Wales can often be overlooked as a destination, both by visitors from abroad and by UK residents looking for a staycation. Those in the know, however, are aware of just how much this small country has to offer. From the mountains and valleys of the stunning landscape to the breathtaking coastline, the natural beauty of Wales remains unspoiled by mass tourism.

But there is a lot more to Wales than scenery. Within its borders are hundreds of fascinating historical sites and landmarks, representing every period in the tumultuous history of the British Isles. Here are our top five picks for the oldest and most interesting landmarks that you don’t want to miss when you visit Wales.

Barclodiad y Gawres

Wales has a number of interesting prehistoric sites, relics from the very first inhabitants of these isles, but none are perhaps as spectacular as Barclodiad y Gawres. Stunningly located on the coast of Anglesey, it is the largest of the many Neolithic burial chambers that inhabit the countryside. Stones bearing geometric carvings make this site extremely rare.

Wherever you go in Wales, you will never be far from a prehistoric or ancient landmark. Hill forts, stone circles, burial chambers and the remains of Roman settlements can be found in virtually every corner of the country.

Cardiff Castle

There are close to a hundred castles in Wales, many barely more than ruins. Others, including Cardiff Castle, are well preserved and lovingly restored. This edifice is one of the capital city’s most beloved buildings, with history spanning back to Roman times. A Norman keep was added in the 11th century CE, reportedly at the behest of William the Conqueror. It was subsequently added to over the centuries, with the majority of the contemporary castle being a 19th century Gothic revival mansion commissioned by the 3rd Marquess of Bute.

The castle gives great views over the city. While in Cardiff you may also want to pay a visit to a more modern landmark like the Grosvenor casino. Wales was actually once home to the oldest legal casino in the UK, The Casino Club in Port Talbot, but that has sadly been closed for more than a decade. The Grosvenor may be much more modern, but it’s still one of the best real money casinos in the region. Like many modern casino operators, the Grosvenor also has an online casino where you can play real money slots and other games as well. You can read this authoritative article about safe real money online casinos.

Hafod Y Garreg

Visitors to the spectacular Brecon Beacons national park may jump at the opportunity to stay in a nearby bed and breakfast – which also happens to be the oldest house in Wales. Built in 1402, possibly as a hunting lodge for King Henry IV, the cottage retains some of the original timber roof frame from the time of its mediaeval construction. The age of these timbers has been confirmed by tree-ring dating, a precise technique that shows exactly when the tree was felled.

The owners of the B&B have preserved many of the old features of the house, while providing cosy and modern accommodation in the rooms. You can enjoy breakfast at a 16th century table, and take in the views over the Wye Valley.

Tintern Abbey

Sitting on the banks of the Wye and just a few miles from the Severn estuary, the hauntingly beautiful remains of this 12th century abbey have served as an inspiration for artists and poets, and receive around 70,000 visitors every year. Once a wealthy and thriving monastery, Tintern Abbey fell victim to the reformation of King Henry VIII, and was dissolved in 1536. Over the following centuries, the structure gradually fell into a state of disrepair, but remains to this day one of the better preserved examples of abbeys that suffered the same fate.

Despite its ruined state, the majestic soaring arches still inspire a sense of the beauty and grandeur of the original building. Set in picturesque surroundings, this beautiful and evocative site has been the subject of many paintings, including several by the English Romantic painter J.M.W. Turner. Visitors are especially encouraged to see the abbey at sunset, when the ruins are at their most breathtaking.

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

Our final recommendation is the impressive Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, a monumental example of Industrial Revolution era architecture. Construction was completed in 1805, and the 19 arch bridge is both the highest and the longest structure of its kind in the UK. The canal, which was once used to transport materials and goods, is still operational as a leisure attraction. Visitors can hire a narrow boat to traverse the aqueduct and view the River Dee and the surrounding countryside from 39 metres above the ground.

Eleven miles of the Llangollen Canal, including the aqueduct, have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and there are many other places of interest surrounding this length of canal. Visitors can enjoy walking or cycling, take a ride on a steam train, or visit one of the other attractions such as the man-made Horseshoe Falls.