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As a Welshman, I might be biased when I say that Wales has it all, but whether you’re looking for a peaceful retreat in the countryside or an exciting city break, there are plenty of options to make your trip truly memorable.

From luxury hotels to quirky place to stay, we’ve got accommodation options to suit all tastes, and in this guide, I’ll share my favourite places to base yourself as you explore this vast nation along with some of my favourite hotels, guest houses, and B&Bs.

1. Llanberis (Snowdonia)

Snowdonia is Wales’ largest national park and a very popular tourist spot. Llanberis is a small village in Snowdonia that sits on the banks of Lake Padarn and right at the foot of Snowdon.

It’s well known as a place to base yourself for exploring the national park and taking part in the many outdoor activities on offer, from climbing Snowdon (the main route begins right in the village) to kayaking and pony trekking.

For those less outdoorsy, it’s still packed with activities including the lake railway, the Blade of Giants (see photo above) and Dolbadarn Castle – great for history enthusiasts.

Highlights: Climbing Snowdon, Llanberis Lake Railway, The Blade of Giants, Dolbadarn Castle, Kayaking on Lake Padarn, National Slate Museum

Recommended Places to Stay: 

  • YHA Snowdon Pen-Y-Pass – This Youth Hostel offers a range of budget accommodation in a great spot, at the foot of Snowdon.
  • Royal Victoria Hotel – Located in a great spot near Snowdon, the Royal Victoria is also 100 yards from the Snowdonia Mountain Railway and has two bars and two restaurants onsite.
  • Gallt Y Glyn Hostel – This Hostel offers various room sizes, including a family room, and has a restaurant onsite. Another great budget option.

See my full article on the best places to stay in Snowdonia for more inspiration.

2. Cardiff (South Wales)

Cardiff is the capital of Wales and our largest city. Having lived here myself for many years, I can vouch that it’s a great place to base yourself for exploring South Wales. The city itself has many great attractions to suit all interests, including Cardiff Bay (shown above), Cardiff Castle, the Principality Stadium, several great museums, white water rafting, and more.

If you love to dine out or want to experience some of Wales’ nightlife, this is the place with a near-infinite number of places to eat, drink and party in the city centre. Plus, you have plenty of choices when it comes to accommodation. However, being the capital city, it is more expensive than other places in this guide and parking can be difficult if you’re travelling by car.

Highlights: Cardiff Castle, Principality Stadium Tour, Cardiff Bay, Millenium Centre, Senedd

Recommended Places to Stay: 

  • Hotel Indigo – Great value and in a perfect location. Hotel Indigo is right on the Cardiff high street, and has a Marco Pierre White Restaurant onsite.
  • The Angel Hotel – This hotel is opposite the famous Principality Stadium in one direction, and the Castle in the other. A historical beauty, well worth checking out.
  • The Coal Exchange – An iconic building which has gone through extensive refurbishment, it offers a great space to stay in Cardiff Bay. 

3. Swansea and the Gower Peninsular (South Wales)

Swansea is the second largest city in Wales, also located in South Wales. As well as the attractions in the city itself, Swansea is best known for the sprawling coastline of the nearby Gower Peninsular, and the stunning natural beauty that this brings.

By staying in Swansea, you can enjoy a large range of bars, restaurants, and nightlife, but you’ll also be well placed for exploring the interesting villages and beaches across the coast. It’s a must-visit for anyone interested in surfing, or just to take in the surroundings of what was designated as the first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the UK. 

Highlights: Gower Peninsula, Rhossili, Dylan Thomas Museum, Mumbles, Waterfront Museum

Recommended Places to Stay: 

  • The Grand Hotel – Set right next to the train station, it’s an ideal base for exploring, and provides a range of rooms, including some with hot tubs on the balcony!
  • Morgan’s Hotel – An iconic building in the heart of Swansea, this sprawling Victorian masterpiece offers luxurious accommodation with great public transport links from the city centre.
  • Sea View Stays – This guesthouse is based on the beachfront of Swansea Bay, offering four bedroom accommodation with a sea view. Great for families!

4. Caernarfon (North Wales)

Caernarfon is a large Royal Town in Gwynedd, North Wales, with a very rich history. It sits on the shore of the Menai Strait, and was the site of the investiture of the Prince of Wales in 1969.

There are a lot of other things to see in the area, from the steam trains of the Welsh Highland Railway, to a boat cruise on the Menai Strait. Caernarfon Castle is a must visit for anyone in the area.

