Listed City Guide - W
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Wales

Cardiff Travel Guide

Although occupied since the Middle Ages, Cardiff really came into its own during the Industrial Revolution as an important dock town used for the distribution of iron and coal in Wales. Since becoming the Welsh capital in 1955, and subsequently the seat of the Welsh National Assembly, Cardiff has undergone a massive transformation from a forgotten industrial port to a vibrant, modern and cosmopolitan capital city.

Nowhere is the growth and development of the city more evident than in the Cardiff Bay area, a massive new commercial development and urban regeneration project. The trendy waterfront district known as Mermaid’s Quay is home to striking modern architecture and modern art, as well as chic shops and boutiques, top-class restaurants, and plenty of clubs and bars. The Quay also provides a great launch site for numerous cruises and boat tours, ranging from serene paddleboats to thrilling speed boat rides.

These modern amenities lie alongside some impressive historical sites, including the Cardiff Castle, which was built by the wealthy third Marquis of Bute. The castle is located in the centre of Cardiff on a site used by both the Romans and the Normans as a strategic point of defence. Visitors can still explore the Norman Keep, set on top of a small hill overlooking the city.

Other popular attractions in Cardiff include the National Museum and Gallery, St David’s Hall, Llandaff Cathedral, the outdoor St. Fagan’s National History Museum, and the Millennium Stadium. There are also many historical attractions and points of interest just outside the city – including several Neolithic sites – and the area is resplendent with natural beauty.

This fast-growing urban centre is still relatively undiscovered as a tourist destination, but more and more travellers are venturing to the exciting Welsh capital.

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Llandudno Travel Guide

The largest seaside resort town in Wales, Llandudno is a small city with a great deal of Victorian flavour. Nestled on a rocky coastline that was once the haunt of Viking ships, the city’s rows of peaked houses are framed by forests on one side, and Blue Flag-certified beaches on the other.

Popular from the Victorian era, some of the top attractions in Llandudno are manmade: the longest pier in Wales is located at the end of the north-shore promenade, and features food, entertainment, and relaxation options at its pavilion, as well as boat trips. Bodafon Farm Park is a working farm turned tourist attraction that also houses a bird of prey sanctuary.

Active visitors to Llandudno will enjoy Happy Valley, which boasts an artificial ski slope and toboggan run, miniature golf, hiking trails and a cable car to the summit of the Great Orme. The surrounding areas of County Conwy offer their own enticements, including golf, quad biking, hiking, and a number of interesting castle ruins.

Llandudno has a lively nightlife that fits its small size, with a variety of restaurants, cafes, and bars to entertain locals and tourists. A must-try is the ice cream at Fortes, which has been freshly made for over a century. The city has its fair share of cultural pursuits, with a ballet, opera, and regular orchestral concerts. Llandudno also has a small but active gay community, which frequents the clubs in Upper Mostyn Street along with much of the younger population.

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Swansea Travel Guide

Poet and native son Dylan Thomas described Swansea as ‘marble town, city of laughter, Little Dublin; the most romantic town I know’, and once you’ve visited Swansea for yourself, you’ll appreciate how the idyllic seaside city is able to inspire feelings such as these.

The second-largest city in Wales, Swansea has a long and prosperous history as a market town going back more than 800 years. As the trading community grew up, it became an important exporter of the coal mined in Cardiff, and in the 18th century developed its own industry in the form of massive copper works, becoming for a time the ‘copper capital of the world’.

These days, Swansea is known first and foremost as a seaside resort town, with pride of place belonging to the 12th-century fishing village of Mumbles, a quaint and fashionable seaside resort with a number of boutiques and restaurants.

Though many of the city’s historical buildings were damaged in World War II, there are still a number of medieval castles dotted among the slick high rise office blocks and Tudor-style houses in the city centre. There is much to see in Swansea, from ancient sites like Arthur’s Stone, which dates back to 2,500 BC, to medieval castles like Swansea Castle and Oystermouth Castle, to Victorian structures such as the Guildhall and Mumbles Pier. Swansea also has a number of interesting museums and galleries featuring exhibitions ranging from Egyptian artefacts to female jazz musicians.

