• John Oyston

Free Days Out in Wales

A holiday in Wales need not cost a fortune as there are plenty of free days out. This includes all the National Museums such as the Welsh Folk Museum at St Fagans near Cardiff and The National Waterfront Museum in Swansea.

There are also plenty of independently run attractions covering the whole country, ranging from an art gallery in Anglesey to a country park near Port Talbot.

Oriel Ynys Mon

You will find Oriel Ynys Mon in the Anglesey town of Llangefni, roughly a 20-minute drive from the Menai Bridge.

The museum hosts work by the popular local artist

Kyffin Williams, with a gallery dedicated to his work.

There is also a gallery dedicated to the work of wildlife artist Charles Tunnicliffe

The main art gallery regularly changes the artists, sculptors and craftworkers whose work is displayed and there is a museum covering the history of the island.

Like all good museums, there is a cafe offering an excellent range of meals, snacks and drinks.

Oriel Ynys Mons Photo Credit Elliott Brown under a Creative Commons License

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct carries the Llangollen Canal high above the valley of the River Dee.

Built by Thomas Telford during the Industrial Revolution, the aqueduct is the world’s longest, and highest, cast-iron aqueduct. Standing 126 feet above the River Dee, there are stunning views of the Dee Valley.

The aqueduct is over 300 metres long, crossing it on foot is free, but there is a charge if you want to travel across by boat.

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct Photo Credit John Oyston under a Creative Commons License

Margam Park

Margam Country Park is set in over 1000 acres of parkland, just east of Port Talbot. Visitors can enjoy everything in the grounds free of charge, except the train ride.

Attractions include a Farm, Visitors Centre, Mansion House, Monastic Ruins, Narrow Gauge Railway, Fairy tale Land, Children’s Adventure Playground, Deer Herd and Crazy Golf.

The park is on the A48 near Port Talbot, just a 5-minute drive from junction 38 on the M4.

Margam Park Photo Credit Gareth James under a Creative Commons License

Swansea Maritime Quarter

The renovated Maritime Quarter in Swansea hosts the National Waterfront Museum of Wales and The Dylan Thomas Centre. The National Waterfront Museum shows the industrial heritage of Wales dating back to the 18th Century.

The Dylan Thomas Centre is a permanent exhibition dedicated to the poet and author who was arguably Swansea’s most famous son, who described Swansea “an ugly, lovely town”.. Explore the exhibitions dedicated to Thomas’s life and works, browse the bookshop or just enjoy a coffee in the cafe. Every year, in October and November the Centre hosts the annual Dylan Thomas Festival.

Just round the corner, on Oystermouth Road, Swansea Museum tells the story of the city's colourful history. including the success of the local football team!

Dylan Thomas Centre Photo Credit Alan Roberts under a Creative Commons License

Welsh Folk Museum, St Fagans

The Welsh Folk Museum is an open-air museum recreating life in the Welsh countryside since Tudor times. Over forty buildings from all over Wales have been reassembled in the 100-acre grounds of St Fagans Castle, a late 16th-century manor house.

More than 30 buildings from all parts of Wales have been moved and rebuilt at The Museum of Welsh Life. The 100-acre site at St Fagans recreates the living and working environment of Welsh people through the ages. The fully furnished buildings range from a 16th-century manor house to a pigsty and include farmhouses, cottages and working buildings. The museum is open daily 10 am to 5 pm

Explore houses, a farm, a school, a chapel and the Workmen's Institute. Craftsmen demonstrate traditional skills, little used in today's modern society, and most of the things produced can be bought as souvenirs.

The museum is 4 miles west of Cardiff City Centre, just off the A4232 and is well signposted from junction 33 of the M4. Buses run from Cardiff city centre and, like all National Museums in Wales, admission is free

Welsh Folk Museum Photo Credit John Oyston under a Creative Commons License

National Museum of Wales

The National Museum of Wales is located next to Cardiff Civic Centre, a 20-minute walk from the bus and railway station. Displays include Art, Archeology & Numismatics Biodiversity & Systematic Biology, Geology, Social & Cultural History and Industry.

In common with all National museums in Wales admission is free of charge.

The museum is in Cardiff city centre, 15-20 minutes walk from Cardiff Central station.

National Museum of Wales Photo Credit Alan Hughes under a Creative Commons License

Big Pit

At the Big Pit, you can take a guided underground tour of a real coal mine and experience what life was like at the coalface.

After being kitted up with a helmet and cap lamp, the tour starts with a 300-foot drop in a pit cage down the mineshaft and continues for almost an hour. On the surface, are some original colliery buildings including the House, Blacksmith's Forge, Stables and Winding Engine House.

Open daily 9.30 am–5 pm. Underground tours run frequently 10 am–3.30 pm. Please call for December and January opening times.

Getting There - Follow the brown signs from J25a (westbound) or J26 (eastbound) on the M4, the museum is also signposted off the A465 at Brynmawr and Abergavenny.

The Big Pit Photo Credit Big Pit Facebook Page

National Slate Museum

The National Slate Museum stands on the site of the old Dinorwig Quarry, which closed in 1969.

Before tourism, slate mining was vital to the local Snowdonian economy and the displays reflect the reality of a slate miner's daily life.

The museum is in Llanberis near the Snowdon Mountain Railway terminus and Padarn Country Park. Like all National Museums in Wales, admission is free.

National Slate Museum Photo Credit Colin Park under a Creative Commons License

Green Flag Parks

Since the 19th century, parks and gardens have been an important part of every British town and city. Generations have spent their spare time at the local park.

Children letting off excess energy in the playground or paddling pool while older visitors enjoy walking around the gardens or playing crown green bowls.

Many parks have museums, often with free admission, offering a rainy day alternative. Cafes, tea rooms and ice cream stands provide refreshments.

Most parks have facilities for disabled visitors and allow dog walking, but you are advised to check with the individual park first.

Most major towns and cities in Wales have parks, two of the most popular are Roath Park in Cardiff and Singleton Park in Swansea.

Roath Park Cardiff Photo Credit Tracy Pattison under a Creative Commons License

St Davids Cathedral

The City of St Davids is smaller than many villages, but the site of Wales’s patron saint’s 6th-century monastery is an intriguing mix of history and natural beauty.

Visit the 12th-century cathedral or explore Britain’s only coastal National Park.

Local information is available at the Visitor Centre in the Captain’s House on the High Street. They provide information on visiting the city and the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, much of which is owned and maintained by the National Trust.

St Davids Cathedral Image Public Domain

Henrhyd Falls

Wales has a wide selection of stunning scenery that can be visited free of charge (subject to local parking charges).

The Henrhyd Falls are the largest waterfalls in South Wales. Maintained by the National Trust, the 90 foot falls dominate a scenic valley accessed by a bridge and footpath.

Set in the heart of the Brecon Beacons, Henrhyd Falls are a 45-minute drive from Swansea.

Henrhyd Falls Photo Credit Martin Edwards under a Creative Commons License


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