Highlights: Caernarfon Castle, Boat Cruises, Sygun Copper Mine, Gyspy Wood Park, Welsh Highland Railway

Recommended Places to Stay: 

  • Celtic Royal Hotel – Located in the centre, just ten minutes from the Harbour, the Celtic Royal Hotel includes an indoor swimming pool and brasserie.
  • Snowdonia Chalet – This cosy chalet has two bedrooms, kitchen and bathroom, and access to a children’s playground. A nice spot for families to stay. 
  • Totters Hostel – A great budget option, offering single beds, twin, double and quadruple rooms. You will have access to a shared kitchen and lounge, with breakfast included.

5. Tenby (West Wales)

Tenby is a colourful coastal town in Pembrokeshire. In fact, it’s one of the most popular places to visit in Wales, and for good reason. You will find beautiful beaches right in the town itself (South Beach is my personal favourite).

The town centre is neatly surrounded by 13th-century walls and things to do here include visiting the castle ruins, checking out the museum, seeing the old fort, and exploring nearby islands. Of course, you’ll want to allow plenty of time for relaxing on the beaches too.

Highlights: Caldey Island, Beaches, Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, Tenby Harbour

Recommended Places to Stay: 

  • The Park Hotel – Offering spectacular views across Tenby Bay, The Park Hotel offers a high standard, including an onsite swimming pool. Candlelit dinners are also available in the restaurant, perfect for a romantic break.
  • The Belgrave Hotel – Built in 1874, this Grade II listed building offers sea views, and includes a lounge, bar and restaurant. It is well placed, just a short walk from the town centre. 
  • Giltar Hotel – Located on The Esplanade overlooking South Beach, Giltar is a well regarded hotel with a variety of room options and an onsite bar and restaurant.

6. Brecon (Brecon Beacons)

The Brecon Beacons is Wales’ second largest national park, straddling the area between Mid-Wales and South Wales. There are tons of cute villages where you can base yourself in the Brecon Beacons, but my favourite is the market town of Brecon.

By basing yourself in Brecon, you are well located for exploring the rest of the national park, you can climb Pen-Y-Fan (the highest mountain in South Wales) or take day trips to other small villages, such as Crickhowell, Hay-on-Wye, and Talgarth, and the many waterfalls including the Four Falls Trail.

You’ll also have access to plenty of great pubs serving up hearty meals as well as a surprising number of museums worth checking out including the Royal Welsh Regimental Museum and Brecknock museum.

Highlights: Kayak on Llangorse Lake, Royal Welsh Museum, Brecknock Museum, Brecon Cathedral, Theatr Brycheiniog, CLimb Pen Y Fan

Recommended places to stay:

I would typically recommend getting yourself a nice cosy holiday cottage or lodge in the countryside near Brecon, but here are my guest house and hotel recommendations:

7. Beaumaris (Anglesey)

Beaumaris might be a small coastal town in Anglesey, the island just off the North West of Wales, but it has an impressive history, and is a great place to stay if you are interested in visiting historical sites. I would personally recommend visiting the impressive Beaumaris Castle; first developed in 1295, it is packed with history and a very impressive sight to behold.

Highlights: Beaumaris Castle, Beaumaris Gaol, Pier, Beaumaris Courthouse tour, Beaumaris Beach

Recommended Places to Stay: 

  • Ty Biwmares – This converted chapel offers three bedrooms and a nice living space in a great location for exploring the town, and the nearby beach.
  • The Bulkeley Hotel – This hotel dates back to 1832, and features rooms with a sea view, a restaurant and coffee bar, and a terrace overlooking the water.
  • The Liverpool Arms Hotel – Located on the high street, just 350 yards from the Castle. The Liverpool Arms also has a restaurant onsite, ideal after a long day exploring.

See my dedicated article for a full list of the best places to base yourself on Anglesey.

8. Aberystwyth (Mid-Wales)

Aberystwyth is perhaps best known for its University, and whilst it does welcome thousands of students each year, you will also find a beautiful coastline and a bustling high street in this busy town.

The seafront includes a Pier, and a wonderful Cliff Railway – worth it just for the views from Constitution Hill.

Highlights: Aberystwyth Cliff Railway, Aberystwyth Castle, Aberystwyth Pier and Seafront, Vale of Rheidol Railway

Recommended Places to Stay: 

  • Gwesty’r Marine Hotel & Spa – Located on the promenade, this Hotel offers ocean views, a great restaurant, and spa facilities. There is even free parking.
  • Park Lodge Hotel – Located around five minutes from the centre of the town, Park Lodge is a small hotel with en-suite bedrooms, a restaurant and a glass-fronted lounge. Great for couples.
  • Plas Nanteos Mansion – This Grade I Georgian Mansion is really something special. Set within 35 acres of its own grounds, it offers bed and breakfast options, and an A La Carte evening menu. 

9. Portmeirion (North Wales)

Portmeirion is really not something you would expect to find in Wales. In fact, it looks like an Italian village has been lifted up and dropped into North Wales.

