6 of the Best Must-See Museums and Attractions in Wales
Wales is packed full of must-see Museums and Attractions that showcase it’s culture and history, meaning you’ll be spoilt for choice if you’re looking for something to do. Whether you’re interested in the arts, a historic fanatic or merely looking for somewhere full of intrigue, there will be no limit on what you can explore.
But, with so much going on, it can be hard to know where to start. To give you a helping hand as you start your explorative journey, here are the best museums in Wales.
Museums in Wales
One of the greatest ways to discover Wales is through the fascinating museums dotted across the country. Each one reveals the unique stories and heritage the lies amongst the historic towns and beautiful landscapes that cover the land.
1. National Roman Legion Museum
Leap back in time with a trip to the National Roman Legion Museum.
This free museum showcases what life was like in AD 75 when the Roman Empire built and occupied their Caerleon fortress. Throughout your visit, you’ll be able to view incredible exhibitions, ruins and some half a million artefacts that piece together the mystery behind the formidable Romans.
Outside of the main building, guests can explore Britain’s most complete amphitheatre and enjoy the sights and scents of the realistic Roman Garden, packed full of fruit, vegetables and herbs. The museum is based in Caerleon, Newport and is open daily from 10am – 5pm.
Getting There and Accessibility
Reaching the museum is hassle-free whether you’re driving or using public transport. For drivers, parking options include Broadway, Museum Street and near the Baths on High Street. Those preferring eco-friendly options will find cycle stands at the amphitheatre.
If you’re planning to use public transport, the Traveline Cymru website or helpline (0800 464 0000) can assist in planning your journey. The museum prides itself on accessibility, offering an access guide and specific advice for disabled visitors to ensure a comfortable and inclusive experience.
Museum Amenities and Activities
While the museum doesn’t have its own refreshment facilities, visitors can explore a variety of local eateries in Caerleon town centre. The museum shop is an ideal spot to pick up souvenirs and gifts. For those who prefer outdoor dining, feel free to bring a picnic; there are several charming spots outside the museum.
The museum also encourages visitors to get involved in their ‘Stepping Out’ campaign, which combines cultural exploration with physical activity, counting your steps as you discover various exhibits and historical treasures.
Group Visits and Additional Information
Group visits are warmly welcomed and pre-booking via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) offers additional benefits like discounts in the gift shop and complimentary refreshments for coach drivers. The National Roman Legion museum can only allow trained assistance dogs within its premises, keeping other pets outside for the safety and comfort of all visitors.
2. National Slate Museum
The National Slate Museum is a must-see, telling the fascinating story behind one of Wales most prevalent industries. A visit here will give you access to a range of exciting workshops and buildings that allow you to travel back in time, offering a realistic insight into the life of quarrymen.
The museum is situated amongst the Victorian buildings of Dinorwig Quarry, based in the shadow of the Elidir mountain in Gwynedd.
Essential Information for Planning Your Visit
Before you plan your visit, please note that the museum will be closed from the 8th to the 20th of January 2024 for maintenance and staff training. After this, the museum resumes its winter hours from the 21st of January, operating Sunday to Friday, 10 am to 4 pm.
From the 25th of March to the 4th of November 2024, the museum extends its opening times to 10 am to 5 pm daily. Keep in mind, for safety and supervision, all children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult and bag searches are a standard security measure.
Accessibility and Pet Policy
The National Slate Museum is committed to inclusivity, providing detailed access guides and tailored advice for disabled visitors. While trained assistance dogs are welcome, the museum restricts other animals from certain areas such as the film theatre, galleries and cafe. Dogs are allowed in most other areas, provided they are on short leads. Convenient amenities like water bowls and ‘pooper-scoopers’ are also available.
Refreshments and Shopping
The museum’s coffee shop offers a range of drinks, cakes and snacks which is perfect for a quick break during your exploration. The Museum shop has a range of unique souvenirs and is open throughout your visit. Visitors are also encouraged to bring picnics to add a personal touch to their museum experience.
Group Visits and Additional Offerings
Group visits are welcomed in regular opening hours, with the added perk of free admission. Pre-booking your group at email@example.com gets you benefits like a 10% discount in the gift shop and complimentary refreshments for the coach driver.
3. Cyfarthfa Castle Museum and Art Gallery
Those visiting Merthyr Tydfil must take a look around the Cyfarthfa Castle Museum and Art Gallery. The historical attraction is home to a number of relics that reveal the secrets behind the town’s 2,000-year history. From the very first steam whistle and the first ballot box to Ancient Egyptian grave goods, there’s a lot to see and do.
The museum is housed in the Cyfarthfa Castle which was home to William Crawshay II who commissioned the building to overlook his ironworks in 1824. And, surrounding the architectural masterpiece is miles gorgeous parkland, perfect for exploring.
