Wales is without question one of the world's best places for family activity breaks. What's particularly handy is there's something for literally everyone. So it's ideal for families with kids (and grown ups!) of different ages to keep happy. Whether you're a proper adrenaline addict or just want to spend quality time getting out in the fresh air, you'll find plenty to keep everyone busy.

Wales children Bodyboards

Bodyboarding on the Welsh coast

Covid-19 Travel Advisory

Holiday companies are still in business and would greatly welcome your interest and advance bookings, but for the time being all unnecessary travel to and within Wales remains restricted. Please pay close attention to the public guidelines and travel restrictions on the Visit Wales website: www.visitwales.com/coronavirus

Most travel businesses are offering flexible booking terms and you can support the local tourism industry during these tough times by booking in advance for trips in the future.

For starters, Wales offers perfect natural scenery for adventure. A myth-laden land of soaring mountains, crystal lakes, ancient forests and pristine beaches you can explore to your heart's content to a backdrop of jaw-dropping beauty. Much of the country is covered by National Parks and away from the two big cities of Cardiff and Swansea, there's space galore. Those mighty peaks and green, green valleys are spectacular walking and biking terrain, the wide, sandy beaches are just made for learning to surf and the rushing rivers perfect for rafting. And just to add something utterly unexpected, ancient mine workings have been turned into adrenaline playgrounds where you fly through the air, career down descents and bounce on neon-lit nets. They are quite genuinely mind-boggling.

Wales has long been a magnet for walkers and family beach holidaymakers, but in recent years, Wales has upped its game with extensive investment both public and private in world-class infrastructure for activity and adventure. This is particularly the case in North Snowdonia which is becoming known as an adrenaline hotspot with top quality mountain biking trails, monster zip wires and cavernous underground playgrounds.

Along the country's pristine coastline there's also fun and adventure for all ages -- from kids catching their first waves on bodyboards to teens abseiling down cliffs and jumping into foaming sea pools. Surf schools, coasteering companies, kayaking guides, sailing instructors and more will keep you safe, kit you out with everything you need and make sure you have a truly memorable trip.

And with the coast and the mountains right next to each other there's plenty of variety. It's the ideal spot for multi-activity breaks. You don't even have to move accommodation to combine surfing and hiking, biking and kayaking. You really won't run out of things to do, even with bored teens.

Wales Snowdonia Sheep Llyn Gwynant

Sheep on Snowdonia, Wales

How expensive is a family holiday in Wales?

Family holidays can be pretty expensive when you start adding in the cost of food and accommodation. But Wales really delivers on value for money. There are campsites and self-catering cottages all over the country, offering decent accommodation at very reasonable prices. Eating out is great value too. In years past, good value tended to mean cheap and cheerful, but dining and accommodation these days are very good, sometimes exceptional.

Often, your pizza will be wood-fired and your burger homemade using locally sourced produce. There's a big focus on sustainability both for food production and for power throughout the country - no more so than in the tourism sector. A new generation of Welsh hospitality entrepreneurs is tapping into a growing trend for tourists to seek out businesses that leave a lighter footprint and are kinder on the environment. Solar power, biomass heating, buildings made with recycled materials, plug-in points for electric cars are all increasingly common.

It's all very easy to reach of course. If you're travelling from elsewhere in the UK, chances are Wales is no more than a few hours' drive away so it's an ideal long weekend break destination, particularly in spring and autumn when everywhere is less busy. Train connections to the big cities are fast and frequent. Cardiff International Airport is a growing hub with regular connections to many European capitals and even the Middle East.

The one minor fly in the ointment? If you're unlucky, it could be the weather. Whilst summer can offer long, hot, sunny days you need to be kitted out for all weathers to be on the safe side. Even in August, the temperatures drop at higher levels and it does rain quite a lot. But if you're careering around the trees on a mountain bike or tramping across spectacular headlands then what's to bother with a spot of rain?

Top family adventures in Wales

Popular family-friendly activities

Few places offer such a broad range of action and adventure for family holidays. Here are just a few favourites.

Coasteering

Locals will tell you coasteering was invented in Wales in the mid-1980s and who are we to disagree! Whether it was or not, the Welsh coastline is one of the best places in the world to try it. It's a perfect activity for older kids who are comfortable in the water and makes for a great day of adventure.

