The Best Waterfalls To Visit in Wales

Wales' Abundance of Wondrous Waterfalls

Wales is blessed with over 200 enchanting natural waterfalls cascading across its diverse landscapes. From towering cataracts plunging through ancient forests to delicate ribbons dancing down mossy cliffs, Wales offers abundant waterfall watching for all interests and ability levels. While Snowdonia and other mountainous northern regions tend to host the tallest falls, southern Wales rewards those willing to venture off the beaten path with hidden plunge pools and fairy glen streams far from crowds. Photographers in particular discover abundant inspiration chasing waterfalls nourished by the region's plentiful rainfall and lush surroundings.


Northern Wales Waterfall Wonders

Northern Wales lays claim to hosting some of Britain's most spectacular waterfall scenery, led by famous names like Pistyll Rhaeadr with its 240-foot cliffside cascade drawing sightseers to the peaceful Afon Disgynfa Valley for generations. Not far away, Aber Falls impresses visitors with an easier uphill forest walk to witness 120 feet of glassy falling water feeding rainbow mists. Further inland near the Snowdonia National Park, the lush surroundings of 2,000-year-old woodlands hide 90-foot Henrhyd Falls as the River Mawddach carves a course laced with stepping stone cataracts shrouded in velvety moss before culminating at an exceptionally beautiful forest gorge plunge pool that seems the stuff of fairytales and myths. Even casually exploring roads near Betws-y-Coed may lead to stumbling upon the cascading chains that compose pretty Swallow Falls where sightseers walk behind veils of falling water. For waterfall abundance, focus your efforts on exploring North Wales.


Southern Wales Secrets

Veiled in secrecy downstream from bustling Neath Valley, elusive Melincourt Falls hides off the beaten track, requiring dedicated effort to locate. Yet those successfully reaching this secluded 100-foot ribbon cascade pouring smoothly down an emerald amphitheatre find exceptional rewards in the plunging water's pristine beauty as well as profound solitude in a mist-shrouded scene witnessed by just a few yearly visitors willing to navigate far from modern paths and car parks. Elsewhere along the Ceredigion heritage coastline, the vivid plunging torrents at photogenic Tresaith Falls cascade just above ocean surf near a popular beach, creating magical views not found together often as freshwater and seawater mingle through the ages. For determined trekkers seeking isolation and unspoiled scenes or simply unique perspectives to photograph, Southern Wales offers delightful secrets waiting to unfold.

Pistyll Rhaeadr's Thundering Cascade

Towering 240 feet tall, Pistyll Rhaeadr consistently ranks as one of Britain's tallest waterfalls. The falls cascade so mightily that locals claim you'll hear the deafening roar long before coming face to face with the sheer power and volume of all that plunging water. But Pistyll Rhaeadr not only impresses with its lofty height and thundering noise - visitors are also rewarded with a diversity of perspectives, from broad aerial views overlooking the horsetail falls to intimate encounters near the base of the bone-chilling plunge pools that collect frothing currents before funnelling them towards the valley below.


Steeped in History & Myth

Tumbling through the hills near rural village Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant along the plunging Afon Disgynfa, the awe-inspiring horsetail cascade of Pistyll Rhaeadr makes a big impression despite its remote location a winding two hours drive from northern coastal resorts or Snowdonia hotels. Yet this outsized impact echoes through many generations. Some records indicate early peoples likely christened the falls Rhaeadr Ages meaning ‘waterfall of the goddess’ in reverence to its scale and beauty. Inspiring myths speak of young women lured towards the thundering waters by invisible hands plucking enchanting music from a giant harp whilst others recount faire folk called ‘The Plant Dôn’ who frequently gather inside Pistyll Rhaeadr’s caves behind the relentlessly pouring currents said to veil mystical portals. Even Victorian record indicates iconic poet William Wordsworth himself frequently travelled here hoping to harness creative inspiration from the fall's majesty during long countryside rambles devoted to crafting verse. This massive waterfall, named one of the designated ‘Seven Wonders of Wales’, has captured the human imagination for ages not only through sight but also sound. That droning echo bouncing through nearby hills reputedly encompasses people in the waterfall’s mystical aura from far away when mist coils spooky tendrils between aged wind-bent oaks. Small wonder myths of magical maidens and muses abound!