Visiting and Amenities
Located at Cyfarthfa Park, Brecon Road in Merthyr Tydfil (CF47 8RE), the museum is currently open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 4.30pm with the last admission at 4pm. It’s closed on Mondays and planning your visit in advance is recommended. For a more enriching experience, audio tours are available in multiple languages and a guided group or individual tours can be arranged upon request.
For details on accessibility or any other questions before your visit you can contact them below
- 01685 727492
The Cyfarthfa Tea Rooms are situated within the castle and offer a lovely selection of homemade foods and drinks, ideal for a relaxing break during your visit. Additional refreshment options are available at the Canolfan Cyfarthfa and Bothy which are both in the castle grounds.
4. National Museum Cardiff
The National Museum Cardiff is situated in the heart of the Welsh capital. Hosting a range of arts and historical artefacts, the museum makes for a mind-blowing journey through Wales’ past.
Art fans can enjoy drawings, paintings, jewellery and ceramics from the past 500 hundred years, including Europe’s most exquisite collection of Impressionist art. History buffs can journey through the past, starting with the very beginning of time with the Big Bang, woolly mammoths and dinosaurs.
You can explore the Evolution of Wales and Natural Science galleries on the ground floor. The first floor is home to historic art galleries featuring works by renowned artists like Botticelli, Richard Wilson and Rembrandt.
Due to ongoing maintenance, some art galleries remain closed and visitors are advised to check online in advance to avoid disappointment and the Clore Learning Centre is currently reserved for pre-booked schools and community organisations
National Museum Cardiff Opening Hours
- General Opening Times: 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM (Galleries close at 4:45 PM)
- Weekly Schedule: Open Tuesday to Sunday
- Closed: Mondays (except Bank Holiday Mondays)
- Extended Hours: Open until 8:00 PM on the first Thursday of each month
Getting There and Parking Facilities
For visitors arriving by car, the museum provides a car park located off Museum Avenue. Parking is priced at £6.50 for the day, with card-only payments accepted. Blue badge holders benefit from complimentary parking, with disabled parking also available at the front of the museum on Gorsedd Gardens Road.
Those preferring public transport, cycling, or walking can plan their journey using the Traveline Cymru website or helpline.
Museum Amenities and Dining Options
The museum hosts a café in the Main Hall, open daily from 10 am to 4 pm, serving drinks and snacks. On weekends and bank holidays, the restaurant welcomes visitors from 11 am to 3 pm.
For convenience, lockers and a luggage storage area are available, along with a designated buggy park for pushchairs and prams in the Main Hall.
Accessibility and Group Visits
The museum is committed to accessibility, recommending quieter visiting times from 3 pm each day. Group visits are encouraged, with free admission and benefits such as discounts in the gift shop and complimentary refreshments for coach drivers during pre-booking.
Activities in Wales
Wales has a museum for almost every area of interest. But for those who prefer a much more hands-on approach, there are hundreds of activities and adventures perfect for you. So, whether you enjoy a good adrenaline rush or breath-taking sights, there’s plenty to explore.
5. Folly Farm
There’s something for everyone at Folly Farm. Guests are invited to visit the farm animals in the barn, where feeding and handling opportunities are plentiful. In the zoo, animal fans can get up close and personal with over 750 animals, including giraffes, monkeys and lions.
Little ones can burn off steam in one of the eight different adventure parks located on the site. From a pirate adventure to the ‘destruction playground’, your children can explore every aspect of their imagination. In addition to this, both young and old can get their thrills in the vintage fairground, home to 17 different rides that are reminiscent of the Victorian era.
Throughout the summer, Folly Farm is open every day, and on weekends during the Winter. The farm is hidden away amongst the Pembrokeshire countryside, situated in Begelly, Kilgetty.
6. Zip World
Zip World is a must-visit for all thrill-seekers. They have three locations, each just a short distance away from one another and offer more than their fair share of adrenaline rushes.
At Penryhn Quarry in North Wales, guests can zoom around the site on Go-Karts, swoop down the fastest zip line in the world or jump down Big Red, a 270ft zip line that can be enjoyed with a friend.
In the Slate Caverns at Blaenau Ffestiniog, visitors have the option to ‘Bounce Below’ and explore the underground network of caves via a trail of walkways and trampolines. Alternatively, explore the caverns via 13 zip lines, rope bridges and monkey bars.
At their Betws-y-Coed site, you can explore the treetops. From a coaster flowing through the forest to zip lines and a giant, 80ft swing, there are six different adventures to explore.
Nick, your trusted guide to Wales travel and exploration, shares a deep passion for this enchanting land. With years of exploration, Nick offers expert insights into the best of Wales. Join him on a journey through its captivating history, culture, and hidden gems, as he inspires you to create unforgettable Wales travel experiences.