Family attractions in Wales with free parking
As another weekend – and school holiday – approaches you might be planning family days out in Wales at some of our popular attractions and destinations. With the cost of tickets, lunch, ice creams and souvenirs, the cost of a family day out can soon add up, so attractions and landmarks that have free parking are a welcome bonus to a day out. Here’s our round of some of the places you can park for free where you’ll find awesome attractions, landmarks and lush areas to visit.
Castell Coch, Cardiff
(Image: Portia Jones)
Gorgeous Castell Coch is a 19th-century Gothic Revival castle built above the village of Tongwynlais on the outskirts of Cardiff and rises up from the ancient beech woods of Fforest Fawr like a fairytale castle. P arking is free here and is conveniently located right in front of the castle. Castell Coch was built upon the ruins of a medieval fortress once known as “castrum rubeum” or “the red castle” – a site which lay in ruins for centuries before its revival at the hands of the Third Marquess of Bute and his architect William Burges.
The design combines the surviving elements of the medieval castle with 19th-century additions to produce a building that the historian Charles Kightly considered “the crowning glory of the Gothic Revival” in Britain. Today the castle is open to visitors to take a step back in time and marvel at the richly decorated rooms.
Plantasia is a tropical hothouse that is home to a wide variety of tropical plants, insects, reptiles, amphibians, mammals and fish, along with some visiting animals which include meerkats and exotic creepy crawlies. As well as a cafe and education centre, you find Rainbow the green-winged macaw, cotton-top tamarin monkeys, chameleons, bearded dragons, a Burmese python, parakeets, lorikeets and lories, fish in the aquarium and a whole load of insects and spiders.
There is ample car parking next to Plantasia in Parc Tawe Retail and Leisure Park and parking is free at the two-hour short stay car park.
(Image: Wetsern Mail)
Popular Dan-yr-Ogof is a 15km long cave system, one of the most extensive in Western Europe and attracted a huge amount of visitors every year. The caves were uncovered almost a century ago by two brothers, and feature underground lakes, rivers and two spectacular 40ft waterfalls.
There are also rock formations including stalagmites and stalactites dating back thousands and, in some cases, millions of years. There is also a dinosaur park with more than 200 life-sized dinosaur models. Tickets must be booked online and parking is also free here.
Dyfi Bike Park, Machynlleth
(Image: Portia Jones)
World-class biking can be found on the forested trails of nearby Dyfi Bike Park.
This impressive bike park is the result of years of hard work by the Atherton family and the local community to create diverse and challenging trails that cut through the Esgair Forest. Parking here is free and saves Riders can buy an uplift pass from GBP43 and use the uplift from 10am to 4pm to explore long descents over varied terrain.
Make sure to swing by their on-site cafe for a home-cooked lunch and a rater excellent cup of gourmet coffee. :How to spend 48 hours in Machynlleth
Llanelli Wetland Centre, Carmarthenshire
A real haven for nature lovers, you can get up close and personal with an array of species at Llanelli Wetland Centre. The centre is open 9.30am to 5pm and car parking is free.
See colourful flamingos, go bug hunting or pond dipping, enjoy bird watching and explore the reserve where you will see butterflies, dragonflies and so much more. There are also exciting, adventure play areas that the kids will love to run around in. You can even hand feed the rarest goose in the world – just make sure you don’t get pecked!
Victoria Park splash pad, Cardiff
The splash pad in Victoria Park has free, on-street parking nearby and is a perfect place to bring the kids on warmer and sunnier days.
The splash pad, which is located in the beautiful grounds of the Grade II-listed park, includes facilities such as sprays, jets, a tipping water bucket and a tunnel. It’s set across three separate zones, which have been designed for toddlers, juniors and families. Make sure to also grab fresh coffee and delicious cakes at the quirky Bloc Coffee in the park, which has gone from neglected toilet block to cosy cafe.
Hafren Forest, Cambrian Mountains
(Image: Portia Jones)
The Hafren Forest is a great place to bring the family for a forest walk and a picnic and also has free parking during the day, [overnight parking is not permitted].
Explore the scenic trails of the Hafren Forest surrounded by pine and spruce trees, as mellow sunlight filters through the dense canopy. Hafren Forest was planted by the Forestry Commission in the 1930s and named after Afon Hafren [River Severn]. Despite the commercial timber-producing purpose of this forest, the Forestry Commission successfully manages Hafren as a habitat for wildlife, and as a place of leisure for visitors.
Stroll along the wooden boardwalks and soak up the serene sounds of the forest. There are several marked trails you can do, including the epic ‘Source of the Severn Trail’.
