Discover Wales: 7 must-do experiences for students

Wales is a beautiful and diverse country with a rich history and a wealth of opportunities for exploration. It has something to offer everyone. So, whether you’re interested in wildlife, music, sandy beaches, delicious local cuisine or unique architecture - make the most of the opportunity of having Wales on your doorstep. Don’t be surprised if you leave wanting more.

Mind your head when stepping inside the smallest house in Great Britain.

1. Walk through the door of the smallest house in Wales (mind your head)

The ‘Quarryman’s Cottage’ in Conwy, North Wales, stands just 3 metres wide and 4.5 metres tall, making it the smallest house in Wales. Originally home to a quarry worker in the 19th century, it now attracts visitors from all over the world who are fascinated by its unique size and architecture. Visitors can step inside the tiny cottage - mind your head on the way through the (also tiny) door - and imagine life in a time when space was at a premium and people lived in much smaller homes than we do today.

Cardigan Bay is home to one of the largest populations of dolphins in the UK.

2. Take a boat trip to see dolphins and seals in their natural habitat

Cardigan Bay on the west coast of Wales is home to one of the largest populations of dolphins in the UK and is also a haven for seals, porpoises and whales (how appropriate). Take a boat trip from ports along the coast to experience these fascinating creatures in their natural habitat. If dolphins are a top priority, we recommend you visit during the summer when the water is warmer to increase your chances of a sighting.

Either way, the scenery is stunning, with miles of sandy beaches, and the area is home to a rich cultural heritage with several historical towns, castles and ruins to explore. If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and enjoy the warm hospitality of the local community - Cardigan Bay is the perfect place.

Fancy a challenge? Try pronouncing the longest village name in Europe

3. Visit the village in Anglesey with the longest name in Europe

Did you know that the village with the longest name in Europe and the second longest one-word place name in the world is in Wales? With a name like Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, it’s no surprise that Welsh learners and non-Welsh speakers struggle to say it out loud. Even Welsh speakers (around 70 per cent of the local population) tend to refer to it with the more manageable Llanfairpwll or Llanfair PG.

So when visiting Anglesey, get yourself across to the railway station in this special place, which has become a bit of an Instagram hot-spot. Don’t leave without a photograph of yourself beside the sign (which includes the rough pronunciation for English speakers if you want to give it a go).

Violins (fiddles), harps and accordions feature strongly in traditional Welsh music.

4. Find out why Wales is known as the 'land of song'

Wales has a strong and vibrant tradition of music, particularly singing. Choral music is perhaps the most famous style - and Wales is world-famous for its male voice choirs. They sing with power and emotion and artfully balance harmony and counterpoint (the art of combining two or more melodies at the same time). Fiddle (violin), harp and accordion also feature strongly in traditional Welsh music.

Wales is home to world-renowned music and singing events, some featuring poetry, dance and other cultural activities. Check out National Eisteddfod, BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition, and the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod for starters. These events are a testament to Wales' diverse and enchanting musical culture.

Have a panad (Welsh for cuppa), and while you're at, it, try out a Welsh cake dusted with sugar.

5. Sample some Welsh culinary delights

Welsh cuisine is known for its hearty and comforting dishes with bold flavours, which use fresh, high-quality local ingredients. Some popular dishes from Wales include:

  • Welsh cakes: small, scone-like cakes usually served warm and dusted with sugar. For context, scones are a rich, slightly savoury pastry often served at breakfast or with tea, especially in the UK.
  • Bara Brith: a fruity bread made with dried fruit and spices, often served with tea.
  • Laverbread: a delicacy made from seaweed and traditionally served with bacon, eggs and cockles (small shellfish with a salty flavour).
  • Cawl: a warming stew made with a combination of lamb or beef, vegetables such as leeks, potatoes and carrots, and a flavourful broth.
  • Welsh Rarebit: a comforting known meal or snack known for its creamy and rich flavour that consists of a savoury cheese sauce containing melted cheese and ingredients such as beer, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and sometimes spices poured over toasted bread.

