Our Top 5 Outdoor Activities to Do in Wales
Wales is a country for outdoor lovers. It has a diverse landscape with miles of jagged coastline, many deep slate caverns, and lofty alpine ridges. Collectively, these geological features create lots of niches for adventures. This is exciting news for anyone looking for outdoor activities to do in Wales!
In one short weekend, you can make your way up the country’s tallest peak, Snowdon, before zip-lining across an enormous quarry and venturing deep into the old slate mines. You could then nip over to Anglesey for some cliff climbing and birdwatching or head to the isolated Llyn Peninsula for a bit of surfing. To spark some inspiration, here are the top 5 outdoor activities to do in Wales.
Hiking is one of the most popular outdoor activities to do in Wales and each summer the trails of the country fill with boisterous ramblers. It’s no surprise hikers love Wales as the country contains 3 National Parks, 5 AONBs, and 3 long-distance National Trails in an area that’s six times smaller than England.
If summits are your thing, you can bag big peaks like Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) in Snowdonia or Pen y Fan in the Brecon Beacons. Alternatively, you can head away from the most popular trails and climb the Carneddau or scale the Black Mountains in south Wales. These lesser-known peaks are also great places to go wild camping and wild swimming!
If coast hiking is what gets you going, Wales has an 870-mile-long coast path that can be walked in its entirety – all the way from Chester to Chepstow. Otherwise, you can hike some of the more prominent sections of the route such as the Pembrokeshire Coast Path or the Gower Peninsula. There are also excellent cliff walks to be done around the 125-mile isle of Anglesey coast path.
Coasteering is a risky and adrenaline-fuelled sport where you traverse a rocky tidal zone by jumping, swimming, and climbing your way along the coast. To go coasteering, you need to have a certain type of landscape to support the needs of such an unusual activity. Fortunately, the marine landscape surrounding Wales has some of the best coasteering conditions in the whole UK.
In fact, in 1985, coasteering was commercialised by TYF in St. Davids, Pembrokeshire. Since then, it has become one of the most popular outdoor activities to do in Wales. If you want to enjoy the original coasteering experience, join TYF on one of their excursions between St Davids and Fishguard where the Blue Lagoon is a particular highlight!
Coasteering is a dangerous activity when done irresponsibly. For that reason, it’s best to go with a guide who knows what they’re doing. Plus, you get to meet other fun people and they often provide a wetsuit, helmet, and life jacket to keep you safe on the excursion!
Scrambling is one of the best outdoor activities to do in Wales as it combines many adventure skills into one sport. Scrambling is a multi-discipline activity that sits somewhere between hiking and rock climbing. It is graded by difficulty from levels 1-4. At the lower grades, it doesn’t require any specialist training or equipment. However, that doesn’t mean a Grade I scramble is easy!
Snowdonia National Park is brimming with great scrambling routes. You could spend a whole summer searching for new trails in the Glyders or around the Snowdon massif. The most popular scramble in the park, and perhaps in the UK, is the Crib Goch trail. This route takes you to the top of Snowdon via a hair-raising ridgeline trail. For another popular scramble, head up Tryfan and jump between the Adam & Eve pillars at the summit to celebrate your achievement!
Caving & Zip Wiring
The Welsh slate mines were once considered a scar on the landscape due to their destructive effect on the earth and the visual impact of their waste heaps. However, due to careful management and many regeneration projects they have since been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They are also the home of some incredible caving and zip wire experiences.
At Zip World, you can try a whole mix of the best outdoor activities to do in Wales. There are swings, high wires, quarry carting, underground trampolining, zip lines, and many more adventures to sink your teeth into. For a more rugged experience with fewer tourists, head to the Brecon Beacons and venture into the UK’s longest cave system with Underground Adventures.
In the UK, Wales is often overlooked by Devon and Cornwall for summer surfing locations. However, when you consider the deep swells that drive off the Atlantic or the turbulent squalls that whip up waves in the Irish Sea, you begin to realise that this region is grossly underrated.
The Gower Peninsula is the perfect place to start your Welsh surfing experience. Rhossili Bay produces excellent beginner beach breaks with some more challenging waves on the rock shelf near the Worm’s Head. Pembrokeshire is another fantastic surfing region with Marloes Sands, Newgale, and Whitesands Bay all producing top-notch waves.
With so many outdoor activities to do in Wales, it’s difficult to know which to choose and where to start! Fortunately, there are hotspots in the country that seem to have more adventures than others. For example, if you like hiking, surfing, sea kayaking, or coasteering, you can visit the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park or the Gower Peninsula AONB. Alternatively, if you want to climb tall peaks, scramble along exposed ridges, or delve into deep caves, visit Snowdonia National Park.
It’s important to remember that many of these top outdoor activities to do in Wales require training, expert knowledge, and equipment to enjoy safely. Therefore, it’s advisable to join a group lesson or tour so you can get to grips with the activity before you attempt to do it yourself. Once you’ve gained some experience and confidence, you can get lost in the adventures that this amazing country has to offer.