City centre shopping
Shopping in the cities of Wales doesn’t necessarily mean traipsing around large department stores and high street giants. Of course, they’re all there, but so too are a host of independent, quirky and unique shops too. Swansea also has a lot to offer keen shoppers. Swansea indoor market is the biggest indoor market in Wales, home to over 100 stalls. Where better to sample a range of internationally renowned Welsh delicacies, including laverbread, Welsh cakes and cockles from the tidal Penclawdd Sands? The fresh fish here is especially good, as are the Gower vegetables and locally-reared lamb and beef.
Over in Cardiff, head to the six historic Edwardian and Victorian arcades. Head to the Castle Quarter and the Morgan Quarter to shop for everything from traditional Welsh textiles and love spoons at the various Welsh goods shops to board games at Rules of Play or music at Spillers Records (est.1894), the oldest record shop in the world.
Chic and fashion
The ancient market town of Llandeilo, in the heart of Carmarthenshire’s Tywi valley, is a chic shopping destination. Its winding streets are home to innovative, exciting and independently owned boutiques and galleries – not a high street chain store in sight. Stop off at Aberglasney historic garden on the way, which is just outside Llandeilo. There are lovely gardens to wander through and a shop full of homeware, ceramics, plants, gardening tools and nice knick-knacks.
One of South Wales’ most fashionable places, Cowbridge is often referred to as a department store on one street as it's stuffed with family-owned shops selling designer clothing, jewellery, leather goods, crafts and antiques. With more independent boutiques per square mile than any other town in South Wales, a visit is essential. Be sure to refuel at one of the quaint eateries, such as the Elephant and Bun Deli or Bar 44.
For truly authentic Welsh traditional jewellery, head to the historic market town of Tregaron in rural Ceredigion. There, in the Celtic Design Centre, the Rhiannon Welsh Gold Centre produces beautiful traditional jewellery in pure and mixed Welsh gold. Commissioned by royalty, governments, archbishops and even for Welsh national stamps, you can see the jewellery being handcrafted in the workshop on site.
Craft and local produce
The little town of Narberth in Pembrokeshire is the perfect place to indulge your love of arts and crafts. It has a range of independent and diverse shops full of art, pottery and antiques, and is fast becoming the arts and crafts capital of Pembrokeshire.
Behind the imposing 13th century castle and magnificent town walls of Conwy lies a range of independent shops offering unusual and distinctive products. A visit to Trefriw Woollen Mills in the Conwy Valley offers a chance to buy genuinely local products including Welsh cloth, flannel and tapestries. Don't leave without a trip to the Potters’ Gallery in Conwy, which showcases the work of 20 regional craftsfolk.
Farm shops offer fresh local produce
Set in the heart of the Brecon Beacons, The Welsh Venison Centre is an award-winning family run farm shop. Supplying local Welsh venison, pork and lamb to some of the famous local restaurants and many further afield, this is the place to visit to pick up some of the best farm produce Wales has to offer.
Wales is full of award-winning farm shops and the Rhug Estate Organic Farm shop in Corwen is well worth a mention. It sells over 2000 products from organic meat to artisan Welsh cheese and hampers. As well as a permanent presence at London’s Borough Market, it has a beautiful oak and cedar farm shop in North Wales.
Literary the best for books
Any town twinned with Timbuktu and known as the ‘town of books’ is worth a visit for curiosity alone. Hay-on-Wye was a quiet run-down market town in 1962 when Richard Booth opened his first bookshop. It is now a Mecca for book lovers worldwide, hosts the famous Hay Festival every May and is home to thirty major bookshops selling second hand, rare and specialist publications.