Breathtaking Vistas

While inspiring legends add cultural allure, the main attraction compelling visitors towards Pistyll Rhaeadr comes from the simple, profound joy of beholding the sheer scale as 240 feet of plunging parallel streams cascade relentlessly from high heather uplands into the wooded valley nearly 300 feet below. Appreciating the fall's full majesty means experiencing this mighty force of nature from multiple angles, each perspective granting different insights. The easiest close-up views come from parking near the village pub. But amble just five minutes uphill along the winding footpath to stand astride the very top of the falls admiring the water as it launches itself over the precipice through the valley route carved over millennia. Watch your footing lest inspiration propels you over the literal edge when the full height unfurls below! Or stroll downhill boulder-hopping across the Afon Disgynfa to feel tangible power spraying your skin where flow gathers before pouring into Pistyll Rhaeadr’s secluded lower pools fringed in vibrant emerald hues of velvety moss thriving thanks to the perpetual moisture. Majestic rainbows sometimes emerge through the mist here to elicit delighted gasps.


Aber Falls - The Wondrous Waterfall of North Wales

Cradled within the open hillsides rolling across northern Wales, Aber Falls remains an exceptionally convenient and perpetually popular waterfall destination easily accessible right from the roadside parking area. Yet despite the constant crowds, even the most jaded travellers find themselves awestruck when first glimpsing Aber Falls' majestic pour. Here 120 feet of glassy cascading water tumbles smoothly down an angled rock amphitheatre, kicking up ethereal clouds of mist that shimmer with rainbows on sunny days.


Rain or Shine Beauty

Tumbling down from the craggy northern Snowdonia region into rolling pastoral countryside, Aber Falls tempts tourists to detour just a couple miles from the main island highway for inspiring vistas available in every season. Unlike alpine falls reliant on ice and snow melt, this site powered by rainfall cascades gracefully year round. The near perpetually overcast and damp local weather keeps verdant ferns sprouting vigorously riverside to frame the central 120-foot ribbon plunge with brilliant emerald hues as it dances through the air. Summer finds frothy white currents set against vibrant shades of surrounding meadow flowers turned fully to face the warming sunlight. By contrast, brisk autumn days swirl fallen foliage into the swirling plunge pool coloured in vivid gold, amber and ruby red. Crisp winter air carries the fall's roar farther through the valley, emphasising stillness as groups collectively pause to admire the stark elegance when briefly illuminated by fleeting afternoon sunshine piercing the clouds. Yet photographers particularly prize visiting Aber Falls just after fresh rains, whether during spring in hopes of capturing spectral rainbow colours spotlighted within the gushing water or mid-summer to appreciate misty veils hissing skyward off the churning currents. Simply wait patiently observing patterns to discover your optimal personal vision from this conveniently located cataract visible in all weather.


Scenic Surrounds

While towering Aber Falls rightly claims top billing as the primary focal point luring travellers towards North Wales’ Abergwyngregyn region, the idyllic pastoral landscapes through which approaching pathways snake equally appeal. Early Celtic legends hint at mystical beings known as ‘gwynt y coed’, meaning ‘trees’ breath’ in the ancient tongue, perpetually sigh and whisper here through forests framing the plunging waters. Walkers looping uphill beyond the main falls viewpoint discover sheep-dotted meadows sprinkled with golden gorse blossoms come springtime or perhaps vibrant purple heather blooms adorning craggy slopes in late summer adding scenic diversions. Kids thrill spotting grazing horses when cresting the upper hillside trails. Or amble downhill boulder hopping across the Afon Gocht to appreciate how this burbling stream nourishes the plunging falls year-round. Trout flip and flash through shaded plunge pools gathered behind oblong boulders smoothed over centuries where wading proves possible when seasonal water levels fall low enough to permit careful navigation across slick river stones. Just bring proper footwear so all ages access Aber Falls wonderful wooded surroundings safely on self-guided explorations.


Henrhyd Falls and the Fairy Glen

Deep inside the 2,000-year-old Coed y Brenin forest, a trail follows the Mawddach River's twisting course through stands of oak, ash and thorn where lichen drapes boughs in an otherworldly manner. Ferns crowd the path while moss cloaks tumbled stones until suddenly, the earth seems to vanish into a rocky gorge where a 90-foot cataract pours through the primaeval landscape. You've discovered magical Henrhyd Falls.