Zip World, Blaenau Ffestiniog
(Image: Zip World)
Come and try the amazing Titan 2 zip line, or Bounce Below at the popular Zip World attraction. Activities here are pricey but at least there is free parking on site!
Combine adventure and history on an exhilarating four-person parallel zip line, with a unique tour of the Llechwedd slate quarry. Their robust, former army truck will take you to a 1,400 ft height that overlooks the captivating manmade, industrial mountains, while a guide explains the history and significance of the mining community. You’ll then travel back down via 1 kilometre of zip line that provides thrilling views of the quarry below and a panorama of Blaenau Ffestiniog.
Greenmeadow Community Farm, Cwmbran
(Image: Green Meadow)
As part of the working farming landscape for 250 years, visitors can go along to learn more about life on a farm at Greenmeadow Community Farm. The farm is open daily from 10am to 5pm and there is free parking at the farm. As well as traditional farmyard animals like cattle, pigs, sheep and goats, you will find Shetland ponies, chickens, rabbits, mice, bees and even feral cats.
You can also watch one of their lovely dairy cows being milked in the Dairy and learn lots of fun facts about milk and other dairy products during the daily milking events.
Afan Forest Park
The Forest Park is in the Afan Valley, one of the narrowest and most beautiful valleys in South Wales, being about 15 miles long from its head at Bwlch yr Afan, to the sea at Aberfan. Car parking is free of charge here though overnight parking is not permitted. It’s a large forest encompassing a total area of 11,000 hectares with nine way-marked walks and many cycle trails.
The forest also has a visitor centre with a reception, cafe, bike shop, showers and bike wash facilities. The park itself nestles on the valley slopes and includes the communities of Pontrhydyfen, Cymer and Glyncorrwg, and the 3,000 hectares of the forest include relics of abandoned mines, tramways and railways. It’s a serene place to go biking in Wales and traverse the ethereal forest trails.
Cwmcarn Forest, Caerphilly
(Image: Portia Jones)
Cwmcarn has undergone extensive redevelopment and offers lovely forest walks and some epic mountain bike trails. the car park is also currently free, which is an added bonus.
Mountain bikers will love the range of graded, singletrack mountain bike trails that follow the natural contours of the forest and will have you whizzing through Welsh landscapes at speed. These trails are designed for the more experienced rider and care should be taken when attempting these graded rides. The singletrack trails are ‘Cafall’ and the legendary ‘Twrch Trail’.
Both Red graded trails will keep you focused on your riding but also allow for some scenic stops whilst you catch your breath.
National Botanic Garden of Wales , Carmarthenshire
(Image: Dog Friendly Destinations)
Besides an amazing selection of plant life, the National Botanic Garden of Wales in Carmarthenshire offers a diverse range of wildlife. Across their intriguing mosaic of lakes, streams, marsh, semi-natural woodland, meadows and formal gardens, the Botanic Gardens provide a home to thousands of creatures, including playful otters. Here you’ll find over 100 types of butterfly and moth, more than 50 varieties of birds, thousands of frogs, toads and palmate newts, common lizards, grass snakes and slow worms and twenty species of mammal including dormice, otters and bats.
Visitors only have to pay when they enter the Botanic Garden. So If you just want to visit the plant sales or grab a drink and snack in our Gatehouse cafe, parking is free.
Meadows Farm Village Cardiff
The Meadows Farm Village in Cardiff is the ideal day out for all the family, from toddlers right up to grandparents. Whether you are after a general farm experience, which includes giving a pig a belly rub, playing with the pygmy goats, or petting rabbits as well as seeing all the other animals including many exotic ones.
Tickets need to be booked in advance and parking is free. There is also the opportunity to take it one step further and book an experience, where you can get even closer to the fantastic animals, such as the meerkats and donkeys to name a few. There are more than 300 beautiful animals here, including raccoon dogs, wallabies, reindeer, turkeys, ducks, peafowl, geese, swans, donkeys, alpacas, emu, horses, cows and sheep and more.
Llandegfedd Lake, Monmouthshire
(Image: Portia Jones)
Beautiful Llandegfedd Lake (on the border of Monmouth and Torfaen), is a watersports hub with a swish cafe and now offers safe, open water swimming sessions, with lifeguard trained staff in attendance.
There is ample free parking on site, The main visitor or top car park is a short walk away from the Visitor Centre down an accessible path. Disabled parking is available just outside the Visitor Centre. If swimming doesn’t take your fancy, the watersports centre also offer a range of activity sessions including canoeing, kayaking, paddleboarding, raft building and sailing.
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