Wales is known for a lot of things (who’s getting excited about Hay Festival?), but there are two things that make it really stand out: its beautiful countryside and its beautiful beaches. The fact that you have to drive through one to get to the other is definitely an added bonus. Writer Sian Meades covers the best Wales has in store now the sun is finally getting a spring in its step.
The best for adventure
There are plenty of opportunities to get active on the water, with wonderful sailing conditions in locations such as Abersoch and Tenby. Wales offers excellent adventure breaks (time this carefully and you’ll avoid the school trip crowds). The holidays are cleverly tailored to the landscape, which means caving, abseiling, gorge walking and horse riding are all on the list. You’ll hear a lot about coasteering around these parts – basically all the stuff you’d do up a mountain, but along the coast and nearby cliffs. This is serious stuff so make sure you book with a reputable firm like North Wales Active. They recommend accommodation for a variety of budgets but if you’ve been climbing sea cliffs all day, a luxury spa hotel like The Quay Hotel and Spa in Deganwy would be a lovely thing to come back to.
The best for secluded holidays
Abseiling and horse riding along the beach not for you? Then how about a hideaway on wistful Anglesey (main image), whose lonely little Llanddwyn Island has three miles of unspoilt beach? Alternatively, you could stay in a secluded log cabin (Cabin Casita near Cardigan is the the best of the bunch – you’ll love the retro 70s decor) or gorgeous gypsy caravan (adorably called the Gypsy Cwtch). Both are in the Teifi valley which truly is the best of both worlds. You’re surrounded by sprawling hills, yet you’re right by the beach. That’s just showing off.
The best cliffsides
West Blockhouse really doesn’t sound like an enticing name for a holiday home. But this is part of the Landmark Trust, and we can trust them to do it right – especially when it comes to their choice of Welsh properties. West Blockhouse is right on the coast of Pembrokeshire – the most popular coastline in Wales and an idyllic place to hop onto the. Actually, West Blockhouse couldn’t be any closer to the coast if it tried – it’s a sea fort that dates back to 1847. Now it sleeps eight as self-catering accommodation.
Looking for something smaller? Check out Cliff Cottage, an adorable little place tucked away in a cove, with the National Park acting as your back garden. Make sure you visit St David’s head – that’s the jewel in Pembrokeshire’s very majestic crown.
The best for glamping
I confess to some bias here – many of my summer holidays were spent camping on Shell Island, trying to time the tide perfectly to get to the campsite and pitch the tent (and if you got it wrong, you were basically stuck, which is probably a lot funnier when you’re six). With Cardigan Bay on one side and Snowdonia National Park on the other (there’s a definite theme here), Shell Island has a lot in the way of natural beauty to offer. Glamp 15 minutes from the beach at this family-friendly spot in Dinas. For something further south, visit Porthclais or Cwtch Camp for teepees, eco pods and yurts in an area of unparalleled coastal charm.
The best coast that isn’t really a coast
Wales gives great lake. Really, really brilliant lake. The two most popular choices are the mirror-top Lake Bala in Gwynedd and Lake Vrnwy. The latter is definitely the fancier of the two with an upmarket hotel and spa right on the lakeside. Everything that Wales woos its visitors with – hair-manipulating outdoor activities, bountiful beaches (albeit freshwater), great food and sense-stirring countryside – is right on these lakes.