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Short Breaks Wales - Short Breaks in Wales

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Visitors to the United Kingdom as well as residents enjoy short breaks in Wales. Throughout the nation, interesting destinations abound for individuals, couples, families and groups.

Wales is a small coastal country in the western United Kingdom mainland under the general authority of the British government. At its extremities, it extends 220 kilometers (137 miles) by 155 kilometers (96 miles). Terrain varies from low mountains to stark coastlands.

Sightseeing alone attracts many excursionists for short breaks in Wales. The country is known for its historic castles such as Harlech in the north. An especially well-preserved castle is in Caernarfon in the northwest. Tenby is an archetypal walled town on the southern coast, dating to the Norman conquest.

Cardiff, a ship-building city, is the nation’s seaport capital and largest city. The main site of the National Museum of Wales and other important institutions are located here.

Swansea, a southern seaport at the mouth of the River Tawe, is the second-largest city. The birthplace of poet Dylan Thomas, Swansea holds a major arts festival each year. It thrived as a medieval market town, and its historic sites include a 1099 Norman fortress. The city center is mainly modern, rising from the ruins of World War II bombing.

Attractions elsewhere around the country include the Welsh Folk Museum at Saint Fagans, the National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth and the Museum of Welsh Antiquities in Bangor.

The Welsh people retain strong ties to their Celtic heritage. The National Eisteddfod, observed the first week in August, celebrates Welsh literature, music, visual arts and traditions. Attracting some 160,000 visitors each year, it is based alternately at sites in northern and southern Wales.

Hay-on-Wye is a world-renowned book center, home of more than 40 bookshops and a large literary festival in late spring.

Among the most popular outdoor destinations for short breaks in Wales are the three national parks: Brecon Beacons in the midlands, Snowdonia in the north and Pembrokeshire Coast on the ocean. The BBC sponsors wildlife “spotter guides” in all habitats of the country in different seasons, helping explorers identify the diversity of animal and plant life. Noted outdoor sites are Poppit Sands on the ocean at Pembrokeshire and the gentle mountain biking trail in the Brechfa Forest.

At the National Showcaves Centre for Wales (open April through October), visitors enter prehistoric caves, view dinosaur models and wander through a reproduced Iron Age farming village

Hiking enthusiasts have countless rewarding trail choices. Bird watchers observe puffins, flamigos, eider ducks and dozens of other species. Those intrigued by maritime wildlife can absorb themselves in seal and dolphin sighting.

Narrow-gauge train excursions are especially popular in Wales. They carry visitors throughout the country to reveal mountain, lake, river and seashore vistas; special destinations include famous bridges and waterfalls. Passengers can debark and picnic or enjoy short, scenic hikes from station stops.

Sports-oriented short breaks in Wales include numerous golf courses and the special adrenalin rush of watching a rugby or cricket match. At Betwys-y-Coed, those who are especially adventurous can test a high-ropes course at Tree Top Adventure.

The Isle of Anglesey forms the northwestern shoulder of Wales, just off the mainland in the Irish Sea. Attractions here include the Anglesey Sea Zoo. Marine life spans the spectrum from seahorses to sharks, octopuses to conger eels. A playground and children’s activities are outside.

Another seaside lure is the Llandudno resort. It arguably has everything a coastal retreat getaway should offer: strolls on the beach and the country’s longest pier, medieval castle works, gardens and pastoral walks, a theatre and contemporary art gallery, rides on Great Britain’s longest cable tram, charming shops and excellent dining, golf—even skiing and snow-tubing on the slopes above the resort.

From train trips through the mountains to explorations of ancient history at world-class museums to Red Kite feeding in the midlands to a day on the golf links, short breaks in Wales can make any extended vacation to the U.K. especially memorable.

Overnight accommodations vary from charming cottages and bed-and-breakfasts to first-class hotels.

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