Free things to do in Wales with the kids

Days out

Posted by Kate Atkin on 23rd May 2022

Free things to do in Wales with the kids

A holiday in Wales is the perfect chance to spend time together as a family. Full of soft-sand beaches, spectacular coastal walks and impressive castles, there’s a lot to see and do in this enchanting country.

With so much on offer, family days out can get pricey! What could be better than discovering places and activities as a family that don't cost a penny? 

We have created a list of free days out in Wales to keep your whole tribe entertained. Go ahead and relax knowing you have lots of fun planned that won’t break the bank.

Read on to discover a host of ideas for free children's activities in Wales or click the button to browse our cottages in Wales. 

Wales family cottages


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Big Pit National Coal Museum in North Wales

Free things to do in North Wales with kids 

Wild and rugged North Wales, home to craggy coastline and snow-capped mountains, draws visitors from far and wide and boasts endless attractions to discover. Best of all, with such a varied landscape and impressive heritage, it's no surprise there's a wealth of free things to do with the kids. 

Free museums, sandy beaches and wildlife reserves are all fantastic places to explore during your North Wales trip. Check out some of our favourite attractions below. 


Museums in North Wales

Museums in North Wales

If you’re on the hunt for free days out in North Wales, this varied array of museums are definitely worth a visit on a rainy day or otherwise!

Steeped in rich history, Wales is the ideal holiday destination for families looking to have some educational fun. 

There are seven National Museums in Wales covering a wide range of subjects, and the good news is that all of them are free to visit - perfect for several days out, especially in wet weather. 

There are also a number of fantastic independent museums, delivering a wealth of information on subjects as varied as local history to life in a quarry hospital.

National Slate Museum, Llanberis 

Set in the Victorian workshops of disused Dinorwig, you can learn all about slate quarrying in Wales through exhibits, talks and demonstrations at this museum.

Moelfre RNLI Seawatch Centre, Moelfre 

Covering 200 years of Moelfre’s history, this museum also offers the chance to see the retired Bird’s Eye Lifeboat, read stories of the bravery of local heroes and enjoy children’s activities.

Oriel Ynys Mon, Llangefni

Visit this art gallery and exhibition of archaeology and social history of the island of Anglesey, with a gift shop and café.

Quarry Hospital Museum, Llanberis 

Get an insight into what lay in store for injured miners, with staged rooms and artefacts, some of which will make you squirm!


Beaches in North Wales

Beaches in North Wales

The wild and rugged coast of North Wales mellows on a sunny summer’s day, opening the door for sandcastle building and splashing amongst the waves.

Barmouth

Ever-popular white sand beach with seasonal donkey rides and ice creams to fuel the mini sand architects at work!

Abersoch

Long, sandy and sheltered with colourful beach huts, Abersoch is great for water sports as well as sandcastle construction.

Porth Oer

Glorious sandy beach with a distinguishing feature – it whistles when you walk on it!

Porthdinllaen

Small and perfectly formed, this pretty beach has beautiful views and a pub at one end.

Llandudno West Shore

While Llandudno’s shingle North Shore Beach is no good for sandcastle building, the quieter West Shore beach boasts miles of golden sand, fantastic for fortifications.

Best stargazing spots in Snowdonia

Best stargazing spots in Snowdonia

When looking for free attractions in Wales, you needn’t limit yourself to the ordinary! Why not try a spot of stargazing? The wonders of the galaxy enthral both young and older minds, and a holiday to Wales means you don’t need to rely on a telescope to glimpse its abundance of jewels.

The rugged mountains and reflective lakes of Snowdonia together create an epic landscape for losing yourself in on a night of stargazing. See if you can spot Aquila or the north star during your night-time adventures. 

Llyn Geirionydd

A popular lake with a car park and picnic benches, so you can enjoy dinner alfresco while waiting for night to fall.

Bwlch y Groes

A mountain pass, accessible by car, on the road between Dinas Mawddwy and Llanuwchllyn. Here you can admire the views of the Dyfi Valley, Cader Idris and Aran Fawddwy, as well as the celestial sights!

Llyn Conwy

Magically remote, this reservoir lies at the start of the River Conwy and has exceptionally dark skies and plenty of nocturnal wildlife.

Nant Francon Valley

A deep glaciated valley with fantastic views during the day and dark towering mountains against a starry sky on clear nights.

There's no shortage of places across the UK where you can get a clear view of the night sky while surrounded by peaceful landscape. Find out where to go stargazing in the UK in our guide. 

