Top 20 free attractions in Wales
1. The National Museum & Gallery, Cardiff
History, science and the arts at your fingertips - the National Museum & Gallery really captures your imagination. It houses the best collection of impressionist paintings outside of Paris. Stroll through elegant art galleries housing world-famous works of art, or take a journey back in time to explore a land of dinosaurs and woolly mammoths. Uncover the secrets of our Celtic, Roman and Viking ancestors, or discover the story of the amazing natural history of Wales.
National Museum & Gallery Website
2. St Fagans National History Museum
The National History Museum opened on 7 July 1948. Since then, it has established itself as one of Europe's foremost open-air museums, becoming Wales' most popular heritage attraction. The Museum shows how the people of Wales lived, worked and spent their leisure time over the last five hundred years; and over the past fifty years it has inspired generations of visitors with an appreciation of Welsh history and tradition.
National History Museum website
3. National Wool Museum, Carmarthenshire
This flagship museum is a new and exciting place to visit with something for everyone to enjoy. Visit the restored listed mill buildings and historic machinery and see brand new features such as the glass roofed courtyard. A raised walkway gives a unique view of textiles in production at Melin Teifi, the site's commercial woollen mill, while a new gallery displays aspects of the National Flat Textile Collection for the first time.
National Wool Museum website
4. National Slate Museum, Gwynedd
The National Slate Museum at Llanberis has recently been relaunched following investment of £1.6 million (approximately $3.2million), bringing back to life the inheritance of the North Wales slate industry, which roofed the industrial revolution. The Museum building is sited in the Victorian workshops built in the shadow of Elidir Mountain, site of the vast Dinorwig quarry.
National Slate Museum website
5. National Waterfront Museum, Swansea
Throughout the Industrial Revolution Wales influenced the rest of the world. How we live today is a result of the choices we made then. At the National Waterfront Museum you can be plunged into poverty, wallow in wealth, dabble with danger or even risk your health! Experience noise, grime, high finance, upheaval, consumerism and opportunity. Be exploited! Watch as families cope under pressure.
National Waterfront Museum website
6. National Roman Legion Museum, Gwent
Today at the National Roman Legion Museum at Caerleon, you can learn what made the Romans a formidable force and how life wouldn't be the same without them. You'll be able to see a large collection of objects that show us how they lived, fought, worshipped and died.
National Roman Legion Museum website
7. Big Pit: National Coal Museum, Blaenafon
Big Pit, the National Coal Museum of Wales is a real coal mine and one of Britain's leading mining museums. With facilities to educate and entertain all ages, Big Pit is an exciting and informative day out. Explore the history of the industrial revolution, iron production and coal mining history. The Big Pit is an important attraction located in Blaenafon, which has been designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Big Pit website
8. Margam Country Park, Port Talbot
Set in 1000 acres of glorious parklands, Margam Country Park offers beauty, history, wildlife and a wide range of facilities to make it one of the best days out in Wales for all the family. It has surprises around every corner, from the magnificent 18th Century Orangery, an impressive Tudor-Gothic style Victorian Mansion House, a 12th Century Chapter House, to the unique Fuschia Collection and the newly restored historic gardens around the Castle, the Monastic Gardens and Orangery Terrace.
Margam Country Park website
9. The National Library of Wales
The National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth is a mountain of knowledge about Wales and the world – millions of books on every subject, thousands of manuscripts and archives, maps, pictures and photographs, films and music, and electronic information. What's more, there are often great exhibitions to check out.
National Library of Wales website
10. Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea
The Dylan Thomas Centre has a permanent exhibition on Dylan Thomas and his life, as well as a shop filed with books, posters and memorabilia. The Centre is also home to the Ty Llen literature programme, which puts on many literary events throughout the year, including the annual Dylan Thomas Festival during October and November.
Dylan Thomas Centre website
11. Nant Gwrtheryn Heritage Centre, Gwynedd
A new Heritage Centre was opened at Nant Gwrtheyrn in 2003 to provide visitors to the village with the opportunity to discover more about the Welsh language and culture, the rich local environment and the extraordinary story of the development of the first ever residential centre for Welsh learners in the 1970s.
