Best day trips from Cardiff: 3 epic Welsh escapes

Cardiff is a stunning city to visit and discover, and the Welsh capital is also the gateway to South Wales. From the magnificent Brecon Beacons National Park to the arresting Rhossili Bay and the majestic Raglan Castle, South Wales is filled with wonders. This awe-inspiring region offers spectacular scenery from coastline to mountain peak, and provides epic Welsh escapes.

If you are based in Cardiff and you wish to explore and tour South Wales, I would recommend the following three day trips.

Contents:
1. The magnificent Brecon Beacons National Park
2. The charming Monmouthshire County
3. The striking Gower Peninsula

Day trip 1: The magnificent Brecon Beacons National Park

If you do just one day trip from Cardiff, I would urge you to go and explore the Brecon Beacons. Simply drive through the national park and you will discover the wild landscape, rocky peaks and breathtaking scenery that make the Brecon Beacons a sight for sore eyes and a soothing balm for the soul.

Llyn y Fan Fawr lake in the Brecon Beacons
Llyn y Fan Fawr lake

Located an hour and a half north of Cardiff and stretching for 520 square miles, the Brecon Beacons National Park encompasses four mountain ranges: the Black Mountains to the east, the Black Mountain and Fforest Fawr Massif to the west, and the Brecon Beacons in the centre.

Walking in the Brecon Beacons National Park

To explore the Brecon Beacons to the fullest, I would recommend you walk. There are multiple hiking trails of various types and difficulties available. They all offer splendid views stretching across the mountain ranges, South Wales and sometimes even to South West England.

View from Pen y Fan of the Brecon Beacons mountains on the Horseshoe Ridge hike
Breathtaking view from Pen y Fan

The Horseshoe Ridge hike is a challenging but rewarding walk in the heart of the Brecon Beacons national park. This awe-inspiring trail takes you across wild Welsh moorland and up the four majestic peaks of Corn Du, Pen y Fan (the highest peak in Southern Britain), Cribyn and Fan y Big, and offers magnificent scenery. Explore the Brecon Beacons with the Horseshoe Ridge walk guide.

Featuring majestic mountains, peaceful lakes and breathtaking views, the Llyn y Fan Fach walk enjoys spectacular views of the Brecon Beacons, Pen y Fan, the Gower, South Wales and the Bristol Channel. This mountain walk first explores the peaceful lakes of Llyn y Fan Fach and Llyn y Fan Fawr, before ascending the majestic mountains and leading you along the ridge. Find the Llyn y Fan Fach walk guide.

For more walking inspiration, check out the Brecon Beacons walk guides.

The mining museum of Blaenavon

In the 19th century, Wales was a mining country and produced most of the world’s iron and coal. Located on the outskirts of the Brecon Beacons, the town and mine of Blaenavon is the best preserved example of this industrial past. Crowned a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this village showcases life as it was in the mines and mining communities.

White painted stone cottage of Blaenavon mining village
Blaenavon Ironworks (Brecon Beacons) 

Not only can you visit the furnaces, quarries and mines, but you can also explore the typical streets and life-size exhibitions and let yourself be transported back to the 19th century. For more information, please visit visitblaenavon.co.uk.

Day trip 2: The charming Monmouthshire County

Monmouthshire is the eastern-most county in South Wales and borders England. An hour away from Cardiff, this region offers lush green valleys, magnificent castles and charming market towns. During your tour of Monmouthshire, I would recommend you visit the majestic Raglan castle, the enchanting Wye Valley and awe-inspiring Tintern Abbey, as well as the delightful trio of fortresses of Grosmont, Skenfirth and Whitecastle.

The majestic Raglan Castle

Raglan Castle is, in my opinion, one of the best examples of medieval castles in South Wales. Even though the fortress is in ruins today, Raglan Castle is nonetheless imposing and majestic. Built to impress in the 15th century, the fortress boasts striking octagonal towers, a remarkable gatehouse and splendid views of the surrounding countryside. Walking through the courtyard and towers, you can easily escape to medieval times and imagine life as it was then. For more information, please visit cadw.gov.wales.

Raglan Castle, its octogonal towers and surrounding countryside
The majestic Raglan Castle

The enchanting Wye Valley and Tintern Abbey

The enchanting Wye Valley runs along the English border from the cities of Monmouth to Chepstow.  Crowned an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the wooded valley offers a peaceful escape to lush green landscapes and charming market towns. To explore the Wye Valley to the fullest, I would recommend driving through the vale, walking along the river and up the hills, and getting lost in the arresting beauty. Explore the enchanting valley with the Welsh Wye Valley guide.

The arresting structure and magnificent archways of Tintern Abbey
Tintern Abbey

Nested in the heart of the Wye Valley is the awe-inspiring Tintern Abbey. The ruins of the 13th century Cistercian abbey offer striking Gothic architecture, magnificent archways and breathtaking windows. With the sun streaming through the remarkable casements, you are wonderstruck by the arresting structure, rendered even more impressive by the missing panes and roof. For more information, please visit cadw.gov.wales.

The three delightful castles of Grosmont, Skenfirth and Whitecastle

The trio of fortresses of Grosmont, Skenfirth and Whitecastle are usually associated as all three were rebuilt by Hubert de Burgh in the 13th century and are within half a dozen of miles of each other. Dotting the Monmouthshire countryside, these delightful Norman castles are striking remnants of medieval times. Walking through their crumbling walls, you can feel the fortresses’ vibrant auras pulsing through their stones. For more information, please visit cadw.gov.wales.

Day trip 3: The striking Gower Peninsula

The striking Gower Peninsula are an hour away to the west of Cardiff.  Jutting out into the Bristol Channel, Swansea and Gower comprise rugged landscape, arresting scenery and spectacular escapes. From the breathtaking Rhossili Bay to the delightful Mumbles seaside resort, the region offers one of the best day trips from Cardiff.

Mumbles & the amusing Mumbles Pier

The town of Mumbles is a lovely seaside resort just outside Swansea, and its main attraction is the Mumbles Pier. Built in 1898, this Victorian pier offers a fun escape to turn-of-the-century entertainment. From delightful amusements to stunning views, Mumbles Pier juts out into the sea in all its iron beauty and continuously enchants its visitors. For more information, please visit mumbles-pier.co.uk.

Nansi the Gorilla Statue of Swansea's Mumbles Pier
Nansi the Gorilla welcoming visitors at Mumbles Pier

The Gower Peninsula offers spectacular coastal scenery and miles of coastal paths waiting to be explored. From Mumbles, you can follow the coastal path to Limeslade Bay, Langland Bay and Caswell Bay and enjoy breathtaking views of the rugged coast. On the way, you can even stop off the beach for a well-deserved break.

The arresting Rhossili Bay

Rhossili Bay is the best attraction of the Gower Peninsula, and offers breathtaking cliffs, a stunning beach and arresting scenery. Voted one of the best beaches in the United Kingdom, Rhossili Bay is a sight for sore eyes. Walking along the coast or enjoying the white sand beach, the magnificent views of the striking cliffs will captivate and enthral you.

Rhossili Bay on the Gower Peninsula
Rhossili Bay

Please note that Rhossili Bay is very busy during the summer. To beat the crowds you need to arrive early.

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