Wales is certainly a contender for the title of hidden gem of the United Kingdom. As an international visitor, I hadn’t heard much about this part of the UK, but was won over by it’s beautiful scenery and rich history. There’s so much to do in Wales on holiday, whether a quick trip or a few weeks. And luckily some of the best attractions are very dog-friendly! Check out my recommendations for dog-friendly attractions in Wales, all vetted by my trusty side-kick, Schnitzel the Miniature Dachshund.
1. Exploring St Fagan’s National Museum of History
This museum just outside of Cardiff is an excellent open-air history museum. The biggest attraction is its collection of historic buildings, that have been moved and re-erected onsite from various locations all around Wales. It’s a great insight into Welsh history, particularly the examples of what homes looked like in different decades. But don’t also miss the other side of the site, with the historic St Fagans Castle and its pretty gardens. It’s a great family outing, as it’s free for all the family (although there is a charge for parking). Plus, dogs are also allowed, except for inside the buildings.
More Info: https://museum.wales/stfagans/stfagans-70/
2. A Stroll at Tintern Abbey
Tintern Abbey is the best preserved medieval abbey in all of Wales. Not that any of the buildings are still intact; this 13th century Cistercian Abbey is in ruins, the floor of the church carpeted with grass as the grand walls rise up around you, the sky overhead. It’s a romantic attraction that has entranced visitors for centuries, about 1hr east of Cardiff and close to the English border. It’s perfect for a stroll with your dog, as long as they’re kept on a leash.
Tip: Check out the full list of Welsh historic sites that allow dogs at: http://cadw.gov.wales/about/aboutfaqs/?lang=en. If you’re planning on visiting multiple sites, a pass is excellent value.
3. A Day at the National Showcaves Centre for Wales
Located just inside the Brecon Beacons National Park, a beautiful stretch of Welsh countryside, the National Showcaves Centre is more than just pretty caves open to the public. Yes, there are two beautiful showcaves onsite, plus the historic Bone Cave, with mainly gentle walking trails taking you through them (one is reached through a steep incline inside). But the site also features a huge range of life-size model dinosaurs, scattered around the grounds and surrounding forest. There’s even a regular “volcano” eruption. If you’re visiting with kids, they’ll love it!
Dogs are allowed both onto the main grounds and inside the caves, but must be kept on a short leash and naturally “doggy bags” are required. (They aren’t allowed into the adjacent Shire Horse Centre area, where the Farm, Play Areas and Millennium Stone Circles are located.) The centre also notes that entry will be refused or dogs will be asked to return to your car if they become unsettled on site.
More Info: http://www.showcaves.co.uk
4. A Beach Day at Barafundle Bay
The gorgeous golden sand beach at Barfundle Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Wales or anywhere in the world. And as an Australian with plenty of access to lovely beaches that’s a serious compliment! The wide stretch of sand is backed by a crescent of sheltering hills, making for a lovely micro-climate. It’s fairly remote, in the south-western corner of Wales, and will require a car to drive to the carpark (bring cash for payment) then a scenic 10-minute walk. And best of all it’s dog-friendly: dogs are allowed on the beach all year round.
5. Enjoying a Drink at Ty Coch Inn
Located in northwestern Wales, just south of Anglesey, this simple inn has been named the “3rd best beach bar in the world“! Located directly on the beach, vehicular access is restricted to locals so choose between a 20 minute walk from the car park either across the golf course (make sure your dog is on a leash!) or along the beach, tide dependent. On the unseasonably sunny and warm spring day I visited, plenty of dogs had joined their families on the beach. (And some people had even ventured into the water!) Dogs are even allowed inside, as long as they’re on a leash and well-behaved, but when the weather is sunny you can’t beat the outdoor tables next to the sand.
More Info: http://www.tycoch.co.uk
6. Hiking in Snowdonia
The interior of the north of Wales is mainly enclosed in Snowdonia National Park. With its gorgeous wild scenery and rugged peaks, including the highest peak in Wales (Mt Snowdon), it’s a mecca for hikers. There’s a range of hiking opportunities, ranging from short walks to full day adventures. And best of all, dogs are allowed to join you on your walk. Just make sure that dogs are kept on a leash around livestock, particularly during the lambing season.
Tip: Wanting a challenge for yourself and your dog? Read about our adventure climbing to the top of Mt Snowdon with our dog.
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