Full Day Tours to Take from Cardiff That are Worth the Money

Three words… When Where Wales. We took two day trips with the When Where Wales Tours and it turned out to be an amazing way to see the beautiful country. With only a few days budgeted for Wales, our base was Cardiff, the capital city. My friend and I booked two trips with this company because they covered so much ground in the little time we had. Broken down here are the two we took, but there a plenty to choose from!

Tour No. 3: Gower Explorer

Let me start off by saying, the facilitators of the day tours were such kind people. Jan and her husband clearly have a passion for what they do. The tours were extremely organized. They cover every inch of Wales in proximity to Cardiff you could want to explore. Often with group tours, it’s easy to fell forgotten about and rushed through the stops. Not once did I feel this on the When Where Wales tours we took. The Gower Explorer was my favourite of the two. Swansea was a highlight I never knew I even wanted to see!

Here is what the Gower Explorer covered:

  • Swansea Marina & National Waterfront Museum
  • Mumbles Lighthouse
  • Langland Bay to Caswell
  • Rhossili (and lunch stop)
  • Arthur’s Stone
  • Llwcher Estuary and Salt Marshes
  • Cefn Bryn

Swansea, Mumbles, Langland

Rhossilli

Arthur’s Stone, Cefn Bryn

This day exceeded my expectations. The weather turned out to be incredible for the views and feeding wild ponies near Arthur’s Stone. Which yes, you get to touch for good luck! Swansea and the Gower Explorer Tour is something I look back on and think, “I’m so glad I spent money on that experience”.

Tour No. 1: South Wales Valleys Tour

This tour covered the whole idea of what I thought Wales would be like; endless green hills, sheep, castles, sheep, ancient folk tales, and you guessed it… more sheep! Seriously, they are everywhere!

Here is what the South Wales Valleys Tour covered:

  • Caerphilly Castle
  • Brecon Beacons National Park
  • Ancient Standing Stone
  • Welsh Villages
  • Brecon Town
  • Libanus Visitors’ Centre
  • South Wales Valleys

Caerphilly Castle

I think Daenerys Targaryen parked her dragons here between filming seasons, and boy do they fit in well.

Another castle we visited other than Caerphilly Castle, I cannot for the life of me remember it’s name. SORRY. What I do remember is its killer drawbridge and really, that’s what matters most.

Brecon Beacons, Ancient Standing Stone

Myths, Welsh history, legends – I’m into it. If you are too, you’ll love Wales and these tours.

Links to the When Where Wales Tours:

Why “When Where Wales”?

The guides were incredible. As the main source of info, this is the first thing I want on a bus tour. They were so passionate about showing off their beautiful country and they actually invest in their group’s well-being. The whole tour was so organized. Each stop made sense; honestly there was not one part that I thought, “ugh, that was a drag” or “wish that wasn’t included in the price”.

I will be honest for my young travelers out there, the crowd was a little older than anticipated. It doesn’t exactly target two friends in their 20’s, but it completely worked for us. We had a lot going against us in Wales: not enough time, no transportation, not a ton of knowledge on the areas surrounding Cardiff… This tour took care of all of our issue and they did it with a small bus group. I personally love the more intimate groups. It gives you a chance to connect with the guides, as them questions, spend more time (and actually get a turn) at the stops. It also gave you enough time to decide what you wanted to do with your time at certain places. As a smaller group, though there is an itinerary, it has the ability to be somewhat more flexible.

During our lunch break on the Gower Explorer at Rhossilli, we were given so much time to explore the area. If you were unable to walk around, you didn’t have to, they had alternatives. Again, you got to pick how you wanted to use your time. With the average group tour, I often feel rushed; I did not feel this way on any of these tours. I wish I could have taken more of these tours!

If you’re interested…

Be sure to book these ahead of time, the spots fill up. Something to also note: if you were interested in a specific tour, each one only happens on certain days – it is only the two guides after all, and one of them is the driver! This may change the look of your itinerary, but I promise it’s worth it. I’m also all for contributing to a local family business, and Jan and her husband deserve every penny!

When Where Wales, thank you!

5 Pubs to Visit in Dublin

If you want to live like the locals, you can count on visiting a handful of pubs. Dinner, dancing, drinks, live music – Dublin pubs sure know how to create a fun and welcoming atmosphere. Though I wish I could have stayed much longer, here is a short list of pubs I visited in Dublin. Have a read, plan a trip, and grab a Guinness. Sláinte!

O’Neill’s

Recommended by our hostel, O’Neill’s was a short walk from Temple Bar. It had live Irish dancers, live Irish music, good food, and an overall lively atmosphere. This pub, perhaps caters more to the tourists than the locals, but nonetheless, I had such a fun time! The Irish dancers and musicians did a great job of including the crowd and they provided consistent entertainment while we ate our food. I will never not be happy singing Galway Girl by Steve Earle. If you’re not one for standing around, you may want to go earlier in order to get a seat. This place gets crowded fast because of it’s authentic Irish acts.

http://www.oneillspubdublin.com/

Con’s

Okay, I’ll admit it… Con’s is not actually located in Dublin, but for my fellow Directioner’s and Niall Horan lovers, it’s a quick train ride away. Located in Mullingar, Con’s is a pub frequented by locals. If you want a true Irish pub feel away from the novelty of Temple Bar, Con’s is a great choice. The food was delicious, and it was a very relaxed vibe in the pub. I would go again just for their potato leak soup and Irish soda bread. My teenage dreams were officially accomplished (RIP 1D).

