Beautiful lake and marsh landscape at Cors Caron National Nature Reserve, Tregaron, Ceredigion, Wales.

9 Most Underrated Towns in Wales

Wales is often overlooked as a place to visit, with many people not knowing of the treasures it holds. Steeped in vibrant folklore and endowed with a rich culture, Wales is an underrated destination that provides a unique and inimitable experience.

History unfolds across sprawling valleys, hills, and mountains. Wales contains three national parks and five areas of outstanding natural beauty (also known as national landscapes). Coupled with the fact that Wales has more castles per square mile than any other European country, there is no doubt that Wales belongs on every itinerary. 

Welsh culture blooms in the small towns scattered across the coastal plains, deep valleys, riverbanks, and dramatic mountains. With enchanting waterfalls, storybook castles, and otherworldly forests, Wales is full of surprises. See the unexpected waiting in the following small towns, but check for closures before departure, as Wales often has unpredictable weather! In addition, anyone traveling here should consider the seasons, as many Welsh attractions are open only for certain seasons. 


Kidwelly Castle, Carmarthenshire, Wales, UK
Kidwelly Castle, Carmarthenshire, Wales, UK.

With easy access to both the River Gwendraeth and Cardigan Bay and an imposing castle soaring overhead, Kidwelly is an ideal spot for exploring Carmarthenshire in the west of Wales.

Appearing in the first scene of Monty Python and The Holy Grail, the iconic Kidwelly Castle is a Norman stronghold, intimidating and dominating the landscape.  Explore the castle grounds and imagine life in 12th-century Wales as a castle defender.

The remnants of Kidwell Quay and Kymer's Canal are now a thriving wildlife habitat rife with birds and other species. The closed railway route can be followed most of the way, and some canal structures can even be glimpsed through the greenery.

Pembrey Country Park and Beach is the ultimate "do anything" destination, with over 500 acres of parkland to explore and sandy Cefn Sidan Beach, with golden dunes, cerulean waves, and shipwrecks spread across the sand. 

The park also contains hiking trails, including a unique Historic Augmented Reality Trail to learn about the park's history during World War I and II.  Other activities include crazy golf, foot golf, campsites, horse riding, a mini steam railway, and more. 


Llangefni windmill overlooking Welsh village
Llangefni windmill overlooking Welsh village.

Another great base for exploring is Llangefni. With the nickname of the "Heart of Anglesey," Llangefni is at the center of the beautiful island, with most attractions a short drive away. 

Besides being an excellent base for exploration, Llangefni has its charms. The Oriel Ynys Mon Museum is a "purpose-built museum" to tell the story of Anglesey through art and objects (from Mesolithic to post-Medieval). Features include Sir Kyffin William's outstanding collection, Charles Tunnicliffe's gallery of wildlife paintings and sketchbooks, and the Massey Sisters' botany illustrations. 

It is easy to see how the local artists gained inspiration while visiting the Dingle Nature Preserve- 25 acres of wooded valley with cute red squirrels scampering throughout. 

Other suggested activities include a play at the Theatr Fach Llangefni, seeing a football game at the Llangefni Town FC, or grabbing a takeaway from a local place like Popty Pizza or Aran Fish and Chips and enjoying a meal by the river.

If a road trip appeals, Beaumaris Castle, Llanfairpwllgwyngyll (a town with one of the longest names in the world), the Coastal Path, and the Halen Mon Saltcote are great places to spend a day.


Aberdaron, Wales Beautiful landscape of the village, bay, sea and dramatic cliffs Small seaside resort with a quiet secluded beach with blue sea lapping on the sandy shore
Aberdaron, Wales' landscape of the village and bay.

A departure point for pilgrims going to Ynys Enlli (Bardsey Island), Aberdaron is pure Welsh coast beauty, with sandy beaches, historic churches, and views that have inspired many poets.

Before heading to Bardsey Island, take a moment to enjoy Aberdaron and the coast. Plas yin Rhiw is a lovingly restored Tudor/Georgian home. Initially built in the early 17th century, over the next two centuries, it went through neglect and rebuilding, with the Keating sisters providing updates and tireless restoration. The grounds and organic gardens are also bright throughout the seasons, alight with bluebells and magnolias.

