WOOCS 2.1.6

Wales is a great tourist destination with beautiful landscape and a wonderful history but much of it remains under explored. Odyssey tours of Wales focus both on the must-see sites and the less well known pockets and regions, across both rural and urban landscapes. If you’re interested in discovering more about Wales’s history, culture, architecture, food or landscape, the best way is to see it all for yourself!

Crafted tours for mature World Travellers

Tours of (or include) Wales

Continental invaders brought with them many components that added to the mix of what makes Britain today, including their genetic characteristics, the roots of the English language, various spiritual and religious beliefs, models of land ownership, place names and technologies that began with the Stone Age Celts. We explore the places and events that created this mélange.

23 days
British Isles, Europe
Level 2 - Moderate
Whitby Abbey walking britain
Pre-guaranteed

This is an upgraded walking program with new paths including the Brecon-Monmouthshire canal walk and tracks on Arran in Scotland. The program is designed for participants who enjoy seeing the countryside on foot and is appropriate for active walkers. We stay at comfortable hotels with two days of walks followed by a day of travel to the next site.

22 days
British Isles, Europe
Level 3 - Moderate to Challenging
Prehistoric Britain small group history tour
On Sale

This program examines human occupation in Britain some 500,000 years before the Romans arrived. It begins in Shetland, the northern extremity of Britain and works its way south to Stonehenge, exploring the landscapes that represent some of the most important prehistoric sites in Britain. Most of the focus of this program will be experiencing these megalithic and earthen structures constructed between the Stone Age and Iron Age.

21 days
British Isles
Level 2 - Moderate

This tour is designed to allow the active traveller the chance to explore a number of Welsh beauty spots on foot. On this 11 night tour travel by coach across the length of Wales with the chance to walk for up to 15 kilometres each day through some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. Our tour takes us from Betwys-y-Coed in the north to St Davids in the south though mountain passes and along coastal trails.

13 days
British Isles
Level 3 - Moderate to Challenging
Industrial revolution
On Sale

The Industrial Revolution brought great change to Britain with the linking of major rivers with canals and the development of railways. During our program we learn how engineers overcame geographical obstacles through the use of viaducts, bridges, aqueducts, tunnels and locks. Fortunately for us many of these impressive structures have been restored and now carry recreational boating with branch railways through spectacular landscapes.

23 days
British Isles, Europe
Level 2 - Moderate
The need to know

Touring Wales

Getting Around

Odyssey usually travels by coach and occasionally uses local transport, including trains and ferries. Specifics are always outlined in your tour itinerary. Because Wales’ geography is fairly rugged, the transport paths are largely confined to the most populous areas. As with the rest of the UK, its railway network was developed during the nineteenth century, and provides travel between most major centres. The only urban rail exists in Cardiff. There is also a bus network that provides transport, mainly around South Wales.

Accommodation

In major cities, Odyssey stays in centrally located 3-4 star hotels, with easy access to public transport. In smaller towns or rural areas, we usually stay in family-run hotels or guesthouses. On our long stay tours, during which you spend the length of the tour in a single location, we use serviced apartments.

TOr Guides

Odyssey always engages local guides with regional knowledge to ensure an authentic experience during which you can learn as much as possible about the history and culture of places you visit.

Geography, environment & weather

On the western coast of Great Britain, Wales covers only 20,000 square kilometres. Like most of the UK, the geography in Wales is variable, with valleys, coastal plains and mountain ranges. In fact, most of Wales is mountainous, reaching its apotheosis in the area known as Snowdownia or Eryri.

Wales’s climate is above all distinguished by its changeability and variation. Because of its geography, the mountains can shape the weather in swift and unexpected ways. Travelling in Wales, you’ll always need to be prepared for rain and wind, especially in the autumn and the early winter months, and whenever you’re walking hilly areas. In winter, the temperature averages around six degrees Celsius, but can head up to 24 degrees in summer!

World Heritage Sites

The United Kingdom boasts 31 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, many of which are located in Wales. You can view the official list of the sites here https://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/gb. It is well worth visiting every site, if you are able. But here’s a few highlights from the bunch:

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal – Built over 200 years ago, this acqueduct holds 1.5 million litres of water. The structure itself comprises 18 arches, and is the oldest and longest navigable aqueduct in Great Britain.

Caernarfon Castle – This 13th century castle, build by Edward I, is a stunning site and contains some fantastic exhibtions rooms in which you can discover its history.

Blaenavon World Heritage Site – This town was originally built up around an ironnworks, and is now home to the Big Pit: National Coal Museum. It is an extraordinary place to discover in detail how the industrial revolution came about and changed everything.

