The busy market town of Machynlleth is a popular tourist destination, situated as it is just south of the Snowdonia National Park, and just a few minutes drive from the beaches of Aberdovey and Borth. Whilst many holiday-makers might head straight for the better-known Snowdonia attractions of Betws-y-Coed, Blaenau Ffestiniog and Bala, Machynlleth has plenty to offer in its own right, and the surrounding area is packed with places to visit and things to do. In today’s post, we take a look at some of the best ideas for holidays in the Machynlleth area, whether you’re looking for thrills and spills adventure, a walk on the wild side, or some gentle relaxation in stunning scenery.

Snowdonia

 

For adventure-seekers, Machynlleth is a great holiday base. There are some superb mountain biking trails in the Dyfi valley, wittily named Mach 1, 2, 3 and 4, all of which are detailed on the Dyfi Mountain Biking website. We’ve mentioned Zip World and Surf Snowdonia in a previous blog post, and both of these are within a reasonable driving distance from Machynlleth, so would make a fabulous day out. There’s good surfing to be had around Borth and Ynyslas, and many of the beaches along this stretch of coast are wide and open, so they’re great for kitesurfing and other beach-based sports.

For those looking to get up close and personal with some wildlife, there are some amazing opportunities in this area. Go for a falconry experience as Maes Dulas, near Machynlleth, or visit the Dyfi Osprey Centre, just outside the town. The Ynys Hir Wildlife Reserve, back along the Dyfi estuary a little, is perfect for keen birdwatchers and enthusiastic amateurs alike. Visitors, both young and old, can glimpse rare birds or hire a pond dipping kit, to see what wriggly creatures they can discover.

One of Machynlleth’s top attractions is the Centre for Alternative Technology. Founded about 40 years ago, on the site of a disused quarry, the CAT centre offers a fascinating insight into the world of sustainable living and renewable energy. It’s an informative and inspiring place, with plenty of hands-on demonstrations and games for kids of all ages, making it fun to learn about our planet and ways that we can all help to reduce our impact on it.

West Wales is blessed with countless stunning beaches, and Machynlleth is just a short drive from some of the most charming of these. Borth’s long, sandy beach draws holidaymakers in throughout the season, both for the beach itself, and for the ancient submerged forest, which becomes visible at low tide. A little further north from Borth is Aberdyfi, or Aberdovey, in English. This pretty seaside village has a charming working harbour, and is a delightful place to while away a sunny afternoon, looking out across Cardigan Bay, with the foothills of Snowdonia behind the village. Continue north along the coast to reach Barmouth, another charming resort that’s full of character.

Barmouth

Machynlleth itself is also well worth a visit, as it’s a lovely little town with a busy arts and antiques scene, and a lively market every Wednesday. Browse the independent boutiques, admire the town’s architecture and perhaps take in an art exhibition at MOMA Machynlleth. With plenty of options for eating out, Machynlleth really does offer a great base for a fabulous holiday in West Wales.

Think of a holiday in Wales, and you might be tempted to imagine days spent on the sandy beaches of Anglesey, or eating fabulous crab sandwiches in one of Tenby’s many cafés. Whilst, for some, this sums up the perfect relaxing holiday, there are plenty of others who want a whole lot more adventure from their annual break. After an amazing ‘Year of Adventure’ in 2016, Wales looks set to take the title of adventure capital of Europe, offering adrenaline junkies more thrills, spills and epic experiences than they can handle in just one holiday!

If you’re interested in taking an adventure holiday this year, Wales is jam-packed with opportunities to test your nerves, skill and stamina. From the harsh wildness of the Brecon Beacons and the majestic beauty of Snowdonia to the coast of Pembrokeshire and the Irish Sea, whatever adventure challenge you choose is guaranteed to have the most stunning backdrop imaginable.

