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Spectacular attractions to Visit in Wales

With such a rich and exciting history, it’s no wonder Wales has so many incredible museums open to visitors.

But, with so many options it can be tricky to know which ones are the best to visit. That’s why we’ve put together this helpful guide for you. Read on to find out the best museums to visit in Wales and why!

1. St Fagan’s National Museum of History – Cardiff

The first of seven Amgueddfa Cymru museums – those sponsored by the Welsh government – on our list, St Fagan’s museum is set in and around the grounds and castle of the same name. Here you can find over 40 buildings from various different eras of history. From houses, farms, schools, and chapels, a visit here will be a step back in time to celebrate all things Welsh.

The heritage, culture, and language of Wales are at the heart of this museum and you’ll come out knowing more about Wales than you ever thought possible. Well worth a visit.

2. Big Pit National Coal Museum – Torfaen

Another Amgueddfa Cymru museum, this is definitely a must-visit! The Big Pit National Coal Museum offers an experience like no other. In fact, it’s a real coal mine. Make sure you’re prepared because you’ll be going underground. See what life was like for coal miners 300 feet below the surface and walk through the tunnels and buildings that were used to help Wales – and the other countries of the United Kingdom – stay powered!

The museum itself is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and once you’ve visited, it’s not hard to see why. Wales’ contributions to the world during the industrial revolution are celebrated here, so don’t miss out.

Conwy Castle. Photo by K Mitch Hodge

3. Conwy Castle – Conwy

Are medieval fortresses more your thing? In that case, you’ll want to head to Conwy Castle and see how it still stands in all its glory even after 700 years! In fact, this castle is one of the most magnificent in all of Europe, and that says something. Standing at the top you can see the unbroken and complete ring of the ancient town wall below you, and then in the distance are the mountains of the Eryri (Snowdonia) National Park.

Construction of this giant first began in 1283 and its presence today is just as commanding as it was back then. With royal apartments, towers, and curtain walls, you’ll feel like King Edward I himself on a visit here.

Llanberis. Photo by Lisa Fotios

4. National Slate Museum – Llanberis

The third Amgueddfa Cymru museum on our list.  Not only is this one sponsored by the Welsh government, but it’s also a landmark on the European Route of Industrial Heritage (ERIH). The National Slate Museum commits itself to the incredible and significant slate industry of Wales.

Located in Victorian workshops themselves in Dinorwig quarry, you can see the Elidir mountain in the distance and you get a real feel for what life for quarry workers was truly like.

The museum puts on talks and demonstrations to give you an accurate picture of quarry life and gives you insights into just how important the slate industry was in Wales at the time. And aside from all that, the location is quite simply stunning. One for the books, for sure.

5. National Museum Cardiff

So far, the museums on this list have concentrated on the more practical, outdoor elements of Welsh history. The National Museum Cardiff is here to change that. This Amgueddfa Cymru museum is dedicated to all things art and natural history. It’s a world-class museum full of art, and the exhibitions and galleries will blow you away. In fact, this is home to one of Europe’s best collections of Impressionist art!

You’ll discover art dating back 500 years in this museum including paintings, sculptures, and ceramics. And that’s before you even get to the natural history section. Be prepared to see dinosaurs and woolly mammoths along the way. You won’t regret a visit here.

Sheep… with lots of wool. Photo by Sam Carter

6. National Wool Museum – Carmarthenshire

Did you know there are more sheep in Wales than people? That being the case, it’s no wonder there is a wool museum – and a national one at that. Another Amgueddfa Cymru museum, the National Wool Museum is dedicated to one of Wales’ most important industries. If you fancy becoming a wool aficionado then this is the place for you.

Here you’ll learn the process of fleece-to-fabric and see how shirts, shawls, blankets, and bedcovers were made. Take a look around the mill and see where the magic happens, and even try your chances at carding, spinning, and sewing. This is a fun and interactive museum and for all ages.

