Do you want to unwind and witness the beauty of Brecon? Well, Brecon Beacons has a lot in store for you. From breathtaking landscapes, camping sites and waterfalls, this preserved park is not only picture-perfect but has lots of activities to try and places to visit. But, what are things you can do in Brecon Beacons National Park?
In this article, we’ll share with you 15 meaningful activities that you can do while visiting or staying in the Brecon Beacons. This park stretching from the picturesque Llandeilo in the west and the Black Mountains in the east covers more than 500 miles and offers plenty of attractions within its boundaries. And it’s waiting to be discovered. So, let’s have a look at the brilliant things you can do while spending your time here.
1. Marvel by the Brecon waterfalls – the curtains of water
Gifted with wonders of nature, the southern slopes of the Fforest Fawr massif (west of Merthyr Tydfil) nestles one of the most beautiful and famous parts of Beacon National Park. Topping the lists are the Waterfall Country and Fforest Fawr Geopark with steep, tree-lined gorges and an abundance of tumbling water.
Waterfall Country coined its name from its abundance with waterfalls. Known in Welsh as Coed-y-Rhaeadr which means Wood of the Water, this lovely place lies within the triangle formed by the villages of Ystradfellte, Hirwaun and Pontneddfechan.
As you walk through the forests and along rivers, you’ll see plenty of water cascades. You can observe beautiful old red sandstone and outcrop limestone that creates a highly unique environment of caves, wooded gorges, swallow holes and waterfalls.
The most popular and Instagrammed waterfall is the Sgwd-y-Eira, also known as the Snow Waterfall, located on the River Hepste because a natural path leads right behind the curtain of water. So, you can witness the water tumbling and falling right before your eyes.
It’ll certainly be refreshing!
2. Join the Brecon festivals – Celebrating good times
Brecon celebrates tons of festival throughout. It’s also a good hub for walking, drink, foods, arts, music and diverse entertainment.
Here’s a list of the festivals at Brecon Brecons:
Hay Literary Festival
Also known as the Hay Festival of Literature and Arts, this event brings together great writers from all around the world to debate and share stories. It was founded in 1987 to celebrate notable writings from poets, scientists and novelists and the power of ideas that transforms our way of thinking. It is held in Dairy Meadows, Brecon Road, Hay on Wye, HR35PG. This place is accessible by bus and car. You can find several charity car parks around the festival site and in Hay on Wye.
It is a 4-day event independent music, and arts festival founded held annually in mid-August in the beautiful Brecon Beacons, Wales near the town Crickhowell. It was founded in 2003 to showcase mainly live music with additional tents for hosting literature, comedy, film, theatre and poetry. You can get there by coach, train, bicycle or car. For cars, it will be a 1-hour drive from Cardiff. In the camping site, you can bring a tent or a reasonable-sized gazebo intended for you and those attending with you. There’s no need to pre-book for the family and quiet camping; you can just head to it and pitch up.
Brecon Jazz Festival
As the name suggests, it is a music festival held annually in early-August in the Brecon Beacons. The events are hosted in six different venues across the town: the Brecon Cathedral, Memorial Hall, Market Hall, the Guildhall, Captain’s Walk and Theatr Brycheiniog. It brings together great musicians from around the world for a big celebration of music. Most of the ticket’s price varies per artist, and you can purchase it through the Brecon Jazz website. It is accessible by car, and there are many parking spaces around the town centre, but it’s not included in the ticket cost.
Abergavenny Food Festival
It is an annual food fest which takes place in Abergavenny, Wales every third weekend of September. It is an event that gathers chefs, food businesses, journalists, farmers, food producers and people from different walks of life to explore and learn more about food. To attend this festival, you must bring with you your printed ticket confirmation sent via email.
So, if you want to experience a genuinely festive festival the Brecon way, get your pack ready now!
3. Search for the legends – Tale as old as time
Just like other places in Wales, Brecon Beacons have lots of tales and legends to tell. One of the most famous is the cave near Dinas Rock, where Arthur and his knights have stayed. And you can also reimagine King Arthur and his men’ hot pursuit of the giant and enchanted boar Twrch Trywth as you feel the breeze on your face.
If you’re into a theatrical feel, why not try visiting the Craig y nos Country Park? It features the former estate of Adelina Patti, the famous opera diva of the Victorian age.
If you want something mysterious and creepy, here’s a tip!
