Wondering what you can do in Wales in Winter?? From ancient castles to sweeping snow-coated landscapes, winter is arguably a great season to explore the best of Welsh romances. Whether you’re looking for a winter walk, seeking a daring dip under some of the best waterfalls in Wales, or looking to cosy up in a country pub, here is the definitive guide to the best things to do in Wales this winter.
Wales in Winter
This Wales travel blog is going to help you plan your winter trip to Wales giving you information on the weather in wales in winter and the best things to do in Wales in winter to help you explore the best places to visit in wales during the right winter months, or give you ideas of what to do in Wales this winter if you’re already here!
Weather in Wales in Winter
If you want to know the best time to visit Wales then let me tell you that the weather in Wales is unpredictable year-round!
Winter here is undeniably cold, and visitors should come prepared for wet and windy conditions throughout! Whilst you can expect gloomy days and rain for most parts of the season, winter in Wales does also see some great pockets of sunshine and warm weather, as well as the occasional heavy snowfall (especially in the National Parks).
Things to do in Wales in Winter
Lets get into the best things to do in Wales in winter!
1. Winter Hikes in The National Parks
If you are looking for best places in Wales to visit, don’t miss out on Welsh countryside. It is a paradise for crisp winter walks and hikes among some epic frosted mountains. Those lucky enough to experience it know that there is nothing quite as spectacular as the Welsh mountains in the snow!
Locals Tip: Venture out on a sunrise hike up Pen-Y-Fan as soon as the first dusting of snow of the year hits, it is truly one of the best experiences you’ll get in Wales during winter!
The Brecon Beacons offers a range of easy walks and hikes to explore the South Wales landscape during Winter. Ysgyryd Fawr is a modest summit located on the fringes of the National Park with unmissable panoramic views of frosted Monmouthshire. Nearby, Sugar Loaf Mountain is another local’s favorite in the area for an easy walk with great views.
Winter is also the best time to see the dramatic mountain landscape of Eryri (Snowdonia) National Park in their most epic glory. For a greater part of the season, you’ll find most of Eryri’s peaks coated in a dusting of snow. While some of the park’s more popular trails are not advisable for casual hikers in winter, there are plenty of easy to moderately challenging walks amidst the peaks to enjoy.
Another one of the great winter hikes in Wales is the brief yet steady ascent to Cwm Idwal in the Ogwen Valley is a local favourite during this season, nestled beneath the snow-covered ridges of the Glyderau and Y Garn. Another excellent option is Moel Eilio, a small peak with sweeping views over Snowdon and other mountains in the region.
Related Post: How To Do Pen Y Fan Walk in The Brecon Beacons!
2. Festive Winter Markets
Wales comes alive with festive spirit during the winter months. From small traditional markets to festive parades, there is plenty of opportunity to find unique gifts, indulge in seasonal treats, and soak up the holiday atmosphere across the country. For those wondering what to see in Wales or the best place to visit in Wales during this season, the answer is plentiful.
Foodies can relish in the delights of The Royal Welsh Winter Fair in November, the little sister of the epic agricultural festival that happens in Builth Wells every July. This two-day fair has a range of competitions, exhibitions and Christmas shopping opportunities, as well as the very best of Welsh produce. It’s a must-do on the list of what to do in Wales during the festive season.
Many small Welsh towns like Betws-y-Coed, Llandudno and Pembroke really get into the festive season, with some great festive markets to explore.
Find some of the best picks below:
- Cardiff Christmas Market (9th Nov – 23rd Dec 2023)
- Swansea Waterfront Winter Wonderland (10th Nov 2023 – 8th Jan 2024)
- Luminate Wales, Margam Park, Port Talbot (29 Nov – 31 Dec 2023)
- Reindeer safari, Mold, Flintshire, North Wales (24 Nov – 24 Dec 2023)
- Portmeirion Food & Craft Fair, Gwynedd, North Wales (01 – 03 Dec 2023)
- The Royal Welsh Winter Fair (27th – 28th Nov 2023)
- Llandudno Christmas Extravaganza (6th – 19th Nov 2023)
- Aberglasney Winter Fair (1 – 3rd Dec 2023)
- Pembroke Castle Christmas Market (24th – 26th Nov 2023)
- Llandeilo Festival of Senses (17th -19th Nov 2023)
- Hay Festival Winter Weekend (23rd – 26th Nov 2023)
3. Cardiff Winter Wonderland
Cardiff Winter Wonderland, the biggest event of its kind in Wales, is quickly earning its place as one of the best Christmas markets in the UK and best thing to do in Wales in January.
