36 Weird and Wacky Things to Do in Wales
Think you know Wales? Think again. There is much more to this little country than first thought.
Best known for its stunning natural scenery, Wales is a popular staycation choice for UK holidaymakers. From its rugged coastline to its impressive mountain ranges, Wales has something to offer both thrill seekers and explorers, as well as those who want a more relaxing break away from it all. There really is something for everyone.
If you’re looking for something a little bit different for your next trip, look no further. Wales is packed with exciting, spooky and wonderfully wacky places to see and things to do.
From ghoulish ghost-hunting to ancient artefacts and exhilarating adventures, in this post we uncover no less than 36 of Wales’ weirdest hidden gems for you and your family to enjoy. Interested? Read on to learn more!
1. Jump around in an abandoned slate mine
Chances are when you see the words ‘abandoned slate mine’ you don’t immediately think of family-friendly activities. But, at Blaenau Ffestiniog, Snowdonia, you will find Bounce Below a hidden trampoline playground. This subterranean enterprise covers 10,000 square feet of nets and three different bounce levels at 20ft high, 60ft and a staggering 180ft high for anyone brave enough!
To add to the wacky factor, you enter via an old mine train and cross between trampolines using giant slides, tunnels or spiral staircases. Want even more of a challenge? The Caverns course will test your nerves as you glide on ziplines, climb and crawl over the deepest depths of the mine and there’s even monkey bars to cross if you dare…
2. Discover the history of Heinz at a unique museum
This is definitely a contender for first place in the weirdest things to do in Wales’ top ten list. The world’s only museum dedicated to Heinz baked beans can be found at Port Talbot and is owned by the self-named Captain Beany. The captain (who legally changed his name from Barry Kirk in 1991), once set a world record for sitting in a bathtub brimming with beans for 100 hours.
After this he became dedicated to celebrating his barmy bean obsession by transforming his flat into the museum in 2009. He has also used his unusual interest to raise money for numerous charities like Cancer Research and the British Heart Foundation. He raised over £100,000 by running marathons, pushing a tin of beans along a beach with his nose and even having 60 beans tattooed onto his head. There’s no fixed cost for museum entry, but donations are welcome and go to charity.
3. Stay the night at Craig y Nos castle
If you’ve got an interest in the macabre and you love the paranormal, then this is definitely one for your bucket list. The Craig y Nos castle in Craig-y-Nos, Swansea was once home to famed opera singer Adelina Patti and her body was even embalmed in the salt cellar. If that’s not enough, the castle also served as a hospital for tuberculosis patients, so there’s plenty of creepy history to sink your teeth into.
Known as the most haunted castle in Wales, it offers various different experiences, from 3-hour tours with seances and table tipping to overnight stays where you can use specialist ghost-hunting equipment to help you spot a spooky spectre.
4. Pay your respects at Ianto’s Shrine
Fans of the BBC Doctor Who spin-off show Torchwood will already be aware of this wacky spot in Cardiff’s Mermaid Quay where a beloved figure is memorialised. The Welsh character of Ianto Jones (played by Gareth David-Lloyd) was killed in series three and died in the arms of his lover and Torchwood’s leader Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman).
To mourn his death, fans decided to place touching tributes like flowers, posters, letters and photos in a significant spot. According to the show, Torchwood’s hub lay under the nearby Roald Dahl’s Plass and was accessible by a secret entrance in the water tower. This may be a more niche spot to visit, but for die-hard fans it’s a must if you’re visiting Wales.
5. Re-live music history at Bron-Yr-Aur cottage
This quaint little cottage on the outskirts of Machynlleth, Powys may look like any other picturesque village home, but it is special to Led Zeppelin fans. This 18th century home was once a holiday spot for young Robert Plant who would grow up to become the iconic band’s frontman and lyricist. In 1970 following a North American tour, plant brought his bandmates to the cottage where they wrote and recorded songs for Led Zeppelin III, including a song called ‘Bron-Yr-Aur Stomp.’
The property is privately owned meaning access is limited. However, you can book private day retreats for up to four people through the owner’s online shop.