A Scene from Myths

Secreted away through the aged forest along the River Mawddach, a hiking path crosses stooped tree trunks frosted emerald with thick moss carpets their gnarled roots before arriving at the sheer cleft in the earth from which Henrhyd Falls tumbles. Sunlight filtering through the canopy overhead spotlights the 90-foot torrent, emphasising an otherworldly atmosphere. No wonder fantastical myths shroud this plunge pool gulley in mystery. Some whisper ancient legends telling of a powerful sorcerer known as John of Kentchurch who lured maidens to this mist-veiled site weaving visions of a stairway lined with jewels and gold coaxing his quarry ever nearer the hidden precipice. Others spin yarns recalling ethereal creatures dubbed ‘gwragedd annwn’, meaning water nymphs in Welsh, frequently sighted frolicking within the churning basin often glimpsed at twilight drizzling trails of liquid diamonds through their flowing hair as they comb it using traditional golden implements. Despite fanciful exaggerations, it’s a fact that standing streamside watching the glass-smooth water pouring through this Fairy Glen framed in emerald hues brighter than any jewel conveys a certain mystic quality making time itself seem suspended in an ageless era where perhaps magic and myths do not seem so far fetched after all.


Breathtaking Beauty

While historians and anthropologists quibble over probable factual origins for fantastical myths enshrouding this forest refuge, none dispute the exceptional scenic beauty on display from every riverside vantage surrounding the dramatically plunging Mawddach waters at Henrhyd Falls. Summer finds the area festooned in hues even brighter than customary for this corner of Wales’ Waterfall Country thanks to the site’s sheltered microclimate that protects delicate foliage from harsh weather. Maidenhair ferns sprout in abundance cloaking boulder tops in lacy green patterns to cascade gracefully towards the frothing plunge pool in imitation of the namesake falls. Vibrant yellow Welsh poppies dot the landscape as bluebells, foxgloves and primroses all find ample nourishment in the loamy soil so close to the riverbank. Just downstream, marsh marigolds crop up where side springs expand the flows nearing the confluence point with Afon Eden rivers that further nourish this waterfall before continuing its journey towards the sea beyond the Snowdonia Valley region. While many visitors aim to witness the spectacle of winter frozen falls or venture here during brisk autumn days anticipating bold colours, those focused purely upon appreciating floral beauty select late spring when ample rainfall combines with warming sunshine to energise buds into blossoms framed perfectly behind the tumbling cascade face. Just beware of the uneven riverside rocks when bending close for floral macro photography!


Melincourt Falls - Wales' Hidden Cascades

Secret waterfalls hold a certain mystique for the lucky few able to discover them. Nested deep within Neath Valley, it takes dedication, route-finding skills and sure-footedness to experience seldom-seen Melincourt Falls. Yet those successful in locating this secluded site stand rewarded with an exceptionally unique 100-foot ribbon falls pouring smoothly down rock faces smothered in lush hanging gardens of moss and ferns. Here the sense of utter solitude amid untamed natural beauty imprints an experience equally as meaningful as better-known falls drowning in crowds.


A Forgotten Fairy Glen

Shrouded in foliage far from the better-known waterfalls punctuating guidebooks of Wales, elusive Melincourt Falls hides up a side gully requiring moderate effort to locate specifically due to its secluded situation. Yet venturing well off the crowded seasonal tourist routes while navigating nearly forgotten drover trails delivers a certain delight upon finally reaching this hidden cataract that feeds into Neath River. Mighty oak trees line the path featuring bark gnarled into fissures so large entire families of dormice and bushy-tailed red squirrels disappear inside when startled by approaching footfalls through the understory. The stillness here holds a certain tangible magic centered around mystery summoning comparisons to fictional realms like Rivendell or Lothlorien crafted in Tolkien lore. One expects to discover elves and wizards gathered streamside hearkening to whispering waters spilling down steps carved into the hillside. Ferns sprout abundantly threading emerald hues through sunbeams slanting overhead to dapple the forest floor. Their lacy fronds soon give way to velvety moss blanketing the rocky outcroppings angling ever nearer towards the plummeting flows. Skittish mountain ponies glimpsed grazing loose through a break in the trees emphasise the timeless quality found in this secluded plunge pool. Prepare to lose all sense of the modern era once enveloped within the hillside sanctuary hidingMelincourt Falls.