This winter extravaganza, a top choice for those wondering what to do in Wales, has everything from ice skating, fairground attractions, delectable food and drinks, to even a giant ferris wheel!
The festive Alpine Village is a great place to warm up with hot chocolate or mulled wine. Be sure to stop at the popular two-story ski lodge, Sur la Piste, as well as the Ice Bar, another hotspot where everything, even the furnishings, is crafted from ice.
Cardiff Winter Wonderland runs from 16th of November 2023 to the 2nd of Janurary 2024.
4. Seasonal Festivities in Hay-on-Wye
Escape the cold by browsing the shelves of Hay-on-Wye’s famous independent bookstores. The quaint historic town, centered around its charming market square, epitomizes the best thing to do in winter in Wales and is the perfect place to spend a crisp winter day exploring.
This small town has over twenty bookshops, each with its own unique charm. One of the most popular bookshops in the town is the maze-like Hay Cinema Bookshop (the largest in the UK). There are also plenty of independent shops to explore, with everything from vintage clothes and vinyl, as well as hand-made jewelry and trinkets. Hay-on-Wye is also a great place to grab lunch or afternoon tea at one of its many independent cafes and restaurants.
Stick around for the Hay Winter Weekend Festival in late November – a more intimate counterpart to the larger springtime Hay Festival. This event offers engaging conversations, storytelling, comedy, music, family workshops and more. Plus, you don’t want to miss the enchanting illumination of the Hay Christmas lights, showcasing the spirit of Wales in winter.
5. Cosy Up in a Country Pub
Tucked away in picturesque corners of the countryside, especially inviting during Wales in winter, you’ll find plenty of rustic and cosy pubs that blend rich history with local produce and there’s no better way to warm up than with a Sunday Roast! Here are the best Sunday Roasts in North Wales!
One standout place in South Wales is the Red Lion Inn in Penderyn, nestled in the breathtaking Brecon Beacons. Its roaring fireplace and traditional décor create a cosy ambiance, making it a top choice for those wondering what to do in Wales when the chill sets in. The menu boasts hearty Welsh dishes crafted from locally sourced ingredients. Also in the area, the infamous Skirrid Mountain Inn – deemed the oldest (and most haunted) pub in Wales is a must-visit during the darker months!
Further north, The Groes Inn in Conwy, often hailed as Wales’ oldest pub, combines old-world charm with modern comforts. Its idyllic setting near the Conwy River and Snowdonia National Park makes it a perfect base for exploring North Wales during winter.
Or why not head to the quaint, stone-built village of Beddgelert, a popular spot during winter for some crisp walks and selection of cosy pubs. Beddgelert is also a great gateway to some of the other beautiful sights in the Snowdonia National Park, as well as a station stop for the unmissable Welsh Highlands Railway steam train.
6. Take a Brisk Coastal Walk
Why not take advantage of some of Wales’ best beaches without the crowds in winter? For those pondering where to go in Wales in winter or what to see in Wales, the coastline offers some truly captivating options. Wrap up for a brisk winter walk along some of Wales’ finest coastal spots.
The dramatic coastal cliffside of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path is a great place to escape to some fresh, frosty air with incredible views over the ocean, showcasing exactly what to do in Wales during the chillier months.
Rhosilli Bay is also a popular spot to take a windy stroll along one of Wales’ most beautiful sandy beaches – or to take a walk along the cliff to Worms Head. Winter is a great time to explore Rhosilli without the major crowds, and a great season to venture along some of the most beautiful parts of the Wales Coast Path in the Gower.
Abersoch is a popular North Wales spot during summer, with large crowds and busy traffic. In winter, the seaside village is tranquil and beautiful, and is a great gateway to many other coastal walks on the Llyn Peninsula.
