More things to do outside Porthcawl

WHAT’S ON
21 places to visit that are an hour’s drive from Porthcawl

What is there to visit just outside Porthcawl? Incredible beaches, historic priories and unmissable attractions, that’s what

Things to do near Cardiff
Tintern Abbey, Dan yr Ogof caves and Brecon aren’t far from Cardiff

If you are visiting Cardiff then chances are you’ve got your time out in the city all planned out. After all, Cardiff is absolutely goddamn amazing.

But just a short drive from the city are some incredible beaches, caves, priories and attractions that are well worth a visit.

Here are some things to do near Cardiff, which all take around an hour (some just a little longer) to drive to. We’ve estimated times and the distance from the city centre, but check for traffic updates ahead of your trip.

 

1. Tintern Abbey


Tintern Abbey, Monmouthshire
Tintern Abbey, Monmouthshire (Image: Richard Jones, MLA Photography/Cadw)
One of our greatest monastic ruins, this is surely the best-preserved medieval abbey in Wales. Tintern, on the banks of the River Wye, was only the second Cistercian foundation to be built in Britain. Admission is £5.50 for adults, £16.50 for a family ticket and £4.10 for under 16s.

Where: Tintern, Gwent NP16 6SE

Distance from Cardiff: 45 minutes/36 miles

Visit the Cadw website for more information.

MORE: The couple who travelled 4,821 miles so they could get engaged at stunning Welsh beauty spot.

2. Tredegar House

Tredegar House and Park
Tredegar House and Park
Situated within 90 acres of gardens and parkland, the stately red brick manor house is one of the most significant late 17th-century houses in the UK.

For more than 500 years Tredegar House was home to the Morgan family, who by the end of the 18th century owned more than 40,000 acres in South East Wales. It costs £8 for an adult, child £5, family £20.

Where: Newport, NP10 8YW

Distance from Cardiff: 22 minutes/12 miles

Visit the National Trust website for more information.

 

3. Margam Park

Margam Country Park (Image: Victor Ochieng / Flickr / Creative Commons)
Wild deer, farm animals to stroke, a train around the grounds, acres of grass to run around on and a grand old stately home. It is free to enter but the parking is £4.70, minibus £8.15, coach £16.10.

Where: Off Margam Road, Groes, Port Talbot, SA13 2TJ.

Distance from Cardiff: 35 minutes/30 miles

Visit www.margamcountrypark.co.uk for more information.

4. Ewenny Priory

Ewenny Priory, Bridgend
Ewenny Priory, Bridgend
One of Wales’ finest fortified religious buildings, the priory was founded in 1141 by Maurice de Londres, and the village of Ewenny grew up around it. The church is open daily to visitors from 9.30am to 5.30pm. Church services, Holy days and festivals are announced on the notice sheet outside.

Where: Vale of Glamorgan

Distance from Cardiff: 33 minutes/21 miles

Visit www.ewennypriory.co.uk for more information.

5. Dan yr Ogof caves

Recent wet weather has resulted in spectacular underground conditions not seen in over 100 years
Dan-yr-Ogof is a 15km long cave system, one of the most extensive in Western Europe.

The caves were uncovered almost a century ago by two brothers, and feature underground lakes, rivers and two spectacular 40ft waterfalls.

There are also rock formations including stalagmites and stalactites dating back thousands and, in some cases, millions of years.

There is also a dinosaur park with more than 200 life-sized dinosaur models.

Admission rates allow entry to all attractions and cost £14 for adults, £9.50 for children aged three to 16, and children under two go for free.

Where: Abercrave

Distance from Cardiff: 1 hour/45 miles

Visit www.showcaves.co.uk for more information.

MORE: The Welsh bucket list: 100 things to do in Wales before you die

6. Gower

Rhossili Bay: Haydn Beach
Gower became the first Area of Outsanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in the UK in 1956 and it covers an area of 73 square miles with its 37 square miles of coastline also designated as Heritage Coast.

Rhossili’s three miles of golden sands and its iconic Worm’s Head rock formation is particularly worth a visit, but you won’t regret a day at any Gower beach.

Where: Swansea

Distance from Cardiff: 1 hour 20 minutes/48 miles

MORE: These perfect pictures of the Gower will immediately make you regret booking that foreign holiday

7. Llanthony Priory

Llanthony Priory
The part-ruined Augustinian priory in the secluded Ewyas Valley dates back to 1100. Entry is free and it’s open from 10am-4pm. Don’t forget to check out its very own pub!

Where: Llanthony, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire NP7 7NN

Distance from Cardiff: 1 hour 9 minutes/51.6 miles

Visit cadw.gov.wales for more information.

