When summer temps get to the point of stifling, there's no better escape than the lush landscapes of Wales. The Irish Sea on one side and the Atlantic on the other, Wales enjoys sea breezes even in August, while cool mountainous terrain awaits you further inland. Pack for outdoor adventures, castle-hopping, and charming villages.
Play at British royalty by checking out the Victorian Gothic style Cardiff Castle or plan a trip to see the dramatically set Chepstow Castle, perched atop a limestone cliff. Dress for variable rains with a hooded water repellent jacket ($200), cozy sweatshirt dress ($49.99), and stylish rain boots by classic Brit brand Burberry ($275). Be sure to pack up some stylish separates, too, like stretchy jeans in indigo ($150 by Reiss), a quirky cat print top by Lulu Guinness for Uniqlo ($19.90), and an everyday active top in red ($52). Bring along a cross-body bag, or store your travel buys in this tongue-in-cheek Welsh Corgi tote ($14.99).
If a resort feel is what you're after, head to Llandudno for some serious seaside Victorian charm. Be sure to bring a jacket—temperatures at night can dip into the 50s, even in the summer – like this funnel neck style in handsome olive drab and navy trim ($206.25). Underneath, go with easy shapes like this tuck-front navy top ($90) or perhaps this ivory gold-studded blouse with split sleeves by Welsh designer Julien Macdonald ($34.37). Work in some structure with accessories like these black and white wedges ($182), wide black slash belt by McQ ($160.88), and gold arrow ring by Jade Jagger ($136). Or for a softer touch, add a few blush pieces like this leather cosmetic clutch by Mulberry ($360) or a petal-print cocktail dress ($231.36).
The Great Outdoors
Hiking enthusiasts will find plenty to write home about. There's a long and scenic, though rugged, trail hugging the Pembrokeshire coast with stunning views of Cardigan Bay throughout. (Fun fact: there are sometimes sheepdog trials in nearby fields from the trail.) True mountaineers can also summit Snowdon for a 360-degree panorama. Trek comfortably in these Gore-Tex lined work boots by Danner ($219.99) or in your favorite pair of old running shoes. This navy fleece "shooting" vest ($64.95) is great for variable weather conditions and will go easily over athletic wear. If you're dipping into any of the coastal cities, pack a few dressier daytime picks like this blue and white zig-zag tee ($84) or cream button-down with contrast placket ($152.73). Wear them over a green cotton jean, like this pair by Rag & Bone ($190), and belt them with a walnut-colored leather belt with old school brogue detailing ($115).
Pubs by Night
Head to the lovely walled town of Tenby and stop by one of the plentiful pubs for an evening tipple. Keep warm in a gray moto-style zip sweater ($140), red and cream tartan button-down ($60), and dark denim ($19.95). If dinner plans are on the fancier side, pack a slim-fit tweed blazer (this style comes with hunting details, like a shooting patch, $64.49) and gray-brown brogues with wingtip accents ($109.99). (If the weather is drizzly, it would be wise to add these John Lobb overshoes to your suitcase, $190.) Dress down your blazer by layering it over a band tee ($30.50, for the Welsh group The Alarm), or class it up in this Liberty print button-down in a springy red floral ($191).
Where to Stay
Cardiff, the Welsh capital, will have the widest variety of options, from the glossy Premier Inn to the family-run Lincoln House in a Victorian townhouse. If you've booked a longer stay in the city, check out the serviced apartments at SACO, with both parking and internet access.
Over in Tenby, top-notch resorts like Southcliff Hotel are family-friendly and are just a short stroll to South Beach. (All else failing, the kids will enjoy the nearby Folly Farm zoo, while grown-up folks can try wind-surfing.) Drive into town and you'll find the Penally Abbey hotel, which is worth a visit. Set in an ancient monastery with a view of coastline, it is adjacent to a marvelous 19th century Norman church.
For a completely different experience, think inland, and spring for an immersive farmhouse stay.
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Photo credits: Women Day: Courtesy of Gap Inc.; UNIQLO CO., LTD.; 2013 REISS; 2013 Marmot Mountain LLC.; 2013 Nordstrom, Inc.; sweatybetty.com; CafePress Inc.; or its affiliates. Woman Night: Courtesy of 2013 WHISTLES; Meemi Ltd.; mulberry.com; MATCHESFASHION.COM; Debenhams Retail plc; NASTY GAL INC.; Zagal Limited.; 2013 REISS. Men Day: Courtesy of MATCHESFASHION.COM; Cabela's Inc.; 2013 asos.com Ltd; RAG & BONE; Sierra Trading Post, Inc.; Nordstrom, Inc.; or its affiliates. Men Night: Courtesy of asos.com Ltd; us.topman.com; The twenty first century recording company 2013; hm.com; BananaRepublic.com; ZAPPOS.COM; Liberty 2011; BArneys New York.