Wales celebrated St David’s Day earlier this month. As the end of winter nears and spring appears on the horizon, you might be looking to make a last-minute getaway.
From rugged cliffs and sweeping beaches to untouched market towns in the shadows of towering mountains, Wales has the perfect staycation destination for you and your family.
Here are just five towns to consider.
1. Abergavenny, Monmouthshire
Just six miles from the English border, Abergavenny is often known as “the gateway to Wales”. It is situated in the county of Monmouthshire.
Bordered by the Wye Valley area of outstanding natural beauty and the Brecon Beacons National Park, you’ll find Chepstow, Monmouth, and Usk nearby. You’ll also be in the shadow of Sugar Loaf, the southernmost peak of the range of hills known as the Black Mountains.
A medieval, formerly walled town, in Abergavenny itself you’ll still find the remains of a medieval castle as well as regular antique fairs and flea markets in the town’s Market Hall.
2. Tenby, Pembrokeshire
Another medieval walled town is the beautiful seaside resort of Tenby in southwest Wales.
From the harbour, you can take a boat to nearby Caldey Island and visit the monastery belonging to a group of Trappist monks. While on the island you might also spot red squirrels and an incredible array of birdlife.
From the mainland, take a walk to St Catherine’s Island and its 19th-century Palmerston Fort, though be sure you know the tide times before you set off.
In the town itself, check out the rest of the town’s varied history at the Tenby Museum and Art Gallery, St. Mary’s Church, and the National Trust-owned Tudor Merchant’s House.
3. Conwy, Conwy County Borough
Situated on the north coast of Wales, just half an hour east of Anglesey is the town of Conwy. Its town walls date from the 13th century and are part of the Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd Unesco world heritage site.
The town stands on the west bank of the River Conwy, while Llandudno Junction and Deganwy sit opposite.
In Conwy itself, visit Great Britain’s smallest house – measuring just 3.05 metres by 1.8 metres – then take a trip to a building at the opposite end of the scale.
The imposing Conwy Castle was built in just four years between 1283 and 1287 and has stood for over 700 years. The impressiveness of the intact town walls is matched only by the unbroken battlements of the castle that allow for a full circle of the castle grounds with stunning views to Snowdonia National Park in the south.
4. Rhayader, Powys
BBC Radio 4 claimed back in 2008 that Rhayader was home to the greatest number of pubs in the UK, by population. It found that the town’s 12 pubs equated to one for every 173 people.
Many other towns and cities have since made claims to the title, but Rhayader still boasts many great pubs and restaurants. The Old Swan tea rooms in the town were originally an inn dating back to at least 1676.
The market town in Powys is a great place to stay if you’re looking to explore the beautiful Elan Valley. This chain of man-made reservoirs supply Birmingham with water thanks to a system of gravity-fed pipes and aqueducts. The area also includes miles of scenic bridleways, walking routes, and cycle tracks.
The area is home to rare wildlife and plants, including red kites, which can be visited at the nearby Red Kite Feeding Station and Rehabilitation Centre. There are wonderful engineering marvels too, such as the Craig Goch Dam.
5. St Davids, Pembrokeshire
Famously not a town at all, St Davids is the UK’s smallest city by population and urban area. It is also the resting place of Wales’s patron saint, Saint David.
Located within the Pembrokeshire Coast national park, this beautiful city has an abundance of history, dramatic coastal geography, and plenty to see and do for all the family.
As well as the drama of the rugged cliffs, the sweeping bay at nearby Whitesands Bay is a hugely popular surfing and tourist beach. Back in the city itself, be sure to explore the 14th-century Tower Gate, the Celtic Old Cross, and the array of art galleries and museums.
You might consider joining the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, a 186-mile (299 km) walking route designated a National Trail in 1970. Along its route, it offers coastal views in all four cardinal directions and varies in height from 175 metres (574 feet) to just 2 metres (6 feet).
St Davids sits around halfway along the trail, great for exploring north to St Dogmaels or south to Amroth.