A bewitching market town in Monmouthshire, just 6 miles from the border with England, Abergavenny is a wonderful base for exploring the Brecon Beacons National Park and the Black Mountains. Bringing your walking boots on a trip to the mountains is a must; Abergavenny is literally surrounded by them. Fancy climbing to the peak of Sugar Loaf Mountain, The Skirrid or The Blorenge? For foodies, coincide your visit to Abergavenny for the annual food festival which takes place each September. Shoppers are also in for a treat because the town is home to some superb independent stores and also plays host to an excellent market where you can buy local foods, drink and crafts. We have put together this guide on the top things to do in Abergavenny to help you plan your next adventure.
If you're looking for somewhere to stay, we have a diverse collection of Abergavenny cottages for groups of all sizes, ideal for big parties or an intimate couples' break.
We have pulled together a helpful guide for those wondering what to do in Abergavenny to help you plan your trip.
The ruins of Abergavenny castle are found at the southern end of Abergavenny’s town centre. Built by the Normans in 1087, it has been a Grade I listed building since the 1950s. Overlooking the River Usk, a high number of its stone walls remain, giving you a very good impression of how formidable it must have been when it was fully operational. You can see the keep, towers and ditch fortifications. A lodge was added in the 19th century which houses a museum and, nowadays, there is a formal public garden for you to enjoy during your visit to Abergavenny Castle.
Explore more castles in Wales with our guide.
Walks around Abergavenny
Abergavenny is a member of the ‘Walkers are Welcome’ scheme because of its location at the south-eastern edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park, and there sure are plenty of Abergavenny mountains to explore.
There are several walking trails on Sugar Loaf Mountain. Each of them will take you through deep wooded valleys and open moorland affording you fantastic panoramas of the outlying countryside. On clear days you can see the Severn Estuary and the Brecon Beacons. The total ascent is 580 metres – the level of natural beauty is astounding – a trek to the top of the mountain is an unforgettable experiment. The park’s visitor centre is a good spot to begin your walks on Sugar Loaf Mountain. Trails range from moderate to difficult so make responsible preparations before embarking on your walks through the Abergavenny mountains.
Just outside of Abergavenny, to the northeast, lies The Skirrid which is made up of Great and Little Skirrid. There is a short circuitous trail. The Skirrid has a distinct shape yet one edge appears to have been cleaved away, the result of an Ice Age landslip. There is a dedicated car park at the start of the trail to save you some ‘shoe leather’ walking up from town. You will first cut through shady woodlands before venturing out into the open. From a range of summits, you will see the ‘neighbourhood’ peaks of Sugarloaf Mountain and the Blorenge. Look out for the ruins of St Michael’s Church at the top – it will make you wonder who had the unlucky job of carting all the stones up there for the build.
For further walking inspiration, read our guide to the Brecon Beacons walks.
For a gentler pace between mountain-scaling ‘expeditions’ head to the 3-hectare Linda Vista Gardens which are some lovely town gardens. A well-preserved and lush park that originated as a private garden in the late 19th-century, it was turned in a municipal space for public use in 1957 and it’s a lovely place to have a picnic, stroll around or find a bench to read a book.
White Castle is another ruined fort in the Abergavenny area. Head to the village of Llantilio to find this Norman-era castle. It has lain in ruins since the 16th century but has been managed by the Cadw Welsh heritage organisation. You can walk around the expansive area of the castle ruins to see the remains of the outer curtain, mural towers, and the gatehouse. The outer ward is around the same size as a football pitch. There are decent facilities and dogs are welcome to accompany you on your visit. For opening times, visit the White Castle website.
Events in Abergavenny
When it comes to things to do in Abergavenny, it’s worth keeping an eye on the local schedule of events, here are three we would recommend coinciding your trip with.
