There’s an old Welsh saying that goes “A nation without a language is a nation without a heart.” Perhaps that’s what the country has been holding dear to heart, as despite its complicated geopolitical status as part of the United Kingdom, the Welsh are proud of their beautiful country.
That aside, the important question is, can I travel to Wales now? Is it safe to do so?
It’s possible. However, it’s unfortunate that travelling to and from this wonderful country has been heavily impeded by the rampaging pandemic. In the wake of the pandemic, to protect the safety of its residents, the Welsh government has implemented travelling restrictions.
Stay tuned with us to keep abreast of the latest update regarding Welsh entry requirements.
Can I travel to Wales Right Now?
Yes. That’s the short version of it. Fortunately, Wales has made great recovery after being hit hard by the pandemic. Therefore, the Welsh Government is reopening its border to let international visitors in. However, that comes with rigorous restrictions that all foreigners and residents alike must adhere to.
Covid Situation in Wales
According to the latest Coronavirus Control Plan update issued by the Welsh Government, Wales is currently classed as being “COVID stable”, which means the country has reached a state where, with hygiene protocols and safety measures, it’s relative to reopen the economy.
However, that doesn’t equate to complete imperviousness to the Coronavirus. In fact, Omicron, the latest, most dangerous variant yet, has been recorded in Wales’ territory.
On December 3rd, the first case of the Omicron variant was confirmed. It was later announced that the case had been identified in the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board area. International travel is reported to be responsible.
As of December 17th, there has been a total 95 cases of this mutant strain confirmed, according to the Public Health Wales.
To combat the recent upsurge in the Omicron cases, Wales’ First Minister, Mark Drakefold said that “Over the last week the cabinet here has been reviewing the Coronavirus regulations.” As of now, Wales will remain in alert level 0, following the 21-day review cycle. That may change soon, nonetheless. “Because of the speed at which things may change, the Cabinet will move from a three-week cycle of decision making to a one-week cycle,” the First Minister added.
Wales’ alert level categorization
Wales’ issue 5 different alert levels, from alert level 0 (most safe) to alert level 4 (most dangerous). Each alert level has its own set of rules and restrictions. Read further to know what each level means and the Wales travel restrictions in place.
Alert level 0
Essentially, alert level 0 means there are the least restrictions in public. There are no limits to how many people can partake in different social gatherings or in private properties. Businesses and premises are in full right to open and operate.
That doesn’t mean, however, that all safety protocols have been done away with. There are certain compulsory measures to keep the community safe as well as this current alert level.
Businesses, employers, and organisations are required to continue exercising any required safety protocols to minimise the spread of coronavirus.
A 10-day self-isolation is required for anyone tested positive for COVID-19. Any close contact over the age of 18 and not fully vaccinated of such cases must also exercise the same protocol.
Anyone over the age of 11 must wear facemasks in indoor public places, excluding cafes, nightclubs, pubs, and restaurants. Wash your hands and keep distance whenever possible. Take regular lateral flow tests if you have no symptoms.
You are required to self-isolate and book a PCR test upon your body showing COVID-19 symptoms.
Anyone over the age of 18 must present the NHS COVID pass to enter theatre, cinemas, and concert halls.
The above safety protocols apply for any alert level. Additional restrictions will be imposed depending on the alert level.
Alert level 1
From alert level 1, there will be certain restrictions imposed. Everyone must:
- Follow social distancing rules with people you do not live with;
- Wear a facemask in all indoor public places;
- Only form an extended household with no more than 2 other households and they should remain unchanged;
- Meet no more than 5 other people indoors or in private gardens;
- Meet in groups of no more than 30 people outdoors;
- Work from home if possible;
- Not travel to areas of high circulation of the virus without reasonable excuse.
Alert level 2
The compulsory restrictions of alert level 2 are similar to those of level 1, except for one thing. People are banned from meeting more than 5 people outdoors or in private gardens (unless with their household of a large number).
Alert level 3
The compulsory restrictions of alert level 3 are similar to those of level 2, except for one thing. People must limit social interactions (a maximum of 6 households can meet outdoors including private gardens) .
Alert level 4
The compulsory restrictions of alert level 4 are similar to those of level 3, except for two things. People must:
- Stay local;
- Limit social interactions (a maximum of 4 people of 2 households can meet outdoors including in private gardens).
Where you can/cannot go?
Alert level 0 doesn’t impose any restrictions on what service can or cannot open. However, starting from alert level 1, there are certain services that must be closed. Check out the official Wales Government Website to learn the details of what services must be closed at its corresponding alert level.
