A family holiday in Wales needn’t feel like you’re doing things on the cheap. With low prices, bargain accommodation, and free attractions, such as our seven national museums and 870 miles of coast path, there is plenty to do no matter what your budget. It’s all within easy reach too – an hour’s drive from Manchester and Birmingham, or two hours from London.
Tips for a budget family break in Wales
With some forward planning you can save money on your trip. Here are some tips on how to do this.
Avoid peak times
This isn’t always possible with children, so make the most of pre-school years to avoid the busiest holiday periods. There are bargain family holidays in what the travel industry calls the ‘shoulder season’ – the bits either side of peak summer holidays. The cheapest deals of all are in winter. Wrap up against the weather, and you’ll be rewarded with deserted beaches, snow-capped mountains, waterfalls in full flow – and rock-bottom prices.
Book your budget family break early to get the best deals. Simple as that. If you have a strong nerve, last-minute cancellations can yield bargains. But more often, late bookers find that the cheapest deals have long gone, and they may have to trade up to something more expensive. If you're travelling by train booking in advance and travelling outside of peak times can be much cheaper. Don't forget you can also travel by coach and by booking in advance that can be very cost effective.
Reap the rewards
Banks, credit cards, airlines, supermarkets – they all offer some kind of reward scheme. One of the smartest ways to use up loyalty points is by converting them to holiday experiences that can double (or treble, or quadruple) their face value. For instance, Tesco Clubcard vouchers can be converted to three times their value at attractions including Rhyl SeaQuarium, Gower Heritage Centre, Cadw sites, LC Waterpark, Swansea and lots of host of accommodation options.
There are lots of attractions competing for your custom, so admission charges are generally low (and even lower if you look for discount coupons in flyers and press adverts). National Trust family membership costs between £83.40 and £133.80 a year for a family, but gives access to around 40 great Welsh sites, and free parking at superb beaches.
Cadw membership is another great way to save money if you want to explore several castles and historical sites. You’ll also get 10% off in Cadw gift shops, a car sticker and map. There are concessions for some people, including free entry for people with disabilities and their carers.
What to do on a budget family holiday in Wales
Here are some suggestions of things to do on your family budget holiday, with many things being free of charge, including nature, museums and cycling.
The views, the walks, the beaches, the wildlife, the sunsets – they all cost nothing. If you want to combine all five, walk along the cliff tops overlooking somewhere like Mwnt one late afternoon, and watch the dolphins frolicking in the waters below. Priceless. We’ve also got the highest mountains in southern Britain, and the 870-mile Wales Coast Path to explore: we’re the only country in the world to have a continuous path around its entire coastline.
Wales is the place to come for star gazing, there are hundreds of places to experience our natural wonders under dark skies. Wales has a network of International Dark Sky Reserves and Dark Sky Parks. Top spots include Snowdonia International Dark Sky Reserve, Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB, Elan Valley International Dark Sky Park and many places in the Brecon Beacons.
Bring the bikes
Wales has 1,200 miles of cycle paths on the National Cycle Network. They form long-distance National Cycle Trails which can be cycled in one go, or you can cherry-pick day and weekend sections. We’ve also got 331 miles of traffic-free rides which are perfect for families. If you don't want to bring your bikes you can hire them from a number of companies.
Then there are the world-class mountain bike centres, most of which have easy trails for beginners.
If you don't want to bring your bikes they are available to hire. In Cardiff you'll see OVO Bikes dotted around both the city centre and suburbs, with it costing as little as £1 for the first 20 mins and £3 per hour, with a maximum charge of £10 per day. Pick them up in one place and drop them off at another. Perfect for exploring Cardiff city centre and the suburbs or venturing further afield along the Taff Trail.
Seven national museums
Free family attractions include our seven National Museums. They offer world-class exhibits for free. They include the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea, that tells the story of industry and innovation and St Fagans with over 40 historical buildings and a huge amount of outdoor space.
There are a number of options for staying in Wales without spending too much.
Camping and caravanning
Camping and caravanning are still the cheapest way to stay (and arguably the most fun for camping with kids). We’ve got hundreds of sites, ranging from farmers’ fields in remote beauty spots, to holiday centres with their own pools, restaurants and nightly cabaret.
Hostels and bunkhouses
The most important meal of the day can also be the most memorable, when it’s a proper Welsh farmhouse breakfast, served up in a proper Welsh farm. Staying on a working farm in Wales provides an opportunity to immerse yourself in the life of a traditional Welsh-speaking family farm. What better place to find out about the history, culture and language than with a croeso cynnes Cymreig – a warm Welsh welcome!
More often than not you’ll be staying in the original farmhouse, but there are also lots of self-catering options in barn conversions, bunkhouses, and camping and caravan sites, with plenty of local and home-produced food to enjoy too.
Campervan holidays are a great way to have the freedom to explore Wales. There are classic campers and modern motorhomes available to hire.
Self-catering cottages also offer superb value, particularly if you travel with other families: a converted barn can easily sleep a dozen or more, working out at just a few quid per person, per night. Bargain.
We don't like to say 'cheap breaks in Wales' but with memorable experiences like these why would you need to spend more?