If you’ve recently discovered that you have Welsh ancestry or simply want to visit a landscape with breath taking rugged beauty, then a vacation to Wales in Great Britain is highly recommended. Known for its big heart, soulful singing and exports like Tom Jones and Shirley Bassey, you’ll discover mountains, coastlines, Celtic castles and a magical once in a lifetime experience. Here are some of the best places to visit in Wales:

1. Cardiff

Why not start with the capital of the country? Huge amounts of investment in recent decades have seen Cardiff in a position to rival many of its European counterparts for culture and attractions. This ancient port city boasts a castle, a state-of-the-art sports stadium with music concerts, theatres, fantastic shopping, a brewery and the impressive National Museum packed full of Roman and Bronze Age exhibits. Enjoy a walk around the historic bay area before grabbing a bite to eat in one of the many restaurants and bars in the city.

#1 Cardiff

2. Snowdonia

The next must-see destination has got to be Snowdonia. Whilst not particularly high, the dense woods and surrounding landscape are truly stunning and make an incredibly dramatic backdrop. A hike through this area will reveal quaint villages, ancient monuments, Roman ruins and numerous lakes and rivers. This national park has a railway that carries visitors to the peak of Snowdon, the highest peak in the region.

#2 Snowdonia

3. Pembrokeshire

Here you’ll find the only national park on the coast of the country. Millions of people visit here each year to walk the Pembrokeshire Coast Path and if you’re feeling up for the challenge, it’s an amazing walk. 186-mile-long, you’ll follow the cliff tops along the windswept wild coastline. Spot the seals and hundreds of species of seabirds. If outdoor adventure sports are more your thing then you’ll also find different types of surfing as well as fishing, as well as ancient castles dotted about to really set the scene.

#3 Pembrokeshire

4. Hay-on-Wye

You’ll find this tiny town close to the English border and sitting on the River Wye. If you’ve got a passion for books then you’ll be in wordy heaven here as this is National Book Town. There are more than 20 bookshops and an annual festival that attracts famous authors, speakers and thousands of people. If you want to immerse yourself in the Arts then time your visit for the Hay Festival.

#4 Hay-on-Wye

5. St David’s

It has a cathedral so strictly speaking it’s a city but it’s only the size of a village. The cathedral is a beautiful place to visit with a fascinating walk out to the Chapel of St. Non, the birthplace of St. David, the patron saint of Wales. The path will also lead you to a rugged path along the coast with the chapel retreat serving as the icing on the cake.

#5 St David’s

6. Tenby

This is one of the most popular vacation spots in Wales and it’s easy to see why. With heaps of Medieval history, lovely beaches and a harbour, there are also two islands to visit with St. Catherine’s being the closest and during low tide, it’s approachable by foot. The town is famous for its 13th century walls and you can also visit a museum and art gallery nearby. The ruins of Tenby Castle look down over the harbour offering great dramatic views.

#6 Tenby

7. Caernarfon Castle

Constructed between 1283 and 1330, this castle has been a royal residence, a seat of government and a military fortress in its long history. It boasts being one of the most complete castles in Britain and you can walk all around the walls and towers. If heritage is your thing then this is a fine example of a Welsh castle and a must-see sight during your vacation to this green and pleasant land. It might look like a fairy tale castle but you’ll see its violent past as demonstrated by the murder holes and arrow slits.

#7 Caernarfon Castle

8. Devil’s Bridge

Not far from the town of Aberystwyth is the Devil’s Bridge. You’ll discover three bridges spanning a gorge, almost on top of one another ascending the gorge. The oldest bridge dates back to the 11th century and the view of the River Mynach plunging 300ft into the valley below is incredible. With a nature trail to follow, you’ll descend into the valley and then climb back up Jacob’s Ladder. Take a walk through the 200-acre Hafod Estate with stunning 18th century gardens.

#8 Devil’s Bridge

9. Llandudno

This is the biggest seaside resort in Wales with views spreading out over the Irish Sea. People have inhabited this area since the Stone Age and the beauty of Llandudno lies in its Victorian-era town planning. The bustle of seafront shops was placed behind the seafront for the peace of its wealthy visitors which has resulted in a unique promenade, serene and attractive. Llandudno is the perfect base for exploring the north coast of the country.

#9 Llandudno

10. Conwy

Also found on the north coast, Conwy is only a short drive from Manchester, England. There is a castle, the River Conwy and suspension bridge, plenty of medieval architecture and great shopping opportunities. Another fascinating attraction is Aberconwy House, the only remaining original 14th century merchant’s house in the area.

#10 Conwy

11. Anglesey

Anglesey is almost an island and separated from the mainland by a mile-wide strait, over which was constructed the Menai Suspension Bridge. This isle contains beautiful rugged fishing villages and over 100 miles of unspoiled coastline. You’ll find a mild climate here and impressive landmarks like the Stack Lighthouse, wonderful places to go birdwatching and the train station with the longest name in the world, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwlllandysiliogogogoch!

#11 Anglesey

12. Brecon Beacons

Another of Wales’ awe-inspiring national parks, it’s a hiker’s dream destination. Surrounded by the Black Mountains, the River Usk and famous for its wild pony population, most of the peaks here top the 2000 ft mark. Here you’ll discover waterfalls and caves in a magically historic landscape that will make you feel like you’ve been transported back in time. The area takes its name from the red sandstone of the peaks that look like beacons used in the past to warn against invaders.

#12 Brecon Beacons