If you’re looking for one of the best places to visit in Wales, you absolutely must visit the Brecon Beacons National Park. Whether you love hiking, swimming or getting an adrenaline rush, there really are so many things to do in the Brecon Beacons that you won’t be stuck for activities or wondering how to spend your time. Quite the opposite, in fact… you’ll probably be planning your next visit before you leave! In this blog post we’re going to be highlighting all the best things to do in the Brecon Beacons, including the best walks and hikes in the Brecon Beacons, places to visit, and more!
Brecon Beacons National Park is located in South Wales, and relatively close to Swansea and Cardiff in Wales, and Bristol in England. It’s one of the UK’s 15 National Parks and definitely one of the best places to visit in the UK based on how absolutely stunning the area is. Mountain hikes, beautiful views, breathtaking waterfalls… these are just a few of the reasons you should out the Brecon Beacons on your Wales bucket list.
Nature and hiking has got to be the biggest pull for me. Here you’ll find some of the best hikes in Wales – Pen y Fan and Henrhyd Falls are just a couple of the best hikes in the Brecon Beacons. But that’s not all that’s on offer here. You’ve got the Brecon Mountain Railway, the extraordinary castles, the lakes, the National Show Caves, and more fun things to do in the Brecon Beacons. If you love going on an adventure and having fun outdoors, this is the destination for you!
In this Wales travel guide we’ve narrowed down the best things to do in the Brecon Beacons, the best places to visit in the Brecon Beacons and the best hikes in the Brecon Beacons to help you plan the ultimate adventure in this UK National Park. Get ready to start putting together your Wales bucket list!
Other blog posts you might be interested in…
- The best things to do in Wales
- The best hikes in the Brecon Beacons
- The best things to do in the UK National Parks
- Snowdonia National Park: a weekend itinerary
- My guide to climbing Mount Snowdon
- The best walks and hikes to go on in Wales
- My weekend guide to Bangor, Wales
- The best things to do in Swansea Bay
- A complete guide to Pembrokeshire National Park
- A weekend guide to Anglesey
- Unique places to stay in the UK
How to get to Brecon Beacons National Park…
The easiest way to get to Brecon Beacons national park is by car, as it has close connections to the M4, M50 and A40. If you’d prefer to get public transport, you can get the train to Abergavenny (in the south of the Brecon Beacons) on the Cardiff-Manchester line. Trains from Cardiff to Merthyr Tydfil go every 30 minutes and trains from Swansea and Llanelli to Llandovery run 4 times a day. Book your train tickets online on thetrainline.com.
Where to stay in the Brecon Beacons…
Some of the best places to stay in the Brecon Beacons are be Llandeilo, Abergavenny, Crickhowell, Brecon and Hay on Wye. Here you can find Airbnbs, hotels, hostels and more!
- Check Airbnb for apartments, rooms and cottages in the Brecon Beacons. Check out the best Airbnb stays in the UK here.
- Check out booking.com to find lots of hotels in and near the Brecon Beacons.
- If you want to stay in a hostel in the Brecon Beacons, YHA have two: YHA Brecon Beacons and YHA Brecon Beacons Danywenallt. This is the the perfect option for budget accommodation with close access to places to visit in the Brecon Beacons. Book your YHA stay here.
The best time to visit the Brecon Beacons…
Most people visit the Brecon Beacons in the summer, when the longer days, brighter skies and warmer temperatures create ideal conditions for all the outdoor activities! Spring and autumn are much quieter seasons, and if you’re lucky, you’ll still get some sunshine. Winter is definitely to be saved for hikers who have more experience because of the snow-capped peaks. Whatever the season, bring a raincoat, because Wales, like other parts of the UK, is famous for its rain!
The best things to do in the Brecon Beacons...
1. Hike Pen y Fan.
Pen y Fan is the highest peak in South Wales and one of the best things to do in the Brecon Beacons is to appreciate the view that you get from the top! The base is really close to Cardiff and there are four main trails up, so if you’ve been before, there are more opportunities to climb Pen y Fan from a new perspective! It’s one of the best hikes in the Brecon Beacons and the views from the summit, which look over the Welsh hills and valleys, are particularly beautiful at sunrise and sunset.
If you want to know more about the routes up to Pen y Fan, check out this blog post on the best hikes in the Brecon Beacons.
2. Go hiking in the Brecon Beacons
If you love getting outdoors, hiking is definitely one of the best things to do in the Brecon Beacons. Pen y Fan might be the most popular of the best hikes in the Brecon Beacons, but it’s not the only area for stunning walks! There are so many wonderful walks and hikes in the Brecon Beacons, and so many trails to explore. Some of our favourites include the trail up to Fan y Big and seeing the famous stone slab resembling a diving board, and the hidden gems of Sugarloaf Mountain and Table Mountain.
