Enchanting castles, a rocky coastline and a warm culture…. if you’re thinking of visiting Wales in winter, this article’s for you!
The charming country of Wales in the United Kingdom might not have the best weather all year round, but we more than make up for it with our impressive landscapes, rich history and fascinating culture.
Wales is home to a vast range of exciting attractions that suit every kind of traveller.
It doesn’t matter if you love brisk walks along the coast or getting lost in the city, there’s something for everyone, no matter the weather!
Speaking of the weather… in Wales, it can be unpredictable so most attractions are all-weather.
If you’re used to cold winters like those in Central and Eastern Europe, you’ll probably find the Welsh winter quite mild!
Besides, visiting the country’s best spots is much more enjoyable out of the busy summer season.
I grew up in Wales, not too far away from Snowdonia National Park in North Wales. I’ve explored the length and breadth of the country so I know exactly what it has to offer.
In this blog post, I’m going to show you all the best places to visit in Wales in winter so you can plan the perfect trip!
Reasons to visit Wales in the winter
So, why should you visit Wales in winter?
Here are some of the main reasons you should plan a Wales winter getaway:
Plenty of Indoor Attractions
The weather in Wales can be quite unpredictable – even in the summer.
As a result, Wales offers an enormous range of all-weather attractions, many of which stay open even in the coldest months.
Large cities like Cardiff and Swansea are jam-packed with indoor and outdoor attractions like museums, sports centres, and even underground sights.
Meanwhile, if the weather’s kind, you can enjoy wintery walks along the coastline and climb mountains.
By far one of the best things about visiting Wales in winter is the lack of tourists.
Compared to the summer months, Wales is a lot quieter in winter.
It isn’t uncommon to have entire hiking trails and popular tourist attractions all to yourself during the Welsh winter.
Having said that, some cities do still tend to be busy with Christmas shoppers!
You might also be pleased to hear that Wales is a lot cheaper in winter.
You’ll be able to find better deals when it comes to flights, accommodations, and even restaurants that tend to offer deals between January and February.
You will find inflated prices around the Christmas period in some places, but even then there are opportunities to find a bargain.
If you’re a big foodie like me, you’ll quickly come to love the food in Wales. The food on offer is pretty great all year round, but things are taken to the next level in winter.
Tourists are treated to roast dinners in quaint pubs, Christmas market goodies, and delicious festive drinks. What’s not to like?
Places to visit in Wales in winter
Like England in winter, there are plenty of places to visit in Wales during the cold season.
Here are some of my favourites. Be sure to visit some of these during your trip!
It may not be as popular as other European cities, but Cardiff is an excellent place to visit all year round.
However, it’s particularly good for a winter break, mainly because there’s lots to do and the weather isn’t too cold.
In winter, Cardiff comes to life with a Winter Wonderland and Christmas Markets.
Try local foods, buy Christmas gifts, and turn your hand to ice skating. The whole time, you’ll be surrounded by bright lights, Christmas trees, and festive cheer.
If you’re travelling with little ones, take them to see Santa Claus in Winter Wonderland.
One of my favourite places in Cardiff is the St. Fagans National Museum of History. Just 19 minutes outside the city, this museum allows tourists to see how people traditionally lived in Wales.
It’s also worth doing the short trip to Caerphilly Castle, one of the best castles in Wales.
A gem of South Wales, the Gower Peninsula has long been a beacon for those who yearn for rugged coastlines, unspoiled natural beauty, and a touch of traditional Welsh charm.
It’s a place where every turn on the coastal path reveals a new picturesque view, and each village has its own character and story!
Starting with Swansea, the gateway to the Gower Peninsula, boasts a rich maritime history, evident in its revitalized waterfront and Maritime Quarter.
Spend a day exploring the Swansea Maritime Museum, stroll along the vibrant marina, or take in a match at the Liberty Stadium. Then, venture out to enjoy Swansea Bay’s expansive beach.
A short drive away lies the delightful village of Port Eynon.
Known for its beautiful beach and welcoming atmosphere, Port Eynon Beach is a must-visit for anyone travelling to the Gower Peninsula in winter.
Take in a stunning winter sunrise and enjoy the crashing waves before walking along the shore.
Between Swansea and Port Eynon, there’s much more to explore.
The coastal path offers opportunities for long walks where you can witness breathtaking cliffs and hidden coves.
Rhossili Bay stands out as one of Wales’ premier beaches, with its wide expanse of sand and dramatic Worm’s Head promontory.
For a taste of local culture, pay a visit to Oystermouth Castle in the seaside town of Mumbles or indulge in local cuisine at one of the area’s award-winning restaurants.
