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Pen Y Fan, the highest peak in the Brecon Beacons
Pen Y Fan, the highest peak in the Brecon Beacons

Things To Do In The Brecon Beacons

Prince Charles has been heard to rhapsodise about the beauty of the Brecon Beacons, saying "I can't tell you how wonderful the setting is here..." With all respect to HRH, "wonderful" is almost an understatement.

Discover Your Bliss in the Brecon Beacons

The Brecon Beacons offer everything fantastic about Wales gift wrapped in one green and gorgeous package. There are old mines that fed the burners of the Industrial Revolution, mountain peaks that offer unrivalled views across a magnificent landscape, canals that meander through peaceful villages and countryside, delicious local food and wine celebrated in fantastic food festivals, and enough of the great outdoors to satisfy anyone for a lifetime. All of this is within easy reach via good roads and well serviced by trains. What more could you want from your holiday in Wales?


Discovery Days

Discovery Days in the Brecon Beacons
Storey Arms, Brecon Beacons

The Brecon Beacons National Park stretches from Hay on Wye in the north to Pontypool in the south, and east from Llandeilo to Abergavenny. Its proximity to the Welsh/English border has left a legacy of a dozen castles, and market towns linked by swathes of rugged countryside perfect for horse riding, hiking, and mountain biking.


Brecon is a quaint market town with a relaxed vibe. It is a beautiful place to base yourself for a self-catering holiday in the Brecon Beacons, and perfect for a day out. Brecon is the home of the illustrious Royal Welsh Regiment, and military buffs will appreciate the excellent museum showcasing the regiment's history.

If it's a nice day, have a picnic on the Promenade. With a children's park and dog exercise area, it is especially popular with families at weekends and during school holidays. The main path is accessible, but it is unsurfaced upstream from the car park and can be difficult for wheelchairs and buggies even in dry weather. There are some places where you can access the shingle bank of the river to paddle your toes and skim stones. Parking is near Watergate Bridge and the Promenade is signposted from the B4601 (Cradoc Road).

Other points of interest in Brecon are the Cathedral, which dates from 1093 and which has close links to the Battle of Agincourt, and lovely independent galleries, boutiques and shops stocking antiques, books, and crafting materials. You could lose hours browsing in Brecon!

Craig-y-Nos Country Park

In a secluded valley north of Swansea, Craig-y-Nos Country Park was created in the Victorian era and is a wonderful choice for a family and dog-friendly day out. There are flower-filled meadows, flat grassland ideal for ball games, shady wooded areas rife with bluebells in spring, fishponds and lakes.

Craig-y-Nos was developed by Adelina Patti, a famous opera singer whose career spanned more than 50 years from 1851 until 1914. No expense was spared in the creation of her retirement hideaway beside the River Tawe, and it is rumoured Adelina is as attached to the property now as she was during her lifetime and still haunts the castle.

Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal

Walk or cycle along the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal
The Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal

The Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal flows 35 miles from Brecon all the way to Pontypool, before continuing south to Newport. The canal was created as a way of transporting coal from the mines to the docks. The canal path is now a peaceful place to take a gentle walk with herons, kingfishers, and red kites all spotted regularly. The entire length of the canal is wheelchair accessible, though as much of it is gritted it can get muddy after a lot of rain.

Visit a (Distant) Relative

The Wales Ape and Monkey Sanctuary provides a caring home for rescued primates who are unable to live in the wild. You can see chimpanzees, gibbons, spider monkeys and tamarins, among other species, and even be a keeper for a day. One of the newest residents is a chimpanzee named Bili who was rescued from a poorly-run zoo in Bulgaria. It isn't a full day out, and the prices are what you would expect for a larger zoo, but the sanctuary is an interesting and uplifting place to visit, and you can see how the money benefits the care of these animals.

Explore a Castle

Walk or cycle along the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal
Carreg Cennen Castle on the edge of the brecon Beacons

Wales is renowned for the number and quality of its castles. The Brecon Beacons National Park includes around a dozen of these imposing fortifications in various states of repair. Some of them, like Crickhowell, are little more than a column of stones with great views, while others, like Abergavenny Castle, are more impressive. A good castle to visit is Carreg Cennen near Llandeilo. It is privately owned, and there is a modest entry fee. You can save money by bringing a torch to explore the cave that was once the castle's dungeon, but if you forget, then they are available to hire.

