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Planning 1st Trip to Wales

I am in the early planning stages of my first trip to Wales. Thinking of starting in the south, winding my way north, then ending in Liverpool, England. Any must see places?? Castles? Museums?? Favorite hotels, Bed and Breakfasts, or Farmstays? Any and all advice is most welcome- also wondering if you fly into Heathrow and train in or fly directly into Wales??

Posted by
1062 posts

Demi: Are you driving or going by train? We drove, but we were couple and we preferred the flexibility and access to such places as Farm stays (lots of Sheep). The Welsh Castles are Fabulous authentic medieval, many built by King Edward. You can get a CAWD Pass for all these Castles. The National Trust UK has an Overseas Visitor Touring pass for 7 days for 38 pounds that covers 300 sites in England and Wales. I think the easiest way would be to take the train North from London to Chester, take a day trip to Liverpool, take train from Chester to Conwy, Take Bus to Beaumaris, take Train to Caernarfon, see Harlech, etc. and work way South and East to Heathrow. Bon Voyage

Posted by
109 posts

When we fly into England we take the less expensive option to Paddington station and the train down to Cardiff. We get our tickets three months ahead to safe. It is only about 2.5 hours to Cardiff. Spend the night in Cardiff, rent car at the Cardiff airport.

We enjoyed St Davids, Walking the coast path and visiting small towns that we researched in advance. Lots of info on line....if you have a car the country is wide open to you.
We particularly liked visiting neolithic sites and castles. We used Conwy as a base for a couple of days and went to Anglsey and took a walk around South Stack Lighthouse. We are photographers so spent lots of time on photos. Saw puffins at South Stack.
We visited historic Llangelynin church, down near Llangollen we visited the impressive Llangor old parish church and the Rhug Chapel....
We drove through and around Snowden but the weather wasn't cooperative for a walk so it gives an excuse to go bak.
Castles...everywhere. Just google welsh castles. One of the finest in the north is Conwy.
Easy to fly open jaw home from Manchester...nice little airport with good rail from Liverpool.

Have fun.

Posted by
363 posts

There are only a handlful of transatlantic flights direct into awales (Cardiff) which tend to be our holiday routes but there are plenty which have connections in Amsterdam I believe. That said it's 1.40 byntrain from Reading (you can get to this by bus fromHeathrow) or 2 hours from London Paddington. Cardiff Castle is worth a visit and Castell Coch on the outskirts of the City. There's a great collection of impressionist Art in the museum (one of Europe's best kept secrets!). The Museum of Welsh life at St Fagans is great. If you have any interest in coins you can visit the Royal Mint. You can go down into a former Coal Mine at Big Pit.
The pass referred to above is CADW (it's Welsh for keep!)
Tenby is pretty, Castle Carreg Ceinen is lovely, There are deserted beach coves in Pembrokeshire. Explore the book shops,in Hay on Wye, canoe along the River Wye, walk to a waterfall in the Neath Valley, hike in the B

Posted by
1043 posts

If you are ending in Liverpool, I'd suggest flying into Manchester. There's a train that goes directly to Liverpool Lime St Station from the Manchester airport; and you can rent a car at Lime St. Station as well. This would allow you to return the car when you get back to Liverpool, since you don't need a car for your time in Liverpool. Of course this would be a loop once in Wales, rather than a south-to-north.

We rented a car at Lime St. Station a few years ago; the only thing to know is that the depot is a bit hard to find; the depot was in the parking garage.

Posted by
2618 posts

The website for the CADW pass is: cadw.gov.wales. From that site you can see a list, a map of all CADW sites, and purchase passes.
My wife and I are heading over there soon (flying into LHR and driving) and will simply become a member for a year. As seniors, that is cheaper (£45 per couple) than the 3 or 7 day passes. We’re starting in the south by Tintern, then going around the country counter clockwise; Tintern, Tenby, St. Davids, Aberystwyth, Caernarfon, Denbigh, then back into England. From each town we have smaller sights to visit in those areas. A favorite B&B we enjoyed on a previous trip, and are staying at again, is Victoria House in Caernarfon.

Posted by
2289 posts

St. Fagan's Museum of Welsh Life near Cardiff is a must-see.

Posted by
326 posts

Many thanks to all who replied!! Appreciate all the great advice!

plan on renting a car while there

Posted by
5 posts

I, as well, am planning our first trip to Wales for early July 2020. Our daughter just moved to London, so this will be part of our trip to see her. Very much appreciate all the advise found here and would love to hear from Demi, when she returns!

Posted by
36 posts

Just did my own trip and some of my favorite places included Conwy castle, Porthdinllaen, Llangollen Canal, Hay on Wye, Cardiff (and the Cardiff castle/museum is great because there is SO MUCH varied history in the museum). My only wish is that I had had more time for the coastal areas like Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire to explore more small villages - I drove thru and stopped a bit but didn't get the chance to explore as thoroughly as I would have liked. I loved my hotel in Conwy - Erskine Arms, and Hotel Indigo in Cardiff was such an affordable option right in the middle of everything. I flew into Heathrow and took the virgin train from Euston to Chester w/ a transfer to the Wales trainline to Llandudno Junction, then had to cab it over to Conwy though if I didn't have heavy luggage it would have been walkable - there was a bus I was too impatient to wait for.

Posted by
3 posts

What time of year are you planning on visiting Wales?

You could fly to LHR and get the train or coach to Cardiff. You might want to hire a car to get around at your own pace.

Get yourself to the Brecon Beacons (voted Best Destination in the National Tourism Awards) and visit Crickhowell (voted the UK's Best High Street). Stay at The Glanusk Estate in Crickhowell which is one of the largest privately owned Estates in Wales with the second largest private collection of Oaks in the UK including the Royal Oak Collection (trees have been planted by the Royal Family since the 1800s) and visit their gardens. Llanthony Priory, Hay on Wye (town of books and venue of the Hay Festival in May/June, Tretower Court, Talgarth Mill and and and. Lots of hidden places to eat and drink. Crickhowell has a Literary Festival and a Children's Festival. There are numerous events going on throughout the year.

Merthyr Tydfil is fascinating with Cyfartha Castle, a steam railway, Donny Osmond has visited.

A trip to West Wales is also worthwhile with beautiful beaches and scenery, and Anglesey of course.

Hope you have a lovely time, Wales is a very special place. There is so much to say!