If you’re planning a visit to the Gower Peninsula during winter, dress warmly and keep an eye on the local weather forecast, especially if you’re intending to hike along the coastal path.
Snowdonia National Park
I only live an hour away from Snowdonia National Park so I might be a bit biased, but in my opinion, Snowdonia is easily one of the most beautiful places in Wales.
Snowdonia National Park is a large region in northwest Wales.
It’s most famous for its stunning mountain landscapes, historical parks, and of course, Mount Snowdon, the tallest mountain in Wales.
In winter, the atmosphere in Snowdonia is unparalleled – although you’ll need warm winter clothes!
The best attractions include Mount Snowdon (if the weather’s okay), Coed Felenrhyd & Llennyrch, Bala Lake, and the Coastal Way in Cardigan Bay.
There are some beautiful towns to explore in and around Snowdonia too.
Some of my favourites include Llanberis, Conwy, Llandudno, and Harlech.
If you’re looking for a unique attraction, look out for the Lonely Tree on Llyn Padarn Lake in Llanberis – or head to the National Slate Museum.
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park
Another national park you should visit during your winter break in Wales is Pembrokeshire Coast.
Established as a national park in 1952, there are more than 240 impressive square miles of rich landscape waiting to be discovered.
The main attraction here is a coastal walk that offers miles of coastal views and golden sand beaches.
You’ll want to wrap up as the weather here can get quite bad in winter – but don’t let the harsh winds and cold sea breeze put you off.
Visit Amroth, Tenby, Saundersfoot, and Newgale if you’re looking for the best beaches.
Newgale Beach is my personal favourite.
The 900 year old Carew Castle is a highlight, but it is usually closed over the winter months.
Travelling with children? Don’t mis the Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo.
Brecon Beacons National Park
I have family in the Brecon Beacons so I’ve visited multiple times and it’s still one of those places that blows me away every time I visit.
If you love panoramic views, challenging hikes, dense forests, and small villages, the Brecon Beacons are for you.
Admittedly, getting around the Brecon Beacons in the snow can be hard, but you’d be very unlucky to encounter serious snowfall.
I’ve stayed in the Brecon Beacons in winter five or six times and I’ve never seen any snow.
During your time in the national park, you should prioritise hiking up Pen y Fan.
This is a steep 886-metre mountain that offers stunning views of the park’s mountainous landscape.
After hiking up Pen y Fan, drop back down into Brecon for something to eat.
For delicious pub grub, check out one of my local favourites – The Brecon Tap.
I also recommend exploring Crickhowell and Llangorse during your visit.
Chepstow, a charming town on the River Wye’s banks, perfectly combines history and contemporary experiences.
Its main attraction, Chepstow Castle, has watched over the town since the 11th century and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.
The walking routes around Chepstow are well-loved by both locals and visitors.
The Wye Valley Walk offers a chance to explore the natural beauty of the area, leading you through serene landscapes adorned with winter’s touch.
Feeling hungry after a hike?
The Riverside Wine Bar offers an array of tapas-style dishes alongside an extensive wine list, perfect for a warm, elegant dinner.
If you’re looking for a cosy atmosphere with local flavours, The Boat Inn dates back to the 18th century and boasts a traditional menu with modern twists.
Conwy is a small, yet popular walled market town in North Wales. Inside the castle wall, you’ll find a colourful town packed with beautiful houses, cafes, and restaurants.
Conwy is one of the best places to visit in Wales in winter because there’s so much to do indoors.
If you have a warmer day during your visit, you could visit Conwy Morfa Beach.
Here, you’ll find a quiet white sand beach and amazing coastal views.
The area around the town is also great for hiking.
When it comes to finding something to eat, you simply have to grab some fish and chips and sit in Conwy Quay – just remember your coat!
In my opinion, the Fisherman’s Chip Shop does the best fish and chips in town.
Next up is Anglesey. This is a large island that sits off the mainland’s northwest coast. It isn’t too far away from Conwy so you could quite easily visit both in the same day.
Accessed via a 19th-century suspension bridge called the Menai Bridge, the island has something for everyone, no matter the weather.
On milder winter days, there are plenty of forests, parks, and beaches to explore.
Some of the most popular include Newborough Forest and Parys Mountain.
On cooler, rainier days, the medieval town of Beaumaris is well worth a visit.
You’ll also find several epic lighthouses worth hiking to on Anglesey.
I recommend visiting South Stack Lighthouse, Penmon Lighthouse, and Point Lynas Lighthouse first.
You could visit Holyhead for the day, but I find that the smaller towns on the island have more to offer. For example, Beaumaris has the castle and Beaumaris Gaol and Court (this is often closed in the winter, but do check as they’re hoping to open it more in the future!).