7. National Roman Legion Museum – Newport

This Amgueddfa Cymru museum is all about the mighty Roman Empire and its time and influence in Wales. Did you know that the Romans had their furthest outpost in Wales? The fortress is called Caerleon and it resided over the Roman Empire in Wales from 75 AD for 200 years.

The exhibits and artifacts in this museum will demonstrate just how the Romans changed the face of Wales forever. Learn how they lived, worshipped, and died, and even try on some ancient Roman armour. The remains of the Caerleon happen to be the only remaining Roman Legionary barracks on view in Europe. So, it’s fair to say – this one is a biggie!

Cardiff Castle. Photo by Charlie Seaman

8. Cardiff Castle

You shouldn’t be surprised to find another castle on this list (and it’s not the last, either), after all, Wales’ castles are famous around the world. But this one, in particular, stands proud and mighty at the top. Conwy Castle might have 700 years of history, but Cardiff comes in strong with a mighty 2,000-year history.

From the Romans to the Normans, the Lords of Glamorgan to the Bute family. It was even a shelter during WWII. This castle really has seen it all. A trip here isn’t just about the history of Wales, but indeed one that spans countries and continents. It’s a fascinating visit and there’s something for all the family.

9. National Waterfront Museum – Swansea

Here marks the last of the Amgueddfa Cymru museums, this time with the National Waterfront Museum. This is the one-stop shop for industry and innovation in Wales over the last 300 years. As you can imagine, there’s quite a lot to cover. The museum finds its home in the Maritime Quarter and includes a whole array of interactive exhibitions covering everything to do with transport and networks in Wales.

You’ll find objects and artifacts from many moons ago and see just what exactly has been produced in Wales over the years. It’s fun, it’s interesting, and it’s part of the Amgueddfa Cymru for a reason – a must-visit!

Minted British Coins. Photo by Sarah Agnew

10. The Royal Mint Experience – Pontyclun

Want to visit one of the most popular exhibitions in Wales? Look no further than the Royal Mint Experience. Who knew coins were so popular? Everyone who has visited this museum, it seems. Check out the fascinating history of coins over 1,100 years. Take part in tours, visit exhibitions, and have a go at some of the famous coin hunts. It’s fun for all the family, and you’ll be surprised just how interesting the history of coins really is.

Caernarfon Castle. Photo by Neil Mark Thomas

11. Caernarfon Castle

The last castle on this list, but by no means the least. In fact, this museum is recognised around the world as one of the greatest buildings of the middle ages. The castle is so big it took 47 years to build!

It’s quite literally the stuff of legend, with the castle being built due to a bitter war between King Edward and a Welsh princess. It is immersed in the mystical Welsh myth of Macsen Wledig who wished for a great fort by the mouth of a river. Take a look yourself – you won’t be disappointed.

12. Techniquest – Cardiff

And finally, what is a museum list without a science museum on it? The Techniquest is the largest science centre in Wales and is not to be missed. It has over 100 interactive exhibits and is the place to go if science is your thing. The reputation of this museum is so good they’ve even sold exhibits to science centres around the world.

As you can see, Wales is home to some of the most fascinating museums in the world. From the castles of centuries ago, to the mills and mines from the industrial revolution, to the science of today, the Welsh museums have it all. Which one has piqued your interest? Take a visit and let us know!

About the author

Having worked across the heritage and tourism sector for over 10 years, Monty Beaumont is an expert when it comes to discovering new places to visit and great days out for the whole family. 

He has previously worked for the National Trust as a General Manager in Cornwall, coordinated the complex operations of running a castle in Devon and the mastered the intricacies of providing exceptional hospitality and service at some of the finest historic houses in the UK. 

As part of his vision and drive for Monty’s Guide, Monty travels across the country to find new places to visit and explore, and sharing his finding on montysguide.com, which is used by 1,000s of people each week to find their next great day out.

His experience and knowledge of the historic and cultural sector gives him a unique insight into the elements that make tourism and learning so important in our quest to understanding more about our heritage.

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