8. Brecon Mountain Railway

Brecon Railway, Merthyr
Brecon Railway, Merthyr
Travelling through the foothills of the Brecon Beacons, the Brecon Mountain Railway chugs its way alongside the Pontsticill reservoirs until it reaches Pant, just north of Merthyr Tydfil.

The track meanders through stunning countryside, and once you have disembarked you can try the reservoirs on foot thanks to guided paths.

The main station at Pant opens at 9.30am and the last train leaves Pontsticill at 5pm or 4.15pm depending on the time of year. It costs adults £13 return, children (15 and under) £6.50 return.

Where: Merthyr Tydfil, Mid Glamorgan, CF48 2UP (use CF48 2DD for Sat Nav)

Distance from Cardiff: 37 minutes/27 miles

Visit www.breconmountainrailway.co.uk for more information.

 

9. Caerphilly Castle

Caerphilly Castle
(Image: Flickr/archangel12)
This is the largest castle in Wales, it is famous for its ‘leaning tower’, which has leaned 3m out of the perpendicular since 1648.

The network of motes and dams was considered by historian Allen Brown to be ‘the most elaborate water defences in all Britain.’

It costs £5.50 for an adult, senior citizens, students and children under 16 – £4.10.

Where: Castle Street, Caerphilly CF83 1JD

Distance from Cardiff: 20 minutes/8 miles

Various opening times throughout the year, visit cadw.gov.wales for more information.

 

10. Waterfall Country

The main falls at Aberdulais Tin Works
The main falls at Aberdulais Tin Works (Image: Flickr/Cloudsurfer_UK)
The Vale of Neath boasts nine waterfalls set in a stunning vista of mountains and steep side valleys.

Waterfall Country, as the area is known, has long been an inspiration to many artists including landscape painter Turner, who travelled here to paint Aberdulais Falls, a site now in the ownership of the National Trust.

And locals claim some of the idyllic woodland settings of some of William Shakespeare’s romantic plays were inspired by a visit the bard made to South Wales and the Vale of Neath in particular.

Where: Vale of Neath

Distance from Cardiff: 45 minutes/40 miles

Visit Neath Port Talbot Council’s website for more information.

11. St Mary’s Priory

The late 15th century Jesse at St Mary’s Priory Church in Abergavenny
The late 15th century Jesse at St Mary’s Priory Church in Abergavenny
It is known as Wales’ very own Westminster Abbey containing some of the most important medieval treasures in Britain . Among them are more than 10 alabaster chest tombs and the 15th-century wooden sculpture known as the Tree of Jesse, described by the Tate as “one of the finest medieval sculptures in the world”.

Where: Monk Street, Abergavenny, Gwent NP7 5ND

Distance from Cardiff: 45 minutes/40 miles

Price: There is no charge but voluntary contributions are gratefully received.

Visit www.stmarys-priory.org for more information.

12. Big Pit

Big Pit, in Blaenavon
The Big Pit in Blaenavon is now a heritage attraction but thousands of mines around the world are in action and the UK still depends on coal power
Big Pit is located inside a former working coal mine that was operational until 1980.

Take one of the world-famous tours 300ft underground with a real miner and see what life was like for the thousands of men who worked at the coal face. Above ground there are multi-media tours and exhibitions. Free entry.

Where: Blaenafon, Torfaen NP4 9XP

Distance from Cardiff: 46 minutes/30 miles

Visit www.museumwales.ac.uk for more information.

 

13. Pen y Fan

The path up Pen y Fan, and the view from the top and the bottom
The path up Pen y Fan, and the view from the top and the bottom
The highest mountain in South Wales, there is a a steep climb to the summit, to which you can either add the longer “horseshoe” walk or head straight back down. The weather on Pen y Fan often bears no resemblance to that at lower altitude, so be prepared.

Where: Brecon Beacons National Park

Distance from Cardiff: 51 minutes/33 miles

Visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk for route details.

MORE: 100 things to do as a family in Wales before your children stop wanting to hang about with you

14. Dylan Thomas’ birthplace

Dylan Thomas’ birthplace at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, Swansea
Dylan Thomas’ birthplace at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, Swansea
You’ll be stepping back in time when you visit the birthplace and childhood one of Wales’ literary giants, Dylan Thomas.

The house looks just like it used to back in 1914 when Dylan’s family first bought it. It’s open for tours at 11am, 1pm and 3pm but give them a ring beforehand if you’re after a guided tour or book one online.

Where: 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, Swansea, SA2 0RA

Distance from Cardiff: 1 hour/45 miles

Price: It costs £8 for adults and £6 concessions and a family ticket (two adults and two children) is £20.

Visit for www.dylanthomasbirthplace.com more information.

