Abergavenny is a bewitching market town in Monmouthshire, Wales – sitting just 6 miles from the border with England, it’s a great base for exploring the Brecon Beacons National Park and the Black Mountains. The town offers access to some brilliant walking prospects, historical buildings and ruins including Abergavenny Castle and Museum.
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 Sugarloaf 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.
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 assembled a helpful guide to the top things to do in Abergavenny for you to refer to on your visit.
The castle ruins 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.
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. 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. 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.
You'll find even more brilliant walks in the area within our Brecon Beacons walks guide.
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.
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 National Park.
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.
Dine out at Abergavenny's restaurants
To continue the theme of finding good food and drink, Abergavenny has some great restaurants, cafes and gastropubs in and around the town. For a lovely dining experience, try The Walnut Tree, which offers a superb a la carte menu. It has been awarded a Michelin star for its food and service, so you know you’re in for a culinary treat. For those of you, who are always on the lookout for good fish and chips, 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. Exotic food restaurants are also well-represented in Abergavenny too; if you like Chinese, Italian, or Indian fare the town has got it covered.
Visit Abergavenny Market and the independent shops
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 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’s interesting shopping prospects take a look here.
If this guide whets your appetite and you feel inspired to explore Abergavenny, we have a veritable choice of Abergavenny cottages that includes yurts, wooden shacks and beautiful townhouses and even more ideas for places to stay.