Kayaking in Wales

With miles and miles of epic coastline, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of water-based adventure experiences available around Wales. From coasteering off the Pembrokeshire cliffs to sea kayaking in Cardigan Bay, there’s a challenge to suit all ages and all fear levels! If you’re holidaying on Anglesey, why not try a RIB ride on the Menai Straits? If that sounds all a bit tame for your liking, go for the hardcore ‘Bear Grylls Extreme’ RIB ride, out into the wild Irish Sea – where conditions will challenge even the toughest of adventure nuts.

All that coastline means that there are plenty of surfing opportunities, too. From the vast beach at Newgale to Hell’s Mouth on the Llyn Peninsula, surfers are spoilt for choice. Surfers looking for something altogether different should head to Surf Snowdonia, at Dolgarrog. This awesome inland surfing lagoon has to be seen to be believed, and offers an exhilarating experience for both accomplished surfers and beginners alike.

Away from water-based adventures, Wales has an incredible range of outdoor activities to offer. A network of mountain bike centres across Wales offers trails that challenge riders’ skills, determination and guts. If you think mountain biking is about pottering along canal towpaths, think again! From Brechfa Forest in West Wales to Coed Y Brenin in the north, off-road mountain biking trails will throw mud, rocks, white knuckle descents and more at riders, at speeds of up to 40mph!

Mountain Biking in Wales

Of course, Wales has long been known for its awesome hiking trails, from the Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia to the coastal paths of Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion. Whilst some trails are fine for casual hikers, there are plenty of others that will really put more experienced hikers and climbers through their paces.

If you have young children, it’s easy to think that an adventure holiday isn’t perhaps the best idea, but nothing could be further from the truth. Look online for venues offering children’s sessions and classes, to find kid-friendly adventure opportunities from rock climbing and abseiling to kayaking and white water rafting.

For adrenaline addicts of all ages, a trip to Zip World in North Wales has to be on the list of must-do adventure activities. If you like the thought of travelling at over 100mph along a wire down the side of a mountain, and then over a cliff above a quarry lake, Zip World is for you.

Assuming you’re brave enough to open your eyes during the ‘flight’, you’ll have the most incredible panoramic views across Snowdonia.

Also at Zip World, Bounce Below is a cavern-based experience, offering giant trampolines, suspended walkways, rope bridges and more, to give adventurers of all ages a thrilling and challenging day out.

With such a dramatic and awe-inspiring landscape and coastline, it’s perhaps inevitable that Wales offers so many opportunities for adventure-based holidays. If you’re ready for some heart-pumping thrills on your next holiday, Wales is the perfect choice, and with holiday accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets, WTO can help you find the perfect holiday base.

Summer is almost here, and many of us are thinking about our annual holidays. For those of us with dogs, choosing where to stay can be a little more complicated than for people without pets, as we want our furry friends to enjoy the holiday as much as we do. If you’re planning to visit the West Wales coast this summer, read on for advice on the best dog-friendly beaches, and also some top tips on ensuring your pooch enjoys his day.


Dog-friendly beaches in West Wales

 

There are few more appealing sights than an excited dog running free on a sandy beach, bounding around in joyful exuberance, meeting other dogs and fetching sticks from the sea. Sadly, not everyone shares this love of dogs, and beaches are intended for the enjoyment of everyone, so many beaches operate some form of controlled access for dogs, at least for the summer months. If you visit a beach where dogs aren’t permitted, you could find yourself being asked to leave, and having to rethink your day at short notice.

Many beaches in West Wales have a ‘No Dogs’ policy that runs from May 1st until September 30th, to cover the busy holiday season. Beaches with this kind of restriction will generally prohibit dogs from all or at least part of the beach. For example, in Tenby, dogs are not permitted on the North beach, the Castle beach or the Harbour beach (except to board a boat), but visitors with dogs can use a large part of the vast South beach. Poppit, Newgale, Broadhaven and Saundersfoot also have summer restrictions, so it pays to check with the local tourist office or online at sites like the Marine Conservation Society’s Good Beach Guide.

