Backpacking around Europe is one of the most popular traveling trips around, and as an Irishman, I’m disappointed that most people don’t make it to Ireland, Scotland, Wales and, London aside, most of England. When you’re crossing borders on trains on the European mainland, the home countries in the British isles may seem a step too far but if you do make the trek across, it’s well worth the effort. Check out One Step 4 Ward’s Top 5 things to see and do:
1) Check out the castles:
You may automatically think of England when you’re thinking of castles but you’d be wrong. The best castles in the UK (the world?) are found in Wales. You could spend weeks driving around the country chasing these bad boys, pretending you’re Robin Hood, or is that just me?
Anyway, when you’re here make sure to check out Pembroke Castle (from Chronicles of Narnia), Caernarfon Castle (UNESCO world heritage site) and Castle Coch (plain and simply, everything a castle ‘should’ look like). Unreal.
2) Go bog snorkeling:
Started in 1976 in Llanwrtyd wells (the Welsh don’t like to use too many vowels), bog snorkeling is where you ‘swim’ 2 length of a 55m trench through a bog wearing snorkels and flippers. Pretty crazy! The world championships are held each year in August and a former university friend of mine was actually World Champion in 2008 and 2009, stick that on your resume my friend! You can also do the triathlon through the bog too. Wtf?! Llanwrtyd Wells is a tiny town, so look for some Holiday Cottages in Wales, grab your snorkel and represent your country!
3) Visit Cardiff and the Millennium stadium:
Wale’s capital is a beautiful city, the nightlife is awesome and the people are friendly. Check out Cardiff castle, the civic centre and city hall for a spot of culture and, if your timing is right, head to the Millennium Stadium to try to catch some a sporting fixture. Holding 75, 000 people and home to the Welsh rugby team, if you can attend a game where Wales are playing it promises to be one of the most atmospheric sporting events you’ll ever attend.
The welsh are a crazy bunch, so try out another ‘sport’ they invented – coasteering, not for the faint hearted. Basically, it involves sea level traversing, rock climbing, cliff jumping and swimming into sea caves along the beautiful North Pembrokeshire coastline. It’s not cheap at $300 for a weekend (price includes accommodation, equipment, transport etc) but it promises to be an adrenaline filled, action packed couple of days. This looks awesome.
5) Wakestock – one of the biggest wakeboarding festivals in the world:
How much fun can you squeeze in one weekend?? This could be your answer. A massive festival in North West Wales, featuring the likes of N*E*R*D, Moby, Groove Armada along with the world’s best wakeboardeds, this is a party and a half. It’s held mid-July so get your timing right and you might be able to hit up this AND the bog snorkeling championships in the same trip, now that’s a story for your mates back home.
Wales really has so much for any backpacker, combine that with the warmth of the people (if not the weather) and you really will have an amazing time. Accommodation is much cheaper here than in England, with Cottages in Wales, youth hostels in Cardiff and couchsurfing all awesome options. Hope you guys like it! Happy travels!
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