Wales Adventure Holidays

written by
Portia Jones

updated 27.04.2023

Experience Wales adventure holidays amidst luscious valleys, dense forests, majestic mountains, and serene lakes. Despite the country's modest size and unpredictable weather, Wales offers a wide range of outdoor activities and stunning nature, making it an ideal destination for adventure seekers.

The information in this article is inspired by The Rough Guide to Wales, your essential guide for visiting Wales.

Mountain biking in the Elan Valley

The Elan Valley is a picturesque river valley in the Cambrian Mountains, situated to the west of the town of Rhayader. The Elan estate covers approximately 70 square miles of peaceful reservoirs, dams and countryside. It also has a growing reputation as a biking hotspot in Wales.

One of the best ideas for Wales adventure holidays here is mountain biking through the rugged and awe-inspiring landscape. You can bring your own bike or book a guided mountain bike tour of the area. Seek out expert companies, like MTB Wales, to help you navigate the rocky trails with a seasoned pro.

It's pretty sweet to bike through epic trails around wild, Welsh landscapes and not see another soul. You'll pass by grassy valleys, trickling streams and plenty of wildlife when you explore the Elan Valley on two wheels. Be sure to cycle by some of the iconic Elan Valley Reservoirs to get gorgeous snaps of these photogenic and historic dams.

High angle view of water works buildings in a valley, Elan Valley, Wales © Christopher Willans/Shutterstock

Waterworks buildings in a valley, Elan Valley, Wales © Christopher Willans/Shutterstock

Hiking in Pumlumon Fawr

Unlike other tourist-heavy hiking hotspots in Wales, there are no crowds, queues or cafés at Pumlumon Fawr, the most secret mountain in Wales. At 2468ft, the elusive Pumlumon Fawr is the highest point in the Cambrian Mountains area.

It's a mountain that has largely escaped the attention of day-trippers and selfie-seekers, who instead head to the familiar peaks of Snowdon and Pen y Fan, for those coveted Instagram shots. This might be because it's definitely not an easy 'give it a go' kind of mountain. There are no marked trails, toilets, tour groups, or exiting via the gift shop here. It's truly the last wilderness in Wales.

Pumlumon Fawr is probably best suited to Wales adventure holidays for hardcore adventure enthusiasts who aren't afraid of a challenge and can read a map. If in doubt, book a guided hike with a professional mountain guide, so you don't end up lost on this remote mountain.

Be sure to walk the picturesque Caradoc Jones Trail to the summit. It's a scenic yet challenging route through some of the most tranquil scenery in Wales, where you're unlikely to see another soul.

Ogwen Valley in Snowdonia National Park, Wales © Kath Watson/Shutterstock

Ogwen Valley in Snowdonia National Park, Wales © Kath Watson/Shutterstock

Multi-activity adventures in North Wales

North Wales has long positioned itself as the home of Wales adventure holidays. It's become a popular hub for all types of adrenaline-pumping outdoor activities all year round. Most activities are concentrated around the craggy peaks of the Snowdonia National Park, boasting over 823 square miles of adventure playground with a mountainous backdrop.

North Wales has managed to successfully utilise its dramatic landscapes and also repurpose their industrial heritage into world-class adventure attractions. Former quarries, historic slate mines and decaying industrial estates have now been transformed into exhilarating zip-wire zones, underground trampolines and innovative surf lagoons.

The mountainous terrain and tranquil lakes also lend themselves to Wales adventure holidays and are used as multi-activity destinations. If you want to pack in a range of adventure sports in a short amount of time, then check out the National Outdoor Centre, Plas-y-Brenin. Here, you'll find adventure breaks and courses that include paddle sports, mountain biking, abseiling, gorge walking and kayaking.

Abandoned slate mine barracks at Cwmorthin quarry Snowdonia North Wales © Christopher Chambers/Shutterstock

Abandoned slate mine barracks at Cwmorthin quarry Snowdonia North Wales © Christopher Chambers/Shutterstock

Coasteering in Pembrokeshire

One of the must-do outdoor activities in Wales is coasteering. Get your heart racing as you bravely scramble your way across the dramatic Welsh coastline – just don't look down! This challenging activity will likely push you way out of your comfort zone as you boldly jump off cliffs, traverse rocky outcrops and plunge into frothy pools.

One of the best places for coasteering in Wales is Pembrokeshire. This picturesque part of Wales has over 86 miles of ruggedly beautiful coastline to explore during your Wales adventure holidays.

Experience the exhilaration of leaping from land to sea in the tiny city St Davids, the birthplace of coasteering. You should only attempt to scale the precarious Welsh sea cliffs under the expert guidance of adventure professionals. Book your saltwater thrills with outdoor specialists like Big Blue Adventures and explore the coastline safely.

Find more accommodation options to stay in Pembrokeshire, also, you can find some eco-friendly places to stay in Pembrokeshire in our guide to places to stay in Wales for a sustainable trip.

Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, near St David's in Wales © AlanMorris/Shutterstock

Pembrokeshire Coastal Path is one of the best destinations for Wales adventure holidays © AlanMorris/Shutterstock

Paddleboarding in the Wye Valley

The Wye Valley borders England and Wales and is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. One of the most natural features in the area is the flowing River Wye. This meandering river begins in Plynlimon (in mid-Wales) and flows south, becoming part of the border between Wales and England, and then eventually meeting the Severn.

