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International: Wales

December 13, 2016

With 641 castles, 3 national parks, and 750 miles of coastline, Wales is a honeymoon destination unlike any other. Whether you’re a lover of the landscape, charmed by royal history, keen on Celtic culture, or a fan of famous poets, Wales is just waiting to greet romantics like you with a friendly “croeso” — that’s Welsh for “welcome!” 

Quaint & Cozy

While the capital city of Cardiff (a two-hour train ride from London) is bustling with four universities and a vibrant cosmopolitan culture, you’ll find the charm of the Welsh countryside around every corner. In the heart of the city stands Cardiff Castle and Edwardian shopping arcades (Britain’s first malls) housing lovely boutique shops. Throughout the countryside, explore quaint towns and rustic fishing villages. Spend the night in a cozy inn or romantic country manor house, like Llangoed Hall, which dates back to 1632. For a more adventurous stay, search for Welsh accommodations via Under the Thatch – a travel site that lets you book a night’s rest in a renovated mill, farmhouse, cottage, or even a gypsy caravan!


Historic & Haunted
Caerphilly Castle is a must-see stop on any tour of Wales. It’s the second-largest castle in Britain and oversees the town of Caerphilly, just eight miles from Cardiff. The Green Lady is said to haunt the castle – supposedly the ghost of Princess Alice who, it is said, dropped dead when she learned her princely lover had been slain. Now she roams Caerphilly Castle, waiting to be reunited with him.

Another favorite of ghost hunters is Bodelwyddan Castle in North Wales. The castle dates back to the 17th century and is chockfull of spooky sightings. But art history buffs will also appreciate a stop at Bodelwyddan; the castle is home to collections of art form the National Portrait Gallery, sculptures from the Royal Academy, and furniture from the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Caernarfon Castle is a favorite of explorer types and the young-at-heart. Here you can climb towers and turrets, walk ancient walls, dive into dungeons, and get lost in another time – a time of myth and magic. The Celtic history and lore of Wales is built into the walls of these castles, and the enchanted feeling is undeniable. Caernarfon, Conway, Harlech, and Beaumaris castles have even been named UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Some of these castles also boast gorgeous gardens and grounds, perfect for a romantic stroll. At Powis Castle, you’ll find a traditional English garden with sculpted hedges and impressive topiary. In Conway, don’t miss the Bodnant Garden. Though it isn’t part of a castle complex, Bodnant is one of the most beautiful gardens in the UK, blending both terraced and wild gardens.

Sleep Like Kings & Queens
Ruthin Castle Hotel offers travelers the royal treatment. The castle was once owned by King Henry VIII and later by Queen Elizabeth I. Nowadays, the castle is open to visitors and is a must for at least one night during any Welsh honeymoon. During your stay, don’t miss one of Ruthin Castle’s medieval banquets – it’s an experience you’ll never forget!

When To Go
Many of Wales’ historic landmarks and castles are open year-round, but some close during the winter months (from November through the end of February), or are only open on weekends during this time. Make sure to check the websites of each landmark on your bucket list to make sure they’re open for business.

The Great Outdoors

Wales is certainly a destination for walkers, with its three national parks and hundreds of miles of hiking trails, suited to all skill levels. Trails are easily accessible and close to various lodging options. You’ll enjoy stunning scenic views, then pass through darling villages filled with friendly locals. Along your walking route, plan ahead to book accommodations at historic coaching inns, homey bed-and-breakfasts, or comfy hotels. Many of these places are specifically geared toward walkers, so you’ll feel right at home.

National Parks
In one of its three National Parks, you’ll find Wales’ highest mountain: Snowdon. Snowdon is located in Snowdonia National Park, and it’s where climbers have been known to hone their skills before scaling Mount Everest. Adventurous climbers can go this route, while more laid-back honeymooners can take the historic steam railway to Snowdon’s summit. The views are worth the trip!

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park runs along (what else?) the coast and is brimming with sandy coves, fishing villages, cliff-top walks, and an abundance of seabirds. Coasteering – the sport of exploring a rocky coastline by climbing, jumping, and swimming – was invented here, and can certainly be a fun adventure for more daring honeymooners. Suited up in a warm winter wetsuit, helmet, and buoyancy aid, you’ll scale craggy cliffs, climb rocks, and swim into sea caves.

Last but not least, there’s Brecon Beacons National Park, which is perfect to tour on horseback, bicycle, or foot. Wales has 1,000 miles of bike paths on the National Cycle Network, with breathtaking views all along the way.

Snowdonia National Park - a mountain range and a region in North of Wales.
Snowdonia National Park – a mountain range and a region in North of Wales.

Writers & Poets
Long before Harry Potter, there was Mabinogion, a series of magical tales from medieval Wales that spoke of princes, poets, and warriors on their quests for power, glory, and magic. Welsh literature is one of the oldest written languages in the world and storytellers are still revered there. To this day, Wales honors poets at The National Eisteddfod – a festival of literature, music, and performance art. The fest is held annually during the first week of August, attracting over 150,000 visitors. The festival ends with the crowning of the bard and awarding the highest national prize for poetry.

As far as famous Welsh poets go, Dylan Thomas is perhaps the most universally loved. Thomas said that the musical language and transcendent vision of his poems were inexorably intertwined with the Welsh landscape. How’s that for poetry? He was born in Swansea, so fans of Thomas’ poetry would do well to start their journey there. You can enjoy a stay at the house where Thomas grew up, as well as visit the Dylan Thomas Centre and Dylan Thomas Festival, held in October and November.

Why Honeymoon?

A romantic get-away in Wales is perfect for newlyweds in search of something off the beaten path. Whether you’re reveling in mystic lore, Celtic history, and glorious castles, or winding your way through verdant, mountainous landscapes to cozy countryside abodes, the magic of Wales beckons explorers to its shores.

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