The Auld Dubliner

In the words of my friend Carly, “you know a pub has to be good when they spell words the ancient way”. Again, another pub with good food, live entertainment, and most importantly – my favourite cider. I was disappointed to find out they don’t sell “Orchard Thieves” here in Canada. If you prefer cider to beer, be sure to mix up the classic “Bulmer’s” with Orchard Thieves if they have it on tap. The Auld Dubliner is in Temple Bar and easy to find among the cobble stone streets.

https://aulddubliner.ie/

Temple Bar

Temple Bar Pub is one of those “when in Rome” – or rather, when in Dublin – moments. In the center of Temple Bar, Temple Bar Pub is a high volume area of tourists. More live traditional Irish music, statues in the middle of the tables, but it lacks one thing: locals. You find many, if any, locals in this pub. We stopped in for one drink to see what this pub was about, but not one person we spoke to was Irish and the drinks are much more expensive. I’m glad we went, and it certainly can’t hurt to pop in to see for yourself given the location of this pub.

https://www.thetemplebarpub.com/

The Guinness Storehouse

I added the Storehouse to this list, because what better place to try a Guinness than the Guinness store itself? This was one of my favourite experiences in Dublin. The tour provided us with two pints (half-pint Hop House, half-pint Guinness Dark, and one pint of Guinness). You learn the in’s and out’s of how the famous Irish stout beer is made including the ingredients, advertising/ marketing, and of course, lessons on how to properly pour a pint of Guinness. Yes, the whole 119.5 second process is necessary! Coming from a non-beer drinker, this experience is a must. Dare I say I actually enjoyed the taste? We had a chance to shop the gift center and I scored the comfiest sweater of life with the Guinness logo. What an experience this was!

https://www.guinness-storehouse.com/en

I loved Dublin and I can’t wait to go back someday if not for my family history, the trad tunes and fresh pies. More pubs will be on the list of things to do. What are some of your suggestions if you’ve been to Dublin?

5 Inexpensive Things To Do in Edinburgh

Edinburgh stole my heart the moment I heard the bagpipes play…which was right away thanks to the street performers. I found Edinburgh to be quite inexpensive for travelers looking to experience Scotland’s capital city. Here is a list of inexpensive/ free things I did while in Edinburgh.

Arthur’s Seat

You will definitely need to break out your walking shoes for this adventure. This hike was reasonably achievable to finish coming from someone who doesn’t partake in a ton of hiking trails (note to self: do more hiking trails). Going up the mountain is something I will recommend to anyone willing and able. Being just a short distance from The Royal Mile, Arthur’s Seat is very manageable to get to and completely free to climb up. The views of the city from the top are fantastic, but I have to say… Arthur, you could have made the seat a little more comfortable.

Palace of Holyroodhouse

Okay… So this activity is not free, however, if you pair up the above hike with a tour of Holyroodhouse, it makes for a full day and costs only £15. I thought the Palace was beautiful and grand. Truthfully, it was a perfectly planned out day: Hollyroodhouse, Arthur’s Seat, lunch break, Scottish Pub Crawl. To go from the venue of the Queen’s Garden Party to the bars of Edinburgh is quite the stretch, but one I would do again in no time. Speaking of pubs, if you’re staying at a hostel (Castle Rock was stellar), check to see if they arrange pub crawls so you can go with a group. We met so many fun people that night and had such a good time.

Edinburgh Castle

Another perk to staying at a hostel so central in the city is that you are in walking distance to major highlights like Edinburgh Castle! For around £13, you can discover a lot at this landmark. It was one “attraction” I walked away feeling I had got my money’s worth. I found the layout of this castle was very well done. This castle was one of my favorites – the information, the views, how centralized the location was – it was all great. Did I mention this castle was the view from out hostel room? It was quite literally steps away from us. When you find good cheap, clean accommodations be sure to book right away. You never know, there could be a rugby tournament and you’ll be scrambling to find somewhere to stay… oh wait… The story has a happy ending, we managed to get a room, but not quite as cheap is an understatement! #CastleRock4ever

University of Edinburgh

This section of the University, referred to as “Old College”, was absolutely mesmerizing. If I could go back in time and apply to uni here, I would strongly consider it. If it’s wrong to pick a school based on it’s building, then I don’t want to be right. I mean just look at that stone work! We discovered this tucked away gem just by walking through the city. Again, completely free, but I believe there is an option for a guided tour which may or may not be conducted for a fee.

Scott Monument

Speaking of architecture… The Scott Monument takes the cake for eye-catching buildings in Edinburgh. The Gothic feel given to this building draws people in and the view from the top gets them to stay. This attraction cost about £8 and worth every penny in order to maintain the upkeep of this Victorian Era building. Upon entry, you climb up 287 steps on on a spiral staircase. As you could guess by the peak, each step closer to the top means a smaller area to walk through. Once you’re up and think to yourself, thank God I made it up 287 steps, the views speak for itself. Above is my favourite picture from the top – I spy with my little eye, Edinburgh Castle. The contract of old and new in Edinburgh was one of my favourtie takeaways. I can confidently say I will 1000% be coming back here.

I did not want to leave this city, mainly because of the amazing experiences, but also because my bank account took a little hit back in London. I got a little travel happy. Edinburgh, as mentioned, was full of amazing experiences that cost little to no money at all. I walked away from Edinburgh wanting to come back ASAP. ASAP hasn’t come soon enough!