Do you remember Wales? The tiny country to the left of England that along with Scotland and Northern Ireland completes the United Kingdom? A lot of people don’t. With 11 million sheep and only 3 million people, a bizarre language and Celtic culture, Wales is often overlooked by visitors. Wales is so unnoticeable that the even the EU once left them off the map of the UK!
You should remember Wales though: it’s a really neat place. Less than a sixth the size of England, it still packs in a lot of culture and natural beauty in an easy to visit container.
Here are some big reasons why you should remember Wales the next time you make it to the UK
The capital of Wales used to be an industrial shipping town but now it’s quite pleasant! It’s full of restaurants, bars and shops. It also has the weirdest castle I’ve ever been to: bought by a rich family in the 19th century, it is elaborately decorated and adorned with stone circus animals around the perimeter. For the nerds out there, Cardiff is where Doctor Who is filmed along with a slew of other TV shows.
This mountain is the highest point in the British Isles outside of Scotland. It’s located in Snowdonia National Park, a beautiful escape from the small towns and holiday cottages in wales. It’s a rainy and misty place but quite beautiful with hills and mountains broken up by beautiful lakes. It’s great for a day of hiking and communing with nature.
A book lover’s paradise. Imagine a town with a population under 1500 people and over 40 used bookstores. That’s Hay-on-Wye, the “book town” of Wales. Even the falling castle has a bookstore in it’s courtyard. Every year the small town hosts the Hay festival, one of the biggest literary festivals in the world which is attended by 80,000 people and a plethora of famous authors.
Wales also has some serious history, including 641 castles! People have been living in Wales since the end of the last ice age and they have built some truly wonderful buildings. My favorite, now in ruins, is Tintern Abbey, built in 1131. The abbey was abandoned and decayed under the rule of King Henry VIII, but the ruins are so beautiful that they have inspired poets like Wordsworth and painters like Turner.
Whether you’re more into nature, history, literature or just hanging out in quiet cottages in Wales, there is a lot to see and enjoy in this tiny little country.
Article by Stephanie Yoder
Stephanie Yoder is a girl who can’t sit still! Since graduating college in 2007 she has either been traveling or planning to travel. She’s lived on four continents and visited everywhere from the Great Wall of China to the Great Barrier Reef. She now writes and travels full time, blogging about her adventures on Twenty-Something Travel. She believes everyone should travel while they’re young.