26 Things Wales is Known and Famous For

Wales is famous for its stunning scenery, ancient history, and charming language. Wales is known for Mount Snowdon, its tallest mountain, and the most castles per capita in Europe. There are also plenty of famous Welsh men and women, including Roald Dahl, Anthony Hopkins, and believe it or not, Jack Daniels.

Tenby, a harbour town in Wales

But that’s just some of many Welsh things that make Cymru (that’s Wales in Welsh!) an amazing place to visit. Want to know more?

We’ve listed 26 things Wales is known and famous for. Let’s jump straight in!

1. The Welsh Flag

The Welsh flag

Wales is famous for having a dragon on its flag. Wales is part of Great Britain, so its official flag is the Union Jack. However, the national flag is charming, cool, and historic!

The Welsh flag has an interesting backstory. The red dragon has been a symbol of Wales for at least 1000 years, and derives from an alleged prophecy made by Myrddin (that’s Merlin, to most of us).

Apparently, the red, Welsh dragon would defeat the white, Saxon dragon and restore Wales back to its native people. While that hasn’t happened yet, the Welsh are extremely proud of their dragon flag, and who can blame them?!

2. Cardiff

Cardiff castle

Wales is known for its capital, Cardiff. Nestled on Wales’ south coast, Cardiff has an impressive bay and plenty of lush green hills separating it from its neighboring country, England. Cardiff is also the smallest, and one of the newest, capitals in Europe. It even has a 2000-year-old castle, Cardiff Castle!

If you’re a sports fan, then Principality Millenium Stadium in Cardiff is absolutely worth your while. It has one of the largest sliding roofs in the world and you can catch a rugby game or two while you’re there.

And, if that hasn’t convinced you Cardiff’s the place to be, the Wales Millenium Centre has won the “loo” (that’s British for WC) awards twice.

Seriously though, Cardiff is jam-packed with fun things to do and sights to see. It’s just across from the Bristol Channel, and the easiest way to get there from England is via train!

3. Snowdonia National Park

snowdonia national park

Wales is famous for one of its most beautiful national parks, Snowdonia. Snowdonia National Park is situated on Wales’ west coast, and covers about 823 square miles in total. It’s estimated around 26,000 people call it home, and around half of them speak Welsh.

Snowdonia National Park is a great place to absorb nature, take a long, refreshing walk and get bragging rights for climbing Wales’ highest mountain Yr Wyddfa (Mount Snowdon). 

There’s also a gorgeous castle that proudly looks over a stretch of white sand. In addition, you can even explore ancient Celtic rainforests in Snowdonia, so remember to pack hiking boots!

4. Daffodils and Leeks

A yellow Welsh daffodil

Wales is known for having not one but two national emblems: the daffodil and the leek.

The leek was the original symbol of Wales and its use dates back to the 7th century. Apparently, St. David (more on him later) is rumored to have advised the Welsh to wear leeks on their hats to indicate whose side of the battle they were on against invading Saxons.

As for the daffodil…well, that’s a different story. The Welsh word for daffodil is “Cenhinen” and “leek” in Welsh is “Cenhinen Pedr”, which roughly translates as “Peter’s Leek”. Essentially, someone in the 19th century forgot to attribute a leek to Peter and people assumed they meant daffodil.

Both are used to this day to symbolize Welshness!

5. Caernarfon Castle

Caernarfon Castle at night

Wales is known for one of its most famous castles, Caernarfon Castle. You’ll find it up in north Wales, in the Snowdonia region. Although it’s mostly famous for its significance in medieval history, Caernarfon was actually used by the Romans!

Caernarfon’s history is bloody, dramatic, and especially significant for Welsh people. Norman, Welsh and English princes, kings and leaders have all had their sights set on it.

It has World Heritage Status and it’s absolutely worth a visit, if only to see the polygonal towers!

7. The Welsh Language

A sign in the Welsh language

Wales is famous for its unique and, to outsiders, baffling language.

While it may look like Welsh speakers have sat on a keyboard to create it, I can assure you they haven’t. Evidence: there’s no k, q, v or z in Welsh.

