The Most Beautiful Country Walks Around Cardiff, Wales

Bute Park, behind Cardiff Castle, is one of the best places to go for a walk in Cardiff
Bute Park, behind Cardiff Castle, is one of the best places to go for a walk in Cardiff | © Michael Olivers / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Nicholas Witts
30 September 2020

If you’d like to enjoy the Welsh countryside and fresh air, then Cardiff and its surrounding area are well worth a visit. From Margam Country Park to the Machen Forge Trail, here are some of the most scenic walks to take in and around the Welsh capital.

Margam Country Park

Park
Map View
Margam Country Park
© jax10289 / Alamy Stock Photo
Margam Country Park offers a wonderful array of walks and is just a 30-minute drive from Cardiff. The 800 acres (324ha) of Margam Park provide a perfect backdrop for a wander in the countryside, whether it be a stroll after Sunday lunch or a hike along the Coed Morgannwg Way to Afan Forest Park Country Park, the sister country park in the Afan Valley. There are half a dozen different hikes available, all with varying lengths and levels of difficulty, meaning you can come back to this idyllic location more than once.

Pen Pych Mountain, Rhondda

Park, Natural Feature
Map View
The Pen Pych mountain towers over the Rhondda Valley and is a landmark in Treherbert and Treorchy. The walk does require a decent level of exertion; however, it is well worth it. The trail makes its way over the valley, under waterfalls and through stunning scenery – including Tolkien-esque forestry. Hikers can see up to the heads of the valleys where South Wales begins to spill into the Brecon Beacons, and also down into the Rhondda Valley, the real Welsh heartlands.

Iron Bridge Circular Walk, Newport

Hiking Trail
Map View
At just over 3mi (5km), the Iron Bridge Circular Walk is one of Newport Council’s shortest promoted walks, although it remains incredibly picturesque. It was created to celebrate the restoration of a 16m (52ft) cast-iron footbridge over the River Rhymney. The route follows public footpaths that can become quite muddy during bad weather, so make sure you’re wearing suitable footwear.

Castell Coch and Fforest Fawr

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Castell Coch,  (Castle Coch) Wales, overlooking the River Taff in Autumn.. Image shot 10/2010. Exact date unknown.
© Jeff Tucker / Alamy Stock Photo
One for the children is the Forest Fawr sculpture trail near Castell Coch. This woodland area, just a short drive outside of Cardiff, is roughly 1.5mi (just over 2km) long and designed to take children on a magical journey through the forest, with many trails for walking and cycling. It is based on the idea of a giant creature who lives in the woods and has discarded different objects – like a watch, a treasure chest and a dragon. The woodland itself has an industrial history, and there are some impressive, deep holes left by iron mining here.

Bute Park and Llandaff Fields

Park
Map View
A green oasis nestled amidst the capital’s cityscape, Bute Park and the conveniently attached Llandaff Fields provide a wonderful walk that takes you along the banks of the River Taff. There is also a wealth of flora in the park, all of which looks exceptional when coming into bloom. There’s nothing quite like seeing hundreds of daffodils sprouting here in the Welsh capital.

Fourteen Locks Canal Centre

Building
Map View
Just a short trip outside of Cardiff, in the neighbouring city of Newport, the Fourteen Locks Canal Centre is a great day out for the family. Formerly consisting of the astounding man-made construction of 14 individual locks along the river, the trail now offers visitors an interesting look at the area, as well as an abundance of natural beauty and wildlife. The terrific cafe in the visitors’ centre is a great spot to take a quick tea break.

Sgwd yr Eira

Hiking Trail, Natural Feature
Map View
View from the path behind Sgwd Yr Eira Waterfall in the Brecon Beacons National Park South Wales
© Steve Taylor ARPS / Alamy Stock Photo
A quick drive out of the city and in the heart of waterfall country, the Sgwd yr Eira trail is a challenging trail that pays off with its picture-perfect views. The route takes you through some of the area’s serene woodland before a couple of climbs lead you to the pristine waterfall, Sgwd yr Eira. The walk itself is roughly 2.5mi (4km) and will take you right underneath the water, so make sure you pack your waterproofs.

Machen Forge Trail

Hiking Trail
Map View

A moderate loop walk through and around the quiet village of Machen, this route offers a peaceful getaway from the city. Outside of the picturesque village and woodland, the trail takes you into the industrial past of the area as you traverse closely to the old forge. Ending with amazing views across the valley, the walk is definitely one that calls for bringing your camera.

Additional reporting by Nicholas Grantham

These recommendations were updated on September 30, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.