Festivals & events

As with all countries that suffer through harsh winters, summer is the season for festivals in Wales.

The Hay Festival occurs around late May to early June, in Hay on Wye. It is a world renowned literature festival that takes place in the Brecon Beacons National Park, attracting guests and visitors from around the world.
The Gwyl Greynog Festival is a long running classical music festival with a new them each year.
And the Wales Airshow is a free annual airshow which features aerobatic displays from vintage and contemporary aircraft.

Reading list

  1. The Owl Service by Alan Garner
  2. On the Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin
  3. A History of Wales by John Davies
  4. The Matter of Wales by Jan Morris

Eating & Drinking

The Welsh fiercely protect their customs and traditions, and this is reflected in their cuisine, too. For a time, traditional Welsh food was difficult to come by, but an initiative call “Wales, the True Taste” was introduced in the 2000s and led to something of a renaissance in the industry. This particular initiative was scrapped in 2013 as concerns over business growth and development arose. But there remains a proud passion for sharing Wales’s signature dishes, and it is well worth seeking them out on your travels.

Welsh lamb and beef feature prominently in this cuisine, along with local caught seafood including salmon, brown trout and lobster. A very traditional dish is cawl, a soup from a base of bacon, leek and cabbage that varies according to region and season.

Look out for laverbread: it is made from edible seaweed, sprinkled with oatmeal and served warmed with bacon for breakfast or supper.

There is an abundance of soft cheeses made with goats’ and sheep’s milk from local farms.

If you have a sweet tooth, you will be pleased to learn that the Welsh observe “teatime”, and serve various cakes flavoured with honey, cinnamon, caraway seed or fruit.

Traditional spiced Welsh cakes or bakestones are similar to scones, but cooked on griddle plates and served with just a dusting of sugar, hot or cold.

Health & safety

While much of Wales is usually safe to travel around, it’s important to stay alert to anything unusual. Also, you will often see signs warning of pickpockets in areas popular with tourists, so it’s important to keep a close eye on your belongings at all times.

Electrical Supply

Whenever you travel overseas, it’s always wise to take an appropriate travel adaptor. The electricity supply runs at 230V, 50Hz. British plugs have three flat, rectangular pins which form a triangle. These are shared by Ireland, Malta and some former British colonies, but Australia is not one of them.

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Tour Reviews

Excellent itinerary, transport and local guides!
Participant 2016
Overall the trip was great and met my expectation.
Errol H. June 2017
We found all the guides in each place excellent, some more than others, but always knowledgeable and obviously in love with their chosen careers. David our coach driver was excellent also, coping with some difficult situations with a cool head and providing us with a running commentary on a country he knows so well - especially Norfolk his home county!
Sally and Angus H. June 2017
Wife Brenda and I just completed Odyssey tour in UK entitled “Canals and Railways” led by Mal Bock. Absolutely superb, and Mal’s leadership faultless. Extremely good value considering only seven guests, superb local guides and drivers, a most comfortable coach with seating for 24. . Hotels chosen were excellent, most with real character, not places one would have chosen without local knowledge and recommendation, . My wife and I have visited the UK many times- I was born there, but we saw so many places which were new to us. Thank you Odyssey!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Ian Sanderson

FAQs

Responsible Travel Tips for Wales.

  1. If sightseeing in rural areas, remember to be respectful of residents and locals. As well as being tourist attractions, these are peoples’ homes!
  2. Learn at least the local greetings to break the ice. Although everyone speaks English, the more you know of the native Welsh language, the greater your experience of the country will be.
  3. Carry a business card in your wallet or purse from your local hotel, to assist you with the return journey if you do become lost.
  4. Always ensure that you are covered by travel insurance. If you need advice on this feel free to contact Odyssey and we’ll be able to help.
  5. When travelling independently, make sure you check the opening hours of shops and museums so that you don’t miss out! Museums and galleries are often closed on Mondays. Also be certain to check whether your trip coincides with any public holidays, so you can plan accordingly.
  6. Consider contacting your bank to inform them that you may be making purchases overseas. Otherwise, they may flag any activity on your account as suspicious. Also, check which ATMs and banks are compatible with your cards, to ensure you can withdraw cash with minimal fees.
  7. Before departing, make sure you have a number of euros in a range of denominations. You don’t want to be carrying around enormous amounts of cash, but take enough to make it easy to pay in locations that might not accept credit card. It will also help you avoid card transaction fees, and it makes tipping a breeze.

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