Nant Gwrtheyrn website
12. Cardiff Summer Festival, Cardiff
The capital city of Wales is also host to one of the UK’s largest free festivals, the Cardiff Summer Festival with events such as Alice through the Looking Glass Parade, open-air theater, food and drink, children’s festival, Welsh proms, carnivals, and The Red Dragon Family Festival.
Cardiff Festival website Or call +44 (0)29 2087 2087
13. Free castle visits
Walk many medieval castle grounds and walls for free. Visit Castell Dinas Bran in Denbighshire, which rises high above the Dee Valley and overlooks the nearby town of Llangollen. Or tour the South Wales coastline on a visit to Ogmore castle, which stands next to the River Ogmore and the famous stepping stone river-crossing. It is also possible to walk the towering castle walls of Conwy Castle in North Wales for free.
For more castle information, visit the CADW website
14. Mountain biking in Wales
Wales is home to a wide range of world class mountain bike centers. From Gwydr Forest, Coed Y Brenin and Machynlleth in the north towards Nant-yr-Arian, Afan Forest and Cwm Carn in the south, each all weather single-track has much to offer for a perfect mountain biking break.
See the Visit Wales Mountain Biking website
15. Brecon Beacons - National Park Mountain Centre
The "Mountain Centre" is located 5 miles south west of Brecon and some 15 miles north of Merthyr Tydfil. It was opened in 1966 with financial assistant from the Carnegie United Kingdom Trust. The Mountain Centre, which is how everyone refers to it in South Wales, is run by the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority. It is consistently the most popular visitor attraction in the National Park. Some 1100ft / 335m above sea level offering its location offers stunning views of Pen Y Fan the highest mountain in South Wales. An adjacent moorland ridge known as Mynydd Illtyd offers some fine easy to moderately graded walking. Children and families are catered for in a well tended large field suitable for informal games.
Brecon Beacons National Park website
16. Offas Dyke Path
One of the earliest of the National Trails this renowned long distance footpath must rate as the best walk in Britain. The 177 mile (285km) route extends from the top to the bottom coast of Wales and follows an 8C earthwork built by King Offa sometime between 756 and 796 to contain marauding Welsh tribes. Don’t miss the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, built in 1795 with an entire length of 1,007 feet and nineteen arches; it is an engineering masterpiece for its day.
Offas Dyke Path website
17. Snowdonia Hiking Trail
The Snowdonia Trail is an outstanding walking holiday of approximately 140mls (220km), for the connoisseur of unspoilt mountain scenery. Taking in some of the most scenic and spectacular sections of the mountain routes of Wales, including Snowdon and the major summits; we believe it is unrivalled for fine mountain walking and atmosphere.
Snowdonia National Park website
18. Male Voice Choirs
To listen to sound of a Welsh Male Voice Choir is a both a unique and moving experience. These choirs were born as a result of the community spirit forged in the coal mines and ironworks of the South Wales Valleys and the quarries of North Wales. They are as active today as the day they were formed. Most Male Voice Choirs welcome visitors to drop-in on rehearsals for a unique behind-the-scenes look at what's going on.
Visit Wales Homecoming Choir information
19. Ruthin Craft Centre
The Arts Council of Wales Lottery funded transformation of Ruthin Craft Centre is now underway. This exciting redevelopment designed by Sergison Bates architects will be open by summer 2008. The new center will be located on the existing site in its own landscape and will be a dynamic zinc and cast stone building with undulating roofs to echo the surrounding Clwydian hills. Ruthin Craft Centre will be one of the leading craft centers in Britain.
Ruthin Craft Centre website
20. Pembrokeshire National Park
With over 621 miles (1000 km) of footpaths and bridleways, walking is an ideal way of exploring the beauty of the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. The Pembrokeshire Coast National Trail is spectacular 186 miles (299 km) long National Trail covering some of the most varied coastal scenery in Britain, stretching from St Dogmaels in the north to Amroth in the south. Trails in the park offer over 200 circular walks, ranging from a one hour strolls to invigorating 9 miles (15km) cross-country hikes.
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park website