Visit the Tretower Court and keep an eye out for the ghostly White Lady! Tales told that it’s waiting for her love to return from the battle of Agincourt.
Horatio Claire, an award-winning author, reimagined these local legends of Brecon and retold them in the book Brecon Beacons: Myths & Legends.
So, try exploring the legends of Brecon. Rest assured, it’ll be epic!
4. Travelling with Brecon Mountain Railway – Head into hills by a vintage!
It’s not just a vintage train; it’s an adventure-packed journey with the Brecon Mountain Railway. The route covers Beacons National Park to the Pontsticill to the full length of Taf Fechan Reservoir. It’s a good thing to do before climbing to the Torpantau high in the Brecon Beacons, and the summit of the original line.
But before heading to the train, you can grab some refreshments in their licensed tearooms at their central station in Pant. You can also take a visit to the workshop where their steam locomotives and carriages are repaired.
5. Go stargazing – Beauty in the Dark Sky
Here’s an exciting thing for sky wanderers!
Brecon Beacons National Park has been recognised as one of only eleven (11) International Dark Sky Reserves in the world. It means that it’s a great place in the world to see the stars in the night sky.
On a clear night sky, you can observe Milky Way, major constellations, bright nebulas and even witness spectacular meteor showers. No wonder it became a fifth destination in the world (and the first in Wales) to be accredited in 2012.
With this highly prestigious recognition, the local authorities aim to preserve the magical night skies for the future generation and reduce the carbon dioxide emissions in Brecon Beacons National Park. It would also benefit a whole host of nocturnal creatures that need dark nights to forage, hunt and migrate.
So, grab you a hot flask of coffee, wear warm clothing, and get your tents set as you watch the stars spark their magic in a clear night.
6. Try birdwatching – Witness the birds soaring high
Brecon Beacons National Park is an excellent hub for birdwatchers too. You can get to see tawny owls, red grouse, red kites, along with endangered species including the lapwings, little ringed plovers, lapwings, nightjars and reed warblers.
Birds can be widely seen throughout the Brecon National Park, from parks and gardens alive with songbirds to harriers and ring ouzels in the uplands.
7. Go gorge walking and cave exploration – It’s the greatest Showcaves
The Brecon Beacons National Park girds some of the most notable cave systems in Europe. It has a handful of a cave system that is willing to be explored.
A popular choice is the Dan Yr Ogof Showcaves which houses ten attractions with just one entry ticket! Featuring three different caves naming Dan-yr-Ogof, Cathedral Cave and Bone Cave- it offers a unique underground experience for and your family. They also showcase one of the world’s largest collections of a shire horse centre, life-sized dinosaur models, Iron Age village, museum, and stone circles.
Yes, it has something to offer to everybody!
If you’re up for more excitement, why not try gorge walking? Climb over rocks and boulders and waterfalls, and experience raging rapids of water in one trip!
8. Visit the standing stones – The surviving prehistoric marks
Brecon Beacons National Park have more than 30 surviving standing stones throughout the area. Some of these were used as memorial stones while others have multifunction – either as waymarks on the ancient routeways, signposts, boundary markers, or even rubbing stones for livestock. Most of these impressive stones are prehistoric and one of the most mysterious and unique wonders of Beacons.
Significant stones in Brecon Beacons National Park:
- Maen Llia
One of the well-known standing stone in Brecon is the massive monolith of Maen Llia. It lies 30 yards from a minor road running north from Ystradfellte in Waterfall Country towards the hamlet of Heol Senni and Brecon, at grid reference SN924192.
The stone is a diamond-shaped piece of conglomerate standing at 3.7m (12ft) high, with a width of 2.8m (9ft) and thickness of 0.6m (2ft), partly-covered with moss.
It survived the wild Welsh weather for thousands of years because a quarter to a third of the stone is likely below ground. Since it stands at the junction of two valleys, it probably served as a territorial marker or a mark in an ancient trackway that guides travellers across the watershed. Some faint Latin and Ogam inscriptions were still visible on the surface of the stone during the Forties.
- Maen Madoc
Maen Madoc or Maen Madog is another significant stone in Brecon that lies off the old Roman road Sarn Helen at about 3.5 km (2 miles) to the South. This latter stands at 10 ft high and bears legible writing on its surface. It’s an excellent location for astrological photography!
9. Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal – It’s more than a pretty canal
If you prefer smooth water than rush rapids, you’ll love the Brecon Canal. Yes! Even our waterway is a lovely place. It was often voted as Britain’s prettiest canal. It was once a significant transport route turned into a perfect spot for lazy strolling and boating. It passes through a large swathe of the Brecon Beacons National Park, with appealing towns and villages to see and visit on the way. It’s peaceful,
10. Visit Fforest Fawr Geopark – An unfathomable geo beauty
Marvellous cracks and layer-cake of rocks – this is what this region offers! It’s a landscape sculpted by ice and then transformed by man, and it was a witness to the birth of the Industrial Revolution. It is a home for birds, rare plants, insects and lichens. In 2005, European Geopark Network accepted it as the first Geopark of Wales, and it takes its name from the Fforest Fawr uplands located within the Geopark.
11. Adventures on the Water – Water has never been this fun
Brecon National Park allows various paddlesport options and other activities at the canals and reservoirs, as well as the extreme kayaking adventures over jaw-dropping waterfalls.
As you visit the Brecon Beacons National Park, you can try paddling a kayak, stand-up paddleboard, canoe, raft or even making and paddling your coracle. The waters graded from Grade 1 (easy) up to Grade 6 (extremely hard), have something for everyone.
12. Paragliding – An ultimate gliding experience
Brecon also allows paragliders and hang gliders to enjoy the Brecon aerial view and have take-off and landing at the grassy fields and hilltops of the park.
Some pilots even make cross-country flights that exceed 300 miles and fly up to 4 miles high!
It is also a well-known region for soaring over the rolling, green landscape in a glider. Training is available at recognised schools, which are great spots for those who prefer to watch the view from the safety of the ground.
13. Take the Museum and Theatre Tour – A glimpse of history and arts
Brecon’s Regimental Museum of The Royal Welsh showcases the fascinating story of four of the British army’s most famous regiments. The history dating back to the 1680s is recounted through various uniforms, medals, weapons and models.
These corps have been involved in different prominent events in the past, including the British campaign in South Africa and the infamous battle in world wars. Forty-three (43) of the regiments’ soldiers have received the Victoria Cross. The museum commemorates the sacrifice and heroism of the Cross and all regiments who contributed to the country.
Theatr Brycheiniog is also a great place to visit. It is Brecon’s Centre for Arts opened in April 1997 and situated in a picturesque location in the UK. Built alongside Brecon’s canal basin and serving the town and the surrounding areas of Powys, Monmouthshire and more – it’s rooted firmly in the local communities it serves.
This venue provides several programmes of music, dance, theatre and entertainment in its purpose-built 477 seat auditorium and a 120-seat studio/rehearsal space. Furthermore, it also hosts an exhibition programme in Andrew Lamont Gallery, and it has a Waterfront Cafe and Waterfront Bar.
14. Rock Climbing – Make in on top
If you love bold adventures and you enjoy rock climbing, why not take a look at this stunning natural landscape from a different angle? Try climbing the heights on the cliffs of Brecon Beacons! One of the best outdoor spots is along the limestone belt on the southern side of the National Park.
But if you prefer indoor rock climbing, you can visit the Llangorse Multi Activity Centre. They accommodate climbers inclined to climb real rock, bouldering, artificial climbing walls and indoor caving. So, you can reach more heights in a very safe environment.
Other nearby indoor climbing centres include:
- Black Mountain Activities
- Aber Rocks in Abergavenny
- Summit Centre near Merthyr Tydfil
- Dynamic Rock in Clydach near (Swansea)
15. Eat at some of Wales’ best restaurants – Reward your tummy with the finest
After doing a bunch of activities, it’s just reasonable to feed yourself with all the best from the Wales restaurants! Give your stomach a little justice, feed yourself as a reward.
There are plenty of beautiful eating places at the market towns, villages and even in the rural areas within the national park. You can have various options from gourmet restaurants with cottage gardens to some cosy pubs that serve local Welsh lamb for Sunday lunch.
Topping the lists are the:
- Honey Cafe (located in Talgarth)
- Felin Fach Griffin (near the Brecon)
- Gliffaes Country House Hotel (near the Crickhowell)
- Angel Hotel in Abergavenny
Wherever you go, Brecon Beacons National Park has a pack of beautiful things to do. Perfect for your next holiday getaway!
So, are you ready for your next Brecon adventure?
Let us know what activities you want to try on your next Brecon getaway by sharing a comment below.