UK stargazing spots


Free wildlife reserves in North Wales

Free wildlife reserves in North Wales

Wherever you go in Wales, you’ll find natural spaces teeming with wildlife. The difficulty you’ll have is choosing which landscapes you want to explore and what animals you hope to spot!

The unique climates of Snowdonia and the coast make North Wales a special place for wildlife lovers. The North Wales Wildlife Trust have a whole host of reserves where you can spot anything from owls to butterflies across a variety of different habitats.

South Stack Cliffs 

Depending on when you visit, you can watch puffins, choughs, peregrines, guillemots and razorbills at this RSPB Nature Reserve.

Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn Wildlife 

Admire elegant ospreys through powerful telescopes on the viewing platform.

Woodland Trust Big Pool Wood 

Reed bed and woodland site with wheelchair-accessible bird hides and a boardwalk. 

Coed y Felin

An ancient oak/ash woodland where you're likely to see a carpet of bluebells in the spring. 


Cycle trails in North Wales

Cycle trails in North Wales

Rocky roads, estuary views and mountain trails - take on North Wales' wonderful cycling routes during your next holiday. There's a host of scenic routes in this wild and rugged region. 

Mawddacch Trail

Visitors would be hard pushed to find a more scenic family-friendly cycle route than the stunning Mawddacch Trail in Snowdonia. Winding its majestic way from Dolgellau to Barmouth, it is a 10-mile route amongst the foothills of Cadair Idris and the enduringly beautiful Mawddacch Estuary.

Lon Eifion Cycleway

This pretty, 12.5-mile jaunt from Caernarfon to Bryncir passes by views of Snowdonia mountains and coastal panoramas of the Llyn Peninsula. Stop and admire the views, or top up your energy with refreshments in one of the villages along the Lon Eifion Cycleway. If you don’t have bikes, hire some in Caernarfon (of course, this means it's not a free day out in Wales, but still an enjoyable one!).

Corsica Bike Trail

The Corsica Bike Trail leads you through the Newborough forest on the Isle of Anglesey in a peaceful woodland setting to travel through. There are two short climbs and mostly stony terrain with a short tarmacked section. 


Waterfalls in North Wales

Waterfalls in North Wales

Don’t forget your camera, because North Wales is home to some of the country’s most magical waterfalls!

Swallow Falls

The River Llugwy tumbles down a narrow chasm in a rush of foaming white water – creating the most beautiful scenes in autumn when the trees are vivid shades of yellow and orange.

Pistyll Rhaeadr

The UK’s tallest single-drop waterfall which roars down in three stages from a total height of 73 metres, fed from Llyn Luncaws.

Aber 

Plummeting 37 metres over a rocky sill, the waterfall ends in a plunge pool which you can swim in (if you dare), though the water is cold, even in summer!

Wreathed in legend, Wales boasts a plethora of breathtaking waterfalls of great beauty. Many of these cascades are easily accessible on foot, perfect for little feet to get to through enchanting woodlands and captivating landscapes.

Top Wales waterfalls


Country parks in North Wales

Country parks in North Wales

There’s nothing like fresh air and a family walk on holiday to get you all feeling invigorated and happy. Wales is blessed with an abundance of outside spaces which are free to visit, not least its incredible country parks, where you can be sure of a memorable walk amongst beautiful scenery.

Step out on a family walk with fantastic mountain and coastal views in Snowdonia National Park. From craggy Great Orme on the Conwy coast to the magical wildlife-rich forest of Wepre Park, there's plenty of outdoor spaces to discover. 

The Great Orme, Llandudno

An impressive limestone crag which rises like a leviathan north-west of Llandudno. Its landscapes are varied and there’s much wildlife to spot, including feral Kashmiri goats and a host of seabirds. If you do have a small budget for today, consider a trip on the Great Orme Cable Tramway.

Padarn Country Park, Snowdonia

The term ‘country park’ seems terribly diminutive for this 800-acre park which encompasses an entire lake and woodlands in the shadows of Snowdon.

Wepre Park, Flintshire

An ancient woodland which is an oasis for wildlife, this 160-acre country park has many highlights, including a waterfall, former coal pits, Old Hall Gardens and Ewloe Castle.


Free castles in North Wales

Free castles in North Wales

Wales is the undisputed king of castles, with more ancient fortresses per square mile than anywhere else in Europe. 

