In Monmouthshire, Abergavenny is known as the ‘Gateway to Wales’. Just 6 miles of the English border, Abergavenny is nestled in between three beautiful mountains – the Skirrid, the Blorenge and the Sugar Loaf – and is surrounded by stunning countryside. There are plenty of things to do in Abergavenny and the surrounding area, from castles to see, the markets, the Food Festival and plenty of walking in the nearby mountains and the Brecon Beacons.
From England, once you drive over the Severn Bridge into Wales it is a 45-minute journey to Abergavenny. Although it seems to be a quiet market town, Abergavenny is actually bustling and vibrant, with lots of things to see and do whether you are having a weekend in Wales or a longer stay.
Things to do in Abergavenny
Visit the Castle and Museum
Set in the grounds of the ruined Norman Abergavenny Castle, the Abergavenny Museum is in the former hunting lodge which was built by the Marquess of Abergavenny.
As you go through the museum you follow the history of the market town from prehistory and the Romans through its battles and up to the present day. With a changing programme of exhibitions and activities for the family, it makes for a pleasant day out. The grounds are perfect for a walk or a picnic if the weather is nice.
The museum is free to get into, though there may be a charge for special events.
Stroll around Linda Vista Gardens
For a relaxing walk, head down to Linda Vista Gardens. Linda Vista translates as “beautiful view” and with views of Blorenge Mountain from the garden, it lives up to its name. The formal gardens are laid out with trees, shrubs and rare specimens of orchids and it is a delightful spot to spend some time. In the summer, open air concerts are held in the gardens for the Summer Festival.
Up near the top of the gardens is a carved statue which charts the history of Abergavenny. The lower section covers the 1175 massacre at Abergavenny Castle, the middle section shows Owain Glyndwr being let into Abergavenny and caused much damage in the town in 1404 protesting about laws and taxes laid down by the English Lords. The top section depicts Catholic priests David Lewis (now Saint David) and Philip Evans who were caught after holding illegal services and were hung, drawn, quartered and their remains burnt.
The Castle Meadows
Below Linda Vista is the Castle Meadows which is bordered by the River Usk.
With an abundance of wildlife including over 150 different plant types, the meadows are kept in a traditional way. Welsh Black cows graze during the autumn and early winter. In sprint the grass is left to grow, then harvested in high summer to make hay for winter feed.
Many migratory birds visit the meadows including sandmartins from Africa who burrow on the riverbanks. Native birds like the kingfisher dart in and out with flashes of turquoise as ducks drift on by.
Abergavenny Indoor Market and Farmers’ Market
In the centre of town is the market and farmers’ market. The general market is held on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays with a flea market on a Wednesday.
Throughout the month there is also a craft fair, antiques fair and artisan market.
Abergavenny’s Farmers’ Market is held on the 4th Thursday of every month where you can pick up local cheeses, pork, honey, pastries, chocolates, bread, crafts or be eco-friendly and fill up your household products with Little Green Refills.
Wander around the town
Peppered around Abergavenny are interesting buildings, plaques and notices. Look out for the information about Periwigs Makers from the 18th Century who sold wigs for 40 guineas. Or the Jubilee plaques celebrating the Abergavenny Bridge and the cattle markets. On the High Street, there is a beautifully painted building with panels depicting how the town was in years gone by.
If you fancy indulging in a fabulous afternoon tea, head to The Angel in Cross Street. The award-winning High Tea offers a selection of freshly prepared savouries, sandwiches, cakes and scones, as well a range of teas including their own The Angel Afternoon Blend. Served in the afternoons from Thursday to Sunday, you can arrange vegan, vegetarian and any dietary intolerances 24 hours in advance.
Abergavenny Food Festival
For two days every September, Abergavenny is filled with foodies eager to enjoy the Abergavenny Food Festival. Running for over 20 years, the festival brings together food lovers, producers, farmers, chefs, food businesses and journalists. It is not just food, you also need something to wash it down with, so there are plenty of brewers, distillers and cider makers to choose from. With masterclasses, tastings, cookery classes and activities for the children, it is a fun-filled foodie weekend.
Map of things to do around Abergavenny
Things to do near to Abergavenny
If you fancy taking a drive out of Abergavenny there are plenty of things to do, from more castles to see, courses to take, wine tasting or just walking in nature.
White Castle has been sitting on the site since the 11th Century. Originally made out of wood and mud, the castle was later fortified and replaced by stone. The impressing White Castle is one of the Three Castles – with Grosmont and Skenfrith Castles – that defended the medieval Welsh border.
With a pear-shaped inner ward and a large outer ward with a deep moat and a bridge to cross between the two it is free to visit and walk around.
There is a circular walk that you can take between the Three Castles which is about 19 miles long. See the Visit Monmouthshire for more details.
Address: White Castle Vineyard, Llanvetherine, Abergavenny, NP7 8RA
Wine Tasting at White Castle Vineyard
On the way down from White Castle, call into the award-winning White Castle Vineyard.