Cyfarthfa Castle is near Merthyr. Built as a monument to the success of the local iron industry, it includes a good museum and 160 acres of parkland that feature a children's splash park (water play area that is fantastic, though very busy, in summer) and a cafe. Cyfarthfa is not really a castle but a very grand country house. For an authentic medieval experience visit Tretower Court and Castle. The present buildings were built in the 1300s and 1400s, and some excellent restoration work allows you to see how earlier residents would have lived.

Visit a Rebel's Hideout

Above Trefil Quarry on the Llangynidr moors, an unassuming looking cave provided a welcome hideout for the Chartists rebels to store weapons and supplies in preparation for their march to Newport to protest their lack of political rights. Though generally referred to as the Chartists' Cave, it used to be called Tylles Fawr (meaning "great hole" in Welsh).

Llangynidr is a small village north of Crickhowell. It is near both the Monmouthshire to Brecon Canal and the River Usk, and there are several waterside walks. There are two great pubs in the village: The Coach and Horses, which sits alongside the canal and serves a fabulous Sunday lunch (booking essential!), and The Red Lion which serves a wide selection of lager and ales and has a large beer garden in which to enjoy them.

Rainy Days

Wales wouldn't be as wonderfully green as it is without a healthy sprinkle of rain. If the sprinkle turns into a downpour, you can always entertain yourself here.

Brecon Mountain Railway
Brecon Mountain Railway

Brecon Mountain Railway

You don't have to save a trip on the Brecon Mountain Railway for a rainy day, but it does give you a good opportunity to see the scenery without worrying about getting wet feet! There is a good cafe at Pant and Pontsticill train stations, and steam train buffs will enjoy the opportunity to visit workshops where the locomotives are stored and maintained.

Dan-yr-Ogof Showcaves

Rainy day activities in the Brecon Beacons have to include a trip to the National Showcaves Centre. Not only is there a magical and mysterious underworld to explore, but a dinosaur park with more than 200 life-sized models, a Shire Horse Centre, museum, and the opportunity to pan for gold. There are three main caves: Dan-yr-Ogof, Cathedral Cave, and the rather sinister-sounding Bone Cave. All are fascinating and beautiful in different ways - which will be your favourite?


One of the busiest market towns in the Brecon Beacons National Park is Abergavenny. It has a lot to offer visitors whatever the weather, but much of it is undercover to make it a good wet weather destination. Start with the Grade I listed St Mary's Priory. The church choir stalls are original and date back nearly 600 years, while some of the effigies are as old as the 13th Century. The Tithe Barn is just across the courtyard and serves homemade meals prepared using ingredients as local as possible.

Brecon Mountain Railway
Brecon Mountain Railway

If you are serious about knowing where your food comes from you could always make it yourself! Rachel Watson, aka The Abergavenny Baker, runs fun baking classes where you can learn skills that will last for the rest of your life, reminding you of your holiday every time you knead dough or inhale the fragrance of freshly baked bread.

Abergavenny has regular market days (on a Tuesday, Friday and Saturday) and an interesting local museum on the grounds of the Norman castle. It's known as a foodie's town and hosts an acclaimed Food Festival on the third weekend of September. There are several great delicatessens and bakers, and an excellent kitchenware shop. A few miles north of Abergavenny, Crickhowell also offers several good cafes and restaurants, as well as Black Mountain Chocolates and a fantastic independent bookshop.

Blaenavon World Heritage Site

Blaenavon was designated a World Heritage Site for its rich mining heritage that powered the Industrial Revolution. A highlight of your visit to Big Pit National Mining Museum is a tour of the mines led by a retired miner. Venture into the mine in a Big Pit, see the relics of a different era at the Ironworks, and visit the World Heritage Centre to learn more about the industry that shaped much of the surrounding landscape.

Walk Behind a Waterfall

Brecon Mountain Railway
Sgwd-y-Eira (the snow waterfall)

Waterfalls look their best when it is, or has recently been raining, and there are three excellent places to see waterfalls in the Brecon Beacons. The first place is Henrhyd Falls. At 27 metres, it is the highest fall in the park. There is parking at the National Trust car park near Coelbren, off the A4221 south of Abercrave. The walk to the falls is via a steep path, so make sure you're wearing sensible shoes. The Blaen-y-Glyn falls are in the Talybont Valley, but the most famous waterfall in the Brecon Beacons is probably Sgwd-y-Eira, (the Snow Waterfall) in Waterfall Country, which has a path that goes behind the curtain of water. You'll find it west of Merthyr Tydfil, near Forest Fawr.

