Free attractions and things to do in Wales
The best things in life, as the saying goes, are free. The mountains, the beaches, the sunsets, the views – they’re all on the house. But quite apart from all that fab stuff that nature has provided, there are some superb free attractions.
There’s a small charge to visit some of Wales’ 400+ castles, while others are free to explore. Take Dryslwyn. It’s less well-known, and certainly less visited than neighbouring Carreg Cennen and Dinefwr, but the Towy Valley views from its ruined hilltop castle and village – well, they’re priceless.
There are plenty of paid for boat trips which go out into Cardigan Bay to say hello to the resident dolphins, porpoises and seals – as well as exotic visitors like whales and harmless sharks. Or you could just sit on a clifftop somewhere gorgeous – Mwnt, for example – and watch them glide through the waters beneath you.
Got a phone with GPS on it? Then you’re ready to go Geocaching, a global game of hide-and-seek with almost two million hidden ‘treasures’. The Brecon Beacons National Park people have really got the bug: they’ve planted 180 caches for you to find. And your children will never again be bored on country walks.
The magnificent castle, 18th-century orangery, ornamental gardens and deer park are set in 1,000 acres of lovely countryside, while its attractions include a narrow gauge railway, adventure playgrounds, nursery rhyme-themed children’s area, and rare breeds farm trail. Entry to the park itself and most of its attractions are free.
The entire 870-mile Wales Coast Path is free for everyone to explore, and this magical ‘island’ – which is rarely cut off completely – is the setting for the perfect family adventure: a walk through a nature reserve to reach an old lighthouse and ruined chapel.
Our seven National Museums are spread all over Wales, and between them cover all aspects of Welsh life and history, ancient and modern. There’s art, culture, natural history, coal, wool, slate, industry, Roman heritage… each offering brilliant family days out, and remarkably, (considering the world-class collections they hold) they’re all free.
September is a month of bargains, thanks to the Open Doors Days scheme, run by the Civic Trust for Wales, which offers free access to a variety of buildings and heritage sites, as well as events of all kinds. Entrance fees are waived, while places that were already free offer something extra, such as behind-the-scenes tours and exhibitions
Britain’s smallest city has one of its prettiest cathedrals. St Davids Cathedral was built in the 12th century from gorgeous honey-coloured stone on the site of a monastery founded 600 years earlier by St David himself. It’s a fabulous place to visit and, like other places of worship, free to enter (although a modest donation is always warmly welcomed…).
The Oriel Kyffin Williams gallery within Oriel Ynys Môn is dedicated to Wales’s most celebrated artist, and always has some of his most stunning work on display. But there are also changing exhibitions by many other artists, sculptors and craftsworkers, as well as an excellent museum about Anglesey’s history, and a rather good café.