Over in Ceredigion, it’s a similar story. From May until the end of September, dogs are banned from many beaches, including New Quay and Penbryn, and on many other beaches, dogs are restricted to a certain section of the beach. At Aberporth, dogs can use Dyffryn beach all year round, but they can only use Dolwen beach between September and mid-June.

For the most part, beaches in West Wales are very dog-friendly, and beaches where dogs are banned completely are few and far between. Check with the local tourist office, or if you plan to stay in a holiday cottage or self-catering apartment, ask the owner for advice.

One thing to bear in mind when planning a holiday with your dog is that not all the beaches on the West Wales coast are sandy. Fido may well find it much harder going on a shingle beach such as Newgale or Aberaeron, so you may want to ensure that you choose a location close to both types of beach.

It’s also a good idea to take some essential supplies with you when you take your dog to the beach. Make sure you have plenty of water, as well as a plastic drinking bowl, as your dog is likely to get extra thirsty on the beach. You’ll need doggy poo bags of course, and you might also want to consider a towel and even a popup tent, so your dog can rest in the shade if he gets too hot.

If you’re looking for dog-friendly accommodation for your holiday in Wales, check out our holiday property search, which allows visitors to filter their property search to show pet-friendly listings.

There are only five days left until Christmas. Yes, you read that right. Where has the time gone? If you’re anything like us, you’ve been holding out for the perfect Christmas gift. Waiting until you find the perfect present. And that’s great. It shows thought and commitment. But, it also means you don’t actually have a present and time is running out. Fast.

Not to worry though. Wales Tourists Online is here to save the day. We’ve scouted out some fantastic deals and have come up with a list of great cottages and hotels to help you give the perfect gift this Christmas – a holiday.

The Copthorne Hotel, Cardiff, South Wales

The Copthorne Hotel is the perfect getaway gift. After an indulgent Christmas you can begin your health boost by working up a sweat in the hotel’s modern health club, which comes complete with a gym and a 15 metre swimming pool. Once you’ve worked out, hit the sauna and steam room to unwind. Then, you can refuel in the hotel’s award-winning restaurant before heading into Cardiff for an evening of entertainment. If you’re looking for a spot of pampering, The Copthorne Hotel has an on-site hair salon. We can’t think of a better way to kick start 2016.

The Copthorne South WalesThe Copthorne Swimming Pool

 

St Mary’s Golf and Country Club, Bridgened, Glamorgan

With an 18-hole golf course, a stay at St Mary’s Golf and Country Club would make an excellent Christmas present for any keen golfer. The well-kept course is challenging, with an unusual water hazard and plenty of banks, bunkers, and mature oaks for you to manoeuvre.

Not only does St Mary’s Golf and Country Club have superb golfing facilities, it also has a restaurant that serves sumptuous meals and a well-stocked bar for relaxing in at night time. Plus, if you need a break from golf you explore the beautiful nearby countryside or visit one of the number of local castles, such as Coity Castle, the Llantrisant Castle and the Candleston Castle.

 

St Mary's Hotel Gol

St Mary's Hotel Golf and Country Club

The Old Farmhouse Bed and Breakfast, Dyffryn Ardudwy, Gwynedd

Overlooking Cardigan Bay, the Old Farmhouse oozes picturesque charm. With beams, one and a half acres of gorgeous grounds and a swimming pool, you couldn’t ask for more from a romantic getaway. Oh wait, yes you can – a hot tub. If that won’t put a smile on someone’s face this Christmas morning, we’re not sure if anything will. As well as superb facilities, the Old Farmhouse offers a hearty breakfast of locally sourced meat from the award-winning butcher. You can also enjoy fruit salad, cereals, croissants or toasts. If you’re going to be out enjoying the many nearby attractions for a day out, a healthy or unhealthy packed lunch can be prepared for you too for just £5.

