18 Free Things to Do in Wales
1 June 2016 | Mri Grout
Wales is an amazing country to visit and houses my most favourite hike in the world (so far - though I wouldn't be surprised if it holds forever :p): Glyder Fawr. It's a fantastic alternative hike to Snowdon with a challenging upward slope and a less crowded path, but the main attraction lies at the top of the Glyderau Mountains. Sporting amazing views and unique rock structures one can easily see how Glyder Fawr managed to become my number one favourite hike in the world. For more fun and free things to do in Wales, check out the map below.
Free things to do in Anglesey & Gwynedd:
- Dwynwen's Well - The stories tell of a young princess named Dwynwen who fell in love with a man who's jealousy at her being promised to another eventually turned into a violent rage. Heartbroken, she prayed to God to heal her broken heart, to always protect true lovers, and to keep herself from ever marrying. After being granted all that she sought she moved to this island and devoted herself to Him. Nearly 1700 years later her legacy remains, especially in the form of a well - a well that some believe can determine the fates of lovers. For should the well boil upon your look you will find true love and should you see two eels, watch carefully for they can predict your future. ;)
- Llanddywn Island - Despite being dubbed an island, this area is connected to the mainland at all but high tide; AKA: you can walk to and from it at any other time. It's been dubbed as a place of great geographical interest due to its amazing lava pillows (lava that was quickly cooled underneath the cold waters of the ocean), dolerite dykes, colorful sandstone, and other interesting rock features in striking contrast to the deep blues of the ocean.
- Newborough Warren - Large sand dunes that put on a spectacular show every summer when their orchards hit full bloom and an even greater display during the winter when thousands of migrating birds travel here to live in the estuaries. There is also a Newborough Wood that is free to hike through as you look out for the numerous types of fungi, flowers, birds, butterflies, ponies, and rabbits that call this place home.
- Glyderau Mountains - A great alternative hike to the populated Snowdon is up any of these three mountains: Glyder Fach, of Fawr, or Tryfan. If you combine all of them, it's only a 6.5 mile/10.6 kilometre loop, but the terrain is moderately difficult and requires the use of hands in some places. It's not advisable to traverse this range without gear when there's snow, but when there is it's so freaking stunning, especially given the shapes the wind makes as it carves through. The summer is also a wonderful time to travel here as you can then clearly see their awesome rock 'spikes' and pillars of sheer amazingness.
- Castell-y-bere - A 5.5 mile loop trek through the woods near Tal-y-llyn will have you hiking past a free ruined castle from the 12th century. It was built so Llywelyn the Great could defend his people from the invading Englishmen, but once he lost his grandson to them, he also lost the castle. Twelve years later and the Welsh burned it down to the ruins you see today.
Free things to do in Ceredigion:
- Bwlch Nant yr Arian Forest Visitor Centre – Travel here to watch the free red kite feeding that takes place at 14.00 every day in the winter and at 15.00 in the summer. It started out as a way to increase the struggling red kite population in 1999 (due to the deteriorating rabbit populace) and its progress is clearly seen in the hundreds of birds now flying in for a tasty meal.
Free things to do in Denbighshire:
- Happy Valley Gardens - A garden on top of a hill with amazing views of the town and sea. There are also woodlands to walk through, a 'modern' stone circle to marvel at, and numerous caves to explore, such as the more famous Elephant Cave.
Free things to do in Powys:
- Montgomery Castle - Stand in the exact spot where an accidental death took place on 1 January 1288...or was it a murder in Montgomery Castle? All we know is that on this fateful day a woman by the name of Maud Vras was calling on William of St. Albans, the castle's assistant constable, to reclaim the saucepan that he had borrowed. She stood in front of the gatehouse when a rock fell from the man's position a couple floors above and onto her head. Why was there a rock up there in the first place? How big was it to have killed her from that distance? And how the hell do you knock a rock (of any killable size) with a cloak as the man had claimed? But then again, why did Maud Vras' daughter wait nine years before she accused him of killing her mother? Hours: 10.00-18.00 7 days/week
Free things to do in South of Wales:
- Big Pit National Coal Museum, Newport - Step back in time to experience the life-style of miners from the 1860s. On site there are engine houses, stable blocks, workshops, pithead baths, a blacksmith forge, fan house, and working winding engine cages. It is this last attraction that is the real gem as these cages allow you to go on a free underground tour nearly a hundred metres deep. Parking is not free (£3) Hours: 09.30-17.00 7 days; last entry @16.00 and tours at 10.00 & 15.30
- Llantwit Major - If you dig fossils (haha), then this is going to be your favourite free place to visit in Wales. The rocks further east are the best places in which to search for fossils of the Jurassic era, including remains of ancient corral, shells, and bones.
- Merthyr Mawr - Due to the limestone running along the coastline, the sand here has been able to build up to an astonishing height of 80 metres - making this place home to the second tallest sand dunes in Europe. The only ones bigger are at the famous Dune du Pilat of France.
- The National Roman Legion Museum, Caerleon - A unique museum in that it was built inside the remaining ruins of the furthest away (from Rome) Roman fortress. As you can guess by the name, this place highlights the Roman era through its free exhibitions and displays of ancient artifacts. There's also a Roman Garden full of gorgeous flowers, a full-sized barrack room where children (or small adults like me :P) can try on replica Roman clothing, and the occasional reenactment. Hours:10.00-17.00 Mon-Sat; 14.00-17.00 Sun
- Margam Country Park - A visit to this 850 acre plot of land will be filled with multiple activities for all ages. Take a walk through the Wood's Vibrations Trail where you can play one of the many instruments carved into fallen trees or just wonder around looking for the 400+ deer that roam these woods along with badgers, foxes, hares, and more. Chance your sanity at Margam Castle, a place ghosts are claimed to haunt, or carry on to the farm trail to meet the livestock. Parking is not free (£4.90) and neither is entry during a holiday or event. Hours: 10.00 – 16.30 7 days a week; from Sept – Mar only the grounds and gardens are open.
- National Waterfront Museum - It focuses on the Welsh industry innovations of the past 300 years, including exhibits about life, transport, materials, communications, and more. This museum is entirely free to enter and its hours are: 10.00 -17.00 7 days/week.
- Swansea Museum - Another museum offering free entry into its gallerys of art, collections of old police cars, egyptian artifacts, and war remaints, and displays of historical boats and other marine artifcats. Hours: 10.00-16.30 Tues-Sun.
Free things to do in Southwest:
- Dryslwyn Castle - Perched on an easily defendable hilltop, this castle proved to be a formidable opponent when it got attacked by the English in 1287. It was only after a long siege that claimed the lives of around 150 men that the soldiers were finally able to capture this castle. Less than 300 years later, however, and it gradually fell into the ruined state seen today. Hours: 10.00-16.00 Mon-Fri with last entry @15.30.
- Stackpole National Trust Nature Reserve - This manmade lake is home to two families of wild otter, as well as a number of migrating birds over the colder months. There are also numerous blooming flowers in the summer to make this place a fantastic visit all year around.
- Pembrokeshire Coast - The beautiful walk along this coastal cliffedge puts this place on the map in its own right, but in addition to the gorgeous sea views, there are 200+ Atlantic grey seals basking on the shore during the winter months. The best to travel here, in my opinion, is between the months of August and December when the seal pups are born and raised.
Travel Tip #4
Do you know of any other free things to do in Wales? Or just want to write a review on one of the above places you've been? Then we'd love to hear all about them in the comments below!