Adventure Days

Paraglide over the Brecon Beacons
Paraglide over The Brecon Beacons!

There is lots of opportunity to get your pulse racing in the Brecon Beacons. Here are a few suggestions.


The Brecon Beacons are better known for climbing than canyoning. This is a huge oversight because canyoning is about the most fun you can have if you're the sort of person who thinks jumping off a cliff into a bubbling pool at the bottom of a waterfall is a good idea. There are lots of places to clamber over wet rocks and across fast flowing rivers in the national park but make sure you go with an expert guide like those at Hawk Adventures.


The peaks and valleys of the Brecon Beacons National Park are easily visible but venture underground and you can discover an entirely new world, should we say, ancient world, because these caves were formed a millennia ago.

Four of five of the UK's longest limestone cave systems are in the Brecon Beacons National Park, offering a brilliant adventure for keen potholers and cavers. We have already mentioned the Dan-yr-Ogof show caves where you don't need any special clothing or equipment to explore, but if you are after more of a challenge then get in touch with a professional cave experience company such as Blue Ocean.

Alternatively, if you're already an experienced caver but want local tips on where to explore, contact the South Wales Caving Club.

Climb a Mountain

Climb a mountain in the Brecon Beacons
Climb a mountain in the Brecon Beacons

Pen-y-Fan is the number one destination for almost every visitor to the Brecon Beacons. Although challenging in parts, the climb is achievable for most people (and dogs) and the paths are well maintained. While the views from the top are indeed spectacular, there are several drawbacks to climbing the mountain. Firstly, you don't actually get a view of Pen-y-Fan while you're on it, which is a shame because it's a good looking mountain. Secondly, it gets busy up there on sunny days and weekends, so be prepared to share your view with lots of people. Finally, parking is difficult at popular times (nice weekends, summer, when it's been snowing) and you will get a ticket if you don't park legally.

There are lots of beautiful peaks to scale where you can get a great view without feeling like you're walking through a lunchtime crowd in the city, try Mynydd Troed. There is a path that starts at The Dragon's Back pub in Pengenffordd. It gets steep in places, but you will be rewarded with breathtaking (literally!) views of the Black Mountains, Mynydd Llangorse and Llangorse Lake.

Mountain Biking

The mountain biking in the Brecon Beacons is as good as anywhere in the UK. There are an endless number of trails to suit all abilities, from cyclists who just want a little pootle along the canal path to those who aren't happy unless they've got their heart pumping on a black run. It's pointless trying to list the good trails here because there are so many of them but the majority of them are in the east of the national park, around Talybont, Brecon, and Crickhowell. There is also an excellent mountain biking centre, Bike Park Wales, in Merthyr Tydfil, that was built by renowned rider and trail builder Rowan Sorrell.

Brecon Beacons National Park has produced a comprehensive guide to mountain biking in the area, but there is also lots of information on sites like MTB Wales. You can even hire eBikes from QuietLanes so that you can explore with ease.

Horse Riding

Saddle up and explore the hills and mountains on the back of horses that have been born and bred in the Brecon Beacons. There are many excellent stables all around the National Park that cater for all abilities. Wern Trekking is a great example. They are based in the beautiful hills above Crickhowell and have very friendly guides and well looked after horses. They are as good for beginners as they are for experienced riders. Despite his name, Ronnie the Rocket is particularly careful with children riding for the first time.

Lazy Days

Monmouthshire and Brecon canal
Narrowboats on the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal

Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal

We've talked about walking along the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal, but the lazy way to enjoy it is by floating along on a narrowboat or canoe. This map is an excellent resource to help you plan your day and shows where you can access the water safely. As well as hiring them from Brecon, you can hire canoes and narrow boats for the day at Goytre Wharf, which is south on the canal before Pontypool. Redline Boats also has a wheelchair accessible boat for hire.

Stroll through a Vineyard

The Brecon Beacons is known for its excellent food, but did you know the region also produces wine? Sugar Loaf Vineyard is at the foot of the Sugarloaf just outside of Abergavenny and produces award-winning wines from seven different grape varieties. A few miles away, the White Castle Vineyard also makes award-winning wines. Sample their wares from the cellar door, or book a vineyard tour and wine tasting.

If you're more of a beer connoisseur, Brecon Brewing may be more to your liking. The brewery shop is open Monday to Friday, and you'll find their products stocked in many local establishments including the Coach and Horses in Llangynidr and The Star in Talybont. An alternative to wine and beer is the Penderyn Distillery which produces an impressive array of whisky, gin, vodka, and liqueurs. Tour their distillery or stop by their shop and pick up a souvenir of your Brecon Beacons holiday. Penderyn also offer tasting masterclasses for the real enthusiast.