6. Drink (and maybe meet some spirits) AT Skirrid Inn
The Skirrid Mountain Inn in Abergavenny takes its name from the mountain range that overshadows this spooky pub, which is reportedly one of the oldest in Wales. With evidence that the pub may date back as far as the 11th century, it also served as a courtroom and execution site over the course of its dark history. You can still see an oak hanging beam where according to local legend, more than 180 people met their fate. If you’re up for a scare you may even encounter some of them that never left!
7. Walk in the footsteps of dinosaurs at a prehistoric beach
If you want to take a peek into Wales’ prehistoric path, then you need to head to Bendricks Beach in Barry, South Wales. There you will find two sets of well-preserved footprints, one set lower down the beach and one further up. These prints were made by three-toed dinosaurs that walked on their hind legs. You will need to go on a treasure hunt to find them as there are no signs pointing them out. Some other prints found on this beach were excavated and can be seen in Cardiff museum.
8. Take a spooky stroll around Tenby on a family-friendly ghost-walk
If you’re not quite brave enough to face some of the other occult offerings on our list then don’t worry, the Tenby ghost-walk in Pembrokeshire may be a better option. This walk is run by the Guided Tours Wales company and was named as one of the top five ghost walks in Britain by the Sunday Times. This family-friendly activity will give you an insight into Tenby’s intriguing history and you’ll learn about ghosts, witches, fairies, strange Pembrokeshire customs and even murder and mystery.
9. The Truth is Out There at the Great Orme Summit Complex
The Great Orme Summit Complex in Llandudno, Conwy is a charming former semaphore station for sending and receiving telegrams, which attracted Victorian holidaymakers thanks to its beautiful surrounding views. Later the building became The Summit Hotel, then a temporary Radar station for the RAF during WWII and now the complex showcases the peninsula’s history through several displays. An unexpected feature of the complex is a hidden room at the back dedicated to UFOs.
Northern Wales has been a hotspot for strange sightings throughout the 20th century and Great Orme is no exception. One incident in 1997 draws particular attention as a family driving home saw a massive triangular aircraft hovering above their car which they tried to outpace. The aircraft then disappeared while time had also jumped ahead by 5 hours in what felt like seconds.
The UFO room features a mixture of ‘authentic’ and completely fictional UFO information and memorabilia including a model of the millennium falcon from Star Wars which hangs overhead.
10. Walk along Dead Man’s Alley
The name of this walkway in Cardiff between Working Street and Trinity Street may sound sinister, but it marks history that dates back to around 1180. At this time St. John the Baptist Church and its cemetery was first constructed and in 1891 when Cardiff market opened, vendors and customers would have to walk around the graveyard to reach it.
An agreement was made between the church and the council to create a pathway that divided the cemetery into two and make the route to the market shorter and more direct. It isn’t known if those placed to rest where the path now lies were moved or if their bodies remain, but you can see metal grave-markers underfoot to remember them. As a result, this walkway has been given the name ‘Dead Man’s Alley’ by locals.
11. Experience Italy in Wales at Portmeirion Village
Portmeirion Village in Gwynedd is a fantastical slice of Italian life situated on a sprawling estate near the coast of North Wales. This miniature Italianate village features a range of beautifully designed buildings from Classical to Baroque all painted in pastel hues and surrounded by gardens and ornamental ponds. In the village you’ll find two hotels, a spa, historic cottages, award-winning restaurants, numerous cafes and an authentic Italian gelateria.
The location even served as the setting for the popular 1960’s British TV show ‘The Prisoner’ and you can attend prisoner themed weekends once a month.
12. Climb to the highest peaks at Snowdon
The centrepiece of Snowdonia National Park, this massive mountain in Gwynedd stands at a staggering 3560 foot tall and is the highest point in Wales. From the summit you can see breath-taking views spanning across Snowdonia, Pembrokeshire, Anglesey and even Ireland on a clear day.
There are 6 routes that will take you to the summit with the Llanberis route being the best for first timers, however it is still recommended that you plan carefully for your trip. You’ll need suitable clothing like hiking boots and waterproof clothing, and you should only attempt the paths if everyone in your group is up for the challenge.
Mountain guides are available if you’d like a more experienced companion to lead the way and it’s important to remember that reaching the peak is only half the battle, as returning can be tiring and weather conditions may change quickly.