91345766 m

St Govan's Chapel, Pembrokeshire

How does it work?

You're kitted out with wetsuit, buoyancy aid, booties and a helmet. Typically in a small group of five to eight, you're led by an experienced guide scrambling, jumping and swimming along the craggy coastline. You explore water-filled caves, learn about the marine life that's all around you, traverse, scramble and jump. It's exhilarating and great fun.

Who's it for?

Minimum age varies across operators, some will take kids aged eight, others not until they are 10. You don't need to be a strong swimmer but you should be comfortable in the water.

Best time to do it

Summer months when the sea is a little warmer, but many operators offer it year-round.

Mountain biking

Wales offers some of the world's best mountain biking terrain from highly technical single tracks that will get serious riders' pulses racing to easy trails great for younger peddlers to have fun. Many of the excellent purpose-built MTB centres offer rides for all levels - extremely handy if you're trying to keep kids of different ages amused.

How does it work?

The options vary from wide easy trails through forests which you can just pitch up to with your own bikes, to state of the art centres where you can hire bikes and protective gear and career down technical trails that really make you work hard. Some centres even have uplifts - minibus and trailer to whisk you back up to the top.

Wales Snowdonia Nant Ffrancon Pass

Nant Francon Pass, Wales

Who's it for?

If your kid is happy in the saddle there will be a ride that's suitable for them, but it's tweens and teens that really love it. They'll be screaming with delight all day long.

Best time to do it

Most centres are open year-round and some offer evening tickets in summer months.

Ziplining

It all began with a crazy idea and an old slate quarry. Former Royal Marine Commando Sean Taylor needed a new challenge when he left the military, so he decided to create adrenaline adventure playgrounds in his home country of Wales. Ziplines are the big hitters - literally the fastest and longest in the world, but there's adventure for all ages.

How does it work?

Zipworld has three sites with different activities in each. As well as ziplines, depending on the location there are tree safaris, high-level nets, giant swings and freefalls too. You pay for each activity separately and you're best off booking in advance online to avoid disappointment. It's not the cheapest of days out, but it's utterly unique.

Who's it for?

Kids as young as three will have fun at Fforest. The Slate Caverns are great for all ages from seven upwards. You have to be at least 10 to ride the big zips and you need to be accompanied by an adult.

Best time to do it

Most activities are open year-round but some are weather dependent.

Caving and canyoning

Whilst much of the scenery is unspoilt and tranquil, there's another world below the surface in Wales. The country was one of the world's largest slate and coal producers. Some of these old sites gave been turned into incredible underground playgrounds. And of course, nature has created its own stalactite and mite-filled fairytale caverns to explore too.

Man Canyoning

Canyoning in Wales

How does it work?

Think coasteering underground with extra elements like zip wires. You're kitted out with boots, hard hat, lights and harness and lead on a course through tunnels, into vast caverns glittering with minerals, across underground rivers. Some sites also have huge nets suspended inside these cathedral-like spaces where you can bounce around in neon-lit mayhem. Numbers are strictly limited on all these experiences so book ahead via their websites.

Who's it for?

The huge nets at Bounce Below are from 7 years up with an accompanying adult. Most other activities kids need to be 10. Eight is the youngest age for exploring Corris Mine.

Best time to do it

As all of these activities are inside, the weather doesn't usually impact them. Most are year-round.

Surfing and paddling

The beaches in Wales are some of the best in the UK. Choose from lonely stretches of untouched sand, wide bays with long undulating waves and craggy cliffs and watery caves. As well as being a great bucket-and-spade spot, the coast offers plenty to keep active older kids occupied too, whether in the water or on it.

Wales Pembrokeshire paddleboarders

Paddleboarding in Pembrokeshire, Wales

How does it work?

In summer months you can easily hire junior surfboards, boogie boards and wetsuits. There are surf schools on many of the popular beaches too. You don't have to stick to the shores either. Whitewater river rafting will have older kids and teens screaming with excitement. For the more adrenaline-fueled, how about a high-speed RIB ride down the Menai Strait between Anglesey and the Welsh mainland? And for the ultimate family bonding experience, you could try your hands at sailing.

Who's it for?

If they're confident swimmers, kids can start trying to surf any time with an adult keeping a watchful eye. For most other waterborne activities they need to be at least eight, sometimes ten. Cardiff Whitewater Centre has rafting options for kids as young as six.

