After spending over a week in Wales, we’ve discovered that Wales might be the best part of the U.K.. Besides the incredibly nice people who live here, Wales is incredibly scenic and is full of endless adventures. With rolling green hills, huge mountains, and almost 1,000 miles of coastline, Wales is a perfect playground for adventurers like us. Here are 7 amazing outdoor adventures in Wales if you love nature like we do.
A lot of people never think to visit Wales which is crazy because of how beautiful it is. I’m positive it was a sign from the universe that when we crossed the bridge from England into Wales, we happened to catch a glorious sunset over the horizon. And it was another sign from the universe that when we went to pay the toll for crossing, that the nicest Welsh woman stopped and talked to us for 5 minutes about how great she thought it was that a family like ours was coming all the way from America to visit her small country of Wales. When she proceeded to give us recommendations for all her favorite places to see in Wales, it was official that we were going to love this nature-rich country.
Adventure #1: Visit Brecon-Beacons
Wales has two National Parks that were high on our priority to see. Our first stop was Brecon-Beacons. This famous 520 square miles National Park includes some of the highest points in southern Britain.
We really hoped to get to hike one of its most famous mountain, Pen y Fan, and even parked at the base and waited four hours hoping the weather would clear. But with no chance of the clouds giving in, we headed for lower ground and enjoyed the Four Waterfalls Walk, which was lusciously green and beautiful.
Be aware when driving here, there are a lot of sheep and they are often standing in the middle of the road. You don’t want to hit one.
Adventure #2: Explore Snowdonia National Park
Our favorite National Park was Snowdonia. We didn’t get a chance to summit its namesake.
However, we did hike the equally beautiful Cadair Idris and managed to luck out and get a perfectly clear day too. From the summit, you could see all the way to the ocean in the west. It was an incredibly beautiful hike with a 6.5-mile loop trail that gains more than 2,000 feet. The views are priceless as you ascend the ridge to the two peaks and look over the black lake. It’s definitely a tough one for kids, but worth pushing them to do. For details on the hike, check out this website.
Adventure #3: Scramble Up Tryfan
Our favorite hike in Snowdonia was Tryfan. We have hiked a lot of trails, but none have compared to the amount of scrambling you must do to get to the top of this one. We found it quite exciting to blaze our own trail up rocks and when we’d ask others if we were going the right way they’d smile and say, “yep, just keep scrambling up.”
What I mean to say is, the path is vague. This website helped us a lot in helping us be sure we were on the right track and confirmed any of our doubts. But no matter how much instruction you’re given on this hike, you’re going to doubt yourself at least once and my best tip would be just as the locals said to us, “just keep scrambling upward.” There were a few marked paths along the edge of parts of the mountain and they reminded us of something out of Lord of the Rings.
While Legolas wasn’t at the top to greet us, Adam and Eve were. This is the name given to the two pillars at the top that are famous to jump between. Get a picture of your jump to claim your victory for summiting this beastly scramble, also known as the “Escape From Tryfan”. Please be sure-footed if you do attempt it. There is little room for error on this one.
Helpful Tip: When visiting Snowdonia, make reservations for dinner ahead of time. There are few restaurants and they fill up quickly.
Adventure #4: Rock Climbing near Llanberis
While in Snowdonia, make sure to get in some rock climbing near Llanberis.
We enjoyed climbing The Slate, an old quarry with a huge amount of sport climbing. There were a lot of other great climbing spots in this area, though. Even if you don’t rock climb, Llanberis is really cool because it has a bunch of great places to eat so if you make this a stop for a day or two you can’t go wrong (and there are two climbing stores here if you need supplies).
Adventure #5: Camp and shred in Llangeneth
Who would’ve thought surfing was a popular sport in Wales? When we arrived in Llangeneth we were pleasantly surprised by the family-friendly surf vibe at the campground we stayed at, Hillend Camping Park. We loved the open grass pitches, the sand dunes, the waves, the trails that took us over the mountain to Rhossili, the numerous kids running around, and the friendly staff. It reminded us so much of the Oregon coast. Click here to get the surf report for Llangeneth.
Adventure #6: Surf Freshwater West
If surfing is your thing, you have to make time to camp a night at Freshwater West. These places just don’t exist anymore in the States and our experience at Freshwater was very similar to the great time we had camping and surfing in Portugal. Even though there is nothing to do other than surf and hang on the beach, you won’t be alone here. Not that it’s crowded. But there are always other camper vans parked in the dirt parking lot waiting for the perfect conditions so they can jump in the water and catch their stoke. Don’t worry if you get hungry, every morning Café Môr shows up their food truck ready to prepare dishes specializing in seaweed that the owner harvests right from the ocean. It’s a hipster food experience with a Baja California vibe.
Adventure #7: Visit Pembroke Castle.
While you are in the area, drive twenty minutes to the town of and pay to go through Pembroke Castle. We happened to be there the day they did a falconry show and now our youngest son has found his life’s calling! It was quite amazing because they laid all the kids on the grass and let the owl fly across them. It flew so close that the wing-tip brushed across Danny’s cheek!
Despite the cold and rain we absolutely loved our time adventuring in Wales. It’s true that London has a lot to see and is full of culture and history, but if you are going to make a trip to the U.K., I highly recommend allowing 5-7 days to explore Wales. You really can’t go wrong unless you don’t like nature, nice people, and Welsh cakes. And don’t forget a rain jacket! Gabi and Tatiana love their Marmot rain jackets.