15. Liberty Stadium

Swansea striker Andre Ayew (left) celebrates with Ashley Williams (Image: Stu Forster/Getty Images)
Swansea City made history when they were promoted to the Premier League in 2011 and you can either watch Wales’ only team in the Premiership at the Liberty Stadium or have a tour of it. It is also home to the Ospreys so it doesn’t matter if rugby or football is your sport. A tour is £8 for an adult and £5 for children, and match tickets vary.

Where: Swansea

Distance from Cardiff: 1 hour 5 minutes/44 miles

Visit liberty-stadium.com for tour information, www.ospreysrugby.com for Ospreys tickets and www.swanseacity.net for Swansea City tickets.

16. Barry Island

Crowds of sunseekers flock to the beach on Barry Island in South Wales as they enjoy the hot weather and sunny temperatures as the UK basks in a summer heatwave
The beach on Barry Island
Go on the rides, eat fish and chips, play on the slots, build a sand castle – and anything else you can think of.

Or if you are a Gavin and Stacey fan, then you can take in all the sites and landmarks of the show with a tour .

Where: Vale of Glamorgan

Distance from Cardiff: 26 minutes/11 miles

17. Dare Valley Country Park

The lake at Dare Valley Country Park in Aberdare
The lake at Dare Valley Country Park in Aberdare
With 500 acres of countryside to choose from, there’s more than enough to see.

Where: Aberdare, Rhondda Cynon Taff CF44 7RG

Distance from Cardiff: 41 minutes/24 miles

Visit darevalleycountrypark.co.uk for more information.

18. Newport Transporter Bridge

Newport Transporter Bridge.
Newport’s Transporter Bridge.
Originally built to take workers across the river to the steelworks on the east of Newport, the Transporter Bridge has become a symbol of the city.

Best to avoid if you’re scared of heights, but the walk across the high level is exhilarating.

Opened in 1906, the imposing structure carries passengers across the River Usk on an electrically-powered gondola that travels between two towers measuring 242ft each. It costs £2.75 for adults and £1.75 for children.

Where: 64 Cardiff Road, Newport NP20 2UA

Distance from Cardiff: 23 minutes/14 miles

Visit newport.gov.uk for more information.

19. Dewstow Gardens and Grottoes

One of the lost grottoes at Dewstow Gardens
One of the lost grottoes at Dewstow Gardens (Image: Andrew James)
Dewstow gardens, which were built around 1895, were buried under thousands of tonnes of soil just after World War II and rediscovered in 2000.

It costs £7 for adults, children 11-18: £4, children 6-10 £2.

Where: Caerwent, Caldicot, Monmouthshire NP26 5AH

Distance from Cardiff: 36 minutes/26 miles

Visit www.dewstowgardens.co.uk for more information.

20. Dyffryn Gardens

The north front of Dyffryn House, Vale of Glamorgan. The house was built 1893-4 by architect EA Lansdowne of Newport.
The Grade II listed house and its Grade I listed garden were created by Welsh coal baron John Cory and his family after he bought the site in the late 19th century.

With the help of Thomas Mawson, regarded by many as the leading architect of the Edwardian era, the Cory family developed a spectacular garden stretching over 55 acres, including formal lawns, an arboretum and a collection of themed “garden rooms”, such as a Mediterranean garden and rose garden.

The entire estate passed into the hands of the Vale of Glamorgan council in 1996, and has undergone extensive restoration, with the help of over £6m in funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Today, Dyffryn Gardens is a visitor attraction open all year round. It costs £7.40 for adults, £3.70 for children and £18.50 for families.

Where: St Nicholas, Vale of Glamorgan, CF5 6SU

Distance from Cardiff: 20 minutes/11 miles

Visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk for more information.

21. Craig Y Nos Country Park and Castle

Craig y Nos Castle
Craig y Nos Castle (Image: Matthew Horwood)
You can enjoy the historic grounds of Craig Y Nos Castle, which the River Tawe meanders through, boasting lush meadows, woodland plantations, a fishpond, lakes and woodland walks.

And with its elegant fluted columns and stonework bearing the names of Verdi, Rossini and Mozart, Craig Y Nos Castle is a slice of continental Europe hidden away in the Welsh mountains.

You can stay in the 40-bedroomed Craig-y-Nos Castle once belonged to one of the world’s greatest opera stars Adelina Patti.

The opera house at the heart of the massive neo-Gothic complex in Pen-y-Cae, in the Swansea Valley, remains a resplendent testimony to the 19th-century singer’s vision.

Patti, who performed with many of the 19th century’s leading stars, lived at the castle before building her now grade I listed opera house.

Where: Brecon Beacons National Park

Distance from Cardiff: 1 hour 6 minutes/45 miles