Wales has stolen the hearts of many and for very good reason. The dulcet tones synonymous with the friendly-faced Welsh represent a country chock-full of warmth; a place where dragons, daffodils and the humble leek are all symbolic of the tranquillity and drama of the land. Six vibrant cities, five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and more castles per mile than anywhere else in the world are jam-packed into this spectacular pocket of Great Britain.

Thundering waterfalls, foodie festivals, crumbling ruins hidden in leafy valleys, snow-dusted mountains, enormous skies and golden beaches that stretch for miles and miles. Whatever season you visit, here we round up our top picks of how to make the most of your time in Wales.

What to see

Beaches and bays

The Wales Coast Path is the first in the world to follow a country’s coastline in its entirety and this rugged trail stretches an incredible 870 miles. Inviting ramblers to dip into the ocean at any point along the way, you can expect to find stunning beaches to rival those in the tropics of the southern hemisphere: Rhossili Bay, Mwnt, Marloes Sands, Barafundle Beach, Llandanwg and Poppit Sands are amongst the best.

Castles and ruins

If romantic ruins against a backdrop of colourful leaves speak to your inner poet, then Tintern Abbey in the Wye Valley is a national icon of Wales and a must-visit. Among the many (and there are many) historic castles to choose from, history buffs will know that Edward I built a quartet of strongholds which have been granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status in Conwy, Harlech, Caernarfon and Beaumaris.

Waterfall watching

Impressive year-round, visiting at least one waterfall comes highly recommended on the itinerary (especially after heavy rainfall). Rightly dubbed the ‘The King of Welsh Falls’ and one of the Seven Wonders of Wales, the water of North Wales’ Pistyll Rhaedr hurtles down a 240-foot cliff face plunging into the lush wooded gorge below. Alternatively, in South Wales within an SSSI on the edge of the Brecon Beacons, you’ll find proud Henrhyd Falls standing at 90 feet tall amongst an atmospheric valley. This waterfall is immortalised in film as the entrance to the Batcave in The Dark Knight Rises.

What to do

Island hopping

Dolphins, porpoises, whales, puffins and seals; Wales has them all and then some. In fact, Cardigan Bay is home to a resident bottlenose dolphin colony, one of only two in Britain. To make the most of wildlife spotting, a boat trip to the islands off the Welsh coastline makes for an unforgettable day. Guides can take passengers to islands such as Skomer and Ramsey just off the coast of Pembrokeshire, and Bardsey that sits off the Llŷn Peninsula.

National Parks

If there’s something about Wales, it’s that it doesn't do things by halves. Offering up not one, not two, two but three expansive national parks, the scenery is breathtaking. Snow-dusted mountains dominate the skyline in both the north and south, mists swirling over their summits while carpets of bright greens stretch as far as the eye can see. Mirror-like glacial lakes sit still as a millpond, reflecting the clouds scudding across the never-ending skies above. Or if being by the seaside is more your thing, known as the 'home of outdoor adventure', you can opt for a change of pace and take to the clear ocean waters in high energy activities. It’s a hard decision to pick one, but you can choose from the Pembrokeshire Coast, Snowdonia or the Brecon Beacons National Parks.

The Slate Landscape

Once upon a time, mining slate from the abundant Snowdonia mountains was a profitable affair; slate from here can be found on almost every continent that makes up this beautiful Earth. The land is indisputably shaped by this, the ginormous shelves that have been carved into the landscape are nothing short of exceptional, resembling steps up to the mountain summits fit for a giant. One of four UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Wales, the Slate Landscape is a living legacy.

What to eat and drink

Abergavenny Food Festival

The annual Abergavenny Food Festival is renowned for gathering the best chefs and celebrating the sheer joy of food. Over a weekend, the town transforms as hundreds of cheerful stalls pop up and the air fills with enticing scents. You can head along to demonstrations, meet and greets and even the occasional hearty debate, enjoy a spot of dancing at the castle and of course, sample some mouthwatering treats.

Ty Coch Inn, Porthdinllaen, Morfa Nefyn

Accessed only by foot or boat and marooned on the edge of the Irish Sea, the Ty Coch Inn is a stunning little pub with big character in the fishing village of Porthdinllaen. Sitting on a crescent of golden sand and with an outdoor bar for those balmy summer days, plonking down on the sand in front of this red-brick inn with a glass of something cold is an exceptional way to enjoy an afternoon in North Wales.

Y Meirionnydd Townhouse, Dolgellau, Gwynedd

An atmospheric restaurant located in the medieval cellar of a former county jail, enjoy an aperitif in the bar upstairs before descending into the depths below to dine (if you’re 5ft 10 or above, be prepared to stoop when standing). Think gravlax cured in beetroot and brandy with Welsh lamb rump on rösti.

Palé Hall, Llandderfel, Bala

Palé Hall in Bala sets the tone for destination dining if you’re looking for an elegant affair. Opt for a delectable afternoon tea paired with a crisp glass of Laurent-Perrier to live out a period drama or indulge in an eight-course tasting complete with wine flight for a special occasion. Whatever you choose from the menu, a wander around the 16 acres of gardens afterwards is all but mandatory.

Where to stay

Whether it's a cottage by the sea, a farmhouse in the mountains or even your very own windmill, discover our luxury accommodation in Wales.