On Thursdays Robb and Nicola offer tours around the vineyard and wine tastings of their delicious Welsh wines. Try the red, white, rosé or sparkling wines.
Address: Llantilio Crosenny, Abergavenny, NP7 8UD
Walk Part of the Offa’s Dyke Trail
For the more adventurous, the Offa’s Dyke Trail passes through the countryside around Abergavenny. Offa, the King of Mercia from 757 to 796AD built the dyke to form a boundary between England and Wales.
The full length of the trail will take you through the Wye Valley from Tintern to Monmouth, past Abergavenny and on to the Black Mountains covering over 180 miles. The section near Abergavenny circles around White Castle, and there are several points that you can join the trail near Abergavenny.
Climb a hill or three
There are three main mountains around Abergavenny, the. Blorenge, The Skirrid, and Sugar Loaf.
With views over Abergavenny, the Blorenge is the closest to the town. Sugarloaf, which is the highest of the three mountains, gives panoramic views over the local countryside. Hiking the Sugar Loaf is a great way to spend the day.
The Skirrid starts with a steep climb but plateaus out to a long ridgeway. At the highest point are the ruins of an old chapel. There are car parks nearer to the summits of the mountains if you want to have a shorter climb.
Abergavenny is also the perfect base for exploring the Brecon Beacons. A short car journey from the town is Pen-Y-Fan which is the highest mountain in South Wales and worth the journey.
The Court Cupboard Craft Gallery
Visitors to the Court Cupboard Craft Gallery can enjoy visiting the exhibitions held in the gallery. The exhibitions change regularly with items for sale from the artists who have workshops at the Court Cupboard. There is also a café if you want to stop for a cup of tea or coffee and a bite to eat.
Address: The Court Cupboard Craft Gallery, New Court Farm, Llantilio Pertholey, Abergavenny, NP7 8AU
Take a course
If you fancy spending time learning a new skill, there are plenty of courses available around Abergavenny and Monmouthshire. You can learn to bake bread with the Abergavenny Baker or make mead, cider or gin, go foraging, have a taste of bee-keeping or even make your own perfume. I have written a guide to some of the best courses and experiences in Monmouthshire, have a read to inspire you.
Outside of Abergavenny on the Old Abergavenny Road is Goytre Wharf. Sitting on the Monmouth and Brecon Canal it is a beautiful place to have a walk along the canal, see wildlife and learn about limekilns. The wharf used to process limestone which was brought there from the local mountains before being taken away by boats on the canal.
There is a visitors’ centre, gift shop and coffee shop. You can also hire bikes or canoes to see more of the canal.
One of the most impressive of the Welsh Castles is Raglan Castle. With its commanding turrets and towers, Raglan Castle was built as much as to intimidate foe as it was to be a grand castle and palace. The Great Tower is a large hexagonal keep with imposing towers at the entrance.
About 10 miles from Abergavenny, Raglan Castle dates back to between the 15th and early 17th centuries and is set in parkland with terraces and water gardens to explore. After the English Civil War, Parliamentary forces rendered the castle unable to be use for military purposes. The castle was not restored and became a tourist attraction.
On the way to Abergavenny from the Severn Bridge, and sitting on the banks of the River Wye, are the ruins of the Gothic Tintern Abbey. Although it has been in ruins for nearly 500 years, it still has a commanding presence.
Tintern Abbey was founded by Cistercian monks, in 1131 and was originally a timber construction. There followed a simple stone church and cloisters, until, with the support of the rich Marcher lords, the monks began to build a new abbey in 1269. The Abbey was dissolved in 1536 and it slid into disrepair.
The site is quite extensive and the ruins give the Abbey a romantic air. Its seven-lancet window on the west front and the arches in the nave are awe-inspiring. But you can wander around the kitchens, cloisters, dormitories and infirmary. With information boards around the Abbey telling you about where you are standing.
Part of Cadw, if you join you can get free entry to Tintern Abbey, Raglan Castle and many other places around Wales. You can join for as little as £20 a year for a single membership. This also gives you half-price entry to English Heritage and Historic Scotland during your first year of membership and free entry in subsequent years. However, if you have an English Heritage or Historic Scotland membership you get half-price entry to Cadw properties in Wales.
Map of things to do around Abergavenny
Places to stay in Abergavenny
If you are looking for places to stay in Abergavenny, check out hotels and Airbnbs:
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Larch lives a semi-nomadic life. Her life changed 20 years ago when a silly accident left her with restricted use of her right arm and neck and was told she would never work again. She turned her life around, retrained herself and set up as a self-employed website designer. This allowed her to work wherever she was in the world. Her passion for travel led her to start up her travel blog The Silver Nomad, to inspire over 40s to explore new destinations and expand their horizons. In 2019 Larch qualified as a CAA Drone Pilot which she combines with her travels.