A Sense of Solitude

Strap on boots to spend an active day immersed within Neath Valley's rugged beauty required to locate this evasive waterfall. Be prepared to navigate slippery slopes tracing sheep tracks and possibly ford a few feeder streams branching off from Afon Mellte River lined with flowering gorse whose coconut perfume scent graces the fresh mountain air. Listen for native songbirds trilling overhead but maintain focus picking your footing across the marshy terrain. Suddenly, the faint yet unmistakable sound of plunging water echoes through the forest heralding your arrival at long last to the plunging veil of Melincourt Falls. Its pristine torrent cascades down a looming rock face smothered in emerald hues of lichen and moss fed by the mist billowing from the frothing plunge pool gathered at its base. Take time first admiring the scene from afar before venturing closer over the uneven slippery rocks. Here perched aside the cold mountain spring water tumbling past ferns sprouting abundantly from rocky crevices, a profound sense of solitude descends as the roar of the cataracts blocks out all other noise. Across the valley, a herd of wild Exmoor ponies may raise their heads briefly to watch the rare human visitor traversing their territory yet just as quickly lose interest returning to graze untroubled by your presence. Enjoy this relative isolation found in a few places remaining so pristine and untouched in modern Britain.


Betws-y-Coed's Beloved Swallow Falls

Gracefully meandering through the Gwydyr Forest outside Betws-y-Coed, a cascading ribbon of water twists alongside the Llugwy River coaxing travellers to follow it upstream through overhanging trees until the scenery suddenly transforms. Sheer dark cliffs loom from every side as an amphitheatre of waterfalls reveals itself in stages, from 'Swallow' cascade near the top down through 'Fairy Glen' and beyond before culminating at 'Thunder Falls' - thus named for the tremendous noise its final deep plunge pool generates. This is the beloved Swallow Falls, easily ranking amongst Britain's most beautiful waterfall collections.


Postcard-Perfect Scenery

Positioned conveniently right alongside the meandering River Llugwy on the outskirts of Betws-y-Coed village, a series of cascades collectively called Swallow Falls tantalise passing travellers with postcard-worthy scenes visible from the roadside. Just leave your vehicle in the ample parking area and amble downhill along well-kept footpaths revealing new overflowing chutes around each bend. Before long sheer dark cliffs loom on either side as the terrain opens upon the aptly named Waterfall Canyon Wales punctuated by dozens of gracefully falling cataracts. From 20-foot cascading ‘Swallow Falls’ itself that gives this scenic gorge its title to the gently flowing ‘Fairy Glen’ tributary stream plus roaring stretch of whitewater rapids at 'Wendy House Falls’ and finally the tremendous flood-carved 'Thunder Falls' gorge, opportunities abound to admire different waterfall perspectives. Wander well-trodden trails skirting the riversides or navigate stepping stones crossing directly behind some falls when conditions permit for immersive experiences that drench the senses. Just take care not to slip on slick rocks! Photographers particularly appreciate rare peeks of sunshine breaking through clouds to spotlight the tumbling waters. These Lucky moments wash the churning liquid in glowing spectral hues ranging from crisp sapphire blue to vibrant gold seemingly lit from within. Such conditions never linger long, however. Be ready with camera settings prepared to exploit transient views rain or shine. These cascades pour relentlessly, meaning vivid showers appear and then disappear swiftly.


Family-Friendly Access

With labels proudly proclaiming Swallow Falls as ‘one of Wales’ finest natural treasures’, signs posted riverside provide helpful background on the local geology explaining how glaciers helped carve this sandstone gorge during previous ice ages while modern processes perpetuate formations. The thoughtful design incorporated paved trails wide enough for prams and wheelchairs plus frequent resting benches and shelters protecting those lingering to admire sights from sudden rain bursts soaking visitors caught unawares even on sunny days. Carefully constructed viewing platforms provide prime views for young children to safely peer over railings awestruck at the thrillingly loud thundering waters without risk of falling. Interpretive signs also connect these timeless falls origins to local legends like the tragic tale of Winifred, a noblewoman slain here by a pursuing suitor after she rejected his affections only to later be restored and achieve sainthood. Unique boutique shops, tea rooms and pubs surround this Site of Special Scientific Interest to welcome groups seeking to further explore charming Betws-y-Coed villages after experiencing iconic waterfalls. Though popularity means sharing pathways with fellow sightseers, astute scheduling easily avoids the largest summer crowds. Alternatively, embrace attending amid a lively atmosphere and benefit from extended seasonal hours or frequent shuttle buses keeping foot traffic flowing smoothly. Just prepare properly for weather shifts when exploring North Wales plunging spring-fed rivers blessing Betws-y-Coed with such iconic landmarks cherished by generations.