Jokes aside, Welsh is an incredibly culturally rich language – it’s around 4000 years old and has some true linguistic gems.

If you want to say “cheers” to new-found Welsh friends at the pub, you need only say “yaki dah”. Pronunciation is what slips English speakers up – get used to seeing “dd” but pronouncing it “th”! Welsh people were persecuted for using their own language for a long time, and today it’s spoken with pride by around 10% of the population.

I also think it’s well worth a mention that the English words “car”, “gull” and “penguin” have Welsh roots!

8. Sheep

welsh sheep

Wales is famous for having more sheep than people and a top reputation for wool and lamb meat quality.

There are an estimated 10 million sheep living in Wales; compared to the 3.1 million Welsh people, that means there are roughly three sheep for every one person! 

The only country to have more sheep than people is New Zealand, but given Wales’ size, it’s still impressive!

A particularly famous Welsh breed of sheep is the Badger Face Mountain Sheep. It has a striped face – like a badger – and is especially adorable.

9. Famous Welsh Waterfalls

waterfall in wales

Surprising as it may sound, Wales is famous for being home to quite a few iconic waterfalls.

Yes, it sure does rain around Wales but it’s not all doom and gloom. All that rain contributes to making some breathtaking waterfall views – even if you have to do your hike in rain gear!

Swallow Falls is one of the most famous waterfalls in Wales, and you’ll find this thundering beauty in Conwy, North Wales.

10. Mount Snowdon

mount snowdon

Wales is famous for its mountains, the tallest of which is called Mount Snowdon. It stands at an impressive 1,085 meters or 3,560 feet in height. As you might have guessed from its name, Mount Snowdon is in Snowdonia, North Wales.

On a good day, you’ll be able to see England, Scotland, Ireland and the Isle of Man once at the top of Mount Snowdon.

Also, you should know that Mount Snowdon is the English name given to the mountain. In Welsh, it is referred to as Yr Wyddfa Fawr, meaning “the great throne”.

11. The Prince of Wales

Brecon beacons

Wales is famous for its previous conflicts with the British Royal Family, and to this day, the title of “Prince of Wales” is a contentious issue.

The title of Prince of Wales has been passed down from English kings and queens since 1301, and the tradition has not always been met with delight from Welsh people.

Not without reason, of course. Between the 17th and 18th centuries, there were eight Princes of Wales who never so much as visited Wales. A shame for them, given Wales’ immense beauty.

Be that as it may, the current Prince of Wales, Charles, is deeply fond of Wales. He owns a home in Carmarthenshire called Llwynywermod and visits the country for a week each year.

12. Famous Welsh People

roald dahl books

Wales is famous for being the home country of plenty of famous people. From writers to actors, singers to sportsmen, they’ve got them all.

One of the most famous Welsh writers has to be Roald Dahl. He was born in Llandaff, Cardiff, to Norwegian parents, and it’s because of him we enjoy stories like Matilda and The BFG. On the big screen, you’ll certainly have heard of Anthony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

A lesser-known famous Welshman is Jack Daniels – yes, the guy who named the whisky after himself. He moved to Tennessee in the late 18th century and his ancestors heralded from Pembrokeshire, Wales.

13. Traditional Welsh Stories

The Brothers of Gwynedd

Wales is famous for having a turbulent history, and that’s made way for some excellent storytelling. Just a glimpse at some of Wales’ wild scenery is enough to tell you that this is a country shrouded in mystery!

One of the most famous Welsh texts is the Mabinogian, an anthology of Celtic myths and legends written during the late Medieval period. The texts feature well-known characters such as Merlin and King Arthur, and give contemporaries an understanding of traditional Welsh oral traditions.

Every year, Wales holds a competition-based festival called the National Eisteddfod. It is a celebration of the Welsh language and culture, and many chose to create art, songs, music, or poetry featuring the nation’s beloved myths and legends. 

Tip: The National Trust has compiled a list of places you can visit to step into some of Wales’ most impressive stories!

14. Unusual Names of Places

Wales strange town names
Image Credit: Google Maps

Wales is known for needing plenty of room on its road signs due to its exceptionally long place names. In fact, Wales is home to the second-longest place name in the world, only missing out on the number one spot to New Zealand (again!).