The Old Farmhouse B&B

Rose Villa Bed and Breakfast, Pennant, Llanon

If the person in your life can’t bear to be parted from their pet, then you’ve just found the perfect solution – Rose Villa Bed and Breakfast. This pet-friendly B&B will welcome your pet with open arms and you’ll also be able to enjoy the B&Bs own animal menagerie. The owners have a visiting pair of Canadian geese, wildlife on their lake and often see pheasants and red kites. The owners also house chickens, croesfford texels (sheep) and horses. Oh and did we mention there’s even a model railway onsite? From just £30.00 per night, including a hearty Welsh breakfast with eggs laid by the chickens, a stay at Rose Villa Bed and Breakfast would be a charming and memorable Christmas gift.

Rose Villa

We haven’t got the decorations up at Wales Tourists HQ yet, but we’re definitely getting into the Christmas spirit. Today, over a mid-morning coffee break, we chatted about a few of our Christmas traditions. We thought you might like to know about the best suggestions.

So here’s a list of some of our favourite Christmas activities in Wales that you can do this December:

Ice skating at Swansea Winter Wonderland 2015 

First on the list had to be ice skating at Swansea’s Winter Wonderland. The Admiral rink is set in the heart of the fair and is a fantastic place to skate. Plus, there’s also a children’s rink. Apparently this is the only children’s rink in Wales.

Once you’ve finished skating you could also visit the grotto, ride the big wheel or try out the fun fair. And after all of that, refuel at the Alpine cabins with some hearty food and drink.

Prices: Prices ranged from £5.50 to £9.00. You can get discounted tickets if you book in advance. Family passes are also available.

Fact: 43,000 people skated at Swansea Winter Wonderland last Christmas.

Santa’s Toy Mine at Rhondda Heritage Par

If you have small children or young kids in the family, Santa’s Toy Mine is a must-do activity for you this December. You’ll be invited to follow clues through the mine to find Father Christmas. During your festive adventure you’ll pass through the sweet mine and the ice cave.

The Toy Mine is held at Rhondda Heritage Park and is open until the 24th December 2015.

Tickets are £7.95 for children and £4.95 for adults

Fact: Until the mid-1800s, it’s thought that Father Christmas rode a donkey.

Mold’s Festive Market, 13th December

Whether you’re looking for handmade Christmas gifts for someone special or some traditional Christmas food, you’re sure to find it aplenty Mold’s Festive Market. As well as craft stalls, there will be performers, Christmas rides and inflatables, as well as a Santa’s grotto, a children’s treasure hunt and a Santa Dash race. So quite a busy day! This year the event is held on the 13th December between 9am and 2pm.

Christmas concert at St David’s, Cardiff, 18th December

Listening to beautiful voices is one of the best ways we know how to get into the Christmas spirit and we know the talent planned for this year’s concert at St David’s is bound to warm even though most Scrooge-like of folks. This year the line-up includes Leroy Anderson’s Sleigh Ride and music from The Snow Maiden by Rimsky-Korsakov’s. Of course, you’ll also get the chance to get involved too during the sing-along sections. So get practicing.

Also taking part in the Christmas concert are: Edwin Outwater, the conductor, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the BBC National Chorus of Wales and the Caerphilly Children’s Choir. The concert takes place on the 18th of December and Tickets range from between £10 and £32.

Fact: The largest ever Father Christmas was a statue in Singapore. The Santa was 15.6 m high, weighed 2.5 tonnes and was in place for Christmas 1996.

 

 

How on earth is it half term already? It feels like only yesterday we were rinsing down the body boards and tidying up the buckets and spades. If half term has got you in a spin, don’t fret. We’re here to save the day (or in this case the week). Use our guide to make sure your October half term is fun-filled, exciting and doesn’t break the bank.

A leisurely walk around Hawarden

Hawarden at this time of year is beautiful. Blazing orange and red leaves, lots of winding paths to explore, an abandoned corn mill, stream, orchard and the odd cow and horse to meet along the way – what more could you want from a walk?

Make sure after all that fresh, healthy air you make your way to the Hawarden Farm Shop. Not only could you pick up some delicious foods for dinner from their deli and shop, they make heavenly cakes that are well worth trying.