Tresaith's Oceanfront Cascade

Perched along the Ceredigion coastline that cradles the deepest reaches of Cardigan Bay, the vivid azure plunging torrents at Tresaith Falls showcase diverse beauty tumbling directly into crashing ocean surf only a stone's throw from the sandy beach bustling with holidaymakers in summer. Yet just around the wave-carved point, sightseers strolling an easily accessible pathway stand sudden witness to the thundering 30-foot sheer drop waterfall framed bizarrely by the saltwater backdrop for a scene found few other places except regions locked in polar extremes areas far more remote and harshly unwelcoming than this tranquil Welsh refuge.


Coastal Cascades

Ambling south from Tresaith village centre and its vibrant cluster of tourist amenities, a scenic trail traverses the Eastern cliffs made navigable by natural rounded stone steps Cantilevered wooden railings guide visitors ever nearer towards ocean vistas until a carved opening in the headlands announce arrival at the aptly named “Waterfall Walk”. Faint trails down the ravine deliver hikers near the plunge pool gathered between towering amphitheatre walls where outflow currents mark the transition point from rushing fresh streams into the briny tides below perpetually reshaping the rocks through endless attrition. Crisp sea breezes tinged salty mingle with droplets hissing skyward to green overhanging ferns thriving thanks to perpetual moisture. Listen closer to appreciate how lava formations echo and amplify both the whitewater torrents gathered from subterranean springs plus heavier pounding as waves explode against stony barriers hoping to reclaim territory surrendered over epochs of geologic upheaval into lands now nurturing coastal woodlands and moon snails whose pearly shells litter rocky tide pools revealed briefly at low tides twice daily.


Artistry in Elements

Beyond marvelling at the peculiar geography sustaining such sights, many aesthetic appreciators simply pause and admire nature’s artistic range on display at Tresaith waterfall where colours truly dazzle against harsh contrasts. Jet black volcanic richness leftover from tremendously distant ancient eruptions underpins frosted sea foam and vibrant emerald canopies painted through by slanting Atlantic sunlight. Red campion and golden yellow gorse blossoms frame photographs near the coastal path switchbacks. In myriad ways, Tresaith’s splendour conveys truly timeless appeal through every season whether appreciating iron richness that lends its name in summer months when rainfall abounds to winter days after storms subtract all colour leaving only frothing greys and white echoing hoarfrost crusted across contorted oak boughs somehow thriving seaside. This marks a hidden gem on Wales’ southern coastline waiting to captivate visitors before the next tide inevitably rises to submerge the scenes again until the sands shift and sunlight alights highlighting further revelations possible only at this cascade convergence point between land and sea carved across unknowable epochs of time.

The Allure of Waterfalls in Wales

What is it about tumbling, splashing and roaring water that so thoroughly captivates the human spirit? Artists aim to convey their visual poetry through paintings just as poets pen odes to waterfall beauty through descriptive prose. Yet sitting streamside beside a gracefully meandering brook as sunlight filters through a leafy canopy conveys far more meaning than any secondhand portrayal. Here time slows, senses heighten and you connect more wholly with nature and self. Lucky visitors to Wales need hardly seek out such moving waterfall encounters. From winding country lanes that dip into forest hollows concealing delicate falling waters adorned in emerald hues to dramatic valley viewpoints revealing famous plunging falls etched against craggy cliff faces for centuries, inspiring beauty abounds. Pay attention when driving or hiking and you may catch sight of road signs pointing towards yet another local waterfall worthy of further exploration should time allow. Even when recognisable names don't jump out, it's often worth slowing down for closer inspection when crossing overflowing streams or spying intriguing paths tempting your inner explorer. Whether you seek adventure bounding up slick trails towards tumultuous floodwaters churning through rocky gorges or prefer casually strolling woodland paths towards delicate weeping walls of gentle falls framed in vibrant forest plants, Wales promises profound encounters. Pack picnic provisions to linger lakeside as spring's meltwater feeds new starts. Position yourself face-on towards summer flow fury to spot fleeting rainbows in the cooling spray. Witness autumn's brilliant foliage slowly floating downstream on currents or be among the first to glimpse frozen winter falls before warmer sunlight again restores flowing movement. However you choose to encounter our wondrous waterfalls, they're sure to leave lasting imprints on your spirit.


Let us know you agree to cookies

We use marketing, analytical and functional cookies as well as similar technologies to give you the best experience. Third parties, including social media platforms, often place tracking cookies on our site to show you personalised adverts outside of our website.


We store your cookie preferences for two years and you can edit your preferences via ‘manage cookies’ or through the cookie policy at the bottom of every page. For more information, please see our cookie policy.