- Alert level 1 must-be-close venues
- Alert level 2 must-be-close venues
- Alert level 3 must-be-close venues
- Alert level 4 must-be-close venues
The following public places are allowed to open at any alert level:
- Schools, colleges, and childcare providers;
- Higher Education Institutions;
- Places of religious significance;
- Community centres - limited opening only;
- Playgrounds and public parks;
- Weddings and funerals, in venues that are allowed to be open;
- Outdoor sports courts and courses;
- Hair salons and barbers
Do keep in mind that in order to enter all of these venues you’d need to have an NHS COVID at hand and to present it when inquired. Remember to adhere to safety protocols to keep yourself and the people around you safe.
NHS COVID pass
The NHS COVIS pass is essentially an app that includes all the information regarding your vaccination records and tests. You will have to download the corresponding app and then register your NHS number for it to work.
However, in order to obtain this NHS COVID PASS, you must:
- Be aged 16 or older;
- Receive two jabs of one of the vaccines below: Moderna, AstraZeneca, or Pfizer (If you take the Janssen vaccine, you’d only need one jab);
- As for those who have contracted and recovered from the virus, you must have an immunity test result for COVID-19, which must last for 180 days following home isolation.
It’s important to note that you must receive any of the above vaccines in England, Scotland, or Wales. However, should you receive your vaccination in Scotland, you must be both:
- an England, or Wales resident;
- registered with GP surgery in England, or Wales.
Generally, it wouldn’t take more than a day to get your NHS COVID Pass once you’ve registered. But keep in mind that, sometimes the system would need up to 5 days to update your status and records.
Wales Entry Requirement
Wales is part of the UK, so as long as you have a visa with which you are eligible to enter the UK, you can enter Wales.
Unlike many other countries and territories where people who haven’t been fully vaccinated cannot enter, Wales does allow people who have not fully been vaccinated into its border, albeit with quarantine and safety measures as part of the Wales entry requirements.
Let’s have a look at the country’s definition of “fully vaccinated”.
Fully Vaccinated status
You are considered “fully vaccinated” if you:
- are vaccinated under the UK vaccination programme;
- are vaccinated under an overseas vaccination programme with an approved proof of vaccination to the UK;
- have had a complete course of an approved vaccination i.e. 1 or 2 doses as prescribed by the vaccination programme;
- have had a complete course of an approved vaccine at least 14 days before you arrive in Wales.
The approved vaccines are:
- Pfizer BioNTech;
- AstraZeneca Covishield;
- AstraZeneca Vaxzevria;
- Moderna Takeda;
What I must do if I am not “fully vaccinated”
In which case, you must:
- complete a passenger locator form;
- have proof of a negative coronavirus test, taken no more than 48 hours before departure to Wales;
- take coronavirus tests during your 10-day isolation on day 2 and 8;
- Book post arrival tests before your departure, either on the international arrivals NHS test ordering service.
Wales is part of the UK, so any UK insurance works. However, check with your insurance provider to understand any possible exceptions when you travel to Wales.
If you’re travelling internationally and arriving in Wales, or the UK, you should be buying travel insurance as soon as you book your trip. If you don’t have insurance, you could be liable for any unexpected emergency expenses, which may be in the thousands of dollars.
What to look for upon choosing travel insurance when travelling to Wales
- Emergency treatment and hospital bills coverage.
- Emergency transport. Ambulance costs are often charged separately from usual medical expenses.
- Pre-existing medical conditions. Make sure to declare any existing conditions or pending treatment in the event of getting ill during your travel. If you don’t declare your conditions, your treatment expenses may not be covered.
- Returning ticket, in case you must extend your case due to unexpected, prolonged treatment or hospitalization.
Wales Transportation Tips
Train services in Wales are great, but it comes with a price. The greatest thing about traversing Wales in trains is that you don’t have to be mindful of controlling any vehicle while being fully free to admire the wondrous scenery of this country. It’s perhaps because of this, that the ticket price is getting higher and higher, while the speed is getting slower and slower.
Train transportation will satisfy many, but don’t be surprised if it comes up short.
The best choice when it comes to travelling to smaller, less frequented areas.
There are long-distance buses (coaches, as they call it) and typically in-town buses, which makes it convenient and versatile for any travelling purposes. There are also multi-day bus passes that offer a better value for those who intend to commute mainly by bus.
Buses are definitely one of the slowest transportations there is, but it’s decently convenient and affordable.
Cars and personal vehicles.
The most flexible choices. Wales’ coastlines and glorious sceneries are perfect matches for road trips.
