The sick used to visit wells for their curative powers. Holywell in Flintshire was one of the most popular.
Some of the earliest visitors to Wales came to ‘take the waters’ at Llandrindod Wells, Builth Wells, and Llanwrtyd Wells. There are a few accounts of trips to these spas.
By the end of the 18th century, nobility and gentry began to take trips to the seaside – especially Newton, (Glamorganshire), Swansea, Tenby, Aberystwyth, Barmouth and later, the resorts along the north coast. Generally, those who came for their health stayed for several weeks, socialising, bathing and visiting local sites. Some described their journey to and from the resort while a few others wrote letters to their family and friends, describing their stay. Catherine Hutton was one such, during a stay in Aberystwyth for the sake of her mother’s health, in 1787.
Hutton Beale, Catherine, Reminiscences of a gentlewoman of the last century; letters of Catherine Hutton (Birmingham, Cornish Brothers, 1891).
The romantic beauties of Wales in general, the purity of the air and the change of objects so conducive to the health of those who have been long pent up in towns and cities intent on one unvarying train of business or amusement, together with the cheapness of provisions and accommodation, have tempted many, since travelling and sea-bathing have become so fashionable, to visit the principality; and various places on its coast have been selected as stations, during a summer excursion.
Anon, The Watering and Sea Bathing Places, 1808