With some of the country’s finest beaches and mountain ranges, a rich history and culturally diverse cities, Wales has a feast of attractions for the intrepid traveler. As UK residents increasingly indulge in ‘staycations’ rather than jetting off to foreign climes, countries such as Wales are being investigated for their potential to entertain and delight. In 2010, tourists spent £3.28 billion in Wales, an increase of £14 million since 2007, according to walesonline.co.uk.
The results of Intel’s Visual Wonders of the World poll listed the Gower Peninsula in the top ten must-see locations. In 1956, the Gower was the first place in Wales designated "An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty" the peninsula continues to delight holidaymakers with its miles of unspoilt beaches, cliff-top walks, prehistoric standing stones, caves, dunes and marshes. The lennoxherald.co.uk reported that Wales’ highest mountain, Snowdon, was voted as one of the "Seven Wonders of the UK". Other naturally formed attractions include the National Showcaves of Wales at Dan-yr-Ogof in the Upper Swansea Valley.
Once famed as a bustling dockland, Cardiff Bay was developed in 1987 into a massive commercial centre filled with hotels, restaurants and shopping centres. The mudflats have been turned into a large freshwater lake that plays home to yacht races and watersports of all kinds throughout the summer. In Swansea, the development of the Maritime Quarter follows a similar ideal of waterside cafes and many shopping opportunities. Sports fans should not miss the chance to visit the giant Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, with its 72,500 seats and sliding roof.
Despite its relatively small size, Wales has 641 castles, most of which are more than 700 years old. According to a survey cited by the BBC, foreign visitors put Welsh castles as their "must-do" activity on any trip to the UK. The most popular castles are those at Cardiff, Caernarfon, Penrhyn, Conwy and Powis. Other historical attractions include the medieval Llangollen bridge and the curative waters of St Winefride's well in Holywell, both popularised in a verse called the ‘Seven Wonders of Wales’, which was written by an anonymous traveller in the 18th century.
The architectural masterpiece that is the Wales Millennium Centre is home to several major cultural organizations, such as the Welsh National Opera, HiJinx Theatre and Ty Cerdd (Music Centre of Wales). According to walesonline.co.uk, the free-entry museums in South Wales represent 40 per cent of Wales’ main attractions market. Lonely Planet describes the National Museum Wales as "one of Britain’s best museums".
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- Lennox Herald; Visitors vote loch a UK ‘wonder’
- Wales Online; Welsh tourism strategy branded 'a disaster' amid calls for return of Wales Tourist Board; Robin Turner
- Intel: UK Votes Stonehenge as the world’s must-see destination in Intel’s Seven Visual Wonders of the World poll
- Explore Gower: Exploring the Gower Penninsula
- BBC: Welsh castles top Visit Britain's 'must see' list
- The Guardian: The seven wonders of Wales