(MCT)—Searching for a scenic and unusual vacation? Wales is a winner. Accessible countryside, commanding castles and numerous archaeological attractions make this European destination worthy of your tourist time. It’s also the birthplace of poet Dylan Thomas, and home to the quirky yet notable World Bog Snorkeling Championship. Here’s how to make the most of your travel budget when you visit.
Feet: A network of national walking trails already exists to tempt fitness-minded tourists in search of the perfect photo op. However, the completion of the Wales Coast Path—scheduled for May 2012—will make it the only country in the world with an entirely walkable coastline. Vacationers interested in exploring the new path, 85 percent of which is within the national parks, will enjoy roughly 70 sweeping beach vistas, 15 picture-worthy ports and a number of secret coves. Also of note is the Cistercian Way, a long-distance trail which takes travelers through a network of abbeys and churches located in the Welsh interior.
Festivals: Who doesn’t love a good party? Fun-loving travelers have a number of options when visiting this part of the UK, including the National Eisteddfod of Wales. With origins traced back to the year 1176, it is the oldest cultural festival of competitive music and poetry in Europe. With thousands of registered competitors and hundreds of scheduled performances, it is arguably the country’s premier artistic event. Additionally, the Hay Festival offers merriment in the form of music, comedy, gastronomy and more. The event celebrates its 25th year in 2012, and is scheduled to take place in early June.
Food: One of the simplest ways to experience frugal fare in Wales is by ordering the fixed-price lunch option. It’s a common practice at many of the pubs and eateries, allowing to you affordably taste test home-spun traditional favorites such as Welsh cakes, toffee waffles, Cawl Cennin—a leek soup—and Gower lamb.
Frugality: Priced as low as $21, the Cadw pass provides pay-once access to sought-after tourist sites, including the castles of Conwy, Caernarfon, Harlech and Beaumaris. Is free more your speed? National Museum Cardiff, and the National Coal Museum both offer complimentary entry. Regarding accommodations, camping options are available in the national parks, along with numerous boutique hotels if you’re interested in an affordable splurge. Examples include the cliff-top St. Brides Hotel Spa in Pembrokeshire, and the Parc Hotel in Cardiff, located within walking distance to both Millennium Stadium and Cardiff Castle.
Theriault is the best-selling co-author of the book “10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget,” and founder of TrekHound.com, a website for independent travelers.
© 2012, McClatchy-Tribune News Service.
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