Snowdonia National Park, North Wales (Photo: Joe Hunt via Flickr)

Mystical castles nestled in rolling verdant valleys are a big part of the enchantment of Wales. Conwy Castle even has a train going through part of it. Although a seemingly small part of the UK, Wales is much larger in both environment and character. Friendly locals leave a lasting impression. Wildlife havens abound in the three national parks – Brecon Beacons, Pembrokeshire Coast and Snowdonia – and beyond. Spot dolphins along picturesque Cardigan Bay, red kites hovering over the expansive landscape or climb the vertiginous Mount Snowdon. Failing that, take the little train to the top. Southern Welsh cities like Swansea and Cardiff are energetic, with arts, culture and sport being regionally significant.