It’s all too easy for those journeying around Britain to overlook the very real charms of Wales. This a country that is about so much more than sheep, rain and Tom Jones, actually boasting some of the most picturesque landscapes, quirky villages and endearing people that you could expect to find anywhere when on a road trip.
Here are just some places that we would recommend you spend some time in during your cross-Wales road trip.
If it’s sleepy but charming villages that you love most about Wales, you couldn’t hope to find a better example than the quaint Usk, some 10 miles (16km) northeast of Newport.
Among Usk’s notable attractions is Usk Castle, which is thought to date back to 1120.
Cardiff rightly features prominently on many Welsh road trip itineraries, and why wouldn’t it? After all, it’s so much more than Wales’ capital and largest city, enjoying a particularly strong reputation in the world of sport.
Sure enough, such sporting venues as the Principality Stadium – the Welsh rugby union team’s national stadium – as well as Cardiff City Stadium, Sophia Gardens and Cardiff Arms Park can all be found here.
However, Cardiff also has strong cultural credentials, as demonstrated by venues including St David’s Hall, Motorpoint Arena and Wales Millennium Centre, and even events and festivals like Sparks in the Park and Swn.
The pretty and quite literally colourful coastal town of Tenby can be found on the western side of Carmarthen Bay, and offers so much more than its meagre 5,000-strong population might suggest.
It’s certainly a fine place to work off those calories, given the many walking opportunities in and around its 13th-century medieval town walls, the Five Arches barbican gatehouse and the winding cobbled streets that serve up so many intriguing nooks and crannies to explore.
Other fine gems in Tenby include Tenby Museum and Art Gallery with its collections including works by such noted artists as Gwen and Augustus John, as well as the Tudor Merchant’s House now managed by the National Trust.
The place that the strong student population here colloquially refers to as ‘Aber’ is a must-see for bookworms and history buffs, the market town’s association with all things scholarly largely attributable to a university college – now Aberystwyth University – having been based here since 1872.g
As you might expect, the thousands of students who infiltrate ‘Aber’ during the academic year help to give it an energetic and happening vibe, the live music scene here having produced such artists as the Crocketts, the Hot Puppies and Murry the Hump.
But of course, it’s not all high-octane action, as Aberystwyth is also home to the National Library of Wales, which holds more than 6.5 million books and periodicals.
Few Welsh towns quite scream ‘time warp’ as much as Blaenau Ffestiniog does, this old slate mining town having long attracted tourists eager to experience an authentic slice of North Wales as it was in days long gone.
That makes the likes of the narrow-gauge Ffestiniog Railway and the Llechwedd Slate Caverns – the latter a former slate mine turned attraction – must-visit sites. But it’s also a fine spot for a bit of cycling or even zip-lining, should you be feeling sufficiently adventurous.
With such endlessly stimulating and inspiring cities, towns and villages as these to discover in every corner of Wales, what more excuse could you require to book a hotel or B&B from toprooms.com or another trusted accommodation booking portal and start planning the trip of a lifetime?