Of the nations that make up the isle of Great Britain, small but significant Wales often gets lost in the shuffle when compared to its English neighbors. This is a shame as Wales has a lot to offer for a traveler who is willing to take an adventure to a place a bit off the beaten path. You’ll find warm and welcoming people who have unique and fascinating stories to tell. Just ask and ye shall receive! Despite centuries under the yoke of the English, the Welsh are a proud people and have retained much of their culture and way of life.

While the South of Wales has its own charms and worthwhile places to visit, a better use of your time may be centering your holiday in and around North Wales. Home to some of the most magnificent castles in Europe along with proud and feisty locals, this part of Britain feels like a place apart, markedly different than the rest of the island. Like Scotland (but perhaps more strikingly so), North Wales has its own hum, vibe, and distinctive culture.

This is partly due to the fact that a large percentage of its inhabitants speak Welsh as their first language and English second. A great place to begin your Welsh adventure would be the town of Conwy, with its majestic castle and excellent transit hub. Conveniently located relatively near both the English cities of Chester and Liverpool as well as the great ancient Welsh strongholds in Snowdonia, Conwy is an ideal base of operations in North Wales.

Maybe the biggest benefit to visiting Wales is that even though it roughly shares a similar climate, landscape, and Celtic culture with its Irish neighbors across the Celtic Sea, it is far less overcrowded. Never ever taking anything away from Ireland, but it can be a bit overdone (and overrun!) on the tourism side of things, and this is something you generally won’t find in Wales. If you are attracted to absolutely stunning natural vistas and have a fondness for incredible stories and history, basing yourself in North Wales might allow you to experience the trip of a lifetime.