Unfortunately, the smaller towns and villages, which are the main attractions of Wales for many, aren’t quite as developed as some of the bigger tourist hotspots of the country. Travellers might struggle to find a gas station on their track.
>> Check out: Can I travel to Ireland From UK?
10 Best Places to Visit in Wales
For such a small country, Wales has so much to offer, from gentle slopes leading to antique castles, to stretches of coastline overlooking turquoise seas, Wales is truly an underappreciated gem of a tourist country.
The heart and soul of Wales itself, the capital city of Cardiff! It’s hard to claim that you’ve been to Wales if you haven’t trodden this incredible city with rich culture and diverse sights.
Image from Unsplash
Cardiff didn’t become the country’s very recently (1955). However, understanding the burden of being the face of a country, it is grooming itself to become a major metropolitan tourist destination, boasting exciting nightlife culture and a nouveau food scene, while proudly posing its roots in fascinating museums and places of historical significance.
National museum Cardiff, the centrepiece of 7 other museums scattered across the country to form the Wales National Museum, is an absolute must-see. Displaying mainly natural history and art, the museum is perfect for anyone who seeks to explore the rich and complicated history of Wales, as well as appreciating its burgeoning art scene.
Wales Millennium Centre would be a much more temporary choice to enjoy the enchanting music shows. Or keep it simple with a stroll along the River Taff, and perhaps stop by the famous Secret Garden Café to enjoy a peaceful evening with a hot cup of coffee with an English brownie.
If the current capital of Wales isn’t attractive enough, the “ancient” capital, Machynlleth will hopefully do.
Image from The Times
Machynlleth was the seat of Owain Glyndŵr's Welsh Parliament in 1404, henceforth it boasts a self-proclaimed title of the "ancient capital of Wales", even though it was never officially recognised as such.
The town is a bit of a nod to the old Wales, bucolic, old but charming, venerable villages intertwined with rolling hills across a verdant and tranquil region. Most people, though, don’t come here just to see the place, they come here for Machynlleth Comedy Festival, which is held annually in May, a perfect time to relish the incredible sunny view of this town in a notoriously pluvious UK.
Bit of an odd name, isn’t it? The town is a bit odd itself, barely grew at all during the course of its development, but perhaps such quirkiness has become the selling point of the town. It’s old and quaint, reminiscing of what Wales’ towns once were.
Image from Amazing Planet
Once hailed as "The Woodstock of the mind" by the 42nd president of the United States Bill Clinton, the town’s most famous event is The Hay Festival of Literature & Arts, which is held every year for 10 days in late May. Usually referred to as the Hay Festival, the literary Mecca of England welcomes many big-time authors and countless bookaholics with reading sessions, workshops, and signings.
There’s still plenty of things to do in the off season though. Besides the book festivals as well as tons of bookstores, there’s abundant antique markets as well as hiking spots, and even beautiful beaches or riverbanks.
Being aptly named, this northwest region of Wales is characterised by high mountains with snow-covered peaks.
Image from Unsplash
It might not be surprising to find that this rocky region is a heaven on Earth for hikers. Many arrive here solely for the extensive hiking trails which are engulfed in magnificent scenery.
Explorers will adore the scenery in the famous Snowdonia National Park. There’s a number of ways to reach the place, but the best of them all might be boarding the Snowdonia Mountain Railway (one of the world’s steepest) to arrive in Eryri, the new tourist centre of Snowdonia. Once there, you get to explore more than 50 lakes, Roman ruins, authentic Wales farm, etc.
Semantically, the names of many parts of Wales imply something about the places themselves. Pembrokeshire is no exception. It was as if one day God “broke” hills, limestone mountains, cliffs, inlets, beaches, and seas into smaller chunks, interleaving them and more together to form this unique coast.
Image from The Times
Thanks to this incredible variety in landscapes, Pembrokeshire is able to attract lots of visitors in the summer. Here, people can enjoy typical sports such as walking, hiking, and surfing while admiring glorious sceneries. It’s also here where frisky lots get to experience some more outlandish sports such as cliff-scrambling and coasteering in this national park of a town.
Should one ever feel exhausted, the tiny town of St. Davids is a perfect nest to recuperate a little before taking on exciting new adventures.
The region is famed for one thing and one thing only: the Brecon Beacons National Park. But that’s far from enough, as this 1000-plus-kilometre will undoubtedly pleasantly surprise the most hard-to-pleases.
Image from Cardiff University
The park is loosely divided into four distinctive regions, all with its own arrays of sceneries that cater to a different audience. To the west of the region there stands the lonesome Mynydd Du (Black Mountain) with glacial lakes. There is the Fforest Fawr (Great Forest) with violent streams and splashing waterfalls from the Rivers Tawa and Neath upstream. There is the Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) with scalloped hills and the park’s highest peak, Pen-y-Fan. There is the Y Mynyddoedd Duon (Black Mountains, same translation to English but different from the one to the west).
