For Wale’s episode of the famous things across the globe series, we have asked our fellow travel blogger Shireen of “The Happy Days Travels” What is Wales famous for? This is her wonderful response!
In this post, we’ll be explaining what Wales is famous for, the national dish, the floral symbol, and the flag, and we’ll be exploring cultural norms in Wales. For a tiny nation of just 3 million people, there is a lot of heart and identity in Wales, one of four countries that make up the United Kingdom. The others are England, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.
Wales is a nation made of Celtic people with a history and our own Welsh language dating back 1400 years, so the country has much to offer. It has become one of the most popular destinations in the UK for staycations. International interest is definitely increasing, too, with more travelers looking for places to go in the UK outside of London.
13 Things Wales is Famous For
Sheep / Lamb
This ‘What Wales is famous for’ post must start with sheep because they heavily outweigh the number of residents (10 million sheep and 3 million people) and because the Welsh Lamb is one of the tastiest types in the world.
When you visit Wales, expect to stop on a busy road for sheep to cross, sheep to feature on road signs, Lamb on every restaurant menu, and the English to call us something rather rude involving sheep…
Wales is known for its rugged coastline, from the scenic beaches in North Wales to the gorgeous spots of Pembrokeshire in the South West, with penguins and dolphins along the way. If you’re lucky, you may even spot some whales in Wales.
The Wales Coast Path stretches the whole coastline and is 870 miles / 1400 km long. The path boasts stunning walks popular as a local pastime and tourist must-do. Look out for the Wales Coast Path signs marking the route.
Only a handful of countries worldwide have a continuous coastal walking path, and Wales is one of them!
Rugby has become a national sport in Wales, and while Football is a passion in the country, Rugby seems to be the sport that Wales is known for because we’re pretty good. Often winning tournaments like the Six Nations (with Scotland, Ireland, England, France, and Italy), Rugby is a time when everyone comes together to support the boys.
Rugby may be the sport Wales is known for, but I don’t think anyone is as famous to come out of Wales as our Football legend, Gareth Bale.
I’ve been in random places around the world, and as soon as you mention Wales, people often say, ‘Gareth Bale, Gareth Bale.’ And I love it every time because he’s a proud Welsh man, and we’re proud to call him ours!
Gavin & Stacey
A short sitcom that hit UK television in 2007 became one of the most-loved and most-watched TV shows in UK history, and most of the Gavin & Stacey filming took place in my home, Barry Island in South Wales. Ask any British person about Gavin & Stacey, and they’re bound to quote something in a strong Welsh accent.
It’s a hilarious show about a Welsh girl and an English boy who fall in love and their families and friends intermingle. Definitely worth a watch to grasp a bit of knowledge on Wales.
This is the gem of the land, the treat as old as time, the comforting smell in mamgu’s kitchen (mamgu is nan in Welsh): The Welsh Cake!
A Welsh Cake is quite hard to describe, but it’s a circular sort of pancake/scone/biscuit with sultanas or raisins, lots of caster sugar, and made on a griddle (known as a bakestone in Wales).
Best served warm with a sprinkle of tender loving care.
The Welsh people are known as good singers, and with the country’s treasure, Sir Tom Jones, it’s no wonder why. It’s also known that Welsh people play excellent parts in Shakespeare’s plays because, apparently, the ‘sing-song’ sound of Welsh accents pairs perfectly with Iambic Pentameter.
When it comes to national pride, nothing compares to the beloved Welsh National Anthem called ‘Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’ where the first line ‘Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau yn Annwyl I Mi’ roughly translates to ‘The Old Land of My Fathers is dear to me.’
This is the one song you must listen to in Wales because it is belted out with immense passion by fans in sports games, contributors in Eisteddfods, kids in schools, or drunken Welsh people on a Saturday night in the city!
As important as the anthem is to us, the Welsh flag is equally prominent in Welsh culture because it represents our people, culture, and identity, so wherever we see that red dragon, we feel at home. The Welsh flag gives us a feeling of independence and that we are our own nation. The Welsh flag symbolizes our resilient, mythical nature and strong, authentic history.
Wherever we can, we will drape the flag, whether from our windows, car stickers, fashion, or towels, for the holidays. It is a surefire way of letting other people know that you are Welsh and a way to find fellow natives.
Snowdonia National Park is an area of outstanding natural beauty in Wales. It’s a mountainous area comprising lakes, woodlands, and three mountains, including Mount Snowdon, the highest peak in Wales at 3,560 ft, and second in the United Kingdom. Snowdonia is a major tourist attraction and one of Wales’s best places to visit.
There are many activities to do in Snowdonia National Park, such as hiking, rock climbing, visiting old Welsh villages, museums, lake activities, and taking the Snowdon Mountain Railway.
Wales has the most castles per square mile than any other country in the world. Yes, we have a land where Celts, Normans, and Romans fought on our soil and left behind thousands of years of history in ruins, remains, and castles around the country. There are over 600 castles to visit in Wales; some are merely walls of ruins, while others stand majestic in the hearts of cities, atop mountains, and overlooking the sea.
Some of the best castles to visit include Caernarfon Castle, Conwy Castle, Caerphilly Castle, Powis Castle, and Raglan Castle. Many have guided tours, and information boards, and make great photo opportunities.
St David’s Day
St David is the patron saint of Wales, and every March 1st, across the land, we celebrate the Welsh day known as St David’s Day. On this day, there are Eisteddfods (national competitions) up and down the country where people are dressed in traditional Welsh attire like Welsh Ladies or rugby shirts, donning leeks or daffodils badges, and wearing Welsh flags around their backs. At the Eisteddfods, there are various competitions, the most honorable being the crowning of the Bardd (the best poet of the day).
You can visit a small city in Wales called St Davids (the apostrophe was officially dropped), where he lived and later named after him.
Daffodils and Leeks
It is contested which is the symbol of Wales: the daffodil or the leek, but I think both equally deserve to represent Wales.
The flower is found everywhere in spring, and lots of people buy them for window displays leading up to St David’s Day, while leeks are a staple vegetable in Welsh homes. Leeks were once thought to cure illnesses and keep bad spirits away. Or was this just something Welsh mums told us so we’d eat all our veggies?
Cawl is the National Dish of Wales and is the most hearty and homely meal you will find. It consists of vegetables (definitely leeks), potatoes, and Lamb in a hot broth (but there are many variations), and these days any soup/stew/broth is known as Cawl.
I enjoy mine with fresh bread and cheese sprinkled on top. The thought of the steam rising and succulent Welsh Lamb in a bowl of cawl is enough to make me fly home wherever I am traveling!
There are other Welsh foods we love in Wales including Bara Brith, Welsh Rarebit, Glamorgan Sausage, and of course, Welsh Cakes.
Other notable famous Welsh things are love spoons which are a common gift from kids in Design Technology classes and hold a lovely history with each knot meaning a different kind of love for your spouse, parent, child, sibling, or friend.
Wales has a famous history of coal mining, with Cardiff and Barry Docks in South Wales at one time being the biggest coal exporters in the world. And lastly, there’s nothing more Welsh than having a lush cwtch (meaning a nice cuddle).
About the author
I’m Shireen, and I run the travel blog The Happy Days Travels, focusing on learning and staying local while traveling. My favorite things to do while traveling are tasting local cuisines, meeting locals and travelers, absorbing a novel in a scenic spot, and then writing about it on my blog.
* Cover photo by bloodua via Depositphotos
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