Discover unique history and culture
Things to do in RCT include the most famous distillery in Wales, a heart-pumping adventure park and fascinating museums offering glimpses back into the past.
A Welsh Coal Mining Experience
You'll get a brilliant understanding of what it was like to work in dark and dangerous conditions deep underground at A Welsh Coal Mining Experience, with a guide who actually worked in the mine. You can put on a hard hat and explore a dark mine tunnel, the engine houses and the original lamp room. The virtual ride on the last coal truck to the surface will have you clinging to your seat! Stop by the on-site café for lunch or coffee.
Read more: Exploring the underground secrets of Wales
Nantgarw China Works Museum
Nantgarw China Works is where William Billingsley came up with a secret combination of minerals that led to the creation of the world's finest porcelain - a super white, highly durable china that could be decorated in myriad colourful ways. Along with a fascinating museum packed with intricate cups, saucers and more, there are ceramic workshops and art displays. Pop into the cosy tearoom for a cuppa and cake too.
Penderyn Whisky Experience
The best known and largest producer of single malt whiskies in Wales, Penderyn is drunk in over 40 countries. The distillery is located close to the pristine waters found in the Brecon Beacons National Park - a key ingredient to the magical spirits they produce here. The hour-long Penderyn Whisky Experience includes a distillery tour and for those old enough, there's a sample session at the end.
Read more: Sip and sparkle - vineyard tours in Wales .
Housed in an ornately restored Grade II listed building, Llantrisant Guildhall is full of interesting exhibits about this historic hilltop town. Included among the rare treasures are a 17th century silver mace, which pre-dates the English Civil War. Children will love the interactive displays, dressing up outfits and competitions. They can even have a go at archery.
Located in an old chapel which dates back to 1861, Pontypridd Town Museum is a feast of quirky finds that show off the town's rich history. Among them are personal belongings of Evan and James James - the father and son who composed the Welsh National anthem. The chapel's mighty pipe-organ still dominates the space, towering over the rest of the museum.
Royal Mint Experience
See money appear before your eyes at the Royal Mint Experience. This is the home of the Royal Mint where the UK's coins are made - along with those of places as far afield as Jamaica, Tanzania and Thailand! You can follow the journey of a coin from a blank to a bank in the Guided Factory Experience. You'll also see rare coins and examples of the medals cast for the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.
Read more: Wonderfully quirky places to visit.
Cynon Valley Museum
Cynon Valley Museum is a free volunteer-run local history museum and gallery, tucked away in Aberdare. You can learn the fascinating histories of the people that lived and worked here in times gone by. Two gallery spaces feature works by local painters and creators. There's a museum shop and the café, Marty's at the Museum, sells tasty cakes, lunches and coffee.
At Zipworld Tower you can ride Phoenix the world's fastest seated zipline from the top of Rhigos mountain - taking in the immense views across the Rhondda and Cynon Valley landscapes. The Tower Coaster will make you giddy as it zooms downhill and there's a mini zip adventure for younger adventurers too. The onsite café offers more amazing views, as well as great food and drink.
Get out in the fresh air
RCT has lots of green spaces - whether you want to relax in the sun, tramp across hillsides or pedal through forests.
Hop in the saddle
For cyclists, the Cynon Trail follows the river Cynon from Hirwan to Abercynon - a nice combination of friendly villages and wood-fringed trails of around 11 miles (19km).
The long distance Taff Trail runs through RCT entering at Taffs Well, through Treforest and Pontypridd and on to Abercynon. You could cycle all the way to Cardiff Bay! If you want something short for little pedalers, try the Church Village Community route through peaceful woodlands and meadows.
Read more: Cycling trails in RCT
Enjoy some park life
Or head out of town a little to Cwm Clydach with its lakes and waterfalls and Barry Sidings with its adventure playground and trails into the surrounding mountains. Further afield there's Dare Valley Country Park with over 200 acres of trails, an adventure playground and lakes where you can hire canoes and kayaks. If you fancy staying the night, there are cosy en-suite rooms and a caravan and campsite.
Go for a walk
You can choose from short strolls for all the family to full on hikes in RCT. For a good day walk try Pen Pych Mountain a spectacular 7 mile (9km) mountain walk with waterfalls, Iron Age stone circles and vast views. For a fascinating insight into the area's local history try one of five free audio trails, ideal for curious kids.
Want something more challenging? The Pontypridd circular is 12 miles packed with spectacular viewpoints. Or walk in the footsteps of saints of old on the Penrhys Pilgrimage Way. The whole route from Cardiff to Penrhys in Rhondda is 21 miles, but it's been divided into six easy sections which take a couple of hours.