Which lesser-known historical sites in Wales offer free admission?

Wales - a land of myths and legends, where the echoes of a rich history reverberate through the hills, valleys and coastline. From its towering castles to quaint townships, Wales offers visitors a chance to step back in time and experience a part of the United Kingdom steeped in heritage. Now, imagine doing all this without spending a penny! This article explores some of the less-known historical sites in Wales that offer free admission.

The Cadw Open Doors Event in September

Every year, Cadw, the Welsh government's historic environment service, hosts an "Open Doors" event throughout the month of September. During this time, many historical sites that usually charge an admission fee open their gates for free to visitors. This offers a unique opportunity to explore Wales' rich history without the worry of entrance fees.

Some sites that participate in this event are off the beaten track, therefore fewer tourists venture there. It's ideal for those seeking to avoid crowded tourist hotspots while still experiencing the charm of Welsh history. The participating sites change each year, so it's worth checking Cadw's website closer to the date for an updated list.

Hidden Gems in the North: The Town of Conwy

Heading up to the north of Wales, the town of Conwy is a well-preserved medieval town, complete with its own castle. While Conwy Castle itself is not free, the town is, and there is still plenty to see within its walls.

For example, the smallest house in Britain, situated on the quay, is a unique piece of history. Measuring just 3.05 meters by 1.8 meters, it was inhabited until 1900 and is now a tourist attraction. Even though there's a small fee to enter the house, you can still view it from the outside for free.

Another hidden gem in Conwy is Aberconwy House, a 14-century merchant's house, which is one of the oldest dateable houses in Wales. The National Trust manages it, and while admission is usually charged, it's free for National Trust members.

Free Beaches and the Coastal History of Wales

The beaches in Wales are renowned for their sheer beauty and, of course, they're free to visit. However, they also offer an insight into Wales' coastal history. Walking along the sandy shores, you'll come across remnants of shipwrecks, sea defenses dating back to World War II, and ancient fossils.

The beach at Rhossili Bay, for example, has the remains of the shipwrecked Helvetia, which ran aground in 1887. The rusted skeleton of the ship offers a glimpse into the past and acts as a dramatic feature on the otherwise serene beach.

Enjoy Welsh History in the Great Outdoors: National Garden of Wales

The National Garden of Wales, located near Carmarthen in South Wales, is another site that offers free entry on certain days throughout the year. Although primarily a botanic garden, it's also home to the British Bird of Prey Centre, a bee garden, and a tropical Butterfly House.

The garden is also steeped in history. Once the Middleton family estate in the 17th century, remnants of the original landscape, including a double-walled garden, are still visible today.

Lesser-known Castles with Free Admission

While Wales is famous for its castles, many lesser-known ones tend to be overlooked by tourists. For example, the ruins of Castell y Bere, a 13-century Welsh castle in the Dysynni Valley, are open and free to visitors all year round.

Similarly, the ruins of Ogmore Castle, located near Bridgend, are also freely accessible. The castle, which dates back to the early 12th century, is located next to a popular stepping stones crossing and is a great spot for a picnic.

Remember, when visiting these sites, it's essential to respect and preserve the rich history they uphold. By doing so, these hidden treasures will continue to enlighten and entertain visitors for generations to come.

Ancient Relics in the Wilderness: The Crown of Goron

One of the most remote, yet fascinating places to visit in North Wales is the bronze-age Goron Crown, a hidden gem nestled within the rugged landscapes of the Snowdonia National Park. Named after an ancient Welsh king, the Goron Crown consists of a series of standing stones and burial mounds dating back to 2000 BCE.

Apart from offering a taste of Wales' ancient past, the site allows visitors to enjoy the unspoiled beauty of North Wales. The view from the Goron Crown, overlooking the Dysynni Valley, is simply breathtaking. As it's situated within the national park, admission is entirely free. However, due to its remote location, it is less frequently visited, making it an ideal destination for those seeking solitude and a closer connection with nature.

The trip to the Goron Crown can be combined with a visit to the Castell y Bere, as they are located in the same region. Don't forget to check the Hawlfraint Goron website for detailed access information and additional historical content about the site.

Spectacular Gardens and Historical Houses: Bodnant Garden and Cardiff Castle

Moving to South Wales, some of the lesser-known but free-to-enter historical sites include the renowned Bodnant Garden and parts of the Cardiff Castle grounds. Located in the Conwy Valley, Bodnant Garden is a stunning 80-acre garden owned by the National Trust. Despite a small entrance fee, the garden is open free of charge on certain days, usually announced on the National Trust's website.

Bodnant Garden is home to an array of plant species from around the world and offers stunning views across Snowdonia. The garden also houses historic buildings, including the 18th-century Bodnant House, which adds to the historical charm of the garden.

In the capital city of Cardiff, while the castle itself requires an entry fee, the surrounding parklands known as Bute Park are open to the public for free. The park is home to an arboretum featuring over 3000 individual trees, including several rare and champion trees. A walk around the park offers an excellent view of the castle's exterior and the iconic Animal Wall with its collection of stone animals.


These are just some of the lesser-known historical sites in Wales that offer free admission. Whether you explore the ancient Goron Crown in Snowdonia National Park, take a stroll in the stunning Bodnant Garden or explore the parklands surrounding Cardiff Castle, you're sure to find history at every turn.

Remember, the Open Doors free admission event in September is a great time to explore different historical sites each year. Regardless of whether you're a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast or a family looking for a budget-friendly holiday, Wales' vast array of free sites ensures you can immerse yourself in its rich culture and heritage without burning a hole in your pocket. So why wait? Start planning your unforgettable Welsh journey today!