Holidays in Wales by train

There’s always been a romance about train travel, so combining it with the birthplace of Dylan Thomas, one of Britain’s last great romantic poets, seems entirely fitting. Travelling Wales by rail involves journeying north to south, from Llandudno on the Great Orme Peninsula with its Victorian promenade some 3km long, to Swansea, Thomas’ hometown, and the capital, Cardiff.
Much of the route takes you past Wales’ wild and beautiful coastline: Cardigan Bay, the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, and through Snowdonia National Park, pausing briefly in Blaenau Ffestiniog, once the ‘slate capital of the world’, now the adventure capital of Wales, with ziplining in a disused mine a popular activity.
Interest in rail travel is growing rapidly due to concerns around climate change, but getting around Wales by train has always been immensely convenient and enjoyable. There are sections where you travel in first-class comfort by steam, and rail holiday specialists provide you with all the timetable information you need, as well as 24-hour support. Where necessary, road connections are synced up so that you can get to where you need to be beyond the end of the train line on time and entirely hassle-free.
And while you can cover a great deal of the country on a Wales rail tour, they are typically around two weeks in length so that you never feel rushed. There is plenty of time at each overnight stop to stretch your legs and explore the area and its attractions. And what’s more, your wanderings are frequently given shape by guided tours with local experts of must-see locations such as Conwy Castle and Dylan Thomas’ former stomping grounds around Swansea.

Our top Wales Holiday

Wales tour by train

Wales tour by train

Spend a fabulous fortnight on the rails in Wales

From £2250 to £2520 15 days ex flights
Tailor made:
This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Wales or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.

Highlights of travelling Wales by rail

Conwy Castle

This 13th-century castle, built by Edward I, has been remarkably well-preserved, and is ranked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can tackle the restored spiral staircases to reach the battlements, and then complete a full circuit of the walls. A local expert explains the castle’s fascinating history through Edward’s attempt to subdue North Wales through the Wars of the Roses and the English Civil War.

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

Britain’s only coastal national park, and an immensely popular destination among landscape-lovers and thrill-seekers alike, the Pembrokeshire Coast is a gorgeous Welsh symphony of Blue Flag beaches, coves and cliffs that cackle with birdlife. While the coast is beloved by walkers, mountain bikers and watersports fans, on a rail tour you’ll typically explore it first by an exciting 4x4 journey and boat trip. The latter offers a different perspective of the rugged coastline and the islands off it, such as Skomer. Here you might find puffins, choughs and skylarks, while it’s not unknown to see dolphins or Atlantic grey seals among the waves.

Portmeirion

Famously used as a setting for one of the most iconic TV shows of the 1960s, The Prisoner, Portmeirion is one of Wales’ quirkiest visitor attractions. Built in the style of an Italian coastal resort by the Welsh architect Clough Williams-Ellis, Portmeirion’s Mediterranean nostalgia is delightful to explore under your own steam, though guided tours can be paid for on arrival. Not only do they offer greater insight into Williams-Ellis’ vision but since Portmeirion is run by a charitable trust, they contribute to the upkeep of this unique place.

Swansea

Dylan Thomas had a short but productive life, and half of it was spent in Swansea. He would camp on beaches on the Gower headland, and developed an accomplished drinking habit around the pubs of the Mumbles district. A guide can meet you on arrival here for a tour of the Gower Peninsula, filling you in on Thomas’ colourful life and times as well as other aspects of the area’s history and environment, something that also contributes to the economy of a city that has struggled economically in recent years.

Tenby

This medieval town has been a visitor favourite since Georgian times and is best discovered in the company of a local guide able to explain the significance of its architecture. You’ll roam the old town, still enclosed in the original walls, narrow cobbled streets and Tudor merchants’ houses, and if you still have some energy afterwards there are two lovely promenades to stroll along by the beach.

Practicalities

Rail tours of Wales follow tailor made itineraries usually around two weeks in length. What that means is that if you want to stay another night or two on the Pembrokeshire coast, or upgrade your hotel in Cardiff, then you are free to do so. You won’t have anyone accompanying you, but you might as well have given the amount of support you’ll receive. You’ll get tickets arranged in advance, useful advice on timetables, road connections provided where necessary, and 24-hour support just in case you need it. Where necessary, you’ll either be met at the station, or told where to find a taxi, to reach your accommodation.

Wales is lovely at any time of year and, contrary to the perception, one of the driest parts of the UK. Late spring and autumn are usually the best time to go by rail, with generally warm and sunny weather, and fewer crowds at popular destinations such as Portmeirion.
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Matt Buck] [Barmouth Bridge: Matt Buck] [Conwy Castle: Mark Walker] [Portmeirion: Scott Wylie] [Pembrokeshire coast: cattan2011]
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