Only accessible by boat or a walk across the golf links, Ty Coch Inn sits on the golden crescent of Porthdinllaen beach, marooned at the edge of the Irish Sea. The pub has been quietly serving up pints and a warm Welsh welcome since 1842 – and it’s an appropriate emblem for a nation where every bend in the road or nook in the coastline can yield a new surprise.
There’s no shortage of places in Wales where you’ll be inspired to raise a glass to your surroundings, from picture-perfect bays frequented by grey seals (try Cwmtydu, near New Quay) to ruined castles on high mountain perches. There are lively towns with buzzing markets, and cities where you can easily lose track of time meandering through the museums, galleries and shopping arcades.
Not sure where to start? The Wales Way consists of three driving routes that showcase what we’re all about. Opt for The North Wales Way if you’re looking for a foodie break. You’ll skim past vineyards, microbreweries, Michelin-starred restaurants and beachside bistros as you make your way along an ancient trading route towards the island of Anglesey. Once there, you’ll be able to feast on wild mussels, just-caught lobster and freshly baked bread.
The Coastal Way is a spectacular route that winds past the seaside towns and secret coves of Cardigan Bay. You’ll find plenty to set your imagination running free, from the evocative castles of Criccieth and Harlech to the steam trains that chug along the Vale Of Rheidol Railway.
You don’t need a vast amount of time to start discovering Wales."
The final driving route, The Cambrian Way, cuts through central Wales from Cardiff to Llandudno, serving up dense forests, wide lakes and opportunities to visit pretty market towns such as Abergavenny and Crickhowell. It’s the perfect itinerary for anyone hoping to get some fresh air in their lungs. The Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) and Eryri (Snowdonia) National Parks are two of nature’s greatest adventure playgrounds, with walking, cycling and horse-riding trails to suit every level of fitness and ambition.
You don’t need a vast amount of time to start discovering Wales. If you’ve only a weekend to spare, you could head to the Gower Peninsula – a finger of coastline so scenic that it was designated Britain’s first Area of Outstanding National Beauty. It’s easy to reach, starting just five miles from the centre of Swansea. But before you leave the city, the Dylan Thomas Birthplace and Family Home at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, Swansea, in the suburb of Uplands is worth a diversion. The modest home where the poet spent his childhood offers an intriguing insight into Edwardian Welsh life.
Europe’s youngest capital, Cardiff, is another weekending hotspot. Every age has left its mark on the city, from the Roman stonework still visible in the walls of Cardiff Castle to the Victorian arcades with their many independent shops and cafés. Rubbing shoulders with them are such modern landmarks as Principality Stadium, dominating the city centre with its soaring masts. Cardiff Bay is rich in bold new architecture, including the Senedd building (home to the Welsh Parliament) and the Wales Millennium Centre.
You’ll find similar variety when deciding where to lay your head at night. Five-star spa hotel or cosy B&B by the sea? Farm stay, holiday village or campsite? Would you rather wake up under the canvas of a yurt, with the smell of campfire embers in the air, or to the lapping of the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal against the side of your narrowboat?
The truly intrepid can even spend the night tethered to sea cliffs on a portaledge, a type of hanging tent invented by rock climbers for long ascents. But there’s no prescribed way to experience Wales. We provide the surroundings – it’s over to you to write your own epic.