The Welsh have a word for feeling homesick and longing for Wales. It's called hiraeth. And it's a feeling you'll understand when you visit.
It might be close to England, but Wales is quite different to its next-door neighbour. It’s a small but mighty country with untouched coastlines, rugged mountains, colourful towns and more castles than anywhere else in the world (yup!). But it’s not just Wales’ natural beauty that’ll steal your heart, it’s the people. From the warm “Alright?” as you step into a cosy cafe, to the intriguing sound of Welsh being spoken among locals in pubs, to the huge crowds proudly belting out the national anthem at a rugby game. Our guides will show you around like a local. Explore rugged mountain landscapes in Snowdonia National Park, hike the wild Pembrokeshire Coast, visit medieval fortresses, learn the lingo and enjoy home-cooked Welsh meals. By the end of your trip, you’ll know exactly why there's no direct translation of hiraeth.
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Wales is often associated with daffodils, leeks and sheep, but there’s much more to this small but mighty country than you may know. The Welsh are a very proud nation and are known to be some of the friendliest and most hospitable people in the world. The people of Wales are a mixture of Welsh, British and several minority immigrant groups.
English and Welsh are spoken across most of Wales, but Welsh is spoken by more than half a million people and is the primary language in some parts of the country, particularly in the north. The Welsh language and many Welsh traditions have roots in Celtic heritage and share similarities with Irish and Scottish culture.
Wales is famous for its vibrant arts culture and has born literary giants such as Dylan Thomas, Roald Dahl and Jan Morris. They also have a busy festival calendar including the Eisteddfod, the largest music and poetry festival in Europe. Rugby is the nations most loved sport and is entrenched in the culture, especially around the time of the Six Nations Rugby League.
Wales is located on the west coast of Britain next to England. The geography is diverse and the landscapes are brimming with natural beauty. In fact, a quarter of Wales is designated a national park or an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. South and West Wales are mostly flat coastal planes, but as you move inland you’ll discover rolling hills, valleys and mountains.
North Wales is the home of Snowdonia (the UK’s second-largest mountain after Ben Nevis in Scotland) which is full of craggy peaks, lakes, waterfalls and greenery. There are also 50 inhabited and uninhabited islands off Wales, many of which are home to an abundance of wildlife including gannets, puffins and Manx shearwater.
The climate in Wales is temperature, meaning it has distinct seasonal changes and diverse temperature ranges throughout the year. Winter is cold, damp and grey while summer sees warmer temperatures and less rain.
The National Eisteddfod is one of the highlights of the Welsh festival calendar. Dating back to 1176, it’s a celebration of Welsh culture, language, poetry, music, dance, literature and just about every other creative outlet in between. It's held during the first week of August every year, and brings 150,000 people together from diverse communities and backgrounds. You don’t have to be Welsh to join in and have fun, and it's an amazing insight into the culture and history of this rich nation.
Take a stunning stretch of Welsh countryside in the Brecon Beacons, add some top-notch musicians and performers, a zero corporate sponsorship ethos and a brilliant range of local suppliers and you have Green Man Festival. It’s grown from a fun field party to one of Europe’s most renowned festivals. The Mountain’s Foot stage is nestled at the foothills of the Black Mountains and works as a natural amphitheatre. There’s also a giant statue of a green man (hence the name). Enjoy communal barbeques, catch a comedy, take part in circus workshops or dance the days and nights away.
Sŵn Festival (sŵn meaning ‘sound’ in Welsh) in Cardiff is a multi-venue three-day music festival hosted by BBC Radio 1. It brings hundreds of bands, musicians and rising stars across Wales and the UK to the vibrant capital city. The great thing about Sŵn Festival is that you’ll discover loads of cool pubs, bars and music venues as you hop from different events. One minute you could be watching an indie-pop band in a converted antique centre, and the next you could be listening to rock jazz in a lively Irish pub.
The Abergavenny Food Festival is a must for all foodies and culinary fanatics. Local farmers and food producers, famous chefs and food journalists gather every September to cook up a storm. You’ll find everything from freshly shucked oysters and cheese boards to Welsh-smoked meats and Indian street food. Not only can you sample your way through some superb dishes, but you can watch live cooking demos, do cookery workshops and listen to experts battle it out on topical debates on all things food. Fill your shopping bag with locally grown fruit n’ veg or treat yourself to some tasty artisan treats to take home with you.
The food scene in Wales is pumping, especially in the bigger towns and cities where you can find cuisines from around the world. But if you want to tuck into traditional Welsh fare, here are some dishes you can try.
