If you know nothing of the country of Wales, that proud world unto itself on Great Britain's west coast, birthplace to actress Catherine Zeta Jones, singer Tom Jones and poet Dylan Thomas, you can start your education at the official website for the Wales Tourist Board (travelwales.org/index.php) and come away with enough inspiration to grab one of these travel packages listed here and see Wales up close.
Dubbed "Britain's great outdoors," Wales is a magical place of grassy knolls, coastal rock formations, incredible landscapes and great national pride. You can walk endlessly across the rolling fields. But first, a language lesson. The Welsh people call themselved Cymry (pronounced kum' ree), and it means the land of the comrades. Sounds welcoming enough, and it is.
For air and land tours of Wales, CIE Tours (tel. 800/243-8687; www.cietours.com) has an eight-day package tour of Britain and Wales with accommodations in first-class hotels starting from $1,564. The tour includes round-trip airfare between the United States and London, sightseeing by luxury motor coach, airport transfers, the attention of a professional tour guide, six breakfasts, four dinners, several walking tours, visits to Stonehenge, Tintern Abbey and the illustrious and unforgettable Caernarfon Castle, built in 1283 by King Edward I. You get a C.I.E. flight bag, luggage tags, a ticket wallet as well as all hotel service charges. Your three days in Wales will be busily spent seeing as many main sites as you can within that time frame, including a drive through the Wye Valley to the Tintern Abbey, a monastery built in the year 1123. Along the drive, you'll see the true Wales, meaning sheep grazing, sheepdogs running, people in caps with walking sticks waving to the tour buses, and of course, the endless hill of green. Departures for this trip are on Mondays out of New York's JFK Airport and San Francisco. A single room supplement is $439. Be sure to call for the new dates for this tour, which are likely to start up next spring.
For a land-only deal departing for most of the year, Go Today (tel. 800/227-3235; www.go-today.com) has a three-night package to Wales starting from $299 with a November 19, 2005 purchase deadline. The package includes four-days of a rental car, unlimited mileage, hotel taxes and daily breakfast. This offer is good from November 1, 2005 until March 26, 2006. Accommodations vary based on location including Caernarfon, Llangollen, and Cardiff. Two of the hotels to choose from are the Prince of Wales in Caernarfon, just a three-minute walk to the castle and complete with golfing facilities; or the Golden Pheasant Hotel in Llangollen, which was an original shooting hotel modernized. With this kind of independence using your hotel as your base, you can see much of the small country.
Cyclists should take note that Wales is one of the better countries for bicycle tours. Its roads aren't bogged down by traffic, and the up and down of its hills provide for challenging and fun cycling. Bicycle Beano Cycling Tours (tel. 01-9-82-560471; www.bicycle-beano.co.uk) specializes in tours of England and Wales. Most departures aren't until the spring when the land thaws and the fog drifts away for good, but here's a trip to get you thinking. A seven-day trip to Snowdonia in Northwest corners of Wales costs $1,011. Known for its unkempt, natural coastline and ancient castles, Snowdonia has vistas of the surrounding countryside including large lakes and Mount Snowdon and country cottages and pubs that dot the roadsides and small towns. Dates for the Snowdonia Tour are from July 22 to July 29, 2005.
If you don't want to cycle and you'd like to get to Wales a little sooner than this summer, a bed and breakfast tour that allows you to stay at the inn of your choice all over Wales (and England and Scotland for that matter) is available from Lynott Tours (tel. 800/221-2474; www.lynotttours.com) that includes air, six-nights' accommodations at over 1,000 B&Bs in Great Britain and a rental car. Costs from New York City or Boston with airfare included start at $917 with travel good in November and December 2005. Expect to pay up to $125 in taxes and service charges plus airfare departure fees and departure taxes. Also, if you book late or not within 45-days of departure dates, expect to pay slightly more for airfare. Lodgings include small castles, Edwardian homes, small cottages or quaint village inns. At most inns, a full hearty breakfast is served each day. If you choose just to go to Wales, you can fly into Birmingham or Manchester from London for an additional fee. Both airports are closer to the start of your fly and drive journey. An "Explorer Pass" that gets you in to the main Welsh historical sites costs $50 for two people for seven days.
Ask a question or share your Welsh experiences with fellow Frommer's travelers on our Great Britain Message Boards today.