You can find some routes here or just go for a wander. The paths are relatively well sign-posted. Being relatively flat for Wales, this is a nice one to do with kids or the more reluctant walker. But make sure you pack some wellies or suitable footwear as it can get muddy.

Big Bug Hunt, Erdigg

Not afraid of bugs? No? How about if the bugs are gigantic? Huge? Out-of-this-world ginormous? Still not scared? Okay, then the Big Bug Hunt at Erdigg, which is run by the National Trust, sounds perfect for you. A crafts person has created 10 big bugs and hidden them around the National Trust house. It’s your mission to find the bugs. This event is free, but normal admission prices still apply. If you’re keen to take part in this fun event, contact Susanne Gronnow: 01978 315160, susanne.gronnow@nationaltrust.org.uk.

Dylan’s Big Birthday Bash, Swansea

You’ve been invited to a special party – Dylan Thomas’ 101st birthday celebration. With the promise of birthday cake, poetry fun and even some fanciful face painting, this is one party you’ll defineitly want to add to your diary. The event takes place on Tuesday 27th October at Somerset Place and is set to run from 12pm to 4pm.

Peppa Pig Surprise Show, Cardiff

Okay. We know you may not feel too warmly about Peppa Pig having watched more than you ever thought it possible to watch of one cartoon pig, but you’ll probably make your kids week if you took them along to the Peppa Pig’s Surprise live show at Cardiff.

During the performance you and your little ones will meet Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig, George and of course Peppa. This activity isn’t as budget-friendly as the other activities on the list, but it might make the perfect treat if you have young children.

Welly Week and a Halloween Party, Dyffryn Gardens, Vale of Glamorgan

Set within 55 acres Dyffryn Gardens boasts stunning lawns, a rose garden, elegant ponds, a glasshouse, a Pompeian garden and trees from around the world. If that wasn’t enough they’ve also got some fantastic events on for kids during October half term, such as Welly Week. If you take part in welly week you’ll be invited to go on a welly hunt around the gardens looking for hidden wellies. And remember to look out for the golden welly boot.

Also being held at Dyffryn Gardens is Apple Week and a Halloween disco. At the disco your children can show off their spooky Halloween costumes and their dance moves, as well as go on a walk and take part in the Halloween themed games and storytelling. Here’s more information about the events at Dyffryn Gardens.

At Wales Tourists Online HQ we love autumn – the crisp air, the incredible colours of the trees and, of course, the odd conker competition. To cap it all off, we get Bonfire Night on the 5th of November. An excuse for hot dogs, sparklers and maybe a pint or two of something warming. In today’s post we want to show you some of the best bonfire and firework displays Wales has to offer you this year (2015). Let us know where you head to and if you have any recommendations:

Beaumaris Bonfire Night, Anglesey, Saturday 7th November 2015

Kicking off our guide to bonfire night in Wales with a big, bright bang (pun fully intended) is Beaumaris Bonfire and Fireworks Night. For £4 (children are free though!) you’ll be treated to a firework display that will fill the sky and a bonfire on the beach. In 2014 the event expected 8000 people to attend, so you might want to think about parking and finding a spot sharpish. For photos and more information, you can check out the Beaumaris Fireworks Facebook page.

Fact: Did you know that the first ever known fireworks display in England took place at Henry VII wedding, way back in 1486?

Llandudno Firework Display, Llandudno, Saturday 7th November 2015

The Llandudno Firework Display will get you and your family ooohing and aaahing like you’ve never ooohed and aaahed before. Taking place on Saturday 7th of November the fireworks in this display are made the more spectacular by its pier setting. Watch the fireworks explode overhead and see their reflections in the waves below. Magnificent.

This event is free and is so popular it has its own Facebook page where you can find out more information ahead of the big event.

Here’s a video of last year’s firework display:

 

Ride the Rocket Firework Train, Llangollen, Sunday 1st November 2015

If you’re looking for an alternative bonfire night, something that’s slightly different from all of the events you’ve been to in the past, then climbing aboard the Ride the Rocket Firework Train might be just what you’re after. Yep, you read that right. A firework train.