Luckily, if you speak Welsh, the long names (sort of) make sense. The longest place name in Wales is “Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch”. Yep, read it again. That roughly translates to “The Church of St Mary in the hollow of the white hazel near the rapid whirlpool and the Church of St Tysilio near a red cave’. 

15. Welsh Pubs

Pub in the UK

Wales is famous for its vast number of pubs. If you love an Irish or English pub, just wait until you visit a Welsh one. It’s true that in and around the British Isles people do love a pint at the pub. And not just pints, they eat there too.

A drink or meal at a Welsh pub can be used as your home away from home. Expect large, cozy portions of traditional Welsh and British food, a warm fire if it’s cold or a pub garden if the sun’s shining.

For a list of Wales’ best pubs, check out this list!

16. Rugby

rugby ball

Wales is famous for its national sport, rugby. If you’re not familiar with rugby, it’s a bit like American Football but without all the protective gear. Seriously, rugby players leave the pitch bleeding all over the place. And spectators love it.

Despite rugby being an English sport, the Welsh are very proud of their rugby prowess. The national Welsh team plays at Principality Stadium in Cardiff, and the Welsh crowds love to sing and show some national pride whenever they play!

The Welsh rugby team compete in Six Nations (against England, Scotland, Ireland, France and Italy) and also at the Rugby Union World Cup. They’re currently ranked 9th best in the world.

17. Traditional Welsh Foods

welsh teacake

Wales is known for many culinary dishes, including Welsh Rarebit, Bara Brith, and Welsh lamb.

Don’t worry, Welsh Rarebit has nothing to do with bunny rabbits (although it was mistakenly called Welsh Rabbit for a while!). Welsh Rarebit is simply an over-the-top take on cheese on toast. It often includes mustard, occasionally seasoned with paprika, and makes an excellent hangover cure (take it from me).

Bara Brith on the other hand is a traditional Welsh fruitcake, often served with afternoon tea. Lastly, Wales is famous for its lamb dishes. Welsh Coastal sheep graze on samphire as well as grass, giving it a unique flavor.

18. Royal Gold

gold rings

Wales is famous for providing the British Royal family with Welsh gold for their wedding rings.

Welsh mines have provided gold for the royals since 1923, a tradition started by the late Queen Mother, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. Since then, a quick look at the ring fingers of Royals will show a token of Wales’ most precious resource.

Royals who have Welsh gold wedding rings include Queen Elizabeth II herself, Prince Charles and Camilla, Prince William and Catherine Middleton and, of course, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

19. Castles

Caernarfon Castle

Wales is famous for having the most castles per capita in Europe – which is a fact that surprises some people. But, if you’ve been to Wales, there’s just no escaping the fact that there really are castles everywhere.

In fact, some even call Wales “the land of castles”!

So, we’ve mentioned Caernarvon and Cardiff castles, but there are plenty more for you to explore. Wales has 427 castles, and they vary in age, size and location. Of course, they all come with unique stories and formidable ex-owners. Just take your pick!

20. Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau

Cardiff stadium

There’s no escaping another thing about Wales: they love a sing-song. Wales is famous for its national anthem, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, often abbreviated to Hen Wlad. The title in English means “The Land of My Fathers”.

I dare anyone not to enjoy listening to the Welsh national anthem. It’s especially transfixing when you hear a stadium full of Welsh people erupt into it during a sporting event such as rugby or soccer.

Speaking of soccer and singing, the Welsh top goal scorer, Gareth Bale, made headlines during the UEFA 2021 when a couple living in Madrid wrote a song about him!

21. Coal Mining

tractor mining coal

In its heyday, Wales was famous for coal mining. In 1913, a town called Barry, Glamorganshire, became the largest coal exporting port in the world. Don’t dismiss this seemingly mundane part of Wales’ history – it’s steeped in prosperity, Welsh economic history and tragedy. 

The Romans were the first to see Wales’ potential as a mining paradise. However, It wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution that coal mining really took off in Wales. This led to multiple uprisings and protests from the working classes who labored night and day for meager sums and poor working conditions.

