With more than 500 square miles of mountains, waterfalls and castles, the Brecon Beacons National Park boasts some of the most magical and atmospheric scenery in Wales. And whether you’ve set your sights on a solitary summit of its hilly heights or want to explore the historic castles and other family attractions, it’s packed with epic days out to suit all tastes.
From action-packed adventures in Waterfall Country to sedate strolls taking in the scenery, we’ve scoured the National Park for the best things to do in the Brecon Beacons.
👉 National Trust attractions
If chasing waterfalls is high on your holiday to-do list, the Brecon Beacons is the perfect destination for you. The ‘Waterfall Country’ of the National Park is one of the most popular visitor attractions, drawing people in with its romantic, picturesque and impressive cascading scenery.
While many are a little trek from a car park, with the right gear and an adventurous spirit, you can discover many of these magical waterfalls for yourself on the 25 miles of waymarked routes in the National Park, or why not make a holiday of following the famous Four Falls Trail? Here are our favourite routes:
Top 3 waterfall walks
First on our list is the National Park’s highest waterfall, which cascades 27 metres over a sandstone ledge. Follow the National Trust’s 3.5-mile route which takes you through the enchanting Graig Llech Gorge to the spectacular waterfall.
The Brecon Beacons’ most famous waterfall, otherwise known as the Snow Waterfall, really delivers on the wow-factor – a natural path leads right behind the liquid veil allowing you to experience the raw power of the water up close. Beginning at Dinas Rock car park, follow the yellow waymarkers along this 4-mile route to the stunning site.
Follow the mystical Elidir trail, where you may discover the entrance to a fairy kingdom, to Sgwd Gwladus or the Lady Falls. This 2.5-mile route, which begins at Pontneddfechan village, also takes in Sgwd-y-Bedol (Horseshoe Falls), and Sgwd Ddwli Isaf and Sgwd Ddwli Uchaf (Lower and Upper Gushing Falls) – all of which are particularly impressive after heavy rain!
The Brecon Beacons National Park is heaven for hill-lovers, as it’s home to the mountain range of the same name. Encompassing six lofty peaks, the Brecon Beacons is often used to refer to a wider area including the Black Mountains in the east and the Black Mountain in the west – so there are plenty of heights to conquer on your next holiday!
Whether you choose to tackle the summits or meander the mountains, the Brecon Beacons are a total walker’s delight. Here are three of our must-do trails.
Top 3 mountain walks
The highest peak in South Wales, reaching 886 metres to the heavens, Pen-y-Fan should be top of your ‘to-conquer’ list. This lung-busting 4-mile mountain walk takes in the summit as well as Corn Du, the second-highest peak in the area – standing a measly 13 metres shorter.
Recently downgraded to a hill (but don’t let that put you off), Fan-y-Big tempts walkers with the prospect of going off-road on the surrounding expanse of open land. Standing proud at 716.7 metres – just 1.5 metres off the mountain classification – Fan-y-Big is often hiked as part of the challenging Horseshoe Ridge walk. Allow at least 5 hours for this 10-mile hike, and be prepared for the ever-changing Welsh weather – although the views from the top will make all the effort worthwhile.
The highest mountain in the Black Mountains also offers a challenging walk, traversing 7 miles in total. Start at the Iron Age hillfort at Castell Dinas – the highest castle in England Wales, before making your ascent to the 811-metre summit, where you will be rewarded with spectacular views over the Brecon Beacons.
Positioned close to the England/Wales border, the Brecon Beacons National Park has borne witness to many territorial struggles over the years, with the historic castles that now remain telling the stories of the people who once called the land home.
Many of these castles are protected by either the National Trust or Cadw – the Welsh Government’s historic environment service – and as well as making fun and interesting days out for the whole family, many of them are surrounding by picturesque parkland that’s ripe for exploring too. Here are three of our favourites:
Top 3 castles
Carreg Cennen Castle
Perhaps the most haunting and spectacular castle in Wales, let alone the Brecon Beacons, this fortress dates back to the 12th century and was damaged in the Wars of the Roses, standing stoically as a ruin ever since. It’s one of the few castles in the area that is privately owned, although it is managed by Cadw, and when you visit its majestic and formidable crag-top location you can also explore the underground tunnel or even get married – it’s a licensed venue too!
With a reputation as the most haunted castle in Wales, a visit to this fortress isn’t for the faint-hearted! Formerly the home of opera singer Adelina Patti, the 19th-century castle is said to be haunted by the singer, her husband and her lover – learn more about its spooky sagas on a ghost tour. Don’t want to get too close? The castle’s grounds have many dog-walking trails for admiring the building from afar.
This opulent 19th-century castle offers a fascinating insight into the iron industry and how it influenced the local area. Cyfarthfa Castle was commissioned by a wealthy ironmaster in 1824 in the style of a fortress; it now houses a museum and gallery exhibiting treasures from both close to home and as far afield as Ancient Egypt.
With so many historical, cultural and natural sites of interest in the Brecon Beacons, it’s no surprise that there are plenty of days out to be enjoyed through the National Trust.
From historic buildings to breathtaking walks, here are our top three National Trust attractions in the Brecon Beacons.
Top 3 National Trust attractions
This 18th-century landscaped park in Monmouthshire combines a castle, a country house and parkland that’s perfect for a day out. While the house is occupied, you can admire the Greek-influenced architecture or visit Clytha Castle – the 18th-century folly. And with a route along the River Usk, the parkland is perfect for taking in the stunning natural environment of the Brecon Beacons.
With impressive views over Monmouth and the Wye Valley, this 18th-century round house will delight visitors all year round. It was a popular picnic spot in its time; visit in the spring to carry on the tradition then hire a croquet set from the Round House for a family game.
Fancy exploring the Brecon Beacons National Park at a more sedate pace? This 2-mile National Trust walk offers panoramic views of the National Park without the need to make a steep climb, making it perfect for families, dog walkers and the generally languorous.
We couldn’t complete a guide on the things to do in the Brecon Beacons without mentioning the Brecon Mountain Railway!
The historic attraction is great for a family day. The vintage steam train follows the former route of the original Brecon & Merthyr railway through the National Park, affording some incredible views before reaching Torpantau at around 400 metres above sea level. Kids will love playing on the play area in Pontsticill, the intermediate station on the way back, or enjoying a treat at the café.
And if you needed any more persuading, the train departs from Pant Station – which we’re sure will give little ones and big kids alike a bit of a giggle!
With mysterious castle ruins steeped in legend and majestic mountain heights ready to be explored, the Brecon Beacons is the place to visit for adventure and discovery. Our Brecon Beacons cottages offer a cosy place to rest your head and dream of the next day’s fun – whether you’re looking for a cosy bolthole or a sprawling country house, take a look at our full collection of cottages and start planning an unforgettable holiday.