Best time to do it

Most of these activities are best suited to the warmer summer months. Even in summer, you might well prefer to wear a wetsuit if you're in the sea.

Hiking and walking

With nearly a quarter of the country covered by national parks, Wales is brilliant hiking territory. There are over 20,000 miles of public byways to explore. Whilst a few of the more popular treks like the summit of Snowdon can be busy, the majority are quiet and tranquil. As kids get older the challenge of a proper hike is a real motivator. So leave the iPads at home, pack a picnic, pull on the walking boots and get out there!

Wales Snowdonia Llanberis path towards Snowdon man walking

Walking in Llanberis, Wales

How does it work?

Wales has three national parks and each is unique. Snowdonia with Snowdon at its centre is the most well known, but there are plenty of lesser-climbed mountains here to tackle to get that awesome view and get the lungs pumping. The Brecon Beacons aren't as high as Snowdon's peaks but the scenery is just as epic with vast rolling escarpments and many miles of trails. And don't forget the coastline. Along with the UK's only coastal national park - the Pembrokeshire coast - Wales has marked trails right the way around all 870 miles of its coastline.

Who's it for?

You might encounter a few grumbles but kids find they love walking and hiking. Typically they start to really enjoy it from around seven. Teens will love the challenge of climbing big peaks and long-distance trails. These adventures offer great opportunities to talk as you walk too.

Want to try it?

If you have younger kids read our detailed description of three walks for families below. Here are a few ideas for families with older kids who want to hike a little harder (and further!)

For the ultimate day hike walk the 11-mile Beacons Circuit. It takes you up all the main summits and ridges in the Brecon Beacons. Starting from Storey Arms, you hike up to the top of Corn Du, then walk on to Pen y Fan and finally to Cribyn, descending alongside the Neuadd Reservoirs. The views are utterly vast, it really feels like you're walking on top of the world.

For a really picturesque coastal yomp try the 12-mile stretch from Dale to Marloes in Pembrokeshire. Starting at Dale, the trail snakes around the antler-shaped Dale peninsula, past the sheltered stretch of Marloes Sands before branching out to the twin promontory of Wooltack Point them down to Marloes village. Expect wave-dashed coastline., ancient hill forts, secluded woodland and a lonely lighthouse. There are buses between the start and finish.

And if you're really up for proving yourself try the three peaks challenge. It's Wales' three highest peaks - Snowdon, Cader Idris and Pen Y Fan - in one day. You'll need to start at the crack of dawn!

Best time to do it

If you have the proper gear you can walk year-round, but some higher-level paths are dangerous in bad weather conditions. Make sure to check before you set out.

Staying safe

Exploring the great outdoors in Wales is the perfect way to have a great family holiday, but it's important to be properly prepared. Before you set out read this handy advice:

Family-friendly walking in Wales

Walks for all ages in Wales

Wales offers hundreds marked trails from hardcore mountain hikes to placid beachside strolls. Here are three walks that we think are ideal for younger walkers.

Cwm Idwal, North Wales

Essential information

Length: 3 miles (4.8km)

Time: 2-3 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Who can do it? Kids aged 6 and up

Snowdonia National Park was Wales' first and its largest. It's home to a brace of granite mountains punctuated with glassy lakes, stretching out to the North West Wales coast. The most famous walk is to the summit of Snowdon. There are several trails but all can get very busy and are challenging for smaller feet.

Wales Snowdonia Castle of the Winds

Castle of the Winds, Snowdonia

Cwm Idwal is a perfect alternative for families. It offers an easy route right into the heart of Snowdonia's most spectacular scenery around a glacial lake protected by the craggy fingers of a series of high peaks. There's a short section at the start that's a little steeper, but the rest is flat. It's circular and should take three hours, so it makes an easy day's strolling with stops for exploring and a picnic lunch. There's a visitor centre and café and loos at the beginning/end as well.

The stone-surfaced path takes you uphill for that first steeper section, then meanders gently inland. Here the Darwin Idwal Boulders are ideal for a climb and scramble. Soon after you reach Llyn Idwal itself. The shimmering glacial lake is surrounded by jagged mountain peaks and the views are spectacular.