13. Learn a beloved folklore story at Gelert’s Grave
If you’re visiting the Snowdonia Mountains for a walk through the national park or even to climb Snowdon itself, you should stop at the hamlet of Beddgelert in Gwynedd. Here you’ll find engraved slabs of stone which tell of the tale of Gelert, a faithful hound who was mistakenly killed when a prince believed the dog had attacked his infant son. According to legend, the prince realised his mistake when he heard the child cry out and then found the body of a wolf that Gelert had killed instead to protect the boy.
Versions of this story have appeared in numerous cultures and while the name Beddgelert meaning Gelert’s Grave dates back further than the events of the tale, this hasn’t stopped it making an impact in Welsh folklore. As a result, the hamlet has attributed its name to the trusty hound and marked where Gelert’s body was supposedly buried by his master.
14. Stop and smell the flowers at Laburnum Arch
Nestled in Bodnant Garden in Conwy, every springtime a stunning archway of beautiful blossoms appears. The 180ft archway is said to be the longest in the United Kingdom and features beautiful golden blossoms that tumble down from the Laburnum trees around it and are nicknamed ‘Golden Rain.’ The archway usually springs to life between May and June, though it only lasts for a few weeks and when exactly it will fully form can be unpredictable.
While you’re visiting the archway, the rest of the gardens are absolutely worth exploring as they are a National Trust property and are full of vibrant flowerbeds, water features and lush tree-lined walkways.
15. Learn a grisly tale at Winifred’s Well
This holy site in Holywell is known as Winifred’s Well and St. Winifred’s Well and has been a place of religious pilgrimage for over a thousand years. According to legend, Winifred, the sister of Saint Beuno and the daughter of a wealthy Welshman was pursued by a man named Caradog who sought her hand in marriage. Winifred did not wish to be with him and when she finally refused, he cut off her head. Legend has it that when her head hit the floor, it caused a natural spring to burst from the ground. Her brother’s prayers brought Winifred back to life but Winifred’s Well had been born.
Visitors have claimed for centuries that the spring-waters have healing properties and a structure was built around the pool in the 12th century, with the current medieval chapel being built in the 16th century. Famous visitors have included Kings Richard I and Henry V and anyone seeking the springs now can enjoy a small, peaceful wading pool.
16. See the stars at Elan Valley
If you have an interest in all things space related, then you’re in for a treat as some of the best stargazing locations can be found in Wales. Many locations have achieved International Dark Sky Park status which means the area is one of the clearest for hopeful astronomers.
One such place is Elan Valley in Rhayader in Powys which achieved Silver Tier status from the International Dark Sky Association. It is the only dark sky park in the world that is privately owned but publicly accessible. All 45,000 acres are protected from light pollution and the reserve is also home to a huge variety of wildlife that is visible during the day or the night.
17. Satisfy your curiosity at the Morbitorium
If you’re passionate about oddities or curious about curiosities then this strange collection of the weird and the wonderful is for you. You’ll find the Moribitorium located in the quiet mining town of Pontywaun in South Wales, occupying the ground floor of an otherwise normal seeming cottage. Here you can see an extensive collection of taxidermy and mummified animals, human skulls, Ouija boards, antique medical devices and more make up the displays and there’s even a full-size coffin occupied by a dreadlocked skeleton in the back room. Outside you’ll also spot another 8ft tall skeleton with glowing eyes keeping watch over the garden.
If walking around the eerie artefacts isn’t enough for you, the Morbitorium even has an online shop where you can purchase everything from spooky jewellery to mummified hearts and shrunken heads.
18. Sleep among the works of scholars in Gladstone’s Library
Head to Hawarden in Wales for a truly unique sleepover at the only residential library in the United Kingdom, which will be reopening in March 2021. This unique library features 26 bedrooms so that tired students burning the midnight oil or anyone who has dreamed of sleeping among great works of literature can stay the night. Guests have reading access until 10pm, a whole 5 hours after the library closes to the public and you can even take a book to bed for further witching-hour reading.