Porth y Swnt, or Gateway to the Sound, is an attractive interpretive center focusing on Aberdaron's maritime past. With an immersive under-the-sea experience in "The Deep" exhibit, glass and textile installations explore ways to visualize and understand man's relationship with the sea.

After exploring Abedaron, it is necessary to visit Bardsley Island. It is a place of pure, unspoiled wild beauty (also an International Dark Sky Sanctuary) with quaint cottages and homes.  The perfect place to view sea life, the island is home to cute seals and puffins, countless bird species (over 310), and even its apple variety.


The Crannog at Llangorse Lake in the Brecon Beacons National Park, South Wales, captured at sunrise.

At the center of the Brecon Beacons National Park and on the shores of south Wales's largest natural lake, Llangorse is perfection for outdoor enthusiasts.

The tranquil Llangorse Lake is ready for adventurers to canoe, sail, and row about the sparkling waters, working up an appetite for a picnic or a stroll to get a meal in town. Before moving to town, visit the unique Crannog Center (the only example of one in Wales), an ancient lakeside dwelling from the 9th or 10th century. Other historic sites worth exploring include Paragon Tower (a Victorian-built lodge), Iron Age fort ruins, and a 15th-century church.

Suppose water activities on the lake are not enough to get adrenaline flowing. In that case, thrill seekers can try the Llangorse Multi-Activity Center for indoor rock-climbing, zip-lining, and a natural rock-caving system. 

Of course, the Brecon Beacons itself offers a variety of adventures, from horseback riding to mountain biking. Stargazing is also a popular pastime, with the park being designated a Dark Sky Reserve and an optimal place to see the sky sparkle.


Powis Castle, Garden View, Welshpool, Wales, United Kingdom
Powis Castle, Garden View, Welshpool, Wales, United Kingdom.

One of Wales' famous market towns, Welshpool is a perfect blend of natural beauty and historical relevance.

Wildlife abounds with the Montgomery Canal in the town center, from the vivid blue kingfisher to the adorable otter, as well as a plethora of aquatic plants. Walking, cycling, or boating are all ways to experience the flourishing waterway.

The Severn Farm Pond Reserve is unique because it is an urban nature reserve, providing a safe place for flora and fauna.  Boardwalks provide access to the marshy wetlands teeming with creatures such as grey herons, newts, and mallards.

The streets of Welshpool are lined with Georgian brick buildings, with a standout being the rare hexagonal 18th-century cock-fighting ring. Another attraction in town is the Y Lanfa-Powysland Museum, which takes the visitor through the history of Mid-Wales. 

Postcards were made for pictures like the one formed by Powis Castle, an imposing medieval castle jutting out from elegant gardens. Built in the 13th century by a Welsh prince, it has been remodeled over centuries.  Highlights include the drum towers and the 17th-century-styled decor.  The gardens comprise different historical layers, from the imposing yew 'tumps' to the formal garden.


Beautiful lake and marsh landscape at Cors Caron National Nature Reserve, Tregaron, Ceredigion, Wales
Beautiful lake and marsh landscape at Cors Caron National Nature Reserve, Tregaron, Ceredigion, Wales.

Around 60 miles to the southeast, Tregaron is another charming market town with plenty to offer. Home of the Welsh folk hero Twm Sion Cati (similar to Robin Hood), Tregaron retains that whimsical charm, with verdant wave-like hills and deep valleys forming a fairytale-like setting.

Receiving a royal charter in 1292, Tregaron has a long history, which is on display at the Tregaron Red Kite and Heritage Center. With a Victorian schoolhouse and a tearoom, the Center is a great place for visitors to start their exploration. It also serves as an information center for Cors Caron Wetland.

Cors Caron Wetland is a National Nature Reserve, with three raised peat bogs built up over 12,000 years- crucial for wildlife such as dragonflies, lizards, red kites, and a large variety of birds. A boardwalk provides a comfortable path for birdwatchers and walkers alike.

Listed in the Michelin Guide, a meal at Y Talbot is necessary. With dishes ranging from the fancy (Cardigan Bay lobster and crab with shellfish consommé and pickled ginger) to the simple yet elevated (a Welsh beef burger with Snowdonia cheddar and smoked bacon mayonnaise), Y Talbot is the perfect place to unwind and indulge.


