I can’t believe its taken us 2 years to drive out to Wales… but we have finally done so. We waited until Christmas break since both boys were on holiday and the prices to fly off the island are insane. We found some really great deals on premier inn’s during the week after Christmas (think 40 pounds a night) and decided to hotel hop along the southern coast. We will save North Wales for another trip..a warmer trip.
Fun fact: my husband’s family is from Wales and he was a dual citizen before enlisting in the military. His grandfather was in the Royal Navy but they have lived in America for quite some time now. It’s always fun taking the boys around to places they can see their heritage. We made sure to get the Welsh flags for their rooms so they can always remember their time there.
Day 1: Cardiff
We stayed in the city center and spent a good amount of time just walking around and shopping. There is a castle right in the center but we elected not to tour and just take pictures from the outside. We took the train down to Cardiff Bay where this also a lot of restaurants and shopping. You can take a 20 minute boat ride around the bay for 3 pounds a person. The boys had a great time and the captain let them drive the boat for a bit. There is also a hands on science museum called Techniquest where you can spend a couple of hours.
We drove to Caerphilly where the largest castle in Wales is located (second largest in the U.K.). We set aside a few hours of the day just to tour the castle since there is a lot for the boys to do. Unfortunately, as soon as we parked the car it started to sleet and we made the decision to just keep moving about our day. I have seen plenty of castles at this point and making the kids miserable wasn’t worth it. Seeing from the outside though its evident as a great place to stop with kids, and gorgeous!
If you look up Brecon Beacons National Park you will see that this is somewhere I probably could have done as a vacation all its own. Green hills, waterfalls, the country- its my style. Being on limited time and in cold, wet weather we opted to pick one waterfall. Henryd Falls is easy to get to and not far from the car park with minimal hiking. We were able to have the place to ourselves. In warmer weather you can actually walk under the waterfall. We didn’t attempt this because even standing in front of it we were getting wet. It’s very misty.
The Mumbles is a cute little seaside village just south of Swansea. I imagine in the summer months it gets very busy. Aside from the beach there is shopping, a pier, and restaurants. Not a lot going on down here in the rainy winter so we spent about 30 minutes walking the area of the pier. Well, I actually missed it altogether because Carter was napping and I didn’t have the heart to wake him up.
On the way back to Swansea there is a beach called Three Cliffs Bay. It is a secluded beach that requires a 40 minute hike to get to from the nearest car park. Since we were nearing sunset we found a road with an overlook to get pictures from a distance.
We stayed the night in Swansea and arrived after dark (3:30 pm). After getting some ice cream from a famous local creamery, we took the boys to a play place so they could have some fun and burn some energy. Unfortunately, we also got a case of hand, foot, and mouth disease along with our play. It started with Carter…then Kellan….then Mama. We all slowly developed a fever and it put a damper on the rest of the trip- but c’est la vie. I don’t know how Ben avoided getting it.
We made our way out west to the Pembrokeshire coast. Our first stop ended up being my favorite in South Wales. Tenby is a picturesque seaside city that looks like something you would see in Italy. This place is probably packed in the summertime. We had a good meal, walked around and spent some time at our happy place- the beach! I saw just as many dogs here as a did people so it’s a great place to go when traveling with dogs. I would love to come back here when its warmer and sunny. We probably say that for a lot of places in the United Kingdom but summers here are short there is just no way to fit it all in during that time.
Pembrokeshire continued to impress me. Barafundle Bay and Church Doors cove are two bays separated by a peninsula. With Carter starting to not feel well we parked and took turns exploring the area. The views of the cliffs are gorgeous and the “door” is a cave in the sandstone cliff. There are stairs that lead down to the beach but we arrived during high tide and the waves were quite stormy and crashing right at the base of the stairs. If you want to spend time on the beach here make sure to check the tide schedule first.
We stayed the night at a cute inn by the water in Pembroke Dock. This would be a good base point for anyone wanting to explore Pembrokeshire (which you should-its beautiful).
St. Govans Chapel is named after an Irish monk that lived in a limestone cave in the 6th century. While some of it can be dated back that far, most was built in the 13th century. It was said he was hiding from pirates and decided to live amongst the limestone while warning the locals of possible attacks. Good place to stop if you like to mix history with the gorgeous views.
On our way out of Wales we stopped at the McArthur Outlet mall. This is a good place to stop for anyone traveling with kids because it has a good food court and indoor playground.
Next stop: New Years Day back in England- Bath