Wales is famous for its wild landscapes and ancient history, but its hills and valleys are also home to some stranger sights. Eccentric history and strange myths combine with peculiar places and weird natural wonders – great for those who want to explore a different side of this region.

    The Welsh can be as eccentric as their country, and innovative artists and adventurers have produced everything from the world's smallest cinema to a trampoline park in an abandoned slate mine. Below, we've put together the best of what's curious, quirky and outright bizarre that you can stumble upon on a road trip through Wales.


    Zip World Slate Caverns

    An adventure playground in a historic slate mine

    Deep in the hills of Blaenau Ffestiniog is a network of caves housing the Zip World Slate Caverns, a vast underground obstacle course. Climb along rope bridges, swing from monkey bars, crawl through tunnels and traverse via ferrata as you explore the remains of the mine. There are 11 underground zip lines that will effortlessly whizz you around.

    Outside the caverns is Titan, Europe's largest zip zone, with lines spanning almost 1.3 miles that take you soaring over slate quarries and Wales' beautiful natural landscape. The zip lines can accommodate up to 4 people, so bring your friends along to share the excitement. When you're all adventured out, Llechwedd Cafe will renew your energy with a tasty burger. 

    Locatie: Zip World Slate Caverns, Blaenau Ffestiniog LL41 3NB, UK

    Openingstijden: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm

    Telefoonnummer: +44 (0)1248 601444


    Gigrin Farm

    An unforgettable experience with huge flocks of kites

    Once an endangered species in Wales, red kites are enjoying a triumphant revival thanks to breeding programs. In the wild, they're usually spotted alone, but you can see between 300 and 600 at a time at the Red Kite Centre on Gigrin Farm thanks to the farm's regular feeding schedule and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB)-approved rehabilitation centre.

    Food is put out at 2 pm or 3 pm, depending on the season. What follows is a breathtaking spectacle of aerial acrobatics as the kites swoop low over the feeding station or dive to grab chunks of meat. There are 5 wooden hides around the farm that give you great views of the birds as they feed alongside 4 special photographer's hides.

    Locatie: South St, Rhayader LD6 5BL, UK

    Openingstijden: Saturday–Wednesday from 1 pm to 5 pm (closed on Thursdays and Fridays)

    Telefoonnummer: +44 (0)1597 810243


    Big Pit National Coal Museum

    Explore below ground in a former colliery

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    The Big Pit National Coal Museum has a special place in Welsh hearts since much of South Wales was built on coal mining. Here, you descend 300 ft down a mineshaft for an underground guided tour with a former coal miner. Hear stories of the mine's working days as you see the coal faces and engine house while learning about how coal was mined and transported.

    A highlight is the Winding Engine, which lowers you up and down the shaft. Today, the mine has a completely different use – local award-winning cheddar Pwll Mawr is matured at the bottom of the old mine shaft, which you can buy a wedge at the museum shop.

    Locatie: Pontypool NP4 9XP, UK

    Openingstijden: Sundays from 9 am to 5 pm

    Telefoonnummer: +44 (0)300 111 2333


    foto door Steinsky (CC BY-SA 2.5) bewerkt


    Gladstone's Library

    A private library founded by a former Prime Minister

    Gladstone's Library was founded by UK’s former Prime Minister, William Gladstone. He originally started this library using his own collection of over 32,000 books, though it has now grown to more than 150,000 volumes. It occupies a beautiful Grade I-listed building reminiscent of a cathedral. The library specialises in Gladstone's favourite subjects, so you can find an outstanding collection of works on history, theology, and philosophy.

    Many books in the collection have Gladstone's thoughts and observations written in the margins, and there's also an interesting selection of his personal letters. The building even has 26 bedrooms, so hardcore bibliophiles can stay here overnight.

    Locatie: Church Lane, Hawarden, Flintshire CH5 3DF, UK

    Openingstijden: Daily from 8.45 am to 9 pm

    Telefoonnummer: +44 (0)1244 532350


    Dinosaur footprints at the Bendricks

    Traces of dinosaur activity from 220 million years ago

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    Trace ancient footsteps at the Bendricks, where passing dinosaurs left their footprints in the soft mud about 220 million years ago. You can clearly see prints left by small, three-toed dinosaurs that hunted in packs and bigger 4-toed herbivorous dinosaurs. Check out the nearby cliff face, where colourful layers of stone have built up over millions of years.

