The ultimate guide to the Brecon Beacons National Park

Days out, The Great British Outdoors, Destinations

Posted by Kate Williams on 29th July 2021

A view over the Brecon Beacons

Where is the Brecon Beacons?

The Brecon Beacons National Park is a mountain range in South Wales, and is home to a natural playground full of walks, waterfalls, and watering holes to quench your thirst while away.

This enchanting region draws everyone – from young families to hardened adventurers – keen to discover everything this famous Wales destination has to offer. On your holiday, you could summit the UK’s sweetest mountain, see life-size dinosaur figures, or stargaze beside the still, reflective waters of an epic reservoir.

Uncover a host of things to do in the Brecon Beacons with a read of our guide or click the button below to find your perfect Brecon Beacons escape.

Brecon Beacons cottages

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The best walks in the Brecon Beacons

Sugar Loaf Mountain Walk

Sugar Loaf Mountain Walk

Soft slopes lead up to the summit of Sugar Loaf, making this famous Brecon Beacons mountain a top choice – its not too tough, yet with a gentle climb to get the blood pumping. The best part is that remarkable Brecon Beacons view you’ll get as you take on this route up the Sugar Loaf.

Distance: 6 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Good to know: Keep an eye out for birdlife while here as it’s a birdwatching hotspot. Skylarks, house martins, swallows, red grouse, and buzzards and the occasional red kite can all be spotted around this beautiful mountain.

There are many more summits to conquer - read our guide to national park mountain walks to discover mountains in some of the most beautiful parts of the UK. 

National park mountain walks

The Elidir Trail / Waterfall Country Walk

The Elidir Trail / Waterfall Country Walk

Seek out magical Brecon Beacons waterfalls tumbling into crystal-clear lagoons in this region, otherwise known as ‘Waterfall Country’. The Elidir Trail is a waymarked walk that follows in the footsteps of a local boy who, legend has it, discovered a secret fairy kingdom here, so keep your eyes peeled as you explore.

Distance: 5 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Good to know: Try to visit after heavy rain when the waterfalls are at their most thunderous for the full impact of the rushing water. Make sure you wear sturdy boots too, as the rocks can get slippery.

There's something magical about coming across a softly flowing waterfall while exploring the countryside. It's a perfect place for a family walk, group adventure or even a special proposal; uncover more waterfalls throughout Wales in our guide. 

Waterfalls around Wales

Brecon Canal from Crickhowell to Llangynidr

Brecon Canal from Crickhowell to Llangynidr

An easy and accessible riverside route on the Brecon Canal Trail, you may well be surprised at the wonderful sights you’ll see. Besides the wildlife, and the boats sailing past, there are five lochs at Llangynidr – if you have time, continue west on this path to visit the magnificent Talybont Reservoir too.

Distance: 6 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Good to know: When you reach Llangynidr, you can rest and refuel at the Coach and Horses, a beautiful old pub that overlooks the canal.

Nothing beats a ramble through the mountains and valleys found in this part of Wales. For more wonderful walking opportunities, read through our pick of the best walks in the Brecon Beacons. 

Top Brecon Beacons walks

The best attractions in the Brecon Beacons

National Showcaves Centre for Wales

National Showcaves Centre for Wales

Easily one of the top places to go in the Brecon Beacons, and an iconic Wales attraction, the National Showcaves Centre for Wales has something for everyone. With the mysterious and mighty caves to explore, over 200 life-sized dinosaurs to meet and a shire horse farm on-site, you’ll be blown away by this intriguing family attraction.

Cost: Adult £16.50, child (3 - 16 years) £13

Best for: Families or groups with a variety of guests to please!

Stay nearby: Breconview Lodge, Coelbren | sleeps 8

Brecon Mountain Railway

Brecon Mountain Railway

Chug through the lush green valleys and hillside aboard a steam train with Brecon Mountain Railway and see the sights from your own cosy carriage seat. A great way to discover the Brecon Beacons landscape, this heritage railway line runs from Pant, near Merthyr Tydfil, and climbs up through the mountains to Torpantau, stopping at Pontsticill Reservoir on the return journey – another wonderful Brecon Beacons attraction to visit.

Cost: Adult £16.50, child (2 - 15 years) £7.00, dog £4.00

Best for: Anyone keen to experience a Brecon Beacons adventure from the comfort of a carriage.   

Stay nearby: Abercynafon Farm Barn, Gilwern | sleeps 10 and 4 dogs

Cyfarthfa Castle Museum and Art Gallery

Cyfarthfa Castle Museum and Art Gallery

A fun, free, family day out in the Brecon Beacons, this impressive 160-acre parkland surrounding Cyfartha Castle and Museum is just the place for kids, with a miniature railway, splash pad and play zone, and regular events. Don’t let the children have all the fun though, as the beautiful castle itself houses a museum and art gallery containing Welsh artefacts spanning 2,000 years that the grown-ups of your group may like to see up close.

Cost: Free to enjoy the grounds. Entrance fee for Museum and Gallery: Adult £2.30, child (under 16) free

Best for: Young families as there are miles of space for fun and games, or history lovers who can combine a museum visit with a country stroll.