Kids of all ages are sure to enjoy climbing spiral staircases to the top of their high towers, exploring a wealth of narrow passages between crumbling walls and running free in vast grounds. Although some of the larger castles have a small entry fee, there are many ruins which are completely free to discover, and the views are simply priceless. 

If you’re looking for free attractions in North Wales, here are some of the top castles you can visit with the family! 

Aberlleiniog

Nestled in a woodland, this carefully restored motte and bailey castle is a lesser-known gem on the island of Anglesey.

Dinas Bran

High above the Dee Valley, these castle ruins involve quite a walk, but the ruins and views from the top are fair compensation for your efforts.

Flint

Fairly well-preserved ruins with plenty of nooks and crannies to explore, including towers, walkways and a timber bridge where the drawbridge would once have been.


Coastal walks in North Wales

Porthdinllaen, Llyn Peninsula

Stepping out onto the beautiful headland near the hamlet of Porthdinllaen, this circular walk rewards your efforts with incredible views in all directions. 

Points of interest include the remains of a brickworks jetty, unfinished sea defences which were abandoned due to World War I and the site of a shipbuilders, used at the peak of the slate industry in Caernarfon.

  • 2.5 miles
  • 1 – 2 hours
  • Moderate terrain

Llandudno

Llandudno

Level and scenic, this walk is perfect for wheelchairs and pushchairs with very few (if any) obstacles in the way of your enjoyment. 

Wander all the way along the promenade during your trip to Llandudno and dip into one of the cafés or hotels for refreshment.

  • 1.5 miles
  • 1 hour
  • Easy terrain
  • Accessible for all

Cemlyn Bay

Cemlyn Bay

Cemlyn Bay offers a delightful circular walk which takes you all the way along the extraordinary shingle ridge with the sea on one side and the Cemlyn National Nature Reserve on the other.

Spot Sandwich terns which flock to breed here in the summer and observe them from the viewing platform on the ridge. You’ll also walk past the home of the lagoon’s creator, Captain Vivian Hewitt, who also holds the title of being the first person to fly from Wales to Ireland!

  • 2 miles
  • 1 hour
  • Easy terrain

The picturesque 870-mile Wales Coast Path travels around the entirety of the Welsh coast, is free for everyone to explore and makes for an excellent family adventure. Whether it’s a sunny day or overcast, walks on the coast path are one of the best things to do in Wales for free.

More Wales Coast Path walks


Wildlife reserve in South Wales

Free things to do in South Wales

An idyllic landscape of rolling Brecon Beacon hills, valleys hiding ancient villages, and meandering rivers; there's plenty of places to explore and things to do in South Wales. Make the most of your holiday and plan fun free activities and days out during your break to this beautiful holiday destination. 


Museums in South Wales

Free museums in South Wales  

South Wales has an abundance of museums and historical places to visit for free, meaning you’ll never be short of ideas for days out on your family holiday.

Big Pit National Coal Museum, Blaenavon

An industrial heritage museum with underground tours and several above-ground attractions demonstrating life in the mining industry.

National Waterfront Museum, Swansea

An interesting selection of interactive displays, artefacts and information focusing on Wales’ history of industrial revolution and innovation.

National Roman Legion Museum, Newport

Delve into the intricacies of Roman life, with all sorts of activities for children and plenty to fuel their imaginations!

National Wool Museum, Newcastle Emlyn

Perfect for lovers of arts and crafts, this museum tells the story of the woollen industry through a series of exhibits featuring working machinery and hands-on displays.

St Fagans National History Museum, Cardiff

An immersive open-air museum telling the story of Welsh lifestyle, culture and architecture.

Swansea Museum, Swansea

Dedicated to Swansea life, past and present, you’ll find everything from an Egyptian mummy to a replica of a Welsh kitchen!

There is a wealth of interactive displays and things to do, as well as plenty of exciting family activities and events throughout the year to keep the kids entertained, so it’s always worth checking the museum calendars online before setting out.

Museums are great cheap days out in Wales for a rainy day, but if you’re looking for more inspiration for indoor activities, take a look at our rainy-day activities for children in Wales.

Rainy day activities in Wales


Beaches in South Wales

Beaches in South Wales

On a sunny day, there aren’t many free things to do in Wales that are more fun than a trip to the beach! Here are just a handful of South Wales’ best beaches for sandcastle building.

Many of the beaches in Wales have shallow gradients, which are perfect for smaller tots to have a paddle, plus nearby facilities and lifeguard patrols during the popular summer months. 

