is generally unremarkable) but take a harbor tour and spend some time at the National Museum. Cardiff castle isn't worth a toot, skip it. For the rest, grouped by day, castles in italics, great castles in caps, places to spend the night in bold starting in Cardiff (keep in mind that there are a couple hundred castles in Wales): CAERPHILLY, Kidwelly, Pembroke. Castell Henllys, HARLECH. Castell Henllys is not a castle. It's an Iron Age hill fort. There's around five hundred of the suckers in the country, but Henllys is the best with interpretive archaeologists, etc. CAERNARFON. From here, take either the Ffestiniog OR the Snowdon railway. I like the former more. Most people prefer the latter, but I wouldn't make reservations for that one since it can get weathered out. Beaumaris, CONWY, Betws-y-Coed So far, you've had about seven hours of driving, with all legs but one an hour or less. The exception is the stretch into Harlech which is about two and a half hours.
You can pad the days by messing around on Anglesy for a day, spending, a day walking a bit of the Pembrokshire Coastal Path, or snooping around looking for mehirs (of which there are about a million - - here's the link: www.megalithic.co.uk/) I've walked all but a couple of miles of both sides of the Wye and it's pretty good from that standpoint. It's not so interesting to drive. Tintern is just up the road from Chepstow. You could also spend a full day poking around on everwhat the name of the penninsula is that has Aberdaron on the tip. If you do this, leave tinme for Porthmadog and Pwllheli.
Ed, Thanks for biting the bullet and writing the guide book. Didn't mean to imply that I wanted someone to write a guidebook. I can buy those, in fact I have one. Usually, people will chime in with "Oh in addition to the things you can find in the guide book you need to ..." I guess I needed to explain that. Thanks for the suggestions and the help.
Please forgive for adding the following but you can also add a trip to Bath, Wells and maybe Stonehenge. I LOVED Wells. First saw it on RS video and we were so glad we went there. We went to Tintern Abbey (sp?) because of travel section of Sunday paper, my son does not want me to read it again because of so many places we have visited due to that. Enjoy trip.
Ed, you most definitely ARE a sport. Cheers to you!