Start your Cambrian Way tour at the beginning of the A470 in Cardiff Bay, the former docks area of the city which used to be the largest port in the world. It was once better known as Tiger Bay, due to the locally born singer Shirley Bassey. These days the Bay is one of the world’s largest regeneration projects. Central to the whole idea is the Cardiff Bay Barrage, which transformed the bay from mud flats to a massive freshwater lake. Highlights include:
The Wales Millennium Centre has already established its reputation as a unique and lively performing arts centre. More than just a theatre, visitors come from all over the world to enjoy performances ranging from blockbuster West End musicals, Welsh National Operas, Ballet and stand up comedy. One hour behind the scene tours are available for groups daily and exclusive unique experience packages are available for the travel trade including a Technical Tour, Penderyn Talk and Tastings, Choir Lessons, Cardiff Boat Tours and an Architectural Tour. There is a gift shop, café, bar and restaurant on site.
The area around the Millennium Centre is known as Mermaid Quay with waterfront shops, bars, cafes and restaurants.
Another inspiring piece of architecture is The Senedd, which is the debating chamber of The National Assembly for Wales. The building was opened on St David’s Day, 1 March 2006. This building with its unmistakeable undulating roof and open design was conceived on the main principle of energy conservation. Incorporated in the design are renewable energy system and recycling features. Free of charge tours are available daily from 11am – 3pm. Groups should book in advance. A café is available in the Oriel, on the upper level.
The Norwegian Church is an old seaman’s mission in which the Cardiff born children’s author, Roald Dahl was christened. It is now a great little coffee shop and arts venue. The Cardiff Bay Barrage Coastal walk is 2.9km long (1.8 miles) and starts from the Norwegian Church to the seaside town of Penarth. The path runs along the landscaped embankment excellent with views out over the sea and the city. For cyclists and intrepid walkers, the walk continues along the Cardiff Bay Trail circular route which is 10km (6.2 miles) long. A useful dowloadable map can be found on the website.
A good choice of boat trips is available from the city centre and Mermaid Quay.
Go to the official website for more information about coach parking in Cardiff city centre.
St Fagans National Museum of History is Europe’s leading open-air museum situated in the grounds of St Fagans Castle, a late 16 century manor house. There are over forty original buildings, which have been re-erected from sites all over Wales showcasing how people in Wales lived from Celtic times to the present day. Developments include a new welcome building including atrium, shop, café. The Weston Centre for Learning also includes a lecture theatre and activity spaces. Groups must book in advance. Coach parking is available. Entry is Free.
The Royal Mint Experience, Britain’s oldest manufacturing organisation and the world’s leading export mint, now making coins and medals for approximately 60 countries worldwide. Visitors can take a guided tour of the factory and explore the interactive exhibition. A Gift shop and café are available. Combine your visit with lunch or the Royal Tea Experience.
Tailor-made tours are offered for groups less than eight.
Overnight: Cardiff or Vale of Glamorgan
Cardiff is a cosmopolitan capital city with lots of impressive historic buildings and good parks and gardens to visit. The city offers a variety of restaurants and bars, excellent shopping and plenty of culture.
Key highlights in the city centre include:-
National Museum Cardiff tells the story of Wales from earliest times and is unique among British museums and galleries for its range of art and science displays. The National Museum of Art is also housed here and features one of Europe’s finest Impressionist art collections, including work by Renoir, van Gogh, Monet and Cezanne. Entry to the museum is free. Please note is it closed on Monday. There is also a gift shop, coffee shop and restaurant to enjoy.
Cardiff Castle is located in the heart of the city with over 2000 years of history. Start in the contemporary interpretation centre and then choose to explore on your own with an audio guide available in ten languages or you can join one of their tours:-
- The House Tour run on the hour and last 50 minutes.
- The Clock Tower Tours lasts 30 minutes and is available on weekends and bank holidays from April to October.
- Other tours are available by pre-booking including the Connoisseur Tour, a Behind the Scenes Tour, Curator Tour (groups only), Film Location Tour, The Town Walls of Cardiff and the Ghost Tour.
Welsh Banquets are available from January – November, Sunday to Thursday. A café and gift shop are available on site.
The 74,500 seater Principality Stadium with its unique retractable roof was built for the 1999 Rugby World Cup and is now a major sporting and concert arena. A behind the scenes tour is a great introduction to the Welsh love of rugby and to find more out about the stadium. Tours take place on the hour between 10am and 5pm, duration is 1 hour 15 minutes. There are times when all areas won’t be accessible due to events and matches but mini tours are available (40 minutes duration).
If your clients are having free time they may choose to discover more of the capital city onboard the hop-on-off Cardiff City Sightseeing Tour or you can book clients on these bookable walking tours of Cardiff:-
- Cardiff History & Hauntings
- Cardiff on Foot
- Creepy Cardiff Ghost Tour
- Planet Wales’ Cardiff Walking Tour
- Loving Welsh Food – private tours can be arranged in French, Italian, Spanish and German
- You may want to allow some free time for shopping.
You may want to add an extra day in Cardiff so that more of the above activities can be included.
Visit the official website for more information about coach parking in Cardiff city centre.
Continue north on the Cambrian Way to Castell Coch or Caerphilly Castle.
Castell Coch (meaning Red Castle), a late nineteenth-century ‘fairytale’ castle situated on a wooded hillside on the outskirts of Cardiff. Lavishly decorated and furnished in the Victorian Gothic style representing a Romantic vision of the Middle Ages. There is a tea room located in the castle grounds. Coach parking is possible but groups must phone in advance of visiting. Group discounts are offered for 15 or more guests.
