The Welsh capital of Cardiff lies in the country’s southeast corner, and it combines a vibrant, cosmopolitan culture with a rich and varied history. Offering a vast range of activities and attractions, it’s easy to find the perfect way to spend the day. For adrenaline junkies, head for Cardiff Bay where you’ll find the International White Water centre. Try white water rafting, paddle boarding or kayak your way around a gruelling obstacle course, before recovering at one of the many cafes and bars around the waterside. If culture is your thing, the Wales Millennium Centre offers a packed programme of events, from art shows to stand-up comedy to live music, while the city’s many museums showcase fascinating collections of artefacts – both international and locally sourced.
Immerse yourself in a new Language and Culture
While everyone in Wales knows and speaks English, the Welsh people have their own language; Welsh, or Cymraeg. There are different variations of Welsh spoken between North and South Wales. Walking around Wales you’ll see most signs written in both English and Welsh and you’ll be able to actively hear the language around you from many of the locals and learners. Many universities will have free Welsh classes for students to take if they are interested.
Beaches, Mountains and More
Wales has 3 national parks that make up 20% of Wales. Each of these parks showcase different landscapes that capture the beauty of Wales. For mountains you can explore the rugged Snowdonia Park, which is home to the tallest mountain in Wales, Snowdon. If you enjoy hiking you can go to the Brecon Beacons which includes the Beacons Way, a 100-mile walk through the national park. The third national park is the Pembrokeshire Coast which has been top rated continuously by US National Geographic Traveller magazine as one of the top coastal destinations in the world.
Learning to read the signs
While studying in Wales, you’ll get to enjoy life in a bilingual country with two official languages, Welsh and English. All the universities, governmental organizations, and even shops in Wales have bilingual policies, so all signage and many communications will be bilingual. So, if you don’t understand what you’re seeing, just look below or to the right in order to spot the English version. Welsh is a Celtic language and one of the oldest living languages in Europe, spoken by about 20% of the population—80% in parts of North and Mid Wales.
There’s a lot of activities you can do
With sea surrounding the country on three sides, Wales is the only country in the world to have a complete coastal path that stretches for 870 miles. Together, the three Welsh National Parks—Snowdonia, Pembrokeshire Coast, and Brecon Beacons protect an impressive 20% of Wales, including precious landscapes, habitats, villages, and heritage sites. North Wales is fast becoming the U.K. centre for adventure tourism and is perfect for all sorts of activities, from walking and climbing, surfing, kayaking, and kite-surfing to paddle boarding, sailing, coasteering, and cycling.
In Wales a city is not always a city
Traditionally in Wales and the U.K., a city is somewhere that has a Cathedral, rather than somewhere that has a population over a certain size. For instance, Bangor in northwest Wales is a college town, home of Bangor University, and has a population of only 20,000 (plus 11,000 students). However, it is called a city because of its ancient Cathedral. In fact, the word Bangor in Welsh means the enclosure around a Cathedral. St Davids in the southwest corner of Wales is the smallest city in the U.K. It only has a population of 1,300, but its Cathedral and cliffside location offer an impressive backdrop viewed from the city centre.