Do you love eating? Who doesn't? Well, why not time your trip with the Abergavenny Food Festival. It’s one of the town's top annual events, taking place every September. You can sample some wonderful local produce or witness some live cookery demonstrations so you can upskill further and become the kitchen whiz you’ve always wanted to be. Stores showcase food and drink from all over the Brecon Beacons, the Black Mountains and beyond. Visit the festival website for dates and this year’s event programme so that you don’t miss out.
One of the UK’s most popular sports, cycling events around the country draw crowds. The Abergavenny festival of cycling takes place across two dates in the summer and showcases a variety of cycling races and events throughout the Brecon Beacons. Whether you’re a cyclist or not, the atmosphere of this thrilling event, and the buzz of each and every race, will have you hooked.
A day out for families and music lovers, the annual Abergavenny Music Festival usually takes place in May in the grounds of Abergavenny Castle. The laid-back festival atmosphere will have you sipping cider in the sun and enjoying the very best of live music across three stages. Little ones are well-catered for with a fun fair, children’s mascots and entertainment.
Discover more magical festival in Wales to add to your calendar.
Places to eat in Abergavenny
To continue the theme of finding good food and drink, Abergavenny has some great restaurants, cafes and gastropubs in and around the town. Exotic food restaurants are also well-represented in Abergavenny too; if you like Chinese, Italian, or Indian fare, you’ll be spoilt for choice of places to eat in Abergavenny. Here are some of our favourites…
Meaning both ‘small cosy place’ and ‘cuddle’ ‘Cwtch’ café sounds like somewhere we want to be. Tasty brunches, light lunches and cakes to die for await your visit.
This family-run pub in the heart of Abergavenny offers a warm welcome and a delicious menu of pub grub featuring local suppliers. Sunny days can be spent in the beautiful beer garden, chatting over a pint or enjoy a Sunday roast.
Well-known in the area, this fine-dining experience offers a superb a la care menu has been awarded a Michelin star for its food and service, so you know you’re in for a culinary treat when you dine here.
Al fresco dining at The Gaff
A welcoming restaurant houses within a converted shed building with plenty of outdoor seating in the cute courtyard. The restaurant uses seasonal local ingredients to produce a variety of delicious international small plates.
Mardy traditional is our pick; it’s a little way out of the town centre, but it’s not uncommon to find the best takeaways in town out in the suburbs, and if you are serious then it's worth the effort.
Discover more charming pubs and elegant restaurants in the Brecon Beacons.
Abergavenny shops and market
Abergavenny has an indoor market which is a hub of activity and you can stock up on fancy goods, clothing, fresh food, fish and meat from local sources. There is a programme of shopping events that includes flea markets, bric-a-brac meets and an antiques’ show throughout the calendar. Some of the quirkier independent Abergavenny shops include Abergavenny Model Centre where you can buy radio-controlled boats, planes and cars. Less quirky but quite alluring is the presence of a high-quality boutique that sells Italian shoes and accessories called Amanda Jayne Shoes Ltd. Buy a hamper at Carpaninis, a family-run store that specialises in wine, spirits and artisan food products. As you can imagine, this is just the tip of the iceberg; for a full list of Abergavenny shops with interesting shopping prospects take a look here.
Places to stay in Abergavenny
Why don’t you give glamping a go? Just two miles from Abergavenny, at the foot of the Skirrid, this inviting Shepherds hut offers a romantic escape for two. Stunning mountain views and a private hot tub await at this delightful Abergavenny accommodation.
A haven for walkers, this adorable studio-style cottage is located beside the Monmouth and Brecon Canal, with direct access on to the towpath, just 4 miles from Abergavenny.
A pretty stone cottage with breathtaking views across to Abergavenny and the Brecon Beacons. It’s the perfect place to stay in Abergavenny for a couple or small family who are seeking life in the countryside, but with easy access to the nearest town.
If this guide to things to do in Abergavenny whets your appetite and you feel inspired to explore the area, we have a stunning choice of Abergavenny cottages that include, glamping, cosy barn conversions and beautiful townhouses, that make wonderful places to stay during your adventure in the Brecon Beacons.
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please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.