Climate of Wales
According to the Köppen climate classification, Wales has a moderate maritime climate (types Cfb), with relatively mild winters, fairly cool summers and precipitation throughout the year, but with the most precipitation in the winter months. The rugged landscape with many mountains, hills and valleys creates a beautiful interplay of nature and weather elements. Because Wales is fairly rainy and frost is not very common, you get a characteristic landscape with green hills that are partly forested, interspersed with rugged brown and gray slopes.
Due to the frequent western supply of depressions, Wales is a country where there is a fair amount of precipitation. The annual amounts vary from about 800 to 1000 millimeters along the coast to about 3,000 millimeters in the Snowdonia Nature Park in the northwest. This makes this nature park one of the wettest areas in the United Kingdom and even in all of Europe. The period October to March is wetter than the summer months. The further inland you go, the greater the contrast in terms of total precipitation amounts within one year.
Influence of sea
The supply of relatively warm seawater ensures that it does not freeze so quickly along the coasts of Wales in winter. The seawater is then still around 9 to 10 degrees Celsius, which has a warming effect on the coastal towns of Wales. Due to the reasonably large contrasts in sea and land temperatures, clouds and fog have a good chance of creating a very gray weather picture. In the interior, a whole week without a ray of sunshine is quite possible. Due to temperature differences and the supply of depression over the Atlantic Ocean, the wind can pick up considerably, with the higher parts of Wales getting the strongest winds.
In the summer months, the seawater ensures that it can not get that hot in Wales. Due to its location outside mainland Europe, there is less chance of warm air coming from the east or south to Wales in the summer months. If that does happen, the seawater almost always has a cooling effect. As a result, it doesn’t get as warm above land as a few hundred kilometers south in the interior of France.
Cool summer months
The summers in Wales are on average slightly cooler than in the Netherlands. The sea is clearly cooling down somewhat, but there is also much less chance in this area of large high-pressure systems that can provide a supply of warm air. In Wales there are often low pressure areas in the vicinity or high pressure areas a bit east of Wales, through which the air is supplied over the sea water. The result is: leveling off of the real heat and an increasing chance of precipitation and clouds.
Wales will never go down as a true summer sun destination. Not only are the temperatures not high enough, the number of hours of sunshine is also bittersweet when compared to popular destinations for sun holidays. The southwest is still fairly sunny, with about 1700 hours of sunshine on an annual basis, but unfortunately the almost always present wind from the sea also plays tricks on sun worshipers. In the mountainous interior it is a lot less sunny. Here it often ends with about 1100 to 1200 hours of sunshine per year. In the darkest years, in some places the total balance at the end of the year even remains below a thousand hours.
Winters in Wales are fairly mild. It does not often freeze along the coast, but night frost is possible, especially in the period from December to March, but also light frost during the day. The chance is much higher inland, especially on the highest mountain peaks, which are about a kilometer above sea level. Snow is also much more common here: in the mountains it snows on average about 25 to 35 days a year. Top spot in terms of snowfall is again Snowdonia, the nature park that regularly lives up to its name in winter.
The southwest has the least to do with snowfall: here you have about 6 to 10 snow days a year. The amount is then usually limited to a maximum of a few centimeters, while in the mountains a pack of snow of tens of centimeters can fall within 24 hours. Not comparable to the Alps, but even winter sports are possible in Wales. Most ski slopes have to make do with artificial snow, but those who are lucky can ski or snowboard on real snow.
One inconvenience that you can experience in Wales is snow storms. Snowfall in combination with a strong, often gusty wind, causes a lot of nuisance and dangerous situations for traffic.
The figures below are based on long-term average climate statistics. The temperatures are displayed in degrees Celsius (°C).
|Hours of sunshine per day
|Days of rainfall per month
Best time to visit Wales
Do you want to know when is the best time to travel to Wales? You can determine the best time to travel to a destination based on the weather and climate. In addition, there are other factors that are not directly related to the weather and that can influence the best travel periods for a travel destination. Think, for example, of holidays or festive periods, which makes traveling more interesting or not, because daily life comes to a standstill as a result. The location of Wales in the southwest of Great Britain ensures that you have to deal with a temperate maritime climate here. Characteristic of the weather in Wales is that you will have to deal with rain and wind fairly often when you spend your holiday here. Summers are on the cool side. The winters, on the other hand, are somewhat milder. The influence of the seawater makes it less likely to frost, especially on the coastal areas of Wales. It can be a little cooler inland, especially in the higher elevations of the Brecon Beacons National Park.
Most pleasant months
Wales is not a fair weather destination. You don’t go here for a holiday in the sun. Yet for many visitors to Wales, the weather is an important factor. If you want to travel to Wales during the best possible weather conditions, the best time to travel is between June and August. This is the climatic summer, when the chance of higher temperatures is greatest and the sun shines the most. Long periods of sun-filled weather are quite rare in Wales in summer. The maximum temperatures in Wales during the daytime average between 16 and 24 degrees Celsius. It can sometimes get a bit warmer and even tropical temperatures (30 degrees or higher) are possible. For example, the record temperatures for the capital Cardiff are well above thirty degrees.
Wales during the school holidays
Summer holidays are the best time to travel if you want to take a holiday in Wales and are bound by the statutory school holidays. The May holidays are another great time to visit Wales. It is then a few degrees cooler than in summer, but relatively speaking it is sunnier and May is also drier than the summer months. During the autumn holidays, nature in Wales shows beautiful autumn colours. The downside is that October is on average the wettest month in Wales.