It's the perfect place for Wales adventure holidays to try your hand at paddleboarding. Stand-up paddleboarding – or SUP – is an entertaining activity for all the family and is suitable for most ages and abilities.

You will definitely need to put a fair amount of effort into staying upright and balanced when you start! It's pretty much guaranteed you'll all fall in at some point, so perhaps take a waterproof camera to capture the most hilarious fails.

Gently paddling down the river is a unique way of experiencing the beautiful scenery of the Wye Valley, spotting wildlife and getting a great core muscle workout at the same time. Several companies in the area offer a range of SUP experiences for all ages, including the family-run company Inspire2Adventure.

Find more accommodation options to stay in the Wye Valley

Meandering River Wye © Matthew Dixon/Shutterstock

Meandering River Wye © Matthew Dixon/Shutterstock

Hillwalking in the Brecon Beacons - one of the best Wales adventure holidays destinations

The wildly popular Brecon Beacons has some of the most glorious landscapes and flowing waterfalls in South Wales. Its impressive peaks and ridges bring a sense of haunting beauty and provide a range of strenuous hill walking opportunities.

There are hill walks in the Beacons that are suited to all abilities, from easy circular walks to the high mountain summits.

For some of the best views of the Brecon Beacons, hike up the highest peak in the Brecon Beacons National Park, Pen-y-Fan. Enjoy panoramic views of the Brecon landscape on a scenic ten-mile hike. The majority of walkers hike the well-trodden route to the summit from Storey Arms Activity Centre. There's also a less crowded ascent via the path up from Taf Fechan Forest past Neuadd Reservoir.

Note that one of the best road trips in the UK starts with the Brecon Beacons, so it's a great starting point to travel in Wales to capture all the places you want to visit here.

Find more accommodation options to stay in the Brecon Beacons

 Llyn Ogwen Lake and falls, Wales © Antonio Coppola/Shutterstock

Llyn Ogwen Lake and Falls, Wales © Antonio Coppola/Shutterstock

Sea kayaking in Anglesey

The island of Anglesey (Ynys Môn) is a world apart. Its low green fields and farms are a far cry from the mountains of Snowdonia, and compared to its neighbour – hardly a region of whirlwind modernity itself – the pace of life is even slower. This is a place to amble along backroads, lingering over the sea views and superb coastal scenery.

The main tourist town is Beaumaris, thanks to its beautiful setting and castle. Following the south coast clockwise you’ll find a string of minor sights and lovely beaches on the way to Holy Island (Ynys Gybi). It barely deserves the name, in truth, since it’s just a few yards off the northwest coast and connected by road and rail causeways.

Come for the fine beaches at Rhoscolyn and Trearddur Bay – the sandy coves and rocky headlands here provide superb sea kayaking and there’s good kitesurfing – or for the impressive sea-bird cliffs around South Stack. And if you want to experience life in the slow lane, you could stroll around the whole lot in a fortnight or so on the 125-mile Anglesey Coast Path.

Llandwyn Island off Newborough Beach Isle of Anglesey North Wales © Shutterstock

Llandwyn Island off Newborough Beach Isle of Anglesey North Wales © Shutterstock

Taking a surf lesson on the Gower Peninsula

Thrusting into the Bristol Channel west of Swansea, the nineteen-mile Gower (Gŵyr) peninsula is fringed by sweeping yellow bays and precipitous cliffs, caves and blowholes to the south. Gower starts in Swansea’s western suburbs, along the coast of Swansea Bay, which curves around to a point in the charmingly old-fashioned and increasingly swish resort of Mumbles and Mumbles Head.

Rhossili Bay, a breathtaking four-mile span of sand backed by the village of Rhossili, occupies the entire western end of Gower from Worms Head to the islet of Burry Holms. When conditions are right, it provides some of the best surfing in Wales.

The northern coast merges into the tidal flats of the estuary, running past the salted marsh of Llanrhidian, overlooked by the gaunt ruins of Weobley Castle, and on to the famous cockle beds at Penclawdd. Mumbles aside, there’s not a lot of accommodation on Gower, so you’d do well to make reservations in advance, including for campsites.

Find more accommodation options to stay on the Gower Peninsula with our guide to where to stay on the Welsh coast.

Silhouette of surfer on Westward Ho! beach North Devon © lewislaw/Shutterstock

Gower Peninsula © Shutterstock

Get ready to explore Britain on this unique self-drive tailor-made Great British Road Trip. Choose the car of your liking before you hit the road: from the Cotswolds and its picturesque villages over the Beatle's favourite hang-out in Liverpool to Scotland's capital Edinburgh: this trip includes many highlights to be explored

Ready to travel to Wales? Check out the snapshot of The Rough Guide to Wales.

If you prefer to plan and book your trip to Wales without any effort and hassle, use the expertise of our local travel experts to make sure your trip will be just like you dream it to be.

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Portia Jones

written by
Portia Jones

updated 27.04.2023

Portia is a freelance travel writer, podcaster and radio presenter, with her own travel websites. She also writes for a range of travel websites and outlets including the Travel Magazine, Culture Trip, Rough Guides, Insight Guides and Bradt Guides. She also has a weekly travel podcast - Travel Goals, that provides actionable travel tips and advice to listeners and she also presents 'Travel Zone' on Travel Radio every week. Follow her on Twitter @pip_says and Instagram @pipsays

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