Probably the most iconic national dish, Welsh rarebit has made a name for itself all over the world. It's essentially an upgrade of the classic cheese on toast. A mouthwatering mixture made of eggs, cheese, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and beer (trust us on this one, it’s delicious) is slathered on toasted bread and then grilled. It's guaranteed to go down a treat whether it's eaten as a tasty snack, light meal or base for other toppings such as ham, bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms or spinach.
The humble Welsh cake is the nation’s favourite teatime treat. It’s made from a mixture of flour, butter, sugar, eggs, sultanas, raisins and currants that is then shaped into patties and fried on a bakestone. Slightly crisp on the outside with a buttery, melt-in-the-mouth inside, you’ll be reaching for another as soon as you’ve finished your last bite. Welsh cakes are best served straight out of the oven with a piping hot cuppa.
A Glamorgan sausage is a traditional vegetarian sausage made from leek, Caerphilly cheese and breadcrumbs. With a crunchy breadcrumb layer and gooey, cheesy centre, Glamorgan sausages are satiating and packed with flavour. They make a great savoury snack dipped in mustard mayo or they can be served as a main with salad and potatoes.
Cawl is a Welsh classic that feels like a warm hug after every spoonful. It’s a hearty stew made from Welsh lamb and seasonal veggies including swede, carrots, parsnips and potatoes. It’s a simple and healthy dish that is perfect to warm up on a cold winter’s day. Cawl is best served with a dollop of Caerphilly cheese and a wedge of crusty bread slathered with butter.
Everyone travelling on an Intrepid trip must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of carriage.
All travellers are required to produce:
- Proof of COVID-19 vaccination
- All children aged 5 to 17 years old must provide proof of vaccination (if eligible), proof of recovery or a negative COVID-19 test.
- If you are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons, you may apply for an exemption. Exemptions will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. To apply, you must provide a medical certificate from a medical professional.
In all cases, you must be fully inoculated. This means you must receive the full dosage of the COVID-19 vaccine and allow enough time for immunity to take effect. Each COVID-19 vaccine has different dosages and timeframes for inoculation, so please check the relevant medical advice associated with your vaccine.
Visas in the UK are granted on a UK wide basis, so if you’re coming from overseas and have been given a visa it will be valid for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Visa regulations are always subject to change, which is more likely after Britain's exit from the European Union (EU), It's essential to check before leaving home on GOV.UK. Citizens of the EU, Australia, Canada and the United States have visa-free access to Wales provided you meet the immigration rules.
Tipping isn’t customary in Wales, but you’re welcome to round up the bill or leave some spare change if you’re happy with a service. This is common in cafes, restaurants, bars and taxis. It's never usually more than 10% of the bill. Some restaurants add a service charge of 10% or 12.5% to the bill, so there’s no need to tip in this case. For taxis, it’s quite normal to round up the fare to the nearest pound.
“Alright?” = Hello, how are you?
“Cwtch” = a hug/cuddle
“Where you to?” = Where are you?
“Lush” = (from luscious) meaning very nice, amazing, gorgeous
“Tamping” = a term used to describe your anger or frustration at something
“Drive” = bus or taxi driver, e.g. when you get off the bus it’s common to say “Cheers, drive”
“Chopsing” = arguing or getting mouthy
“What’s occurin’?” a term meaning “Hello, what’s happening?” that was popularised in BBC sitcom Gavin and Stacey
“I’m not being funny” = a term used before someone says something serious and perhaps offensive
You’ll have reliable Wi-Fi and mobile data in Wales’ cities, towns and villages. Internet access can be patchy in rural and remote areas such as Snowdonia National Park.
You’ll have mobile coverage across most of Wales, except for some rural and remote areas. Remember to activate global roaming with your provider if you’re travelling from overseas and wish to use your mobile while travelling.
Cup of coffee = £2.50
Pint of beer = £3.50
Glass of wine = £4.00
Cafe or pub lunch = £10-12
Dinner at a mid-range restaurant = £25-30
Major credit cards are widely accepted in shops and hotels in the UK. Smaller shops may not accept credit cards and it’s never a bad idea to carry some cash for smaller purchases like a coffee or if you’re splitting bills with your group.
ATMs are called cash machines or cashpoints in the UK. You’ll see plenty of them around on main streets and shopping centres. You can use Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, Plus, Amex and Cirrus at most Welsh cash machines, as well as international bank cash machines in big cities like Cardiff and Swansea.
Absolutely. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every trip.
Please speak to your Adventure Consultant at the time of booking if you need assistance arranging insurance. Learn more about travel insurance.
Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. We’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.
Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.
How we're giving back
In Wales we stay in locally run accommodation including guesthouses, smaller-scale hotels and homestays in an effort to support the local economies. We also visit locally run restaurants and markets where travellers will have opportunities to support local businesses and purchase handicrafts created by local artisans.