Gladstone’s library was founded by former four-time Prime Minister William Gladstone who wanted to keep his collection of over 32,000 books safe after he passed. With the help of his daughter and valet, he wheeled 20,000 books to the library and many works contain his scribbles and annotations.
19. Learn the legend of a deadly angel
The Llangernyw Yew in Saint Digain in Conwy may look like just a giant majestic tree, but according to legend it has a very spooky history. This yew tree is estimated to be between 4000 and 5000 years old and the split trunk opens onto a group of tombstones behind the tree like a gateway to the afterlife.
According to Welsh mythology, the tree is associated with an angel known as Angelystor, the ‘recording angel.’ On every Halloween, the angel would prophesise who in the village would die by the same time next year from a nearby church. Anyone wanting to know if they would survive would sit beneath the church’s east window and listen for their name.
20. See the smallest house in Great Britain
Another weird and wacky Welsh attraction in Conwy, is Quay House – the smallest house in Great Britain. This miniature house was built in the 16th century and was a fisherman’s hut used until 1990 when the council made the last tenant leave. The home measures 10ft deep by just under 6ft wide with a ceiling height of just over 10ft.
Despite its tiny size, the house is divided into two floors with the ground floor consisting of a living area, fireplace and concealed water tap, and the top floor offering a tiny bedroom and storage space. The building has been preserved to show modern day dwellers just how small a home can be, and visitors can enter the ground floor, however the top floor is now too unstable.
21. Watch a film in the world’s smallest cinema
If you love going to the cinema, this weird Welsh attraction will make your bucket list. The Sol Cinema is located all over south Wales as it is a mobile trailer that can hold up to 8 people at a time. The cinema gets its name from the fact that it is run entirely on solar power and the enterprise won first place for the best communication project at the Network Wales Awards.
However, you won’t find any major blockbusters being shown at this tiny trailer cinema. The art collective group who run the cinema only show films with ecological themes, using an LED projector powered by a solar panel on the back of the trailer.
22. Take a trip on a 19th century railway
In Aberystwyth, you will find a place called Constitution Hill where a 778ft long, 19th century funicular railway has been taking passengers 430ft above sea level for over a hundred years. At one point this historic railway was the longest funicular cliff railway in the United Kingdom and was also once powered by water-balancing, though it became electrified in 1921.
The method of transport itself isn’t the only fascinating part of this attraction as the destination gets even weirder. In 1985, the owners added a camera obscura to the clifftop café. This unusual tourist attraction is much like a giant pinhole camera. A rotating mirror on the roof of a darkened and windowless room gives a different view of the world outside by projecting images onto a concave surface in the middle of the room. The camera obscura is also one of the largest of its kind measuring 14 inches and visitors can see stunning views across the town and to Cardigan Bay in the distance.
23. Reach the depths of the Earth at Big Pit
If you aren’t afraid of the dark and don’t mind small spaces, you can now descend 300ft below the ground at the Big Pit National Coal Museum in Torfaen. Formerly an active coal mine from 1860 to 1980, this deep dark cavern gets its name from the main mine shaft which was originally only 200ft deep. In 1880 an extra 100ft was dug down and the shaft was the first of its kind to use two tramways.
As coal became the substance of the hour for miners, the Big Pit became the most critical mine in the area. Now the preserved location serves as an interactive museum showcasing a thriving part of Welsh history. Visitors enter the pit via the specially built single-track railway station and are given essential safety equipment like hard hats, safety lamps and rebreathers to filter toxic air before they embark on a 50-minute underground tour.
24. Sleep in the air in a suspended woodland tent
If you love camping or you fancy a holiday with a difference, then you will love the spherical pod tents at Red Kite Tree Tents in Powys. These tents are located on an area of serene and beautiful private woodland and each has its own private access path, firepit, kitchen area, shower facilities and toilet. Watching local wildlife has never been easier as the tents are suspended securely among the trees and are near babbling streams, so you will feel like part of the forest.
You also won’t have to struggle with assembly or worry about missing certain luxuries, as the aviation industry level structures are equipped with solar lights, a super comfortable double mattress and there’s even hot water showers.