    The footprints are covered at high tide, and the best time to visit is just after the tide goes out, when the water left behind in the footprints makes them easier to see. If the weather doesn't co-operate you can always view the section of footprints on display at Cardiff Museum, along with some pretty cool fossils.


    foto door MarnixR (CC BY-SA 3.0) bewerkt


    Four Waterfalls Walk

    Explore behind a waterfall at Sgwd yr Eira

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    The Four Waterfalls Walk takes you right behind a waterfall at Sgwd yr Eira, which has a hidden space with rocks on one side and thundering falls on the other. Along the way are several other gorgeous waterfalls, from the high path around Clun-Gwyn Falls to the broad cascade of Pannwr Falls.

    The trail takes you through beautiful woodland that becomes a riot of colour in autumn. At the trailhead, you can explore Porth yr Ogof cave. The Brecon Beacons is blessed with many other stunning waterfalls, including Henrhyd Falls, which doubled as Batman's cave in the movie The Dark Knight Rises (2012).

    Locatie: Ystradfellte, Aberdare CF44 9JF, UK


    St Winefride’s Well

    Natural spring once believed to be a miracle cure

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    One of the oldest pilgrim sites in Britain, St Winefride’s Well has been curing people's aches and pains since the 12th century. The current chapel is an eye-catching, ornamental Gothic building dating back to the 15th century. Here, you can bathe in the original medieval, star-shaped basin where the well water bubbles up.

    The outer courtyard has a shallow wading pool that fills from the well where you can bathe. Around the building are inscriptions from people who were cured, and ancient stone carvings of figures being healed. Holy Mass is celebrated at the chapel on Sundays, and there's a statue of St Winefride where you can light a candle.

    Locatie: Plessington House, Greenfield St, Holywell CH8 7PN, UK

    Openingstijden: Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday from 9.30 am to 10.30 am, Saturday from 5.30 pm to 6.45 pm

    Telefoonnummer: +44 (0)1352 713054


    foto door The National Churches Trust (CC BY 2.0) bewerkt


    Llechwedd Caverns Trampoline Park

    Go bouncing on underground trampolines

    The Llechwedd Caverns Trampoline Park occupies a cavern that’s more than double the size of St Paul's Cathedral. Exploring it is an adventure in itself, but to add a unique twist to the experience, Llechwedd is full of trampolines. There are 10,000 sq ft of nets that span 3 levels, suspended between 20 ft and 180 ft above the floor.

    There's a spiral staircase connecting the levels, and a network of tunnels, rope bridges and slides. Colourful lights on the walls and ceiling add to the uncanny experience. Younger children will enjoy Junior Bounce, a set of trampolines for 3- to 6-year-olds. The whole family will get a kick out of the old mine train that collects visitors from the surface.

    Locatie: Llechwedd, Blaenau Ffestiniog LL41 3NB, UK

    Openingstijden: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm

    Telefoonnummer: +44 (0)1248 601444


    Pentre Ifan

    An atmospheric ancient site with far-reaching views

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    Wales's answer to Stonehenge, Pentre Ifan is a mysterious, ancient Neolithic burial chamber. Today, only the megaliths survive, though you can still see the outline of the 120-ft-tall mound where the dead would have been buried. Visitors often marvel at the 17-ft-long capstone, which is carefully balanced on the supporting stones.

    Pentre Ifan is made from bluestone from the surrounding Preseli Hills – the same bluestone that forms the inner sanctum at Stonehenge. The hills provide an impressive backdrop and offer glorious views across the Nevern Valley to Newport Bay. Excellent walking trails in the area include one through magical Pentre Ifan Wood, filled with ancient oaks and wildflowers.

    Locatie: Nevern, Crymych SA41 3TZ, UK


    Sol Cinema

    A mobile outdoor cinema powered by solar energy

    Sol Cinema claims to be "the smallest movie theatre in the solar system", and it's certainly pretty tiny. Housed in a vintage caravan, the kitsch interior is decorated in retro stripes with plush benches that can hold up to 8 people. Its compact size means it can be powered entirely by solar energy, from the LED video projector to the surround sound speakers.

    Besides showing short films with an ecological theme, the cinema often hosts talks with filmmakers, actors and ecologists. A red carpet is rolled out before each performance, with ushers in vintage costumes selling popcorn from the ticket window. Sol Cinema is based on the Gower Peninsula but sometimes visits events and festivals around South Wales and the UK.

    Telefoonnummer: +44 (0)7973 298359

    Victoria Hughes | Schrijver

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