For a small country, Wales offers incredible diversity – so much so that it’s one of our top travel destinations for 2018. Even better, many of Wales’ (beautiful) landscapes and experiences remain surprisingly undiscovered. From pristine white-sand beaches and rolling, quintessentially Welsh valleys to tucked-away villages, here are six places you really should visit – but which you’ve probably never heard of…

1. The Tywi Valley, south Wales

In the southwest of the country, the Tywi Valley is home to some of Wales’ most magical scenery – indeed, it’s not hard to see why the legend of Merlin remains so prevalent in the area. The lush green hills are punctuated with ruined castles, the standout of which is romantic Carreg Cennan.

Thought to have been constructed on the site of a fortress that was built by one of King Arthur’s knights, the castle commands a striking position 300ft above the Cennen River, with views over towards the Black Mountain.

A much more modern attraction can be found in the National Botanic Garden of Wales, the centrepiece of which is Norman Foster’s striking glasshouse, which transports you into a much more Mediterranean climate than you could ever hope to find in the country.

The real joy here is, of course, taking your time, following the curve of the green hills and discovering the quiet villages that sit among them.

2. Strumble Head, Pembrokeshire

Winding country lanes lead to Strumble Head on the beautiful north Pembrokeshire coast, which is arguably the best site in Wales for sea-bird spotting.

This peaceful spot – though expect to be buffeted by the wind a little – is a rewarding place for watching gannets, kittiwakes, guillemots and fulmars as they swoop and dive. If you’re lucky, you might also catch a glimpse of porpoises out on the water.

The best way to reach the headland is on an invigorating walk along the Coast Path, from which you can enjoy some astounding cliff-top views – plus, you’ll also be able to discover the lovely little beaches of Aber Mawr and Aber Bach.

3. Ruthin, Denbighshire

Sitting in the fertile Vale of Clwyd, the attractive little hilltop town of Ruthin stands out in the area for its particularly fine food, and makes a great base from which to explore the gentle hills that surround.

The market town is especially notable for its clutch of appealing half-timbered buildings, centred around St Peter’s Square, of which the higgledy-piggledy Nantclwyd y Dre, which dates partly from 1435, is especially worth seeking out.

On the southern edge of town, the imposing red-sandstone castle makes a nice spot for a drink among rather grand surroundings, or for a wander among the resident peacocks.

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