While traditional Welsh food often centres around meat and dairy products, a growing number of restaurants and cafes in Wales offer vegetarian and vegan options - including adaptations of all the popular dishes mentioned above.

Get adventurous outdoors - mountain biking is a great way to explore Snowdonia National Park.

6. Experience Wales' natural beauty by visiting its outstanding national parks

Wales is home to three stunning national parks. Don't leave until you've visited at least one.

Fill your eyes with peaceful valleys and shimmering lakes in Snowdonia National Park.

Snowdonia National Park, perhaps the most famous internationally, is in North Wales. Immerse yourself in the rugged landscape, and fill your eyes with the peaceful valleys, tumbling waterfalls and shimmering lakes. And, if you’re up to the challenge, try out some adventurous activities such as hiking, rock climbing, kayaking or mountain biking. Whether rather look up at it or down from it, the towering peak of Mount Snowdon - the highest mountain in England and Wales - is waiting for you.

Pen Y Fan or 'the top of the summit' is a challenge to climb - however far you get up, it'll be worth it.

Visit the Brecon Beacons in different seasons for a totally different experience.

The Brecon Beacons National Park is in South Wales. It is known for its rolling hills, impressive mountains, and unique geological formations, which you have to see to believe. At 886 metres above sea level, Pen Y Fan, which roughly translates as ‘top one’ or ‘top of the summit’, is the highest point in the region, and there are several routes which you can take if you decide you want to take on the challenge of reaching the summit.

Beyond the natural beauty of the Brecon Beacons National Park and its endless possibilities for outdoor activities and wildlife watching (you can see red kites, otters and various species of bats), you can also visit historic sites and landmarks. These include the ruined castle of Carreg Cennen and the Iron Age fort of Pen y Crug.

Sandy beaches, rocky shores and blue-green water in Wales? You heard it right.

If you want to go surfing in the UK, head across to the Pembrokeshire Coast to catch some waves - maybe even at sunset.

And finally, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, located in West Wales, is best known for its endlessly beautiful coastal landscapes, featuring towering cliffs, sandy beaches and rocky shores. Why not visit Barafundle Bay for crystal waters and golden sands, Tenby South Beach for swimming, sunbathing (if you’re lucky) and exploring the nearby town, or Freshwater West - a long, wide beach which is popular with local and visiting surfers?

Dusky lights and reflections at Caernarfon Castle.

7. Discover unique Welsh history and architecture at Caernarfon and Cardiff Castle

Built in the 13th century, Caernarfon Castle first served as a military fortress before becoming a royal palace. It is famous as (the now) King Charles III became the Prince of Wales there in 1969. The castle’s unique architecture, including its unusual towers and battlements, make it a popular attraction - especially for those with an interest in medieval history and architecture. It also offers brilliant views of the surrounding area.

Like Caernarfon, Cardiff Castle was also used for many purposes over the years and now serves as a museum. Located in the heart of Cardiff, you can take a few hours away from the delights of Cardiff Bay, to get a tour and learn more about the castle’s historical significance and unique architecture, from Roman walls to medieval fortified towers and Gothic revival apartments. Before you go, check out their agenda as they often host concerts, festivals and cultural events.

After visiting Cardiff Castle, head down to Cardiff Bay to enjoy some local food and cultural.

Cardiff Bay - only about 10-15 mins by public transport from Cardiff Castle - is a modern, vibrant area in the Welsh capital. Once a major industrial centre and docks, it has since been transformed into a hub of cultural and leisure activities and offers stylish restaurants, bars and cultural attractions such as the Wales Millennium Centre, the Senedd (Welsh Parliament Building), and the Norwegian Church Arts Centre. It is also famous for its picturesque waterfront, parks, green spaces and views of the Severn Estuary.

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