Working out what’s unique about Wales isn’t that hard if you’ve been. England’s a beautiful place, filled with rolling hills, and patchwork fields, incredible forests and sightly rivers – but Wales takes after our shared northern cousin, Scotland, in its uber-epic scenery and crisp fresh air. Much like England, Wales’ south is far more densely occupied, and its north much more sparse, leaving vast swathes of natural land bare and ready to explore. This doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do, however, there’s more than enough to experience if you know where to look:
There's a misconception that going out to rural areas or isolated towns means bad food. The Welsh didn't get the memo. Head to Ynyshir, in Machynlleth, Powys and you'll find Michelin starred food. Same as SY23, in Aberystwyth, Sosban & The Old Butchers, at Menai Bridge. You'll also find Bib Gourmand winners and Green Star winners, as well as La Liste winners. Ask a Welsh person, and you'll get the same answer you'll have always got. They take their food very seriously. Whether it's the sourcing, the rearing, the farming, or the cheffing. Even their bars and pubs are incredible, with new distilleries, breweries opening up regularly -- and coffee shops offering high-calibre barista-standard coffee popping up where you least expect them.
Wales is pretty small. It’s actually only around 8,000 square miles, which means you could fit around 20 Waleses into the state of California. And yet, Wales has a whopping 188 mountains, including the behemoth, Snowdon. Whilst you’re more than welcome to climb these seemingly never-ending peaks, it even means that when you’re down safely at sea-level, the backdrops to towns and villages, and epic road journeys are littered with these incredible features. There’s the Snowdonian Mountain Range, the Cambrians, in the north, but the dizzying heights of these mountains aren’t the be all and end all of Welsh beauty. In Wales, the lows are as beautiful as the highs. There are the sweeping vistas of the Clwydian Range, Wales’ youngest AONB and if you’re looking for vast coastal views – the stretch of colourful houses that litter the side of The Swellies on the Menai Strait, or the view of Anglesey from where Wales ends at Llandudno and the Irish Sea.
Because of the sheer size of its green spaces, Wales, and specifically north Wales -- due to its comparatively sparse population - is packed to the brim with different companies offering a huge range of activities. Head to Snowdonia to mountain bike, either at Machellynth for it's downhill ranges, or at Coed y Brenin, the UK's first purpose-built mountain biking centre. If you're looking to travel just a touch faster, at say 100mph, you could pop over to Penrhyn Quarry to whizz down a zipline at phenomenal speed. It's Europe's longest and fastest zip line, and if that doesn't take your fancy, there's always the downhill go-karting. It's not just fun on land however, north Wales is full of waterways, lakes, and coastal bays begging to be played on. You can go man made, at Adventure Park Snowdonia, surfing artificially generated waves, or au natural -- on the Ll?n Peninsula at Traeth Penllech or Porth Neigwl. If you're into your SUP, head to Gecko Surf the west coast of Anglesey, or Psyched Paddleboarding on the southeast, or any of the other 14+ places to try it out in north Wales. Most of all, what's unique about this, is unlike England where you'd have to drive half a country to fit it into a day, in Wales, you could fit it into a morning.
Sometimes it feels like all you have to do to find a new festival in Wales is pick a spot on the map, and google it. All across the country you’ll find music festivals, and while no one would be surprised to find them in the more built-up areas in the south, and in the capital of course, north Wales has its fair share. Head to Abersoch in August and you can hit up the Glass Butter Beach festival, for live music, DJs, as well as surfing and watersports, skateboarding, SUP and more. You could head out for Focus Wales in May for 300+ live sets and over 250 artists, film screenings and more, in Wrexham (and see if you can spot any film stars whilst you’re around). In Anglesey, there’s the Gottwood Festival – EDM and arts festival hidden in the woods. Started in 2010, it’s a smaller festival that keeps its undiscovered feel. Another winner in Angelsey is the Tonnau Tropical Garden Party, which takes place on the incredible Carreglwyd Estate, and features live music, culture, food and drink. Best of all, a floating tropical cocktail bar. What more could you want?