Wales doesn’t really get the attention it deserves. England, Scotland and Northern Ireland are often the first port of call for a family staycation, but Wales has an undeniable charm. For one, there’s the wonderful sing-song quality of the Welsh accent. But in Wales you’ll also find beaches, forests and lush landscapes that way outshine other, better known locations.
Mid Wales, in particular, has a lot to offer. Sun-lovers will get their fill along the beautiful Cardigan Bay. While active families can walk for miles across UNESCO protected lands, explore the famous Brecon Beacons, or climb at Wales’s only all-natural indoor rock climbing centre.
Never considered Mid Wales as a staycation option until now? Be prepared to change your mind...
4 must-see sights in Mid Wales
1. Cardigan Island Farm Park
Families will never run out of things to do around Cardigan Bay. But between all the gold sand beaches, hidden coves, and watersport activities is a particular treasure: Cardigan Island Farm Park.
Positioned right on the headland, looking out to Cardigan Island, the farm gives visitors a chance to get up close and personal with emus, alpacas and a range of other livestock. But don’t forget to look out to sea — chances are you’ll also spot seals and dolphins riding the waves!
Perfect for sunny and not-so-sunny days, the farm also has an indoor playpark with a ball pit, and a cozy cafe should you need to warm up.
2. UNESCO Dyfi Biosphere Reserve
If you’re craving a countryside getaway, you can’t go wrong with the river Dyfi catchment and Aberystwyth town, which are part of the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
The Dyfi valley spreads all the way to the Mid Wales coast, ending in sandy beaches and endless dunes. Go for family rambles through the woodland, and reward yourself by ending the day with a 99 Flake by the sea.
You’ll also hear a lot of Welsh spoken here, as it’s the first language for many people living in the Valley. Don’t worry though, they’ll switch to English if you ask!
3. Bwlch Nant yr Arian Forest
Got a few twitchers in the family? Then you need to put Bwlch Nant yr Arian Forest and nature reserve at the top of your list.
Here, eagle-eyed little ones can spot falcons and buzzards flying across the sky. Time it well, and you can even take part in the Red Kites feeding sessions. The tale of the Red Kite is famous in Wales: as recently as 80 years ago the species was on the brink of extinction!
Back on ground, adventurous families can ride mountain bikes, tackle the trails, and fuel up at the visitor centre food hall.
4. Brecon Beacons National Park
The Brecons have winding forest walks, horse riding tracks, and even underground channels to explore, but the waterfalls are an absolute highlight.
Henrhyd Falls at Coelbren — with a 90ft drop — is the tallest waterfall in the county. Follow the trails to the bottom pool, where you can take a family photo with a beautiful backdrop before continuing your exploration of the park.
Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife: otters, newts, bats, reed warblers, fritillary butterflies, and water voles all make the Brecon Beacons their home.
3 must-do family activities in Mid Wales
1. Take a History Tour in Cardigan Castle
Cardigan Castle was the first stone castle built by a Welshman, but it’s also one of the oldest residences in the world. The Castle has been continuously lived in for over 900 years!
If you’re feeling flash, you can add your family’s name to the long list of guests by booking a night in the B&B. But whether you stay overnight, or just for a few hours, make sure you take a historic tour of the castle and its grounds. Little explorers can have all their questions answered by a personal guide.
2. Learn the ropes at Llangorse Multi Activity Centre
Kids seem to have an unlimited energy reserve, don’t they? But if the Llangorse Multi Activity Centre won’t tucker them out, then we don’t know what will!
The centre organises horse riding, abseiling, aerial zip lining and rock climbing. In fact, this is the only place in Wales that has natural indoor rock climbing, with a real rockface to scale!
3. Kick back and relax on a New Quay beach
After all those action-packed days out, you’ll be well overdue a day of a rest. And there’s no better place in Mid Wales for R&R than New Quay. With three beaches to choose from — Harbour Beach, Traeth Gwyn and Dolau — New Quay is also a perfect base for a long weekend.
Let the kids go off bodyboarding, while you lay back in the sand with a cold drink — it’s just like a holiday in France or Spain, except you’ve not had to fly!
If the kids tire of the waves too quickly, there’s dolphin spotting tours and fishing trips, or you can treat them to delicious pub grub at Penlon Cottage Brewery.
The best time to visit Mid Wales?
Mid Wales gets the best of both worlds: it’s never too hot, but it’s rarely as cold as other parts of Wales. Of course the warmer months bring longer days with more to pack in, but Easter beaks and half terms are well spent in Mid Wales, too.
What to pack for Mid Wales?
Much like the rest of the UK, the weather in Mid Wales tends to be unpredictable. Pack your umbrella, as well as warm clothes. If you’re venturing into the nature reserves and woodlands of Dyfi, then good walking boots are also advised.
Getting around Mid Wales
Mid Wales is easily accessible from all parts of England and is only 2 hours from Birmingham, Manchester or Liverpool. Even travelling from slightly further afield, you’ll find several motorways leading into the area so navigating should be a breeze.
But don’t limit yourself to four wheels once you arrive. Mid Wales boasts some of the best scenic railway lines, so hop on the Cambrian Coastline and experience one of the greatest train journeys in the UK. The narrow-gauge railway is fascinating for kids (and grown ups!) who want to see real steam trains in action.