- Find out more about some of the best hikes in the Brecon Beacons in this blog post.
- See our top tips for beginner hikers in this blog post.
3. Ride the Brecon Mountain Railway.
One of the best things to do in the Brecon Beacons in summer is to ride the Brecon Mountain Railway. Open from April to October, you can take a steam train through the Brecon Beacons National Park, through Pontsticill and along the Taf Fechan Reservior before climbing to Torpantau, and enjoy all the views. On the journey you can also stop at Pontsticill to enjoy a walk around the reservoir or a coffee in the Lakeside Cafe!
4. See the castles in the Brecon Beacons.
There are loads of castles in the Brecon Beacons National Park, and one of the best things to do in the Brecon Beacons is to learn about Welsh history in these places. Perhaps the most famous, located at the top of a limestone crag with dramatic views a lovely walk up, is Carreg Cennen Castle, but there are more! Whether you want to observe medieval ruins such as Brecon Castle, Crickhowell Castle, Llandovery Castle and Tretower Castle, or visit a grand mansion such as Cyfarthfa Castle, there are plenty of places to visit in Brecon Beacons National Park if you are a history buff or just have a small interest.
5. Explore the National Show Caves.
The National Show Caves are definitely one of the best places to visit in the Brecon Beacons and a must on your to-do-list! There are three caves to visit here – Dan Y Ogof, Cathedral Cave and Bone Cave – which make up a 17km long cave system in South Wales. Within these you’ll wander down ancient passageways, explore huge caverns and see waterfalls. There are also 7 other attractions to explore which form part of your ticket, including seeing life-size dinosaurs, visiting a farm, seeing shire horses, exploring a stone circle, learning more at the museum, and more.
6. Visit some of the lakes.
Some of the best places to visit in the Brecon Beacons are the glacial lakes which are surrounded by stories, myths and legends. Often accessed by hiking, these are a great day out! Our favourites are Llyn Y Fan Fach and Fawr – two large glacial lakes – and Llyn Cwm Llwch – a glacial lake under the peak of Pen y Fan. Wild swimming is discouraged at Llyn Y Fan Fach but allowed at Llyn y Fan Fawr and Llyn Cwm Llwch. Find out more about the trails to get to them in our best hikes in the Brecon Beacons blog post.
7. Go stargazing.
The dark skies in Brecon Beacons National Park are some of the best in the world, never mind in the UK. Brecon Beacons National Park has been an International Dark Sky Reserve since 2012. It was the first dark sky reserve in Wales and it is one of the best places to visit in the UK if you love astronomy. On a clear night you can see the Milky Way, major constellations, bright nebulas and even meteor showers. There are plenty of places to visit in the Brecon Beacons to stare at the 1000s of stars in the sky, and some of our favourites include Usk Reservoir, Llanthony Priory Car Park, Carreg Cennen Castle and Sugar Loaf Mountain.
8. Canoe on the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal.
The Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal stretches for 35 miles through the National Park, and one of the best things to do in the Brecon Beacons is to get on the water and explore the park from there. Whether you want to go bird watching and spot the red kites and buzzards, release your inner history buff as you paddle past old lime kilns or simply just enjoy being outdoors, in the fresh air and on the water, this is an activity that can be enjoyed by everyone.
Monmouth Canoe and Activity Centre offer a variety of watersports across the Brecon Beacons – find out more here.
9. Explore Hay on Wye.
Hay on Wye is known as the “town of books” – both for the number of bookshops in the town, as well as the infamous Hay Festival – it’s one of the best places to visit in the Brecon Beacons for all bibliophiles! Hay on Wye is at the north eastern tip of the National Park and it’s a great base for many of the best things to do in the Brecon Beacons. As well as the specialist bookshops, there are other unique independetly-owned stores to shop in and cafes for tea or lunch.
10. Have a drink at Skirrid Mountain Inn.
One of the best places to visit in the Brecon Beacons is Wales’ oldest pub, the Skirrid Mountain Inn. Located in the village of Llanvihangel Crucorney, the pub is said to be haunted. To hear the stories of the ghosts from the nearby graveyard or to find out more about the landlord putting out the Devil’s Cups to ward away evil spirits, you need to visit for yourself…
11. Go chasing waterfalls...
One of the best things to do in the Brecon Beacons National Park has got to be seeing the waterfalls. They’re absolutely breathtaking! There are so many stunning waterfalls here, go and chase them all! The tallest waterfalls in South Wales, Henrhyd Falls, is within the National Park, but that’s not all. You’ve got Waterfall Country in the south west, as well as hikes in the Brecon Beacons such as the Four Waterfalls trail and the Elidir trail.
What are your favourite things to do in the Brecon Beacons?
Which are your favourite hikes and walks in the Brecon Beacons? Anything you’d add to this Brecon Beacons guide?
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