Lush green countrysides dotted with medieval castles and towering ocean cliffs? Sounds like a movie set for an epic blockbuster, but that’s Wales. Study abroad here, and you’ll be transported to a fascinating land that has retained its rugged Celtic charm over the centuries.
Geography & Demographics
Wales is located in a wide peninsula in the western portion of the islands of Great Britain. Its capital, Cardiff, is located in the southeast on the Severn Estuary and is an important seaport and shipbuilding center.
Wales is known for vast mountains and a rocky, irregular coastline, both of which are incredibly striking and awe-inspiring. The Cambrian Mountains run through central Wales, and other mountain ranges, including Brecon Beacons and Snowdon, are also prevalent throughout the Welsh landscape. The temperate climate is mild and moist, giving life to an abundance of plants and animals. More than 180 miles of scenic beaches make Wales an ideal summertime spot.
Food & Culture
A very important rule to remember when visiting Wales is to never, ever refer to a Welsh person as British! Though the Welsh nations lost their bid to make their lands independent of Great Britain, they retained their language and a culture that is undeniably their own. Nearly 500,000 people speak their native tongue today: Welsh, or Cymraeg, a Celtic language.
It’s generally safe for foreigners, even in the bigger cities, and quite hospitable to visitors, especially ones who show a real appreciation for Welsh culture.
Things to Do
Studying abroad here would not be complete without getting out and about…here are some activities that make great photos and memories.
Road Trip. Grab a group of friends and rent a car for a few days to explore the vast Welsh countryside. Cities to visit include Cardiff, Bristol, Swansea, Mumbles, and Three Cliffs Bay.
Visit Castles, Castles, And More Castles. Wales is home to more castles per square mile than any other country in the world. So take advantage of this! Do a little light reading about which castles you want to go visit, and then hop on a train, in a car, or by foot to go see these incredible architectural phenomena.
Go to Wakestock. Europe’s largest wakeboard and music festival is held annually on the Llyn Peninsula of North Wales — a vibrant beach with cool shops, restaurants, pubs, surfing spots, and amazing views.
Eat! Are you a cheese fanatic? Wales is famous for producing a variety of incredibly delicious, award-winning cheeses. No trip here would be complete without digging into the famous Welsh Black Beef and Welsh Mountain lamb. If you are in Wales during the summer, do not miss the Cardiff International Food and Drink Festival, or in the Abergavenny Food Festival in September. Your taste buds would never forgive you.
Watch The World Bog Snorkelling Championships. So you’ve never seen swimmers race through trenches dug in peat bogs, using only their flippers to propel themselves through the mucky water? It’s about time you did!
Go Dolphin Spotting. Mid-Wales is renowned for its incredible display of marine life, one of which is bottlenose dolphins, which live here throughout the year.
Visit the National Museum and Art Gallery in Cardiff. This venue is second only to Paris for its selection of Impressionist art. Take in masterful works by Rodin, Renoir and Monet, plus contemporary Welsh art. Admission is free and the artwork is spectacular.
Here are some of the most scenic and historic places in Wales to visit too.
Portmeirion: an Italianate village made with perfection to create a real fairytale setting next to the sea.
Dolgorog: boasts the Conwy Valley garden maze, the world’s largest!
Tenby Harbour: with beautiful scenery and seals, sharks, and sea turtles living on the islands around Pembrokeshire.
The “Seven Wonders of Wales”: Snowdon (the highest mountain), Llangollen Bridge in Flintshire, the Gresford Bells (in the medieval church of All Saints), the Wrexham Steeple, Pistyll Rhaedr waterfall, and the Overton yew trees.
Porthcawl Beach: an active destination for those interested in surfing and other water sports. Walk along the promenade, which leads to Coney Beach and Griffin Park.
Merthyr Mawr Warren: Europe’s largest dunes provide a variety of habitats that house some rare plants, such as the sea spurge, rock sea lavender, and hutchinsia.
Studying in Wales
As one of the oldest cultures in Europe, the Welsh have an impressive artistic heritage, making this land a remarkably inspirational atmosphere for study abroad. Wales is home to dozens of colleges and universities that teach every academic discipline.
"Dim ond y rhai sydd mewn perygl mynd yn rhy bell o bosibl darganfod pa mor bell y gallant fynd.” (“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.”) — T.S. Eliot