Wales’s beauty spots are plentiful and well-known.
From Pen y Fan to Ynys Llanddwyn and the famous beaches of Pembrokeshire to the mountains of Snowdonia, their reputations go before them for being among the most gorgeous places in the UK.
But while places like Broadhaven beach or Carreg Cennen castle might be the first that spring to mind when planning a day out for you and the family, there are so many other places which offer beauty, tranquility and, crucially, solitude.
So next time you’re looking at ways to fill the weekend, look away from the obvious, try one of these and discover more of our beautiful country than you even knew existed.
Don’t forget, please check the local measures in place or if the areas are accessible in post-lockdown Wales. Keeping responsible and safe is a must so don’t forget to keep the two metre distance with other walkers.
1. Dinas Nature Reserve, Rhandirmwyn
Its peaceful woodland is carpeted by bluebells in springtime, while the fast-flowing River Towy smashes over boulders nearby. This is a remote and magical part of Wales, where you can walk (and often clamber) alongside the river and also find the legendary Twm Sion Cati’s Cave if you know where to look.
2. Eagle’s Nest, Wye Valley
Overlooking the River Wye at Wyndcliff in Monmouthshire – high above where it curves around the Lancaut Peninsula, near Chepstow – this viewing platform is so called because it gives a bird’s eye view of the valley below.
There are two routes up, one more strenuous than the other, and it’s best to start out from Upper Wyndcliff car park if you’re taking the less adventurous of the options available.
3. Moel Siabod , Snowdonia
Once you’ve reached the top of this isolated mountain, it’s said you can see 13 of the 14 highest peaks in Wales without turning your head.
Often less crowded than other peaks across the valley, Moel Siabod has some of the finest views in Wales. It’s easily accessible from the north via Capel Curig and Pont Cyfyng, and from the south via Dolwyddelan.
4. Llygad Llwchwr, Carmarthenshire
This is a truly stunning part of Wales, where it can feel like you’re the only person for miles around.
The famous landmark in this part of the country is the well-known Carreg Cennen castle. But less well-known are the features of the hills and mountains all around. A slightly strenuous walk through fields and over streams will take you to the eye of the river Loughor, which quietly emerges from a network of caves at the western end of the Black Mountains.
You can only reach it by walking across the Carmarthenshire hillside and down the river bank which hides it from anyone who doesn’t know what they’re looking for.
5. Monknash Beach, Vale of Glamorgan
Far less famous than other Welsh beaches, particularly those to its west, but if you take the time to seek out this beach, you’ll be glad you did.
To access the beach you have to walk along a river through quiet green woodland towards the coast. But soon the trees give way and this beautiful rocky beach opens up ahead of you. The ancient cliffs and rocks are remarkable and, when the tide’s out, there’s plenty of beach for sunbathing and building sand castles.
6. The Dysynni Valley, Snowdonia
Snowdonia is famous for its magnificent mountains but countless generations of people have also shaped the landscape. The walls here date back centuries and individual fields have their own names, depending on what the people who farmed the fields used them for.
These include Cae’r Ty, Cae’r Henglawdd and Pencoed Bach, as told by a couple of today’s farmers to Iolo Williams for his Iolo’s Snowdonia series on BBC Wales. They described it as “lle i enaid cael llonydd”, which translates as “A place for the soul to rest”.
7. Pen Pych, Rhondda Valleys
Tucked right at the top of the Fawr, Pen Pych is an imposing flat-top peak with a charming waterfall walk en route to the top.
Once there the view down the valley is resplendent.
Worth checking out half a dozen walks around that end of the valley, too.
8. Fairy Glen, Betws-y-Coed
If you have a little girl or boy who dreams of meeting a fairy, this beautiful place near Betws-y-Coed is definitely worth a visit.
The atmospheric gorge is a protected wildlife site and has a large population of rare ferns and lichens.
Fairy Glen was once a popular Victorian park, and wildlife includes the grey wagtail.