Portmeirion is the perfect place for a winter holiday in Wales.
It’s also arguably the most bizarre and unique place in the country!
If you’ve not heard or seen Portmeirion before, you’re seriously missing out.
Found in Gwynedd, North Wales, Portmeirion is a small folly tourist village that was built between 1925 and 1975.
Designed by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, the village was built in the style of an Italian village.
Now owned by a charitable foundation, Portmeirion offers visitors the chance to stay somewhere truly unique.
Even in winter, you won’t feel like you’re in Wales – instead, you’ll be transported to the Amalfi Coast!
There isn’t a great deal to do in the village but it’s a fantastic place to relax, have a stroll, and simply marvel at the architecture.
Llandudno was once one of the most popular summer destinations in the United Kingdom.
While it may no longer be as famous as it once was, the town still has a lot to offer, even in winter!
In winter, this seaside town still provides tourists with plenty of attractions.
There’s the 19th-century Llandudno pier to explore, countless arcades, a small theme park, and the Great Orme.
Not to mention, there is a huge range of different food options, ranging from food stalls and fish and chip shops to cafes serving afternoon tea and fine-dining restaurants.
Be sure to check out the traditional arcades on the pier and visit the ancient tunnels of the Great Orme Mines.
Walking along the shores of North Shore Beach first thing on a fresh winter’s morning and looking at the Christmas markets is something I love to do in Llandudno.
One of the most underappreciated towns in Wales is Abergavenny in Monmouthshire.
Just 6 miles from the English border, this small market town is filled with Welsh charm.
You’ll find an array of interesting shops, interesting market stalls, lovely cafes, and fabulous restaurants, among other things.
In winter, Abergavenny comes to life with Christmas decorations and festive markets.
I usually visit Abergavenny in winter and one of the things I love to do is grab a mulled wine or hot chocolate and walk around the town.
Abergavenny is also a great place to stay if you want to easily access places like the Brecon Beacons and the Sugar Loaf National Trust area.
The Sugar Loaf is two miles away from Abergavenny and it offers epic views of the Welsh countryside.
If you want to experience more culture and heritage during your winter trip to Wales, I strongly recommend visiting Hay-on-Wye!
Also known locally as Hay, Hay-on-Wye is a small market town in Powys.
Sitting in the historic Brecknockshire county, Hay-on-Wye is everything you would expect and more from a traditional-style Welsh town.
The town is most famous for its bookshops. Hay is often referred to as the “town of books”.
The best thing to do in Hay is explore all of its small shops. You’ll find craft shops, music shops, and quirky charity shops selling all sorts.
In winter, this town can be quite chilly but you don’t want to miss out on the Christmas markets and food stalls.
Make sure you pick up some festive gifts for your family and don’t miss out on Mac Daddies (a mac and cheese truck), it’s awesome.
Caernarfon is probably one of the better places to visit in Wales in winter if you’re travelling with children.
Most of the attractions in Caernarfon are indoors and child-friendly.
As a result, you don’t have to worry about taking your children on a four-hour hike in the rain.
Some of the places you’ll want to visit in Caernarfon with your children include Caernarfon Castle (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) The Fun Centre, Beacon Climbing Centre, and Gypsy Wood Park.
Like most towns in Wales, Caernarfon also has Christmas Markets to wander around from November until Christmas Eve.
If you enjoy walking and don’t mind the cooler weather, you might like to hike on one of the many walks around the town.
Snowdonia National Park is on the town’s doorstep and the coastline is pretty spectacular!
Tenby is a colourful harbour town and seaside resort in southwest Wales. Famous for its 13th-century architecture, this is a great place to spend a week in winter.
You can expect cold days, rain, and strong winds, but that only adds to the atmosphere.
Most people that visit Tenby explore the town, enjoy good food, and walk along Castle Beach.
You should do the same!
When I visit Tenby in winter, I usually spend most of my time walking along the coast and walking around the museums.
I recommend visiting the Tenby Museum and Art Gallery, which houses artefacts and art pieces from the 1500s.
You should keep your eyes fixed on the sea near Tenby too because humpback whales and whale sharks have been spotted in the past.
For something to eat, give The Lifeboat Tavern a try, it’s one of my faves!
Perched on the confluence of the River Monnow and River Wye, Monmouth, with its mix of old and new, is known for its unique heritage and architecture.
A visit to Monnow Bridge, the last surviving medieval fortified river bridge in Great Britain, becomes more enchanting in winter’s cool, crisp air.