For active visitors there is no shortage of things to do Swansea. Cruises on paddle boats, yachts, and motor boats are available from the harbour, as well as water sports like kayaking, waterskiing, and surfing, and activities like golf, hiking, mountain biking and bowling. Literary buffs will love the Dylan Thomas Centre; and children will enjoy learning about wildlife at the Discovery Centre, touring the Michton Chocolate Factory, and riding the Swansea Bay Rider children’s train.

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Tenby Travel Guide

Despite its relatively remote location, Tenby is one of the most popular seaside resorts in Wales, filling with tourists from all over the UK during the summer months. Located about 92 miles (148km) west of Cardiff, this small city exudes medieval charm and offers cultural attractions beyond the lure of its two and a half miles (4km) of beach.

Tenby has a number of nicknames: ‘Little England Beyond Wales’; ‘The Jewel in Pembrokeshire’s Crown’; and ‘Little Town of Fishes’, which comes from its Welsh name, Dinbych-Y-Pysgod. The town came to prominence in medieval times as a port city, and in the Georgian and Victorian eras as a health resort and centre of scientific study.

Tenby’s sandy beaches are surrounded with excellent facilities, including wide promenades, children’s play areas, and plenty of variety in food and drink. The city itself has more than 20 licensed pubs, and a number of good restaurants and shops.

Tenby has a number of historical sites with buildings dating back hundreds of years. The Merchant’s House showcases Tudor style with beautifully-painted walls and furniture. The city walls are another major attraction, showcasing impressive architecture and engineering from the 15th century. The main historical sight of Tenby is the ruined castle, which was built by the Normans in the 13th century, and the museum and art gallery that have recently been installed there. Another fascinating site lies in the bay, roughly two miles (3km) from Tenby: Caldy Island is home to an ancient Benedictine monastic cell, and the current Cistercian abbey holds relics dating back to the 6th century.

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Washington

Seattle Travel Guide

The weather may not always be the best, but a holiday in Seattle is just as good indoors as out, with a host of activity options on the menu all year round, from ballet to boating. This watery city points its landmark Space Needle at the stars but is firmly anchored in its lakeland setting which provides plenty of waterfront attractions to complement its trendy high-rise profile.

When in Seattle visitors should be sure to explore the foodie scene: the city is home to some fine restaurants offering wonderful sea views and cuisine both traditional and eclectic. For those who want to extend their evenings into the early mornings, there is some brilliant nightlife too.

Outdoorsy sophisticates with a taste for the good things in life will enjoy soaking up the atmosphere of this gleaming city on a holiday in Seattle.

Best time to visit Seattle

When you travel to Seattle you are just as likely to get your head wet as your feet, for not only is the city surrounded by water but plenty falls from the sky too! The driest months, and thus the best time to holiday in Seattle, are between June and August, when temperatures are also the most congenial. A trip to Seattle though, whatever the weather, is generally a much enjoyed one. Read more on Seattle’s Climate and Weather.

What to see in Seattle

-Admire the ‘Hammering Man’ that stands outside the Seattle Art Museum.

-Visit the historic district of Pioneer Square and explore more than 30 galleries.

-See the Seattle Space Needle, an internationally recognised symbol.

-Feast your eyes on the many exhibits at the Experience Music Project.

What to do in Seattle

-Catch a sightseeing ferry trip (or three!), a must when in Seattle.

-Sample local and organic treats at the Pike Place Farmer’s Market.

-Take a trip to the Seattle Aquarium where adults and children alike can enjoy the extensive marine displays.

-See more than 130 aircraft at the Museum of Flight and learn all there is to know about aviation.

Beyond Seattle

Catch a ferry to one of the wonderful islands in scenic Puget Sound, the most popular being Bainbridge which has its own winery and is only 10 miles (16km) west of Seattle. Another great way to spend a day is to venture to the northwest coast to enjoy the San Juan Islands and the Canadian Gulf islands, which form one of the best boater paradises in the world.

Getting there

Tacoma International Airport, more commonly known as Sea-Tac Airport, is just 12 miles (19km) south of Seattle and is one of the busiest in the US. This is where travellers land when visiting Seattle. Get more information on this airport here.

Did you know?

-Seattle is the most literate city in the US; home to the most bookstores and libraries per capita.

-Seattle has the second most glassblowing studios in the world; the place with the most being Murano, an island near Venice, Italy.

-Despite its reputation for being a rainy and wet city, Seattle actually receives less annual rainfall than both New York and Chicago.