It was created between 1925 and 1975 by Welsh architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, as a homage to Italian style. The surreal but beautiful architecture has led to Portmeirion appearing in a number of Films and TV Shows, most famously, The Prisoner in the 1960s.

Highlights: Portmeirion Village, Mermaid Spa, The Dancing Tree Gardens

Recommended Places to Stay:

  • Aberdunant Hall Country Hotel – Located within 200-acres of woodland, this beautiful hotel is around 7 miles from Portmeirion.
  • Abergafren Lodge – Sea views from the balcony make this one-bedroom Lodge a great romantic option for couples. Located a mile away from Portmeirion.
  • Portmeirion Village and Castell Deudraeth – Located right in the centre, you can stay in either the Portmeirion Hotel, or in the nearby Castell Deudraeth.

10. New Quay (West Wales)

Not to be confused with the Cornish town Newquay, New Quay is a seaside town in Cardigan Bay. This is one of my personal favourites, and somewhere I have visited a number of times.

It is a colourful town offering a great opportunity to explore the different towns and beaches up and down the Bay, and the chance to go out on the water and spot dolphins.

Highlights: Dolphin Watching Boat Trips, Fishing, Watersports, Cardigan Market

Recommended Places to Stay: 

  • Awelfryn – Just 450 yards from the beach, this holiday home has three bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, and is perfect for families visiting the area.
  • The Swallows Guest House – Set just outside of New Quay, The Swallows offers bed and breakfast accommodation, set in a beautiful garden with terrace.
  • Beechwood House – Located between Aberaeron and New Quay, guests are offered simple, comfortable accommodation, with a hearty breakfast.

11. Narberth (West Wales)

© Crown copyright (2022) Cymru Wales

Narberth is a quiet, beautiful market town in Pembrokeshire, and is a great base to explore West Wales. The town centre is home to a number of independent shops, art galleries and boutiques. Just a short drive will take you to a number of family-friendly activities, including Oakwood Park (Wales’ biggest theme park), and Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo (with over 750 animals).

Highlights: Oakwood Park, Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo, Blue Lagoon Water Park, Narberth Castle, Climb Pembroke

Recommended Places to Stay: 

  • Otters House – A well located holiday home in Narberth, just four miles from Folly Farm and Blue Lagoon. The home is perfect for a family, even including gaming consoles.
  • The Beeches – A large wooden-clad home set in well-kept gardens, offering two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and an outdoor hot tub. 
  • Hotel Plas Hyfryd – Situated in the centre of Narberth, this hotel in its own beautiful grounds, offers a great opportunity to explore the area, and offers a number of room sizes, including family rooms – ideal for young children.

12. Hay-on-Wye (Brecon Beacons)

© Crown copyright (2022) Cymru Wales

My final recommended place to base yourself in Wales is another spot in the Brecon beacons national park. This time, I’m recommending Hay-on-Wye which is a small village in the northeast of the park.

This quaint little village is best known for its independent shops, including an unusually large number of bookshops for such a small place. This is because the small village is home to the Hay Festival, one of the most famous literature festivals in the world.

Staying here is great if you want somewhere super cute, with it’s stone houses that look like they are from a fairy tale. There are also plenty of outdoor activities too, including canoeing on the River Wye and hiking in the mountains. However, it’s quite a distance from the waterfalls in the south of the national park so keep this in mind.

Highlights: Hay Festival, Market Day (every Thursday), Hay Castle, Kayaking and Canoeing on the River Wye

Recommended places to stay:

  • Seven Stars – A beautiful 16th-century building transformed into a guest house with a swimming pool and sauna.
  • The Swan at Hay – An independent hotel in a great location, with a restaurant and bistro onsite.
  • Hay Retreats – Neighbouring pet-friendly townhouses, offering a great opportunity for bigger groups to stay in the same space.

For more ideas, see my full guide to places to stay in the Brecon Beacons.

Related Questions

What is the Prettiest Place to Stay in Wales?

The prettiest places to stay in Wales are the quaint little villages that can be found in the national parks, such as Betws-Y-Coed and Beddgelert in Snowdonia, or Hay-on-Wye and Crickhowell in the Brecon Beacons.

What’s Better, North or South Wales?

North Wales is better to visit if you like the outdoors because it’s home to the largest National Park in the country and some very impressive castles. Meanwhile, South Wales is home to the two largest cities in Wales with lots of attractions right on your doorstep. However, there can be no real winner as both north and south have plenty to offer so I’d highly advise visiting both.

Kieren is the founder and editor-in-chief of Wales Guidebook. Originally from rural Mid-Wales, he has lived all over the country from Cardiff to Wrexham. A true Welshman, Kieren created this site to share his passion for Wales and help others discover this beautiful country.