What makes Wales so great for family adventure holidays? The natural world here gives us a huge head start! Mighty peaks, glassy lakes, sparkling seas and gentle rivers, are all just waiting to be explored..
But there's far more to it. For starters, it's all really condensed - we pack a great deal into a small space. Spend a week on an active family break in Wales and you could fit in world class mountain biking, hiking, paddling, beach activities and even ziplining and caving!
Whatever the level of your gang, you can take it at your own pace too - whether you have adrenaline addict teens clamouring for action, or primary schoolers just getting the hang of swimming and riding bikes.
Of course, the cost of a family adventure break can add up when you include accommodation and food. Wales offers great value for money. With lots of campsites, self catering cottages and B&Bs offering quality accommodation at reasonable prices and plenty of decent eateries and pubs too, you get more family holiday for your money!
Family cycling holidays
We have some of the world's best terrain for serious riders, but there are also lots of flat, easy pedals around lakes and through leafy forests, ideal for younger kids. If your offspring are happy in the saddle, there will be something just for them.
For family mountain biking, places like Coed Y Brenin, Afan Forest Park and Coed Llandegla offer miles of trails from greens for beginners to blacks for serious bike-addicts. They're ideal if you have kids with different levels of ability. For a real challenge, try the gnarly descents at the old slate mine at Antur Stiniog - they're sure to get your pulse racing. All of these have cafés and bike and gear hire too.
And you don't have to go to a purpose built centre to enjoy family cycling in Wales. We have over 250 miles of cycle paths. There are few better ways to get out and explore culture and countryside, than pedalling beside tranquil rivers and past mighty castles at places like the Elan Valley and the river Taff trail. Pack a picnic, pull on your cycle helmet and get ready to pedal!
Family watersports holidays
We love the water here in Wales! You can take your pick when it comes to family watersports adventures. Wide, sandy beaches, crystalline mountain lakes and meandering rivers are all just waiting to be explored.
Lots of our beaches shelve gently and are blessed with long, consistent breaks. Yes, Wales is an ideal place to learn to surf. You have heaps of time to get ready to catch your first wave. And when you do, it will be relatively gentle and last for ages. Once you gain confidence there are plenty of intermediate and more challenging breaks to master.
Younger kids can start off with a bodyboard - getting the hang of catching waves without having to try and stand is a great way to gain confidence. Many of our best surf beaches have surf schools with expert tuition and all the gear provided. Pembrokeshire, the Gower Peninsula and the Llyn Peninsula are particularly good. You don't even need to be at the beach - Adventure Parc Snowdonia has a purpose-built surf lagoon with perfect waves every 90 seconds!
Read more: Top surfing spots for beginners
Coasteering involves exploring the coastline by scrambling, swimming and jumping in along it. It's essential to go with a qualified guide to keep you safe and make sure you don't damage the shoreline or disturb the wildlife. You're kitted out with wetsuit, gloves, boots, helmet and buoyancy aid. Older kids will absolutely love it. It's a brilliant way to have fun in the water and learn a little as you do.
Whilst you don't need to be a strong swimmer, you do need to be confident in the water. Minimum age requirements vary - some operators let kids aged eight take part - others, not until they reach the age of 10. And because you're so bouyant in the water there are few limits to who can have a go. Operators like Celtic Quest Coasteering offer accessible coasteering trips catering for a wide range of disabled people from deaf, blind, hearing and visually impaired children and adults, to people with additional learning needs.
Read more: Thrilling coasteering adventures
Canoeing and kayaking
Sea, rivers, lakes - you can take your pick when it comes to family kayaking and canoeing breaks in Wales. The lakes tend to be the most placid paddling, so they're ideal for a gentle splosh with younger ones to explore the water and wildlife. Several of our rivers - like the Wey and the Teifi - are also ideal for family canoe trips. Time your start correctly and you can just drift with the current all the way down - you hardly need to paddle. So there's lots of time to spot birdlife and just watch the world drift by.
Experienced paddlers can opt to do multi-day adventures, camping out overnight under the stars, or taking to the waves in a canoe or kayak around the coastline.
Read more: Canoeing and kayaking in Wales
Rafting and RIB riding
For something a little faster paced, try whitewater rafting. There's a range of levels too - including Cardiff International Whitewater Centre's purpose-built descents where they reduce the water levels so kids as young as six can take part and the natural rapids and whirlpools of the River Tryweryn at the National Whitewater Centre in North Wales. Here you need to be at least 10 years old to participate.
If paddling feels like too much hard work, opt for the high speed thrills of a RIB ride on the Menai Strait in North Wales. As well as powering along with the wind screaming through your hair, you'll take in the famous rapids known as the Swellies and get up close to the famous bridges that connect Anglesey with mainland Wales.
Family walking holidays
There are literally thousands of miles of footpaths here in Wales. The focus for family walking holidays tends to be our three national parks with the epic peaks of Snowdonia, the rolling escarpments of the Brecon Beacons and the sparkling shoreline of the Pembroke coast the main attractions. But there are wonderful walks right across Wales - from strolls through nature reserves to full-on hikes from dawn to dusk.
Avoiding the more popular trails means you'll often stroll for hours and see hardly anyone else. And the rhythm of walking is immensely therapeutic - it fosters conversation, so it's the perfect antidote to iPads and tablets. You may well find this is the time your grumpy teen suddenly starts talking to you again!
Ziplining, gorge walking and caving
North Wales is a real hotspot for adrenaline activities. For a truly memorable, heart-stopper on your family adventure holiday, you can zoom through the air at 100 miles per hour on the world's fastest zipwire, explore vast networks of underground tunnels on huge trampolines and rope ladders or abseil down a waterfall on a gorge walking expedition.
Many of these operators offer exciting activities for younger thrill seekers too - clambering around on ropes in the trees is a particular favourite. You can also discover the rich history of the mining industry in Wales with guided expeditions through ancient tunnels deep underground,
Exploring the outdoors is fantastic fun and provides great opportunities for adventurous activities, but please read up on the risks and make sure you are prepared.
- Follow these tips from the RNLI for staying safe on the Welsh coast,
- Visit AdventureSmart.uk for further information on how to stay safe whilst exploring Wales.