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Washington DC

Washington DC Travel Guide

The political and patriotic heart of the US, Washington DC is packed full of monuments and museums, with enough grandeur and history to impress any traveller:

As befits the political powerhouse of the nation, and perhaps even of the world, Washington DC draws thousands of tourists every day who come to see the iconic sights, visit the superb, usually free museums and generally have a jolly good time. Serious stuff may be going on behind some of the beautiful façades, but in the green parks, top-notch restaurants, and buzzing bars Washington DC enjoys plenty of fun during its working days.

Anyone who has a yen to see where world-changing decisions are made should travel to Washington DC, where a wealth of historic sightseeing attractions awaits. The city is also an alluring destination for shopping and is known for its energetic nightlife.

Best time to visit Washington DC

The best time to travel to Washington DC is during the delightful seasons of spring and autumn (April, May, September and October), although the hot, humid summers (June to August) remain high season for tourists. Winter (between December and February) can get uncomfortably cold with temperatures usually hovering just above the freezing mark. Read more on Washington DC’s Climate and Weather.

What to see in Washington DC

-Stand in Ford’s Theatre, envisioning the assassination of the beloved President Abraham Lincoln.

-Watch a performance at Kennedy Center, the busiest performing arts centre in the US.

-Admire the impressive collection in the National Gallery of Art.

-Trawl the many fascinating museums of the Smithsonian Institution.

What to do in Washington DC

-Play at espionage at the International Spy Museum.

-Visit the Giant Pandas and many other exotic animals in the National Zoo.

-Take a tour of the White House and imagine life as a US president.

-Climb to the top of Washington Monument and enjoy the view.

Beyond Washington DC

Washington DC is bordered by Virginia and Maryland, with many exciting attractions nearby. Popular excursions from the city include Mount Vernon, the former plantation home of George Washington; the Arlington National Cemetery, just outside the city; and Old Town Alexandria, in Virginia.

Getting there

International flights land at Washington DC’s two major airports, Baltimore-Washington International and Washington-Dulles International. Get more information on Airports in Washington DC.

Did you know?

-There is approximately one lawyer for every 19 residents in the city.

-A rock from the moon is on display at the National Air and Space Museum.

-More wine is consumed per person in Washington DC than any other state in the US.

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Wisconsin

Milwaukee Travel Guide

Milwaukee is Wisconsin’s largest city. It began as a Native American settlement, and was then an outpost for French fur traders and missionaries. But its real boom took place in the 1800s, when waves of German immigrants settled in the city, bringing with them the art of beer brewing. Milwaukee went on to become known as the beer capital of the world as well as a major commercial and manufacturing area. Although a few major breweries have relocated, Milwaukee’s brewpub culture remains strong, as does its German heritage. It is perhaps its immigrant background that makes Milwaukee feel like a small town of friendly neighbourhoods. Residents take an active part in their community, and welcome visitors to experience their city.

Milwaukee is situated on Lake Michigan, one of the Great Lakes, so vast it appears no different from the ocean when walking along the shore, although without the waves. While surfing is not an option, almost all other water activities are, including sailing, powerboating, jet-skiing, dinner and cocktail cruises as well as some of the best shipwreck diving in the area. If lounging in the sun sounds more appealing, visitors can head to Bradford Beach, a long strip along the lake packed with swimmers and sunbathers in the summer.

For adventures of the shopping and dining kind, the other waterfront is the place to be. The RiverWalk system of promenades and bridges meanders along the Milwaukee River, linking the central downtown area, including the financial and Westown districts, and the Historic Third Ward. Westown is a hot spot for entertainment, with a variety of upscale restaurants, clubs and hotels as well as an upmarket shopping mall, convention centre, professional sports arena and various performing arts venues. The Historic Third Ward, a rehabilitated warehouse district with trendy lofts and stylish boutiques, is perfect for an afternoon stroll, as is the nearby Brady Street neighbourhood, which offers a more eclectic experience. Its tattoo parlours and alternative clothing shops, vestiges of the 1960s, when the area was a counter-culture haven, are now mixed with galleries, diverse nightlife spots, cafés and fine restaurants. After touring the city, visitors in need of a respite ought to try one of the three favourite local indulgences – beer, brats and frozen custard – without which a trip to Milwaukee would be incomplete.

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