7. Explore Welsh Medieval Castles
The mighty castles of Wales are worth a visit no matter the season, but they particularly shine as a highlight of what to do in Wales during the colder months. Wales in winter offers a unique and atmospheric backdrop for these historical structures.
A visit to the enchanting Castell Coch is a must-do in winter. Castell Coch, also known as the ‘Red Castle’, feels like you’re stepping into a storybook. The towering structure, draped in winter’s frost, presents a magical aura, making it a top choice for those looking for the best thing to do in winter in Wales. It’s a great day out near Cardiff for all the family. Additionally, don’t miss a stroll through the heritage trails of Fforest Fawr behind the castle grounds, which take on a special charm in the wintertime.
Caernarfon Castle is a great site to explore in North Wales during winter. Dating back to the thirteenth century, this castle is one of the oldest in Wales and has plenty to see and do on the grounds. The old castle walls actually extend across much of the town, and you’ll find plenty of independent cafes, pubs and shops peppered along the cobbled streets.
Visit Conwy Castle in winter to witness the medieval fortress transformed into a stunning winter wonderland. The castle’s walls and towers make for a picturesque backdrop as they glisten with lights. Cosy up in some of Conwy’s excellent pubs and restaurants after your visit.
8. Outdoor Activities in Wales in Winter
Despite the cold weather during winter in Wales, many of the best outdoor activities in Wales are still on so don’t think you have to look for purely indoor attractions in Wales! The Welsh are used to this weather!
From horse riding to Zip-World these are the best things to do in Wales in winter and as long as you dress warmly and come with a positive attitude, you’ll have a great time!
I really recommend Snowdonia Riding Stables as a place to go riding whether you’re a beginner or have experience.
9. Stargazing in Wales’ Dark Sky Reserves
For those contemplating what to do in Wales during the colder months, one of the best things to do in Wales in winter is embracing the ethereal beauty of the night sky. Simply pack up a camping chair and a flask, don your warmest coat, and make your way to the serene Welsh countryside to indulge in some mesmerizing stargazing.
Wales has plenty of prime locations for stargazing, with a network of Dark Sky Reserves, Parks, and Discovery Sites across the country. It also has the highest percentage of land protected by Dark Skies status globally, with plenty of opportunities to witness thousands of stars, comets, and galaxies, including the Milky Way. While stargazing is possible year-round, the darker nights are during autumn and winter.
The best places to stargaze in Wales include the Eryri International Dark Sky Reserve in North Wales, as well as the Isle of Anglesey and the Llŷn Peninsula (both designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty). Mid Wales also provides some of the darkest skies for optimal stargazing.
The Elan Valley holds International Dark Sky Park status, and is the most popular spot in Wales for stargazing. Brecon Beacons National Park, also an International Dark Sky Reserve, is another popular spot and the Usk Reservoir Dark Sky Discovery Site stands out as one of the quietest and darkest, It also has designated parking and access to the dam for stargazers.
The National Trust and the Discovery in the Dark Wales website provide additional resources for stargazing enthusiasts seeking information about the best places in Wales with optimal dark skies.
10. Welsh Waterfalls
Wales is no stranger to rain, or an epic waterfall, for that matter. The two paired together make for a great winter day out. During Winter, the waterfalls are even more impressive as rain makes its way into the rivers and causes a greater flow and pressure of the water.
The Brecon Beacons National Park is also known as ‘Waterfall Country’, so if you’re new to exploring the Welsh countryside, this is a great place to start. Wales’ very own ‘batcave’, Henrhyd Falls, is famed not only for its feature in the Hollywood blockbuster, The Dark Knight Rises, but also for its sheer power and beauty. It is truly one of the best places to visit in South Wales in winter. Other stand-outs worth a visit nearby are Sgwd yr Eira and Sgwd Gwladus.
On a cold winter day in Mid Wales, a day out to Pistyll Rhaeadr, regarded as one of the ‘Seven Wonders of Wales’, is not to be missed. After exploring, warm up at the local’s favourite Tan-y-Pistyll tearoom. Further north, you’re spoilt for choice with incredible waterfalls to explore in winter.
Those brave enough to hike a part of Snowdon’s Watkin path are rewarded with the incredible marvels of watkin pools – a handful of clear, turquoise waterfall pools that are popular wild swimming spots year-round. The ever-popular Aberfalls is also a big hit no matter the season, and is an easy day trip accessible just off the A55 North Wales Expressway.