At the northern tip of the Brecon Beacons, Hay-on-Wye is a fantastic place to lose a day or two. It is easy to reach, and there is a large pay and display car park. Hay is a Book Town and hosts a famous literary festival every May. The town is well stocked with specialist book shops that attract visitors all year round. A favourite is the Castle Book Store which is an honesty store selling second-hand books on the grounds of the castle, and a lovely place to browse and soak up the relaxed atmosphere. Specialist bookshops include The Children's Bookshop, and Murder and Mayhem which sells, as you may have guessed, detective and crime books. Take a side trip and drive along Hay Bluff for amazing views.

Meet the locals

Welsh Ponies
Welsh Ponies

Recharge your batteries amongst nature. There is an abundance of wildlife to spot in the Brecon Beacons but none as special as the sturdy Welsh Ponies that have graced the mountains for some 3000 years. Stock up on goodies for a picnic in Hay-on-Wye, then head up into the Black Mountains to spend a lazy day relaxing, walking and spotting these remarkable creatures (Hay Bluff is a particularly good place to spot them).

Weekenders' Guide

Essential Guide to the Brecon Beacons
A whirlwind tour!

Here are some places and activities which will give you a flavour of Welsh life even if your time here is limited to a weekend.

Stargaze in Romantic Ruins

The Brecon Beacons is listed as a dark sky reserve. There is no place more romantic to stargaze than beside the ruins of Llanthony Priory, where the skies have a limiting magnitude of 6.35. Part of the priory ruins have been converted into a bar and restaurant serving Welsh food and beer. It is easy to find and there is ample parking making a stop here a perfect end to a wonderful day.

Ride The Killer Loop

When mountain bikers die and go to heaven, they arrive in the Brecon Beacons. The landscape - both natural and formed by its mining past - is made for enjoying on two wheels. If you love your bike, then you can't leave without riding The Killer Loop. At more than 40km it's a full day out, and you should be prepared for any weather even if it's sunny when you set off. The first two miles are seriously steep but don't be put off because the loop has three of the longest downhills in the national park and incredible views.

Go to a Festival

There is a full calendar of exciting festivals in the Brecon Beacons so plan your holiday around one that interests you whether it's walking, eating, reading, dancing, arts, or music.

Forage for Food

Cut your food's carbon footprint to zero by finding it yourself on a foraging tour. Food writer Adele Nozedar runs regular full and half-day courses in and around Brecon where you can find seasonal ingredients and pick up tips on how to cook them. Her pop-up restaurant, 1,000 Footsteps, runs from Talgarth Mill and has a menu devised from what has been found fresh that day. It's an enlightening and fun way to dine.

Take a Sheep for a Walk

Sheep are as synonymous with Wales as dragons. They're also a lot more cuddly so why not take one for a walk? Choose your mate from a flock of Jacob sheep at Aberhyddnant Farm and head out with them for a two-hour walk. They're not great conversationalists, but they can show you the best grazing spots!

Last Minute Offers in The Brecon Beacons

Thinking of a break in The Brecon Beacons? Let us tempt you with a selection of our best last minute offers. Remember, we don't charge a booking fee, so the price you see is the price you pay.

Did you know?

...The mountains of the Brecon Beacons were formed in the last Ice Age, and there is evidence that people lived there over 8,000 years ago.

...The Fforest Fawr Geopark was the first European Geopark in Wales.

...The name "Brecon Beacons" comes from the signal fires (or beacons) which were lit on mountain tops to warn of incoming invaders - often from over the English border.

...The landscape is some of the most challenging in Britain which is why the SAS use it to test potential recruits.

...Prince Charles owns an estate near Myddfai on the western fringes of the Brecon Beacons. His good friend, The Hon Dame Shan Legge-Bourke, whose daughter, Tiggy, was once nanny to the young princes William and Harry, owns Glanusk estate near Crickhowell.

...The first Welshman to emigrate to America, Howell Powell, came from Brecon. He moved to Virginia in 1642.

...Dinosaurs once again roamed the Brecon Beacons as the second instalment in the rebooted Jurassic World franchise was filmed here in 2017. Trefil Quarry, just south of the Beacons, has also been used as a film location for Doctor Who, Clash of the Titans, and A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.