9. Cregennan lakes, near Dolgellau
This tranquil gem is in the southern region of Snowdonia National Park, just outside Arthog.
One look at the green hillsides and the gorgeous lake will make you just want to stop and breathe in the beautiful scenery.
10. Mwnt, Ceredigion
A small but perfectly formed beach unadorned by the usual seaside paraphernalia. And perched atop the beach is a beautiful white church.
11. Castell y Gwynt, Snowdonia
Perched atop Glyder Fach is this rock formation known as Castell y Gwynt. Its highest point is 972 metres so it’s a fair effort to reach the top, but well worth it.
12. Mynydd Epynt
Bleak and beautiful, there is little access across Mynydd Epynt, because it was acquired by the Ministry of Defence in 1939 and is now one of the largest military training zones in the UK.
But gravestones at Capel y Babell bear witness to the time when Mynydd Epynt was populated, as a farming community which existed until the 1940s, when it was evacuated to make way for military training land.
13. Ty Glyn Secret Garden, Ciliau Aeron
This wonderfully secluded sensory walled garden is set within a beautiful woodland area alongside the River Aeron.
14. Hay Bluff, Hay-On-Wye
The world-renowned annual literature festival may be this area’s biggest draw, but this hill at the northerly tip of the Black Mountains retains its popularity amongst walkers all year round.
Spectacular views of the Wye Valley and Black Mountains abound.
15. Carn Ingli, Newport (Pembrokeshire)
The Mountain of Angels is the stump of a 450-million-year-old volcano and the remains of an Iron Age fort.
A two-mile trail starts at the village centre and runs past the castle and although it’s a bit steep in places there are great views of the village from the top.
16. Bailey Trail, Usk Valley
This walk will take you, via Llangattock, along the tram roads created by 19th century Nantyglo ironmaster Joseph Bailey.
You’ll go via the Lonely Shepherd – an isolated and imposing limestone rock left by long gone workers – the Wern Watcyn incline and the vast quarries of Llangatwg, developed around 1799 with the opening of the Brecknock and Abergavenny canal.
17. Marloes Sands, Pembrokeshire
You can only get to this secluded beach on foot – and it’s worth the effort. A short walk through countryside, followed by a walk along the cliff top and you’ll arrive at the beach, which is truly beautiful.
18. Llandyfeisant Church, Llandeilo
One of Wales’ most peaceful churches, Llandyfeisant can only be reached across fields or up a private dirt track. The site dates back to pre-Christian times and it has not been used for services since 1961.
19. Llanthony Priory, Llanthony
Far less famous than Tintern Abbey but just as impressive, Llanthony is a ruined former Augustinian priory in a secluded valley in the Black Mountains. There’s a cosy underground pub with stone-vaulted ceilings attached.
20. Llyn y Fan Fach, Carmarthenshire
Almost the very definition of a ‘hidden gem’, Llyn y Fan Fach is largely surrounded by sheer slopes which shield it from view in nearly all directions. If you don’t know it’s there, you only find out after a long walk uphill through the remote landscape of the Carmarthen Fans. It’s worth the effort. As the lake emerges in front of you, you’ll see why it spawned the legend of the lady of the lake and the physicians of Myddfai. A truly magical place.
21. Glyncorrwg waterfall, Glyncorrwg
Hidden in forestry, Glyncorrwg is one of the lesser-known waterfalls at the southern end of the Brecon Beacons in Wales’ very own ‘waterfall counrtry’.
22. The Blue Lake, Snowdonia
Hidden away with no signs to let you know it exists, this hidden lake with rich blue water is in Snowdonia National Park, guarded by towering crags. You can only access it via a tunnel built into the hillside or by abseiling cliffs.
According to local rumour, the lake is deeper than its height above sea level. It is what’s left of a slate quarry opened in 1867, which was flooded in an attempt to turn it into a reservoir. The lake is on private property. Those who still choose to visit do so at their own risk.
