Wales (visitwales.com) lets the stats work for it: 641 castles, 11-million sheep, 1, 200 kilometres of coastline and one very happy Royal couple. While mobs of sheep may not compete with the pomp and international flair of the Games (though the sheltered presence of Prince William and his bride on the Welsh island of Anglesey may do), a side trip to this rising destination would prove memorable.
So what to do and see? Kensington Tours (kensingtontours.com), which specializes in tailored, private-guided travel, suggests this tour of Northern Wales, starting and ending in Cardiff.
Cardiff, the country’s capital city, about two hours from London, is a good starting off point before heading north. Founded by the Romans and built around a castle, this university town is home to Edwardian shopping arcades and a redeveloped waterfront. (Be sure to make time for a leisurely lunch at Ffresh Restaurant in the Millennium Centre.)
Snowdonia National Park offers sparsely populated, unspoilt countryside. “It’s a magnificent area of the country: very rugged, obviously very mountainous,” says Lynne Pettit, a UK specialist with Kensington. “Snowdonia is simply the place to go for anyone travelling in Wales.” Here, you can go underground to experience the world of a Victorian slate miner or climb the rails up Snowdon Mountain, the highest peak in England and Wales.
Send postcards from Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwlllantysiliogogogoch, the town with, yes, the longest place name in Wales and one of the longest in the world. (Translation: “St. Mary’s Church in the hollow of white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the church of St. Tysilio near the red cave.”)
Visit Llandudno, the Victorian seaside town where the girl who inspired Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland spent her summer vacations.
Climb to the turrets at the “Ring of Steel” castles (whc.unesco.org/en/list/374) on the northwest coast built during Edward I’s reign. These include Conwy, Carmarthen, Harlech and Beaumaris, to name just a few, Pettit says.
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Follow Karan Smith on Twitter: @karan_smith. Special to The Globe and Mail
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