Caerphilly Castle is the biggest in Wales with a Great Hall and drawbridge, siege engines that actually work and elaborate water defences. It also has a leaning tower that’s even wonkier that the one in Pisa. Coaches will need to drop guests off before using council car park facilities. Group discounts are offered for 15 or more guests.
Explorer passes are available for the travel trade, the passes allow groups to visit a number of Cadw properties and get the most out of their visit.
Continue your journey on the A470, options to visit include:-
Brecon Mountain Railway (Return journey takes 1 hour 40 minutes including a 35 minute stop at Pontsticill). The journey takes you through the scenic Brecon Beacons National Park along the full length of the Taf Fechan Reservoir to Dol-y-Gaer. The all-weather observation coaches are pulled by a vintage steam locomotive. At Pant station, there is a workshop where old steam locomotives are repaired and a footpath to a picnic area with views of the valley. There is also a licenced tearoom and gift shop. Free coach and car park at Pant Station.
Penderyn Distillery is situated in the small village of Penderyn, within the Brecon Beacons National Park. It produces the finest quality single malt whisky and also a range of Welsh spirits such as Merlyn Liqueur, Brecon Vodka and Brecon Gin. Visitors can experience the distilling, bottling process and the history of the whisky making in Wales, including sampling. Whisky master-classes are also available. Standard tours usually take 1 hour. Group tours of up to 20 guests maximum must be booked in advance. Designated coach parking bays are available.
A good introduction to the Brecon Beacons National Park is to include a visit to the National Park Visitor Centre at Libanus. An hour here would give the opportunity for a photo, refreshment stop and a short walk with views of Pen y Fan, the highest peak in South Wales. Longer walks are available and information can be found in the shop. For those who want a strenuous walk, a 10 minute drive takes you to the foot of Pen y Fan (starting from Storey Arms) – 7.6 km (4.7 km) with 530 m of ascent. There are parking facilities available for coaches.
Overnight: Brecon / Crickhowell / Hay-on-Wye
Talgarth Mill is a fully restored, 18th century flour mill with bakery, gift shop and the Baker’s Table café serving local seasonal food and drink run by volunteers. The café is available for private hire. There is a riverside walk and gardens to also enjoy. Group tours of more than 20 guests will be split so that each mini group will get a tour whilst the other visits the café. Two weeks notice must be given in advance. There are no parking facilities but there is a free car park in town which is a 2 minute walk along the high street with designated coach spaces.
Free time at Hay-on-Wye, the town famous for its books. There are millions of them and they are everywhere. The castle, the cinema, the fire station and alleyways are all book shops. It also hosts the annual Hay Festival in May which has placed the town on the world literary map. Oxford Road car park is a long stay car park suitable for all vehicles with designated coach parking.
The next stop is the Elan Valley, known as ‘the Lake District of Wales’ – a Victorian fantasy landscape of stone dams and immense man-made lakes. Learn about the building of the dams and what else the area has to offer at the Visitor Centre. A café and gift shop is available. Visitors can choose to just visit the centre or spend longer around the estate which is ideal for walking, cycling and driving. Guided tours of the estate with a ranger can be arranged. There is a detailed coach operators pack available for parties to get the best from the visit and advance booking is advisable.
Note for coaches: follow a clockwise route around the valley as the road is narrow in places.
Overnight: Llandrindod Wells
Explore the ancient Welsh capital of Machynlleth where the charismatic Owain Glyndŵr was crowned Prince of Wales in 1404. Find out more at the old parliament building, the Owain Glyndŵr Centre which has an interactive exhibition on the life and times of the Prince.
A four minute walk from the Centre takes you to the Museum of Modern Art Wales (MOMA). It flourishes in four beautiful galleries alongside Y Tabernacl, a former Wesleyan Chapel now used as a centre for the performing arts. Throughout the year a series of constantly changing exhibitions showcase modern Welsh art featuring Wales’s top artists. Free entry. There is a car park in Machynlleth town centre for access to both attractions.
Watch a range of craftspeople demonstrate their skills at Corris Craft Centre, home to 9 craft studios including chocolates, jewellery, pottery, herbal remedies and more. There is a shop selling Welsh produce and a café. On the same site you will find King Arthur’s Labyrinth, Corris Mine Explorer and Dyfi Distillery for its award winning gin. There are parking facilities for coaches.
The Talyllyn Railway, inspiration for the Thomas the Tank Engine stories and the Ealing comedy. The Titfield Thunderbolt was the first railway to be preserved as a heritage attraction. The journey from Tywyn Wharf to Nant Gwernol takes 1 hour and the return journey has an additional 30 minute stop at Abergynolwyn. At Wharf Station there is a licensed café, museum and railway shop and there’s a tea room at Abergynolwyn station. Only Tywyn Wharf and Abergynolwyn stations have coach access. Compartments are reserved for group bookings to which parties of 15 or more receive a discount.
Visitors can alight at Dolgoch Station for a walk to Dolgoch Fall Walks , a series of three cascades. Allow at least 1 hour for a visit to Dolgoch Falls and bear in mind there are lots of steps. If you want to visit Dolgoch Falls but without taking the train journey then it can be accessed via The Dolgoch Hotel.
Overnight: Llandrindod Wells / Machynlleth