Stay nearby: Roundhouse Farm - William, Nantyglo | sleeps 4

Get out and get active on high ropes or step back in time at a mining museum – explore these attractions across Wales during your holiday. 

Top things to do in Wales

The best places for stargazing in the Brecon Beacons

Usk Reservoir

Usk Reservoir

As a Dark Sky Discovery Site, you will see the stars shining brightly from wherever you are staying; however, for a fantastic view of the night sky, the Usk Reservoir is a beautiful spot to plan an evening’s stargazing. Head to the Usk Valley car park and lay out a blanket on the grass or set down a couple of camping chairs and snuggle up under blankets to take in the magnificence of the Milky Way far above. You can join one of their stargazing events throughout the year too.

Location coordinates: SN 835285 N51.56.58 W03.41.55

Good to know: It’s a fantastic place for exploring during the day too, so why not spend the afternoon walking around the reservoir, spotting the local wildlife, find a local pub for dinner then return to stargaze when night falls?

Stay nearby: Glan Logyn Cottage, Trecastle | sleeps 4 and 2 dogs

Usk is also one of our favourite places to stay in the National Park. Why not discover more great destinations within the Brecon Beacons?

Places to stay in the Brecon Beacons

Llanthony Priory

Llanthony Priory

Sit beneath the ruins of this former Augustinian priory for some top Brecon Beacons stargazing, and spot distant suns past the arches of Llanthony Priory and the mighty Hatterrall Hill. The Priory itself closes from 4pm, however, the owners allow visitors to use the car park to stargaze in this unique beauty spot.

Location coordinates: SO 288278 N51.56.41 W03.02.11

Good to know: With the ruined Llanthony Priory striking a magnificent figure against the sky, this is a spectacular and popular spot for night-sky photography.

Stay nearby: Tri Afon, Longtown | sleeps 6

Brecon Beacons night sky

National Park Visitor Centre / Mountain Centre

Another wonderful destination that is full of hubbub and excited explorers during the day and becomes a peaceful stargazing landscape at night. The National Park Visitor Centre is in a central location and easy to reach; it’s signposted from the A470 at the village of Libanus. So, bring along a few blankets, park up and settle in to catch a meteor or pick out constellations.

Location coordinates: SN 978264 N51.56.02 W 03.28.40

Good to know: This is one of the easiest, most accessible sites for setting up telescopes, however, it is located on common land so please keep noise to a minimum.

Stay nearby: Dros Yr Afon, Brecon Town | sleeps 4

If you know your Andromeda from your Big Dipper, take a trip to some of the UK’s best stargazing locations for unbeatable interstellar views. 

UK stargazing sites

The best pubs in the Brecon Beacons

The Brecon Tap

The Brecon Tap

Set right in the heart of the town of Brecon, The Brecon Tap is just the place to get your fill of the Welsh larder and wash it down with a pint of local real ale too. It’s a dog-friendly pub and café so you could pop in early in the day for a sandwich or coffee between mountain hikes or attraction hopping.

Menu pick: They have a top selection of pies, why not try the lamb, honey and mustard?

Are dogs allowed?: Yes

Good to know: They have regular live music, so check ahead if you fancy catching a local musician while you dine.

Nantyffin Cider Mill

Nantyffin Cider Mill

Discover wonderful Welsh heritage while dining on food from the local region at Nantyffin Cider Mill, which is full of original features from when it was a working cider mill. This Brecon Beacons pub is also full of stylish seating, has a children’s play area, and a spacious beer garden too with views over the Usk Valley.

Menu pick: Try their Sunday roast with a choice of beef, lamb, pork or homemade nut roast and all the trimmings.

Are dogs allowed?: Yes, dogs are welcome in the bar area.

Good to know: With a background in farming and catering, the owners know the importance of quality ingredients and you’ll find much of their menu is locally sourced.

The Willow Tree Pub

The Willow Tree Pub

The Willow Tree pub in Brynmawr, close to Abergavenny and Merthyr Tydfil, is perfect for a family exploring the region to rest and refuel. There’s a children’s menu, an outdoor kids' play area - perfect for excitable youngsters waiting for the meal to arrive - and the menu boasts a range of the usual tasty pub grub alongside ‘Being Good’ versions of pub classics.

Menu pick: Tuck into their beer-battered cod and chips, with the cod fillet battered in-house using their own Marston’s beer batter.

Are dogs allowed?: No, although there is outside space so phone ahead if you’d like to sit out on the patio with your dog.

Good to know: If the weather is on your side, sit outside on the patio area to enjoy lovely lake views.

Wales is renowned for its fantastic foodie offerings so to discover tasty dishes and quality ingredients from across the region, why not plan a trip to one of Wales’s excellent food festivals? 

Wales food festivals

Map of the Brecon Beacons

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Stay with us in the Brecon Beacons National Park  

Head out on an adventure in the Brecon Beacons for a holiday you’ll never forget, before returning to a cosy cottage to relax.

We have five-star cottages with phenomenal rural views, hot tub hideaways for pampering escapes, and off-grid cabins for getting close to nature while on your break. Find your ideal cottage escape today.

Brecon Beacons cottages

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.