PHOTO: Wales is big on adventures. (Courtesy Visit Wales)
According to the Chinese zodiac, 2016 is the Year of the Monkey. According to Visit Wales, it’s the Year of Adventure. As the year winds down, why not close it out with the trip of a lifetime?
Wales might be compact (it’s roughly the size of Lake Ontario), but it packs a wallop when it comes to adventure travel. Whether on land, sea or even air, thrill-seekers won’t be at a loss for choice. Mountain biking, hiking, zip-lining. It’s all there for the taking (and doing). But do it quick — next year the focus moves to Legends. Why not get a jump and create a legendary adventure all your own?
Family. There’s plenty of adventures to be had for the younger set. Visit the location where part of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Parts 1 & 2)" was filmed or walk through the St. Fagans National History Museum, where you can take an open-air walking tour of the history of Wales. Explore castles, ride ponies on the beach, or try being a zookeeper for a day.
Film Buffs. Hit movies and shows have all been filmed in Cardiff. Why not make yourself the star of the show? Visit the locations where Harry Potter, Sherlock, Snow White and the Huntsman, The Edge of Love, Dark Knight Rises and Doctor Who were filmed.
Cycling. Take a cycling tour or hurdle down a mountain. Either way, Wales is a world-class biking destination and the perfect place for a two-wheeled adventure.
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Culinary. Set your taste buds on an adventure all their own, with gastronomic tours that are guaranteed to send the senses reeling. Explore such Welsh delicacies as seaweed, known locally as laverbread, fresh cockles, Welshcakes, a variety of cheeses and locally procured salt.
Dog friendly. Wales is dog-friendly, no doubt about it. How else to explain the chance to hire a dog-friendly boat, go off the grid with dog-friendly glamping, or better still, stay at Wales’ most dog-friendly hotel. Luxury dog beds in the bar, a doggy pool and 25 dog-friendly en-suite rooms are on offer at the Craig y Nos. Want something more Zen? Then go on a doggy retreat at Cerdiwen Centre, where you can stay in a yurt or Romany wagon while engaging in energy training techniques.
Island Hopping. Wales is home to 50 islands, each unique and mesmerizing. Worm’s Head, despite the name, is picture-perfect and for a six-hour window when the tide goes out you can scramble over the rocks to stand on a ridge and see the seals that inhabit the waters below.
Historic. Go deep into the legend of King Arthur or go deeper still with a visit to the Big Pit National Coal Museum and discover for yourself what it was like to be a Welsh coalminer. Do as the Romans do and explore the National Roman Legion Museum or the Roman Fortress and Baths. Indulge your love of history with 10 amazing historic adventures.
Urban. Step into the TARDIS and fly away on the ultimate Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff Bay. Looking for something more artsy? Check out the National Museum Cardiff or take a cooking class at the Cornerhouse Cookery. Better yet, take a masterclass in mixology at Lab 22.
Water. Thanks in part to its nearly 1,400 miles of coast line, Wales is a water-lover’s paradise. With colder temperatures, only the heartiest of adventurers may take up coasteering, wakeboarding or surfing but fear not, there’s plenty of water sports left to be had–Wales is a great sailing spot and also offers up fantastic white water rafting.
Walking. Walk in the footsteps of Dylan Thomas, hunt for the perfect penny bun or chanterelle, or scare yourself silly on a Llandaff Ghost Walk. The green rolling hills of Wales invite visitors of all abilities to get out and hike.
Wildlife. Animal lovers, rejoice. Wales is a prime locale for wildlife watching. Cardigan Bay, for example, is home to bottlenose dolphins, while Porthdinllaen has a resident colony of grey seals. The ever popular puffin can be spotted on Skomer Island, where 6,000 breeding pairs take up residence each spring. Further inland, black grouse, ospreys, salmon and otters can all be found by the intrepid animal lover.