There’s nothing quite like spending a day or two of your Welsh holiday doing some shopping, but there can be little more depressing than stepping onto yet another generic high street with the same big chains you’d see at home.
Whether you’re looking for gifts, souvenirs, or just a fun day out, a good holiday demands unique shopping experiences, which may mean keeping an eye out for quirky independent shops or retail outlets that you never even knew existed. Here are some great places to head on a shopping holiday in Wales for a day out you won’t forget.
Corris Craft Centre
If you’re into handmade items, the Corris Craft Centre, in the village of Corris in mid-Wales, boasts not one but nine independent creator-run craft studios, selling a vast range of products including eco-friendly furniture, unique Celtic jewellery, artisanal gin, glass sculptures, herbal remedies, and personalised wooden toys and gifts.
There’s more to do here than just shopping, too. If you’d like to get a little more hands-on with the merchandise, there’s plenty of fun workshops suitable for all ages. Paint a plate, mug or ceramic dragon at Quarry Pottery, make your own hand-dipped candles at the Candle Studio, or create and decorate your own chocolate bar at Chocablock.
That's not to mention the fact you can also enjoy the underground storytelling adventure of King Arthur’s Labyrinth, go on guided tours of an old slate mine, and relax in a café with delicious Welsh meals and snacks - it’s definitely worth making a day out of it.
Rhiannon Welsh Gold Centre
In the mid-Welsh town of Tregaron, you’ll find the Rhiannon Centre, the home of Rhiannon Jewellery. A family business running since 1971, it offers handmade jewellery designed and created by Rhiannon Evans and her assistants.
This is the perfect place to head if you’re interested in fantastic, top-quality gold and silver jewellery inspired by traditional Celtic designs, including necklaces, earrings, cufflinks, bracelets and pendants. Why not pay a visit and watch the goldsmiths busy in their workshops creating these striking items?
And when you're done with the jewellery, there are a number of other things worth a look. The Rhiannon Centre has its own art gallery, with a range of works by Welsh artists on display, as well as a museum with exhibits of Celtic art throughout the ages and how it evolved to its present-day state. Once you've had your fill of exploring these, there’s also a comfortable café offering coffee, tea and delicious homemade cakes.
If you’re a lover of good books, you can’t pass up a visit to Hay-on-Wye. Well known as a haven for bibliophiles, the historic market town plays host each year to the Hay Festival of Literature & Arts, but even when this event isn’t running, those who love the written word still flock here. That’s because the town is famous for its huge amount of second-hand bookshops.
If you can spend hours looking through the stock of a good bookseller, you could easily lose a day or two in Hay-on-Wye. You don’t need to worry about finding street after street of identical bookshops, either – there are specialist sellers dedicated to such things as poetry, children’s books, natural history, and even crime and horror fiction. Many of the shops are worth seeing even if you don’t plan on assembling your own library, with quirky and individualistic décor that’s a real treat for the eyes.
And if you’ve been dragged along to the town by someone far more enthusiastic about books than you are, worry not – there are plenty of non-book-related independent retailers to visit, and the town even hosts a large local market every Thursday.
Inigo Jones Slate Works
Originally founded in 1861 for the purpose of producing writing slates for schoolchildren, the Inigo Jones Slate Works has a lengthy heritage within the Welsh slate industry. Despite its age, though, the company is still in operation today, processing 500-million-year-old Welsh slate to create a range of fantastic items. There’s a huge variety of products on offer, including brilliant decorative gifts and keepsakes as well as more practical items for home and garden. Why not pick up an attractive slate wall clock, sundial or wine rack?
You can also get a variety of items specially engraved, particularly useful if you’re looking for something special like a commemorative plaque, trophy or wedding favour. For more extensive use, of course, household fundamentals such as slate flooring, shelves and fireplaces can also be ordered here.
If you’re interested in learning more, you can also take a self-guided tour of the slate works and see them in operation. You’ll see how it’s done and even get a few chances to try your hand at engraving a piece of slate you can take home with you.
Trefriw Woollen Mills
Another traditional mainstay of the Welsh economy, wool processing was once the most important industry in the country, and high-quality woollen products from Wales are still extremely sought after. Why not go directly to the source with a visit to Trefriw Woollen Mills?
Having been in operation as a family business since 1859, this is a great place to get authentic Welsh woollen products. Their colourful tapestries are woven from pure wool and made into bedspreads, throws, cushion covers, travelling rugs, bags and purses that are available for purchase. There’s also a range of tweed garments and furnishings made on site, and if none of that takes your fancy they also stock a variety of other woollen and sheepskin items from external manufacturers to ensure there’s something for everyone.
If you’d like to go behind the scenes and see how it’s all produced, visit on a weekday to see the mill’s power looms in operation and take a look at the water turbine that provides the electricity to run them.
As you can see, Wales has a huge range of memorable and unique shopping experiences. These are just a few of our favourites – you might enjoy spending your holiday in Wales finding a few of your own.