Wales is a camper’s paradise, and Cardiff’s undulating environs are no exception. To its west lie Jurassic coastlines and crumbling castles, and to its north, the ambling wilderness of the Brecon Beacons topped with the snowy peak of South Wales’s tallest mountain. With plenty of places to pitch a tent (or park a caravan), Culture Trip has asked our local insiders to recommend some of their favourite spots to camp near Cardiff.
A 30-minute drive outside Cardiff brings you to Sully – a tiny sea-swept village carved out of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast. Don’t bring your tent; instead, bed down in one of the comfortable mobile homes at Bay Caravan Park. A stay here grants you access to a stretch of private beach for blustery walks, sandcastle building and, weather permitting, swimming – although you can splash in the site’s indoor swimming pool year-round. Can’t be bothered to cook? Make a beeline for the Captain’s Wife for pub grub and a pint. Recommended by local insider Annis Ince
Forgo the too-tight-for-a-car stonewalled lanes of sleepy Llantwit Major (30 minutes from Cardiff), and head a mile north to Acorn Camping, instead. Campers, glampers and plane-spotters are welcome here, and the 1.8ha (4.5-acre) site is also an ideal base for exploring the coastline’s contours on horseback. After a windswept morning galloping amid spray, stones and the occasional surfer, the log-burning stove of Cwtch Cafe beckons – and a slice of the home-made Victoria sponge wouldn’t go amiss, either. Recommended by local insider Annis Ince
Mornings at Willow Springs begin not with the sound of birdsong, but with the trickling of a waterfall. Hidden in an Afan Forest glade about an hour from Cardiff by car, this eco-friendly campsite may lack phone reception, but it makes up for it in rambling routes – along with some of the best mountain biking tracks in the country. To stay, either pitch your tent among the trees or book the wooden-walled Shepherd’s Hut for a touch of rural glamour. Recommended by local insider Annis Ince
Ruined Medieval castle? Check. Rock climbing, fossil hunting, shrimp-packed rock pools and waterfalls pouring into the sea? Check, check, check and check. You can start the 10km (6mi) coastal trail to and from Ogmore-by-Sea immediately after pitching your tent at the pub-campsite hybrid, Three Golden Cups. When you’ve finished your walk, it’s back to the pub for a “proper” pie. Plus, it’s only a short stumble back to your tent after the bell goes for last orders. Recommended by local insider Holly Brace
The main allure of Plas Dolygaer is its proximity to Pen y Fan – the tallest peak in the Brecon Beacons. Bag the best pitching spot next to the small lake and hike the 886m (2,906ft) mountain at sunset. You’ll be rewarded for your efforts with 360-degree views of sun-burnt sandstone, sheep-speckled hills and, in the distance, Cardiff’s shimmering lights. As you descend, look up for the Milky Way – this area has International Dark Sky Reserve status, making it excellent star-spotting territory. Recommended by local insider Holly Brace