25. Learn Welsh at Nant Gwrtheyrn
Situated in Llithfaen in Gwynedd, Wales, the National Welsh Language and Heritage Centre sits in a beautiful but isolated valley that overlooks cliffs and the Irish Sea. Originally a granite quarry in 1861, residents of the small town Port Y Nant were almost cut off from the outside world as there were few land-based methods connecting the village. During World War II the village closed due to trouble with getting supplies shipped to the area and after this time it became home to a group known as the New Atlantis Commune.
Hippies lived there without running water, electricity or a proper sewage system before trashing the area and moving on. Finally, with better roads being built in the 1980’s, the village reopened, and the National Welsh Language and Heritage Centre was built. Visitors can learn Welsh as a second language, stay overnight in a historic cottage and even get married with scenic natural views as a backdrop.
26. Discover a tragic story on an island of lovers
In Newborough, Wales, a tiny tidal island sits on the edge of Newborough Beach and is home to one of the most famous love stories in Welsh folklore. Llanddwyn Island is home only to a variety of wildlife like cormorants, gull, wild ponies and seals, but according to the island’s sad story, it was once inhabited by a woman called Dwynen. The story goes that Dwynen was one of 24 daughters who loved and was loved by a man named Maelon. She refused his advances until she could get her father’s approval, but Maelon snatched her away before this could happen.
She prayed for him to go away and in return, an angel gave her a potion which turned Maelon to ice when she drank it. Regretting her vengeance, the depressed Dwynen again prayed and asked for three wishes – to return him to life, for God to protect true lovers and for her to remain unmarried. She retreated to the island in solitude where she spent the rest of her life and she became the Welsh Patron Saint of Lovers. A crumbling church built in the Middle Ages to commemorate Dwynen now stands and if you are careful you can visit the island and see its ruins.
27. Dive into murky depths in a bog snorkelling competition
When you think of world championships, a bog snorkelling championship most likely isn’t what springs to mind. But, in the small town of Llanwrtyd Wells in Powys, this is an annual tradition. The Waen Rhydd Bog involves competitors doing two 180ft laps of the stinking peat bog in August each year in a snorkel and flippers. Entrants may also wear a wetsuit, but this isn’t a requirement.
Unsurprisingly, this bizarre challenge is believed to have started as a bar bet in 1976, but has now become a task for people all over the world hoping to break a new speed record.
28. See a taxidermy celebrity lion at The Pumping Station
For fans of Antiques Roadshow, one item that can be found at The Pumping Station in Cardiff may come as a shock compared to typical China tea sets and quaint figurines. Among the unusual finds in this quirky shop, a taxidermy lion named Simba can be seen. As well as being the namesake of the famous Disney king of pride rock, this lion was once a Hollywood star. Most famously, Simba starred in Cleopatra with Elizabeth Taylor and according to his display information, was once the largest lion in the world.
29. See if you could survive being stranded on an island
Everyone has wondered how they would cope with being stranded on a deserted island and some think they are pretty well-prepared having watched every episode of Bear Grylls to date. If you want to test your abilities and make the idea a reality, the Castaway Adventure course on the coast of the Gower Peninsula near Swansea is the activity for you.
The course, run by Dryad Bushcraft and Wilderness, involves a high-speed boat tour around the coast to spot wildlife before being left at a remote location. With a Dryad bushcraft instructor on hand, you will have to make a shelter, start a fire without matches and find edible plants before spending the night among nature.
30. View a creepy graffiti tribute to an iconic horror film
When you hear the name Elm Street, what’s the first thing you think of? For us, it’s the cult-classic horror film series featuring murderous maniac Freddy Krueger. A real-life Elm Street can be found in Plasnewyyd, Cardiff, though it isn’t the hunting grounds for a razor-fingered killer.
To mark the street’s unusual name and Nightmare’s director Wes Craven’s death in 2015, a group of artists known as Cruelvapours have painted a Nightmare on Elm Street mural here. The wall mural depicts the film’s heroine character Nancy asleep with Freddy’s hand reaching out on one side and his shadowy figure looming nearby on another.
31. Try to pronounce the most difficult name in the world at Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogery chwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch
This list of weird things to do in Wales would not be complete without this iconic attraction. Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogery chwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch is the genuine name of a village in Anglesey and it is the longest place name in Europe. It is also the second longest official one-word place name in the world.
