Wales, United Kingdom
An epic summer awaits in an overlooked dark horse of the UK
Keep England's rolling countryside and Scotland's highlands; I’ll take Wales. You get history, culture, epic coastal adventures, and a leisurely pace described in the enchanting local language with the proverb araf deg mae mynd ymhell -- “go slowly and go far.” Little wonder people come to this New Jersey-sized country simply to walk, far and slow.
So unspool time here at your leisure. Explore ancient castles, some of which offer free tours, and charming towns where you might feast on traditional live-off-the-land Welsh dishes (tuck into a hearty bowl of cawl if you like lamb and potatoes). To really ring in the summer, attend one of the country’s larger-than-life music festivals -- the magical HowTheLightGetsIn, perhaps, where music meets philosophy meets Medieval feasts meets masquerade balls.
Then make like King Arthur -- lore has it that he was, in fact, Welsh -- and take to the coast to carve out your own legend. Head to Pembrokeshire for coasteering (that’s when you jump off a cliff into freezing water before scrambling back onto the rocky coast), to Rhoscolyn to climb the craggy sea cliffs, and to the small parish of Llanwrtyd Wells to try bog snorkeling, an activity almost as fun to do as it is to say. But to truly conquer this land, keep on walking until you’ve covered the 850-mile Wales Coast Path. Even in modest Wales, you can indeed go far. -- Michelle Rae Uy