For £16 (adult return) or £10 (child return) you get to board a beautiful steam train at Llangollen and then ride to Glyndyfrdwy. Here you’ll enjoy a stunning fireworks display. You can buy hot refreshments on board, as well as alcoholic drinks. If you fancy a firework display with a twist, book now. The train has been fully booked for the last four years. You’ve been warned.

The rhyme:

“Remember, remember

The fifth of November,

Gunpowder, treason and plot.

We know no reason why gunpowder treason

should never, ever be forgot.”

DIY bonfire night party

Don’t want to roam far this firework night? If that’s the case you could always host your own bonfire night party at home or have a little celebration in the holiday cottage you’re staying in. Although fireworks might be out of the question, indoor fireworks can be a good alternative. You could make your bonfire night bonanza extra special with apple bobbing, roasting marshmallows over a fire (a chimenea might work if you can’t have a full-blown bonfire in your back garden) and a big batch of pumpkin soup people can help themselves to. Ginger cake or parkin cake, spicy sausages and a cheese fondue are also great bonfire night party food options.

Fact: Did you know that on the 5th of November every year the men, women and children who live in St Ottery, Devon celebrate Tar Barrel Festival? The participants set light to barrels that contain tar and, with the lit barrels on their heads, run through the streets.

Remember to let us know how you got on if you go to a firework display this bonfire night in Wales! We love hearing about your trips and recommendations.

The Big Welsh Quiz


A fun quiz about our great nation. How much do you know?

How is it the 14th of August already? It feels as though it should be March. And if the year feels like it’s slipping by too quickly, how fast has this summer gone? Before long we’ll be huddling round a crackling open fire drinking thick hot chocolates. But, the summer isn’t over yet and before we descend into another very British winter, we thought we’d share some ideas and tips for surfing holidays in Wales.

Whether you’re a beginner to surfing or an absolute pro, Wales is a great place to go on a surfing holiday. Especially if you don’t fancy a long, long drive to Cornwall. As always, if you’ve got some surfing ideas or tips you’d like to share, we’d love to know. Feel free to add a comment to the bottom of this blog, or contact us via our Facebook page or by tweeting us @TouristsOnline.

Surf Snowdonia, Wales, Snowdon

Much anticipated, Surf Snowdonia is an inland surf lagoon that opened in August 2015. Since opening, it’s not disappointed. With breath taking mountain views of Snowdon’s mountainside, clean, clear water and the perfect, albeit orchestrated, waves, it’s a winning combination for any surfer.

There are several options if you want to surf. You can do free surfing, which means you are allocated a bay. There are three types of bay – beginner, intermediate and advanced. The waves within each bay are suited to your ability. Prices for free surfing sessions depend on your ability. Beginner sessions go from 19 for one hour, whilst intermediate and advanced free surf sessions go from £29 per hour.

If you’d prefer some guidance, whether you’re a beginner or just want to brush up on your surfing skills, you can also get lessons from Surf Snowdonia. Kids’ lessons go from £29 per hour, whilst adult lessons are from £39 per hour. Again, the price gets higher the more advanced a surfer you are.

There’s also a coffee bar, shops, glass viewing platform and a soft play shack for the kids, which makes Surf Snowdonia a practical and handy day out, as well as an exhilarating one.

Here’s a video to give you a taste of what Surf Snowdonia is all about:

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We like our food here at Wales Tourists Online HQ. And, as proud foodies, we’re obviously big cheese lovers.

Thankfully, for cheese enthusiasts like ourselves, Wales has got a lot to offer. From its award-winning cheddars to creamy goats cheese masterpieces. Visit Wales have a good guide to the some of Wales’ finest cheeses.

However, not only are there plenty of great cheese producers in Wales, there are also some great cheese festivals, events and attractions. Here’s our guide for cheese lovers who want to holiday in Wales.

If you try any of our suggestions out, or you have some more ideas, please share them with us. We love hearing from you.

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