Aside from the parking charges, building sandcastles by the seaside is one of the best free family days out in Wales. Here’s a round-up of beaches with sand ideal for sandcastle building.

Newport Sands

Long sandy beach at the mouth of the River Nevern, from which you can walk across to Newport Parrog at low tide.

Whitesands Bay

Fine white sand and brilliant surf await at this scenic beach, flanked by craggy cliffs.

Rhossili 

3 miles of gorgeous white sand, so plenty of room to pick the perfect sandcastle-building spot and set up for the day.

Pendine

Backed by dunes, this long sandy beach stretches as far as the eye can see.

Southerndown

Spectacular and predominantly sandy beach, backed by dramatic cliffs with scenic walks along the cliff-top paths.

Delight the kids with a fun day out on one of the many beautiful sandy beaches in Wales. Play frisbee, build sandcastles and forts, search in rock pools, or forage for pretty shells and pebbles to take home - there are so many things to do! Discover our full list of favourite Welsh beaches. 

Best beaches in Wales


Free castles in South Wales

Free castles in South Wales

For a family who likes history, castles are one of the best free attractions in South Wales, so pack your camera and head for these fantastic fortifications!

Dryslwyn

Ruined hilltop castle with commanding views – pretend you are looking out over your kingdom!

Ogmore

Part of a trio of fortresses which were built to defend attacks from the west, these picturesque ruins with a stepping stone bridge across the river are sure to delight the children.

Skenfrith

Remains of an early 13th-century fortress which today make a wonderful picnic spot close to the River Monnow.

More marvellous Welsh castles


Best stargazing spots in the Brecon Beacons

Best stargazing spots in the Brecon Beacons

Find the best place to spot amongst the hills and valleys of the scenic Brecon Beacons. There are many exposed areas of land where you can throw down a blanket and hunt the skies for constellations - the human eye can see approximately 2,500 stars in a Dark Sky destination so you could spend all night mapping the stars. 

Carreg Cennen Castle

Romantic and mysterious, and perched on a rocky outcrop, there are few places more atmospheric to watch the stars than from this stunning castle.

Pontsticill Reservoir

On a windless night, admire the reflection of the stars in the lake, which is remote enough to avoid light pollution.

Sugar Loaf Mountain

This iconic mountain above Abergavenny is the perfect spot for some stargazing, with plenty of scenery to be admired by the light of the moon.


Free wildlife reserves in South Wales

Free wildlife reserves in South Wales

There are many locations in South Wales which are a haven for wildlife, in fact, the Welsh Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales alone has over 100 nature reserves across the five counties in which they work.

Teifi Marshes

Home to the Welsh Wildlife Centre where there’s an adventure playground, willow maze, walking and cycling nature trails and even a resident water buffalo! 

Coast path at Mwnt

Perch on the clifftop and watch the waves below – if you’re lucky, you may see dolphins and a host of seabirds and coastal wildlife.

Margam Country Park 

Sit in peace and watch the deer herd roaming the parkland. Look out for foxes, badgers, hares and birds in the lakes.

Llanelli Wetland Centre

Home to a bird enclosure to walk through where you can see flamingos and can hand-feed the rarest goose in the world!


Cycle trails in South Wales

Cycle trails in South Wales

Beautiful South Wales is an enchanting place to explore and ideal for a peaceful cycle ride on a bright day. Take off into the countryside on one of this delightful cycling routes. 

Taff Trail

Enjoy some fresh air and quality time together exploring the beauty of the Welsh countryside on the Taff Trail. Whether you choose to cycle, ride a horse or simply enjoy on foot, the trail following the River Taff is free to join from a variety of different points, meaning you can do as little or as much as you want in one go.

Millennium Park 

A beautiful coastal route from Llanelli to Pembrey, this Millennium Park cycle route offers a 14-mile return trip on tarmacked, traffic-free paths that is sure to be a hit with the family. There are nature reserves and even flamingos to spot in the Llanelli Wetland centre if you fancy stopping off for a bit of wildlife spotting before heading back.

Peregrine Path

Following the River Wye along the border with England, while on the Peregrine Path you can visit famous landmarks such as Symonds Yat Rock and its resident peregrine falcons, King Arthur’s Cave which is thought to have been home to humans during the Paleolithic era, and Goodrich Castle which houses Civil War cannons. 


Waterfalls in South Wales

Waterfalls in South Wales

The Brecon Beacons is South Wales' waterfall capital, with the Waterfalls Walking Route taking in no less than four of these majestic beauties. As free days out in South Wales go – this one ticks both the ‘outdoors’ and ‘exercise’ boxes!

