History runs back to the time of the Druids in North Wales, a traditional region where Welsh is still commonly spoken and where the pristine natural landscape seems to be steeped in mysticism. Wales has the most castles in Europe and many of them are in the north. Harlech, Beaumaris, Conwy, and Caernarfon are UNESCO World Heritage Sites that blast travelers into the past with their defensive walls and imposing towers. Most of the castles were built in the 13th century by England’s empire-building King Edward I. The imposing medieval structures were spared by invading forces and remain to delight modern visitors.
Edward II was born here in 1284, and was given the title Prince of Wales as a message to the Welsh people that the English were the rulers of this enchanting land. It is the title given to the eldest son of the British monarch, a tradition that continues to this day with Prince Charles. Though the castles are devoid of royals, a visit to the Isle of Anglesey offers a glimpse of where the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall – Will and Kate – lived when they were first married.
Nearby, Snowdonia National Park is a checkerboard of beautiful beaches, wetlands, and lakes. In north Wales alone, there are one hundred lakes and nine mountain ranges to explore. Waterfalls cascade elegantly from above, dancing around water-worn rocks and trees. The countryside looks like a giant took his large thumb and kneaded the land, creating beautiful hills and valleys waiting to be discovered.
Life takes on a languid pace on the Llyn Peninsula where pretty seaside villages beckon to city folks seeking seaside relaxation. Rocky hills jut out behind pastel-colored Victorian-era homes on the wide promenade in Llandudno. Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland was based on real life Alice Liddell, who used to holiday here with her family.
Climb aboard an old steam train and admire the scenery of endless green hills as it winds and twists along. Learn about the history of the stately homes that sit among manicured lawns and elegant gardens. As the evening chill sets in, sit by a cozy fire with a cup of tea in hand, or pop into a stone and wood-beamed pub to dine and possibly sing the night away with the friendly locals.