It’s hard to imagine how there’s a tiny Italia in the middle of a country as rustic and as authentic as Wales, but there stands the Portmeirion Village.
Image from the official Portmeirion website
Actually, this Italianate village was designed by architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, an ardent Italophile. Hence, it’s a village that you can find in all of the UK, not just Wales alone. But perhaps that’s the brilliance of the late great architect, the ability to foresee undeniable tourism value no one else saw. Nowadays, Portmeirion is among the top 10 destinations in the UK, voted by the well-trusted Lonely Planet.
This is a perfect hideaway from the palpable Britishness in the UK, with a mishmash of Mediterranean buildings and colourful constructions. While the place is essentially more of a stage set (and it has been used as such), it’s still glorious and worth a visit.
The original Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) of the UK, the Gower Peninsula is renowned for its superb stretches of coastline overlooking refreshing beaches, and magnificent castles.
Image from Gower Holiday
The most splendid cave here is the Llethryd Tooth Cave. Aptly referred to as the Tooth Cave, this Bronze Age ossuary is the closest nature gets trying to replicate the mouth of an alligator. The cave is littered with sharp limestone peaks. Since it is susceptible to flooding, it’s closed, but visitors can still sightsee the outside perimeter.
Llangollen might be the sleeper of the list. It’s not the most famous destination when it comes to Wales travelling, this region packs a lot of music festivals as well as sports events.
Image from The Telegraph
Music fans will get a chance to revel in the International Musical Eisteddfod, which attracts up to 120,000 fellow concert goers every July. The Fringe Festival is another popular festival held in the same month. It’s an independent art festival that includes music, comedy, theatre, dance, and workshops.
There’s more to Llangollen than just the festive atmosphere. This town is a usual starting point of many trips. It’s here where hikers embark on their journeys to explore the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, a World Heritage site, or the ancient national trail Offa’s Dyke Path. The place is also relatively close to the AONB mentioned above, so it’s all the more convenient to your itinerary.
The small island beloved by former Prince William and Kate is alluring in its own right.
Image from BBC
The chocolate-box town is virtually unblemished, which has both its pros and cons. The pro is that such endowed immaculateness is incredibly rare nowadays, which helps attract many new visitors. The local Government sure knows their town’s forte and has promoted the island with green tourism to preserve it.
The con, though, is present in its lack of uniqueness. The island features typical Wales attractions, like beautiful scenery, quaint villages, and ancient remains, which aren’t exactly as exhilarating as some other places in Wales.
FAQs about Wales Travel Restrictions
For children - should they follow the same rules as me?
The Welsh Government employs different rules on children than those on adults travelling with them.
These requirements below are applied to children and young adults:
- Children aged 4 and under do not have to take any travel tests;
- Children aged 12 and over must have proof of a negative PCR or LFD Covid-19 test, taken no more than 48 hours before departure to Wales;
- Children aged 5 to 17 must have pre-booked a post-arrival PCR test to be taken on or before day 2 following their arrival into Wales;
- Children over the age of 4 must self-isolate until receiving a negative test result. Once they do, they are allowed to leave isolation;
- For each positive test received they must remain in isolation for another 10 days starting from the date of their test.
What should I check before I travel back to Wales?
Whether you’re travelling internationally or domestically, in times of global crisis like this, it’s imperative that you prepare as well as possible to ensure your safety. Regularly check with the official website to update the latest information. The official Welsh Government website and the official UK Government website are two websites that you should be checking daily.
Can I travel to Wales from England?
Yes, Wales is part of the UK so you can travel toWales from England relatively easily as long as you are vaccinated and adhere to all safety measures.
What am I required to do should I arrive from a red list country?
If you are travelling from a red list country to the UK (or if you were in a red list country in the 10-day period prior to arriving in the UK), you cannot travel to Wales directly, and can only enter from a designated port in England or Scotland. You must first:
- complete a passenger locator form;
- have proof of a negative coronavirus test, taken within the 48 hours before departure to the UK;
- enter managed quarantine for 10 days;
- take a PCR coronavirus test during the 10-day quarantine period (not required for children under 5) on (or before) day 2 and, and on (or after) day 8.
Although, as of the writing of this article, the UK is moving away from the red list, changes can be made at any moment uninformed. As such, check with the UK Government’s official website and Wales’ official website regularly to keep abreast of the latest information and updates.