Sgwd Clun-Gwyn

Two sets of falls which lie a few hundred metres apart, the upper falls are the highest but the lower falls tumble in gorgeous cascades, making for that winning photo!

Sgwd Yr Eira

The ‘waterfall of snow’ that falls in a curtain which you can walk behind and revel in the magic of the tons of water hammering down before you.

Sgwd Gwladus

Named after ‘Gwladus’ one of 5th-century prince Brychan’s 25 daughters, ‘the lady fall’ tips elegantly over a sandstone ledge – a lovely photo opportunity.

Aberdulais 

Visit in the winter for a truly mesmerising display as tons of water gush down a stunning rocky gorge, a power which aided an Industrial Revolution.


Country parks in South Wales

Country parks in South Wales

Retreat to a scenic Brecon Beacons country park for a family picnic or a few games of rounders on the grass - look out for wildlife too as you explore. Margam is home to fun family activities while Pembrey has a lot of meandering footpaths to follow on a day out in the fresh country air.

Margam Country Park

Set in almost 1000 acres of scenic parkland, there are heaps of exciting attractions to discover including a rare breeds farm trail, adventure playgrounds, crazy golf and a narrow-gauge steam railway. Entry to the park itself and most of its attractions are free, however, there is a £3 car parking charge - it's still one of the cheapest days out in South Wales!

Pembrey Country Park, Carmarthenshire

Perfect for families, this 500-acre woodland and beach idyll encompasses a variety of outdoor activities, including adventure play areas and miles of walking routes, as well as a number of extras at an additional cost.

Dare Valley Country Park, Aberdare

Set within a glacial valley, this country park offers picturesque trails, wildlife spotting and an interactive visitor centre.


Coastal walks in South Wales

St David’s Head

St David’s Head

Taking in the impressive craggy cliffs of St David’s Head, this walk is good combined with a stop for a meal in nearby St David’s, Wales’ smallest city. Coetan Arthur, the Neolithic burial chamber which dates back 4,000 years, is one of the highlights of this walk, as is the opportunity to spot some of the seabirds which settle in the cliffs.

  • 3.8 miles
  • 1 – 1.5 hours
  • Moderate terrain

Rhossili Headland

Rhossili Headland

The splendid views of the magnificent beach are not to be missed, and the stunning Rhossili Headland walk indulges ramblers with glorious panoramas either side of the headland. On a sunny day, head down to the beach after your walk to cool off with a paddle in the sea.

  • 3.5 miles
  • 1.5 hours
  • Moderate terrain

Coppet Hall

Coppet Hall

The perfect route for wheelchair users and families with pushchairs or young children, Coppet Hall walk trails along the seafront, passing through two tunnels to Wisemans Bridge beach before heading inland towards Stepaside along a bridleway. You’ll have to retrace your steps as this isn’t a circular walk, but it’s a good excuse for a well-deserved ice cream as you make your way back along the seafront!

  • 3.2 miles
  • 1 – 1.5 hours
  • Easy terrain
  • Accessible for all

Discover geocaching in Wales

Kids will be in their element with a thrilling day of Geocaching, a global game of hide-and-seek that has now made its way to the Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia National Parks.

These caches are basically a sort of treasure box, ranging in size from a small film canister to a larger container, and within lies a logbook, a pencil and a stash of ‘treasure’, which has been recorded on the Geocaching website. Hundreds of caches have been planted for families to find and all you need is a phone with GPS, or if you’re really up for a challenge, an Ordnance Survey map and compass.

It’s an exciting way to explore the breathtaking landscape of Wales, with some of the caches hidden in places with exceptional views and historical significance, including a WWII bomber crash site.


Stay in Wales: Cil Y Fan Rowen

Stay in Wales

Wales is a vibrant country whose culture and natural scenery are just waiting to be discovered and, with so many cheap days out in Wales and places to visit for free, a holiday in this beautiful country needn’t break the bank!

We have a stunning collection of self-catering holiday cottages in Wales to suit all tastes, from large cottages to cosy hideaways. Many of our cottages in Wales welcome dogs, as do many of the free attractions listed above, so there’s no need to feel guilty for leaving your pet behind!

If you’ve been inspired to spend your next getaway with the family in the beauty of Wales, take a look at our collection of holiday cottages in Wales to find your perfect place to stay.

Wales family 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.