11. Watch Live Sport
As winter descends upon Wales, the sporting scene comes alive, making it a top destination for enthusiasts pondering what to do in Wales during the chilly season. Rugby takes center stage, where floods of fans head to Cardiff’s Principality Stadium for the Six Nations Championship in February.
Be sure to keep an eye out on Principality Stadium’s event page, as they often host a variety of other sporting entertainment in winter, including thrilling boxing matches and high-octane motor racing.
For a bit more of a seasonal feel, Cardiff’s very own ice hockey team Cardiff Devils play a range of home matches throughout the season. The electric atmosphere and fierce rivalries on the ice make each match a spectacle not to be missed.
12. Museums in Wales
Wales is a treasure trove of cultural heritage, and there is a range of some excellent historic museums to explore all over the country to escape the winter cold. For those pondering what to do in Wales when the cold sets in, there’s no shortage of excellent historic museums to explore, providing both enlightenment and warmth.
The National Museum Cardiff is one of the top things to do in Wales in winter and top things to do in Cardiff. It has an impressive collection of art, natural history, and archaeology. Also in the capital city, St Fagans National Museum of History, set in the picturesque grounds of St Fagans Castle, is an open-air museum that reconstructs Welsh history through relocated historical buildings.
Discover the best of Cardiff on a private full-day city tour, where your local guide will take you through highlights like Cardiff Castle, the National Museum, Cardiff Bay, and more.
For a fun family day out, head to Big Pit National Coal Museum in Blaenavon for an insight into Wales’ industrial past, allowing visitors to descend into a real coal mine and hear the stories of those who worked in these harsh conditions. Up north, the National Slate Museum of Wales demonstrates the slate mining history of Wales, with workshops, a steam train, and even a haunted hospital!
13. Gardens in Wales
There are many beautiful gardens in Wales that are open to explore year-round. Nature lovers can visit Aberglasney Gardens to witness its magical transformation in winter. One of the best things to do in winter in Wales is to visit the many beautiful gardens that remain open year-round, showcasing the country’s diverse horticultural heritage.
The National Botanic Garden of Wales, a popular place to visit in the heart of Carmarthenshire, has carefully curated winter displays of varying plant species. Bodnant Garden in North Wales has an elegant winter garden with stunning seasonal blooms, as well as a Winter Garden Trail that takes you through 250 years of horticultural history.
14. Try Some Great Restaurants
Why not escape the cold and embark on a culinary journey in Wales and try some of the country’s best cuisine. From luxurious Michelin star restaurants like Ynyshir in Machynlleth or Heaneys in Cardiff, to cult-favourite seafood staples like Dylan’s in Menai Bridge and Criccieth.
There is a bit of something for everyone when it comes to the best restaurants in Wales. During winter, most restaurants and pubs excel in the seasonal staple of the traditional Welsh ‘Cawl’ (stew). There is also much debate as to which venue in Wales serves the best Sunday roast – this is one you’ll have to try and test yourself!
There is plenty to see and do in Wales in winter. Whatever the weather, the country’s finest attributes can be explored year-round, with each season bringing in a new experience to each activity.
I hope this list of the places to visit in Wales in winter has helped you plan your trip to Wales in winter and Wales itinerary!
- More of my Wales posts to help you plan your trip:
- How To Spend 3 Days in Wales! Perfect 3 Day Wales Itinerary!
- How To Spend 1 Week in Wales!
- 20 Things To Do In Cardiff, Cardiff Bay & Near Cardiff!
- 16 Beaches Near Cardiff To Visit. All 1 Hour From Cardiff!
- How To Climb Snowdon From The Pen Y Pass Snowdon Route!
- 16 Beautiful Staycations in Wales To Feel Like You’re Abroad!
- 10 Lush Glamping in Wales With A Hot Tub Pods, Cabins & Tents!
- 7 Wales Road Trip Tips So You Have An Epic Road Trip in Wales!
- 16 Day Trips From Cardiff Visiting South Wales & England!
- The Best Beaches in Pembrokeshire You Can See in ONE DAY!