At the far end, the path leaves the water's edge. There's a high-level path here up towards Idwal Slabs, which was used as a training ascent by Everest conqueror Edmund Hillary. This route is only for experienced hill walkers as it's steep and rough. A little further you come to a series of stepping stones across streams that feed the lake with chilly mountain waters. Great fun for kids to hop and jump!

Perhaps the best viewpoint comes towards the end of the circuit. Descending slowly to the lakeshore you arrive at a shingle beach from where you can look out across the dazzling still waters to the vast space of the natural amphitheatre hewn over millennia by a long-gone glacier.

At the end of the lake circuit, retrace your steps back to the Visitor Centre.

Fan y Big, Mid Wales

Essential information

Length: 7 miles (11 km)

Time: 6 hours

Difficulty: Moderate

Who can do it? Kids aged 10 and up

The Brecon Beacons don't feature the soaring peaks of Snowdonia, but many find the immense rolling escarpments, vast valleys and wild countryside more inspiring still. Here you're miles from civilisation - stargazers come to watch the skies in what's currently Wales' only dark sky reserve.

Pen y fan

Pen y Fan mountain, Wales

The honeypot is the highest peak Pen y Fan, which of course can get busy. It's also quite a climb. An alternative, that's not quite so steep and quieter too, is neighbouring Fan y Big (you have to love that name - it actually means 'point of the peak'). There's a fantastic photo-op as well - an iconic 'diving board' rock that sticks out above an escarpment.

This one is circular too and it's a solid day's hike, ideal for energetic teens and older primary school kids with a sense of adventure. It starts with an uphill yomp, but once you're up on the ridge it's easy walking with non-stop views.

Start your walk from the Blaen y Glyn Uchaf car park which is usually quiet and easy to find space. It’s a fairly stiff ascent up to the ridge, skirting a section of wood with the rush of waterfalls ringing in your ears. Once you're up on top, the scenery is spectacular as you walk along the ridge towards Fan y Big. A rolling row of peaks with Pen Y Fan and Corn Du in the background.

You're walking a huge circuit around a vast horseshoe-shaped valley. With Fan Y Big at its centre, this is a perfect halfway point to stop for a picnic lunch. Then make sure to find the diving board rock - close to the Trig point which marks the summit. Returning down the other side of the valley, the final sections are an easy walk downwards flanked by the pine trees of Taf Fechan Forest. Keep your eyes peeled for waterfalls too.

Ogmore by Sea, South Wales

Essential information

Length: 8 miles (13km) (shorter versions of 4 miles and 2 miles)

Time: 5 hours

Difficulty: Easy

Who can do it? Kids of any age

Wales is one of the few countries in the world that has a walking trail the full length of its coastline. You'd need weeks to walk the full 870 miles! There's huge variety - wide stretches of golden sand, soaring craggy cliffs, wild dunes and friendly seaside towns.

This flat family-friendly walk comes in several sizes, so take your pick. There are lots to see along the way for curious kids including two castles, stepping stones across the river an information centre about the coastline and several spots to stop for ice cream and rest tired feet in the sun.

River Ogmore at sunset Wales

River Ogmore at sunset, South Wales

Start at Ogmore beach car park walking up the estuary and inland along the river bank. Look out for the lane opposite the Pelican in her Piety pub which leads down to the remains of Ogmore castle which you can visit if you want to. Don't miss the stepping stones across the shallow Ewenny river perfect for a diversion.

Back up the track and you soon take a right across Ogmore Down - a section of limestone heathland alive with butterflies - to the little village of St Brides Major. There's plenty here to slow your progress including a pub, church and shops. Walk through the village following the road until you reach another pub (The Farmer's Arms) and then walk across more fields and through a lovely wooded valley which brings to you the sea again at Dunraven Bay.

The Heritage Coast Centre makes a great stop to learn about the Glamorgan coastline and Dunraven Castle with its flower-strewn walled gardens is a short walk to the left of the beach. Retrace your steps and walk the breezy section of the coast path back to Ogmore along the top of the cliffs with wide views out to the sparkling sea.

There's a shorter route of 4 to 5 miles across the fields to St Brides Major which misses out Ogmore Castle. For something shorter still stroll down the coast path to Dunraven and back. It's no more than a couple of miles.

Family adventure holidays in Wales

Jeremy Head

Freelance travel writer and photographer. His writing and photos are regularly published in the UK’s mainstream newspapers. Wales is one of his favourite destinations, particularly when he’s travelling with the family.

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