by Lydia Schrandt for USA TODAY 10Best

Wander in Wales on this virtual tour

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Wales, a country in southwest Great Britain, packs immense beauty in a relatively small package. Explore it on this virtual tour.

Cardiff ranks among Europe’s youngest capital cities. While Cardiff only became the capital in 1955, Cardiff Castle dates back much farther with a history spanning some 2,000 years.

Wales is home to literally hundreds of castles and ruined castle sites — more than just about anywhere else in the world. Conway Castle, built between 1283 and 1287, is one of the prettiest.

In 2012, the last of Wales’ coastal paths were linked, creating the continuous 870-mile Wales Coast Path. Wales became the first country in the world to have a trail along its entire coast.

Many scenes of the popular TV show "Doctor Who" have been filmed on the beaches and rocks of Southerndown in the Vale of Glamorgan. The beach, a favorite among locals, is officially called Dunraven Bay.

Cader Idris (the Seat of Idris in Welsh) peaks at 2,930 feet. Some say the imposing mountain in Snowdonia is named after a giant, others a 7th century Welsh prince.

Portmeirion ranks among the most colorful and quirky villages in Wales. Welsh architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis designed the village in the 1920s – it’s said to be inspired by Portofino in Italy.

The Cistercian abbey of Tintern was founded in 1131 and was abandoned in 1536 when Henry VIII expelled the monks. The riverside monastic ruins attract travelers, photographers and artists alike.

The scenic Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal meanders through the Welsh countryside for 35 miles, passing through six locks along its course.

Marcher lord Gilbert de Clare began constructing the biggest castle in Wales in 1268, inspired by his fear of Welsh prince Llywelyn ap Gruffudd. It’s second only to Windsor in terms of size.

The Welsh coast is dotted with beaches, ranging from bustling stretches of sand to remote, windswept shores. You’ll often find Traeth Llyfn, backed by towering cliffs, nearly deserted.

Strumble Head Lighthouse emits its beam of light to ferries passing by en route to Ireland. While the lighthouse is automated these days, it remains a favorite spot with photographers and wildlife watchers.

The town of Penarth is home to an iconic 1929 art deco pavilion built atop a pier. The rocky shoreline is the closest beach to Cardiff, and the pier attracts weekend visitors.

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