The Savoy Theatre, the oldest theatre site in Wales, offers an array of performances that can be enjoyed year-round.
Monmouth Castle was founded in 1067, by William FitzOsbern, a close ally of William the Conqueror, in the wake of the Norman invasion of England in 1066. The castle’s strategic location near the River Wye provided a vital stronghold to control the surrounding area and assert Norman dominance over the Welsh border region.
In the winter months, the interior is closed, but visitors can walk around the exterior for free.
When it comes to dining, Monmouth offers an authentic taste of Welsh food.
In particular, The Estero Lounge, a cosy, quirky place, serves a variety of British and international dishes.
What is the weather like in Wales during winter?
The winter in Wales typically starts in late November and lasts until approximately March.
During these months, temperatures can drop into low single digits, or even below freezing. Despite the cold temperatures, snow isn’t a common occurrence (just like in England).
You can expect temperatures to range from 0°C to 6°C (32°F to 42°F) during winter.
However, you can expect some sunny and mild days too.
It can also rain a lot in Wales in winter, so your best bet is to prepare for all eventualities.
It’s also important to remember that it gets dark early. In December, the sun can set as early as 4:00 pm.
What to pack for a winter trip to Wales
It’s important to pack warm, waterproof clothes for your winter break in Wales.
Most of the locals wear jumpers, long trousers or jeans, hats, gloves, scarves, and a waterproof coat.
If you plan on hiking in Wales, you’ll probably want to pack a sturdy pair of walking boots too. Apart from that, you can pack most of the things you usually would for a trip to the UK or anywhere in Europe!
This might include your smartphone, a travel adapter, trainers, and toiletries.
How to get around Wales in the winter
You can get around Wales by car, bus, or train.
If you decide to drive yourself around, take care on the roads, as they can be icy (particularly at night).
Trains and buses can be subject to cancellation due to adverse weather but this isn’t a common occurrence.
Buses tend to be a lot cheaper than trains so you might want to consider travelling by coach instead.
When searching for train tickets, book in advance.
There is a small airport in Cardiff, but routes are limited. You can find larger airports in England; in Bristol, Birmingham or Liverpool.
Tips for visiting Wales in winter
- Some National Trust and Cadw locations are closed in winter.
- Wales has a wide range of underground activities so you could save them for a rainy day. Examples include the Great Orme Mines and Underground Golf at Zip World.
- Some areas in Wales still speak the Welsh language so you might want to learn some basic greetings etc before your trip.
Wales in winter FAQs
Here are some answers to FAQs about visiting Wales in winter!
Is Wales good for winter?
Wales in winter offers an appealing experience with its dramatic landscapes and various indoor attractions.
Enjoy crisp walks, explore historical castles, or warm up in traditional Welsh pubs throughout the season!
However, the weather can be unpredictable, so preparation with appropriate clothing is advised.
What is Wales like in winter?
During winter, Wales becomes a landscape of rugged beauty with snow-capped mountains and misty valleys.
Though the days are shorter and colder, many find winter in Wales to be a stunning and less crowded time to visit.
Outdoor activities and sightseeing opportunities abound, and indoor attractions like museums remain open.
Is December a good time to visit Wales?
December in Wales can be a delightful experience, especially if you enjoy festive decorations and holiday events.
Many towns host Christmas markets, and local traditions are in full swing.
The weather can be wet and chilly, so packing warm and waterproof clothing is essential.
What is Wales like in December?
December in Wales is marked by festive celebrations and cooler temperatures.
The Christmas season is vibrant, with many towns and cities decorating streets and hosting special events.
While the weather can be cold and damp, the festive atmosphere often makes up for it!
Is Wales colder than England?
Wales generally experiences similar temperatures to England, though it can be slightly wetter and windier in certain regions.
The mountainous areas of Wales may be colder, especially in winter.
Regional variations exist, so do check local forecasts.
What is the coldest month in Wales?
January is often the coldest month in Wales, with average temperatures ranging from 3 to 6°C (37 to 43°F).
It’s a month where snow is possible in higher areas, and frost is common, adding to the wintry appeal.
Does it snow a lot in Wales?
Snow in Wales is relatively common in the higher regions, like the Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia, especially during the coldest months.
In the lowland areas, snow is less frequent but still possible. The snow adds a magical touch to the landscape but can sometimes affect travel plans!
Are you ready to visit Wales in winter?
Dramatic landscapes, made all the wilder from the weather, along with information-packed museums and cosy pubs, make Wales one to visit in winter.
There’s so much to do in this country, whatever the season – whether it’s a challenging hike up Pen y Fan or a delightful meal in a local Monmouth eatery, the charm of Wales awaits!