Road trips in Wales - six of the best Welsh drives

Road trips in Wales - six of the best Welsh drives
Despite its modest size, Wales has endless possibilities for the intrepid traveller: rugged mountains, sweeping beaches, bustling cities and a castle for every day of the year.

But in a country this diverse, where do you start?

We’ve picked out six of our favourite drives that show off the best Wales has to offer.

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Border Country (Chepstow – Hay-on-Wye)

welsh roadtrips

The first of our road trips explores the historic River Wye, the ancient border between Wales and England.

Kick off your trip with a visit to Chepstow Castle, the 11th century Norman landmark perched on the Wye as it wraps around Chepstow’s historic centre.

From here, head north to Tintern and take a wander round its 12th century Abbey, one of the UK’s greatest monastic ruins.

Continue up the Wye Valley to Monmouth, home to Monnow Bridge the UK’s only remaining fortified river bridge.

You’ll have to park up first, though, as these days the bridge is only accessible on foot.

From Monmouth, narrow lanes lead you up to Wales’s highest road, Gospel Pass, on the eastern edge of the Brecon Beacon’s National Park.

From here, you’ll enjoy stellar views all the way to Hay-on-Wye, home of the world-famous Hay Festival, a celebration of literature that takes place every May.

Best of the Brecon Beacons (Abergavenny – Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen)

brecon beacons

Starting at Abergavenny, the ‘Gateway to Wales’, this route loops through the Brecon Beacons, one of the UK’s most stunning national parks.

After indulging in Abergavenny’s charms and enjoying a brisk hike up nearby Sugar Loaf mountain, hit the back roads and head up to the secluded Talybont Reservoir for some excellent Instagram opportunities.

From here, loop around the north of the park — the Usk Reservoir is a popular stop-off point — before hitting the famous Black Mountain Pass.

Nicknamed the Top Gear road after Jeremy Clarkson took it on in a Mercedes-Benz CLK 63 AMG, this is one of the UK’s greatest drives.

The pass is a rollercoaster of a road. Sweeping through moorland, squeezing past stone walls, and offering endless views of the Tywi Valley, this road gives you everything you want as a driver.

Just be careful of steep drops and herds of sheep, which often wander into the road.

Pembrokeshire beach hopping (Tenby – St Davids)

What are the best drives in Wales

The Pembrokeshire coast is home to some of Britain’s best beaches, and a road-trip is the perfect way to explore them all.

From Tenby, an ever-popular resort with all the trappings of the British seaside, head west to the idyllic Barafundle Bay.

A short walk from here is Stackpole Nature Reserve, where you can catch the local otters at play.

Head further west and the only problem you’ll face is deciding which beach to catch the sunset from, although the ribbon of sands at Freshwater is a good option.

Stick to the lanes that cling to the coastline north of Broad Haven as the pay-off will be the stunning drive down towards the golden Newgale Beach.

From there head onto St Davids, the UK’s smallest city and home to an impressive clutch of historic buildings.

READ MORE: How to avoid a summer breakdown

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The Abergwesyn Pass (Abergwesyn - Tregaron)

driving in wales

Set deep in the Cambrian Mountains, this is the shortest drive on our list at only 20 miles.

But what the Abergwesyn Pass lacks in length it more than makes up for in intensity.

Originally a drover’s track, this worn old road is definitely not for the faint of heart or mind.

This is a drive that commands your attention as it tests the abilities of both you and your car.

From Abergwesyn the road steepens rapidly at a 1 in 4 gradient as it twists up the hillside along the aptly-named Devil’s Staircase.

This never-ending series of hairpin turns makes it all the more important to check your brakes before you head out.

After passing through dense forest you’ll head across wide-open valleys, so watch out for any wandering sheep.

The road then winds back down towards sleepy Tregaron, where you can either grab a stiff drink, or turn around and go again.

Snowdonia and Anglesey (Betws-y-Coed – Holyhead)

Driving to Snowdon

This route takes in some of the best Wales has to offer, from the enduring beauty of Snowdonia to the majestic waterfront Caernarfon Castle.

From quaint Betws-y-Coed, head west on the A5 via the cascading Swallow Falls.

Then be sure to detour off the A5 onto the A4086 for the most scenic route through the park.

This road will pass you right by Snowdon’s peak, so if you don’t fancy trekking (or training) to the top you’ll still get a great view.

Once you’re out of Snowdonia, head to Caernarfon to check out its castle (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), bustling streets and stylish waterfront.

From here, head north and cross the 19th century Menai Bridge onto Anglesey and finish your drive by exploring the island.

READ MORE: Five of the best motorcycle routes in the UK

Gower (Swansea – Rhossili)

The Gower Peninsula is one of South Wales’ best-kept secrets, with resplendent beaches and some of the UK’s best coastal scenery.

After filling up on city living in Swansea — be sure to head to its National Waterfront Museum — take the A4118 west as it winds through countless picturesque villages such as Nicholaston, Knelston, and Reynolds

Keep heading west and you’ll eventually hit the stunning Rhossili Bay.

Often named among the world’s best beaches, the beach at Rhossili is the perfect place to park the car, grab some drinks and a blanket, and settle in for one of Wales’s best sunsets.  

Have we missed your favourite Welsh road trip? Let us know in the comments below

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