A family holiday to Wales is the perfect opportunity to spend some quality time together, enjoying the great outdoors and making memories to treasure for a lifetime. Many of the best days out are suitable for any budget, and some can even be enjoyed for free so you can relax knowing you have a full week planned that won't cost the earth. If you're looking for affordable family fun ideas in Wales, we have created a list of things to do that definitely won't break the bank.
Build a sandcastle
Wales is blessed with some of the most glorious sandy beaches, including Porth Dafarch and Aberdaron on the north coast, Whitesands Bay and Newport Sands to the west, and Southerdown, Rhossili (above) and Pendine on the south coast. As well as being perfect for building sandcastles, many of them have shallow gradients, which are brilliant for smaller tots to have a paddle, plus facilities nearby and lifeguard patrol during the popular summer months. Spend a fun day searching for crabs in rockpools, foraging for shells, pretty pebbles and seaweed, or simply relax with an ice cream or a picnic and take in the beautiful views. Many of the beaches in Wales have fantastic birdwatching opportunities and kids will love spotting dolphins and seals bobbing though the sea during the summer. Aside from the parking charges, a day out at the seaside in Wales is a low-cost way to enjoy the outdoors and your kids are guaranteed a fantastic time.
Wales Coast Path
The idyllic 870-mile Wales Coast Path is free for everyone to explore and makes for an excellent family adventure. The whole path is accessible to walkers, and in some parts is suitable for cyclists, families with pushchairs, people with restricted mobility and horse riders. Admire stunning scenery, pretty coastal villages, magnificent castles and see an array of interesting wildlife, flora and fauna. The walks vary in length from one mile to an entire day trip; highlights along the way include the Dylan Thomas trail where you can see some of the places that inspired this famous poet, and wildlife spotting in Pembrokeshire where if you're lucky you might catch a glimpse of blue whales, Risso dolphins and puffins, which make their home in the protected waters.
If you've got a phone with GPS, kids will be in their element with a thrilling day of Geocaching. This global game of hide-and-seek has made its way to the Brecon Beacons National Park, where 180 caches have been planted for families to find. 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 log book, a pencil and a stash of treasure. The ‘treasure' has been recorded on the geocaching website, www.geocaching.com and all you need to find it is a handheld GPS device, or if you're really up for a challenge, an Ordnance Survey map and compass. It's an exciting way to explore the breath-taking landscape of the Brecon Beacons, with some of the caches hidden in places with exceptional views and historical significance including a WWII bomber crash site.
Spot shooting stars
Both the Brecon Beacons and the Snowdonia National Park have been awarded International Dark Sky Reserve status, which means that they are perfect to view spectacularly clear skies at night, and with a bit of luck spot a shooting star or two. The wonder of the galaxy enthrals 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. Look up and see the magical Milky Way with your own eyes, kids will love tracing out the patterns of the constellations and, of course, it's free!
Steeped in 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. Take in some art and natural history at the National Museum Cardiff (above), delve 100 metres underground at the Big Pit National Coal Museum, or celebrate the architecture and traditions of Wales at St Fagans National History Museum. Kids will love discovering the maritime history of Wales at the National Waterfront Museum, exploring the history of slate at the National Slate Museum, or wool at the National Wool Museum, and if that's not enough there is the National Roman Legion Museum, where kids can step back in time and get an insight into life in the mighty Roman Empire. There are plenty of exciting family activities and interactive displays to keep the kids entertained, and a range of family events throughout the year so be sure to check the museum calendars before setting out.
There is an abundance of magnificent castles in Wales just waiting to be discovered and admired. Some have a small charge, some are completely free to explore, but the views that can often be seen from the top are priceless. Ranging from the atmospheric ruins of Carreg Cennen, Laugharne and Ogmore Castles to the imposing fortresses of Harlech, Caernarfon, Conwy and Caerphilly Castles, families will be spoilt for choice. Some of the larger castles have fun family events running throughout the year, particularly in school holidays, so it's always worth checking before you leave.
Wreathed in legend, Wales boasts a plethora of breath-taking waterfalls of great beauty. Many of these cascades are easily accessible on foot, perfect for little feet to get to through enchanting woodlands and beautiful landscapes. Whether you visit the photogenic Swallow Falls, Pistyll Rhaeadr and Aber waterfalls in North Wales, the mesmerising Devil's Bridge Falls (above) in Mid Wales, or see four magical waterfalls including the famous Sgwd Yr Eira all in one glorious amble on the Four Waterfalls Walking Route in the Brecon Beacons National Park, you will not be disappointed. Little mouths will be wide open as they marvel the natural wonder of the dazzling cascades. Parking fees aside, most of the waterfalls in Wales are free to visit or have a small charge, and the memory of their beauty will never be forgotten.
Running from the waterfront at Cardiff Bay to the market town of Brecon, 55 miles away, is the multi-purpose route of the Taff Trail. Whether you choose to cycle, ride a horse or simply enjoy on foot, it is the perfect way to appreciate the beauty of the Welsh countryside. A large proportion of the trail is designated traffic free and it can be joined at a variety of different points, meaning you can do as little or as much as you want in one go. Many sites of interest and industrial heritage are either adjacent or close by, including the family-friendly Pontypool Park, Forrest Farm and Bute Park, and it passes through many towns and villages if you fancy stopping for some refreshment. There is no charge to join the Taff Trail so it's a perfect way to get out into the fresh air and enjoy some quality time together exploring Wales.
Margam Country Park
Enjoy a great family day out in South Wales at Margam Country Park, just outside of Port Talbot. Set in almost 1000 acres of parkland, tots to teenagers will delight in the exciting attractions including a narrow-gauge railway, adventure playgrounds, crazy golf and a rare breeds farm trail. Explore the magnificent castle or the 18th-century orangery, relax in the ornamental gardens, or make the most of the wealth of nature trails where you can walk, cycle, watch the deer or have a go at geocaching. Entry to the park itself and most of its attractions are free, however, there is a £3 car parking charge.
Amelia Trust Farm
Set within 160 acres of countryside in the Vale of Glamorgan is the Amelia Trust Farm, a working farm and charity committed to providing therapeutic support to vulnerable and disadvantaged individuals. They are open to the public year-round, and offer a fantastic range of activities and attractions including a fairy and gnome woodland trail, an outdoor playground which includes a tractor and, of course, a range of farm animals to get up close to. Best of all, it's completely free to visit, although any donations to the charity are greatly appreciated. This is a working farm so it gives children the chance to see the staff and volunteers carrying out their day to day duties and when they're feeling peckish, there are picnic benches, all made at the farm to enjoy a spot of lunch.
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 Wales cottages to find your perfect place to stay.