But that’s not all. In 1966, 150,000 tons of coal waste slid down a hillside and engulfed an elementary school in Aberfan, Wales. 144 people in total lost their lives; 116 of them were children. 

You can learn all about Wales’ coal mining history at the Big Pit National Coal Museum.

22. Space Science

stargazing

A lesser-known fact about Wales is that the first “deep space” photograph was by a Welshman, Isaac Roberts.

Roberts was the son of a farmer from Denbighshire, and he took the first photograph of the spiral Andromeda Galaxy. Roberts worked out that to get a clear picture of space, the image would have to be taken with very long exposures. A novel idea at the time, and something we still rely on today.

As it happens, Roberts took the photo in a neighboring country, England, in Liverpool.
A shame really, because an estimated 19% of Wales has official Dark Sky status. This means it’s an ideal place for stargazing and snapping your own pics of Wales’ local heavens.

23. Coastal Walks

beach in wales

Wales is famous for some glorious seaside scenery which is best observed on foot! Whether you choose a north or south Welsh coastal walk is up to you, but you can be sure either will be worth your while.

In the north of Wales, you can choose from several smaller trails or opt for the gigantic Wales Coast Path, which is a staggering 870 miles in length. It begins at the mouth of the River Dee, and takes you through sleepy fishing villages and even up over breezy clifftops.

If you find yourself in the south of Wales, you’re just as spoiled for choice. An 11 mile stretch from Kenfig to Porthcawl allows visitors to glimpse wild orchids, wildlife and even pass the “haunted” Sker house!

24. Welsh Dog Breeds

corgi puppy

Wales is famous for its dog breeds, in particular, Corgis. “Corgi” in Welsh means “dwarf dog” (aw!) which pretty much sums them up.

All breeds of Corgi have short legs, super fluffy butts and are excellent herding dogs – which makes sense, given Wales’ booming agricultural trade. 

The two most famous Corgi breeds are Pembrokeshire and Cardigan Corgis. The major difference between the two is that Cardigan Corgis have a long, full tail.

Queen Elizabeth II is probably the world’s most famous Corgi fan, and has owned over 30 of them during her reign.

25. Saint David

St Davids Cathedral

Wales is famous for its Patron Saint, Saint David. Every year, Welsh people celebrate St. David’s day on 1st March to honor their saint and celebrate Welshness! St. David was born in the year 500, a grandson of the King of Ceredigion (Ceredig ap Cunedda). 

He became a renowned preacher in Wales and the southwest of England, and many believe he made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. His diet, apparently, consisted only of leeks and water (how very Welsh!).

In his last sermon before his death, St. David urged parishioners to “do the little things”. The full phrase in Welsh is “Gwnewch y pethau bychain mewn bywyd” (do the little things in life). Welsh people still say this, an echo of Welsh wisdom from long ago.

26. Funny Welsh Words

jellyfish

Wales is famous for several comedians that have made the world chuckle over the years; in particular, Rhod Gilbert, Ruth Jones, and Rob Brydon. But even when the Welsh aren’t being intentionally funny, sometimes you just can’t repress a giggle at the things they say.

People have, incorrectly, made assertions that the Welsh word for “microwave” is “popty ping” and as much as I’d like that to be true, it isn’t. It’s meicrodon.

That said, Welsh words have some fantastic examples of onomatopoeia. “Technoleg” is “technology”. “Gwdihŵ” (pronounced ‘good-ee-hoo’) is “owl”. 

And lastly, my personal favorite: “Jellyfish” in Welsh is “pysgodyn wibli wobli”. Yes. Wibbly wobbly!

welsh seaside

And there you have it! 26 things Wales is known and famous for. Let us know what you love about Wales in the comments below – Diolch am ddarllen (thanks for reading)!

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1 thought on “26 Things Wales is Known and Famous For”

  1. “ Wales is known for having the U.K’s tallest mountain”
    Incorrect. That would be Britain’s tallest mountain.

    “Wales is part of the United Kingdom, so its official flag is the Union Jack.”
    Incorrect.

    ‘2021 Euros Soccer Cup’ is also wrong. It’s Euro 2020 or the European Championship.

    Reply

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