23. Ceunant Llennyrch, Snowdonia
This gorge in Snowdonia runs so deep it is said to be “untouched by human hand” in places. It is hidden by ancient oak woodland that possibly dates back to the period following the last Ice Age.
24. Tresaith Beach waterfall, Tresaith
There can’t be many beaches in the UK where a waterfall cascades impressively into the sea below. But that’s what happens at this spot between Llangrannog and Aberporth on the Ceredigion coastline, where the Afon Saith empties into the Irish Sea.
25. Cenarth Falls, Cenarth
On the border of three counties – Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire – Cenarth sits on the banks of the Teifi and the rushing water is the peaceful background noise to the beauty all around.
26. St Non’s, St David’s
Held by tradition to mark the birthplace of St David, there’s a ruined church near a modern chapel and a holy well. It’s close to the Pembrokeshire Coast Path and not far from St David’s.
27. Pentre Ifan, Nevern
The largest and best preserved neolithic dolmen in Wales, Pentre Ifan is a scheduled ancient monument. The dolmen dates from around 3500 BC.
28. Dinorwic Slate Quarry, Llanberis
Just outside the Snowdonia National Park and frozen in time is this atmospheric relic of Wales’ once thriving slate industry. It was once the second largest slate quarry in the world and its peak in the late 19th century employed 3,000 people. By 1930 that had dropped to 2,000 and production ceased there in 1969.
29. Claerddu, Ceredigion
Just north of Teifi Pools, this really is the wilds of the Cambrian Mountains. And there’s a mountain bothy run by the Elan Valley Trust, where you can stay (if you’re happy with the total lack of any comforts other than a roof).
30. Ynys Gifftan, near Portmeirion
Sitting at the head of the long Dwyryd Estuary, one of the most unspoilt places in Cardigan Bay, Ynys Gifftan is surrounded by vast tidal sands, salt marshes, and the mountains of Snowdonia.
The old stone farmhouse and outbuilding, which stand as a reminder that this island was once farmed, are almost hidden in a wilderness of lush green bracken, gorse, and elder.
The area is also rich in wildlife and you may spot otters as well as seasonal wildfowl, egrets and herons.
You can take a secret swim in the warm emerald pools, and there are heavenly picnic spots on the rocks.
31. Hebron Chapel, Llanberis
Hebron Calvinist Methodist Chapel was first built in 1797, before being rebuilt/modified in 1858 and 1872. The chapel is now in ruins and much of its interior has decayed through disuse. But traces can be seen of the plastered and painted decor, with a panelled wooden ceiling above.
32. Bryn Cader Faner, Snowdonia
Dubbed one of the wonders of prehistoric Wales.
In remote moorland, it is a combination of burial mound and stone circle. At the centre is a cairn, 28ft across and three feet high. Outside the cairn are 15 slender stone slabs. Each about 6ft high, they lean outwards like bristling spears.
33. Tinkinswood, near Cardiff
One of the best-preserved cromlechs in Britain, the subtly beautiful surroundings of the Vale of Glamorgan countryside make this place feel far more remote than it actually is (it’s only a short drive from Cardiff).
It is topped with a 40-tonne capstone that measures 15ft by 24ft. Inside were found bones from at least 50 people buried during the Neolithic period.
34. Bedd Arthur, Pembrokeshire
Consists of 13 upright stones and two fallen ones in the Preseli mountains. Each stone is around two feet high and bears similarities to the earliest form of Stonehenge. The name means ‘Arthur’s grave’ – legend has it that it is his final resting place.
35. Cwm Berwyn, Ceredigion
“Wonderfully wild and empty” according to HRH Prince Charles, who has even painted it. Cwm Berwyn is a place to find inner peace. There’s a quiet wood with a hidden lake, and plenty of walks, short and long
36. Nant y Moch reservoir, near Aberystwyth
In the shadow of the famous Pumlumon, this is a favourite spot for a Sunday afternoon drive and great walking country.