Roughly translated the name means ‘St Mary’s Church in the Hollow of the White Hazel near a Rapid Whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio near the Red Cave.’ How this village got its name is often debated – some say it was created in the 1860’s as a promotion to attract tourists, though recordings of the name date back to the late 1840’s.
32. Learn about adventurous explorers at the Mt Everest Bar
In 1953, the first successful expedition to reach the peak of Mt Everest was achieved when Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay arrived at the summit on May 29th. Before they set off on their record-breaking climb, they stayed at a remote mountain farmhouse and what is now the Pen-Y-Gwryd Hotel in Gwynedd, North Wales. The hotel sits beneath Mt Snowdon and served as a training ground for the team as they prepared for their ascent.
You can see historical objects from this incredible feat in the Mt Everest bar, where a ‘reliquary’ holds several items that were carried up and back down Everest including clothes, snowshoes, ropes and a radio.
33. Marvel at nature in a giant glasshouse
A true feat of glasswork and engineering, The Glasshouse at the National Botanic Garden of Wales in Llanarthne, Carmarthenshire is the largest single span glasshouse in the world. It is made from 785 different sized panes of glass and has 147 computer-controlled air vents. Another record-breaking feat of this huge attraction are the longest continuous flowerbeds in Europe scattered throughout. The glasshouse contains the largest collection of Mediterranean plants in the Northern Hemisphere including plants that smell like chocolate, coffee and even rotting flesh.
Inside the surrounding botanic gardens, you will find a variety of fun features like an apothecary’s garden and recreation of an Edwardian pharmacy, a British birds of prey centre, dipping ponds, lakes and even performance areas.
34. Count the animals on the walls of Cardiff Castle
Cardiff Castle is a magnificent heritage attraction in itself, spanning 2000 years of history and featuring Roman forts, Norman keeps and World War II air-raid shelters. One of its standout features, the animal wall, wasn’t actually added until the 1880’s and was completed in 1892. This wall of beautifully sculpted animals features a bear, raccoons, lions, an anteater, a seal, a pelican and more and each animal was approved by Lord Bute. Two animal models including a seahorse were rejected and the original wall had 9 animals, though today you can walk along and spot all 12.
These wild creations have become so beloved that they have inspired numerous literary works. The most famous of these is a story by Dorothy Howard Rowlands, who gave each animal a name and personality. The story was serialised in the South Wales Echo and Express from 1933 and became a fan favourite with all generations.
35. Sunbathe in your birthday suit at Morfa Dyffryn beach
This wacky Welsh attraction might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but Morfa Dyffryn beach near Barmouth on Wales’ west coast has been well-known as a nudist beach since the 1930’s. Most of this beautiful beach, which is regularly rated as one of the best in Wales, is family-friendly and requires clothes, making it a lovely destination for anyone to visit. However, one section towards the northern end of the beach is dedicated to clothes-free frolicking and is just under a kilometre long.
This area is clearly sign-posted at both ends and was officially recognised in 2000. Anyone looking to be brave and go bare should be warned that although the water achieves the highest standards for European bathing, it is often very cold. Similarly, while sunbathing on the sand dunes is prohibited and they are regularly patrolled by the beach patrol and police, onlookers do try and sneak a peek at those embracing nature below.
36. Take part in a creepy Christmas tradition
Every country has their own unique way of celebrating Christmas and spreading the festive spirit. While many people have heard of the Alpine Krampus or even the Yule Lads from Iceland, the Welsh tradition of Mari Lwyd isn’t quite as infamous. This tradition is most common in South Wales and involves a group carrying a decorated horse’s skull mounted on a pole and wrapped in sheets to someone’s front door.
Through song the ‘horse’ will request entry and the house’s occupants must reply to the ‘pwnco’ battle with witty rhymes to outmatch the horse. If the horse isn’t beaten in the competition, then it must be allowed entry where food and drink is then enjoyed by everyone. This wintery parade isn’t just limited to Christmas either, as though its origins are unclear, it is believed to have been performed in pre-Christian times. Nowadays you can see the horse making its way through the village of Llangynwd near Bridgend on New Year’s Eve.