Diesel railcar arrives at Llangollen along the Llangollen Railway in Denbighshire
Diesel railcar arrives at Llangollen along the Llangollen Railway. Image credit Jason Wells via Shutterstock.

A riverside delight that is part of a UNESCO World Heritage site, with an eponymous railway, a breathtaking hike to a 13th-century castle, and a Gothic-tinged mansion, Llangollen is optimal for embracing relaxation.

Llangollen Railway is a scenic heritage railway from Llangollen to Corwen, with views of storybook villages, castles, and lush rolling hills. A variety of unique excursions are available throughout the year.

If the aquatic route is more appealing, the Llangollen Canal meanders through town, an ideal spot to picnic by or take a cruise down, especially if one of the unique horse-drawn boats is available for a ride. Horseshoe Falls, a dramatically beautiful piece of Thomas Telford engineering, is not to be missed.

For history buffs, Castell Dinas Bran and Plas Newydd House will capture imaginations. Castell Dinas Bran, or the Crow's Fortress, is a rare 13th-century Welsh-built stone castle perched on a hilltop with panoramic views of the surrounding valleys. Plas Newydd (New Hall) is an unbelievable mansion with enchanting gardens, best known for being home to the unconventional "Ladies of Llangollen," a pair who lived together for fifty years, becoming 18th-century celebrities and expanding the house from a small cottage to the modern iteration.


Victorian Prime Minister William Gladstone's Library in the village of Hawarden, North Wales
Victorian Prime Minister William Gladstone's Library in the village of Hawarden, North Wales.

North towards the border with England, Hawarden is home to an unusual residential library and an estate focusing on the locals.

By far, the most unusual of Hawarden's fixtures is Gladstone's Library. With silent reading rooms and over 150,000 items to read, it is an absolute paradise for book lovers, academics, or anyone searching for a place to slow down and relax. Comfortable bedrooms with literary touches provide respite, and the unique Food For Thought cafe provides Welsh comforts such as sultana scones and Welsh tea bread flapjacks, lunch plates, salads, and special menus featuring dishes like roast turkey, and sweet potato and mushroom wellington.

On the Hawarden Estate, the 13th-century "Old Castle," with Iron Age origins, is one site (only open a few times a year), and the other is a dazzling 18th-century "castle" estate it is private; however, folks can still see the outside. The main attraction, though, is the parklands around the estate, with experiences from taking an open-fire cooking class to picking your own produce, to camping in the serene forest. There is also the Glynne Arms, a pub where you can enjoy bar snacks based on local ingredients. 

Llanwrtyd Wells

View from Sugar Loaf in mid Wales near Llanwrtyd Wells
View from Sugar Loaf in mid-Wales near Llanwrtyd Wells.

Bog snorkeling. That activity alone would be enough for someone to pause, but Llanwrtyd Wells is more than just home to the World Bogsnorkelling Championships (on August 25th, 2024) and the Welsh Open Stone Skimming Championships.

The smallest town in Wales, as a former Victorian spa and wellness town (after the discovery of a sulfur spring), Llanwrtyd Wells has abundant architectural styles to enjoy on its cozy streets curving over the river Irfon. Most notably, there is a still-operating woolen mill, large homes from the late 1800s, and a simple yet stirring Norman church (Church of St. David).

First, visit the Llanwrtyd & District Heritage and Arts Centre (housed in a stunning converted former chapel) to hear about the history of the area through the memories of residents. Traditional crafts and artworks from residents of the area are also showcased. Afterward, grab a brochure for the heritage trails, which will wind around the town to explain the history and highlight essential places such as the former Dolcoed and Victoria Wells. A children's trail is also available, encouraging them to "follow the frog symbols"- they can even get a prize when they fill in their brochure! 

Wonderful Wales

Wales is a massively underrated destination full of friendly villages, gorgeous coastlines, intriguing history, and rich and mysterious folklore. Adventurers, historians, and those vacationing for leisure can all find their niche within a Welsh small town, each with distinct charm and culture.

Throughout the seasons, Wales offers an experience that cannot be replicated elsewhere. It is no wonder that many artists and poets call Wales home with aesthetic inspiration around every corner; it is almost impossible not to write a poem or break out the paintbrush. Visit Wales today to gain once-in-a-lifetime memories!

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