Weekend Exploring in Rhondda Cynon Taf
What a weekend in Rhondda Cynon Taf, South Wales.
Weekends were made for wandering. Browsing the shops. Visiting museums and galleries. Enjoying fresh air and a change of scenery.
Relax and enjoy a nice meal and maybe a few drinks, a room with a view, treating yourself and indulge at a spa.
Welcome to Rhondda Cynon Taf, South Wales. There’s no need to “wonder” about weekend plans as we have lots to do.
We’ve picked a few of our favourites for a classically chilled, but entertaining and refreshing, weekend away.
We estimate each suggested experience lasts half a day, so you can mix and match to build the perfect day out. We have included places to stay and ideas of where to eat to help you! Find out more in our free Visit guide - get yours now.
A Welsh Coal Mining Experience
We are famed the world over for our coal mining industry. The award-winning A Welsh Coal Mining Experience is a celebration of that. Built in the footprint of the former Lewis Merthyr Colliery, the mine’s chimney dominates the local landscape.
The original workings of the mine, including the lamp room and winding house, are part of the fascinating, interactive, and realistic tour – which starts with your guides.
They are former coal miners and will share their emotional, amusing and sometimes harrowing stories with you during the Black Gold Underground Experience tour.
The museum is filled with exhibitions, interactive displays and artefacts including an old WW2 shelter. Coal mining in the Rhondda is explored through the ages – from Isambard Kingdom Brunel to the world Wars and the fateful Titanic voyage.
Visit the renowned Chocolate House for a sweet gift – or join a chocolate-making workshop.
Upstairs, enjoy the gallery and a visit to Craft of Hearts is a must. You can stock up on craft items or join a workshop.
Make a pitstop at Caffe Bracchi, a celebration of the coffee shops and ice cream parlours (Bracchis) opened by Italian migrants who flocked to the area during the industrial boom.
- Relax at nearby Barry Sidings Countryside Park, which has lakes, trails, mountain walks and more. The café serves amazing coffee and milkshakes - it’s a real get away from it all.
- Sub Zero Ice Cream Parlour is just up the road from Trehafod – choose from 64 ice cream flavours which can be served in a cone, on a waffle or crepe or in a sundae!
- Lanelay Hall Hotel and Spa is just breathtaking. The spa is like a Balinese resort.
Stay a while
Just next door to A Welsh Coal Mining Experience is the recently-modernised Heritage Park Hotel, which has modern, comfortable rooms and a locally-acclaimed lunch and dinner menu.
Places to eat
Pontypridd has some great dining options, including the Bunch of Grapes, which has won countless awards over the years for its food and drink and Alfred’s Bar and Grill ,which offers relaxing indoor and outdoor dining in the heart of the town centre.
The Royal Mint Experience, Llantrisant
The Royal Mint moved from London to Llantrisant over 50 years ago. It produces all UK currency, plus money spent in over 40 countries.
What’s the meaning behind the coins in our pockets? How much do the Olympic medals that are made here weigh? The Royal Mint Experience takes you behind the scenes and tells you the story. Strike your own coin and enjoy interactive displays.
The gift shop is a must for coin collectors and there is an on-site café to relax in after your tour.
- Enjoy afternoon tea in the stunning grounds of Miskin Manor Hotel. Pretty pods have been scattered alongside the streams that run through the landscaped gardens . You can stay the night (or longer) if you choose.
- Soak in the history in Llantrisant. Grab a cuppa or a cocktail, see the castle and browse the shops and galleries.
- Breathe in the fresh air with a walk on Llantrisant Common – there are guided walks here
Stay a while
Lanelay Hall Hotel and Spa is just divine. Each room has its own individual design and the food and drink offering is great! Check out the spa and swimming pool.
Places to eat
Talbot Green has a great array of restaurants, including La Trattoria Italian restaurant with hand-made pizza and La Luna, which has secret outside dining.
Penderyn Whisky Distillery, Penderyn.
We all know it’s rumoured to rain lots in Wales! The rainwater that falls into the crisp streams of the southern Brecon Beacons helps make award-winning Penderyn Whisky.
Enjoy an exclusive behind the scenes tour. Learn how this small corner of Wales is creating a unique product that holds its own – across the world – against Scottish and Irish giants.
Of course, there is a chance to taste the whisky, and other spirits made at the distillery, including gin, vodka, and cream liquor. You can pick up a special gift – or treat for yourself - in the gift shop.
- Explore the Rhigos mountain-top, see if you can find the ancient roman ruins and grab an ice cream at the top.
- Calories don’t count when you are on holiday! Indulge in the best fish and chips (they taste better al-fresco) from Penaluna’s Famous Fish and Chips in Hirwaun. Award-winning and sustainably sourced
Stay a while
Ty Newydd Country Hotel is just a short drive from Penderyn and offers spectacular views across the Brecon Beacons. It has a range of rooms and the Caradog Restaurant.
Places to eat
The Red Lion at Penderyn serves traditional meals made from local produce but also has a wood-fired pizza kitchen. The Brynfynnon Inn is set in Llanwonno Forestry, which makes for a great evening walk. Visit the waterfall and the reservoir. It’s the former running ground of Guto Nyth Bran, once the fastest man in the world, for whom the Nos Galan road races are held in Mountain Ash every New Year’s Eve.
Nantgarw China Works
Fine china once that was considered among the best in the world and adorned the dining tables of Russian aristocrats was made here, over 200 years ago.
Nantgarw is the only surviving 19th Century chinaworks in the UK. Pieces regularly turn up on the Antiques Roadshow, where they are admired for their delicacy and historic significance - Antiques Roadshow stalwart Henry Sandon is a trustee.
As well as celebrating and preserving its history, Nantgarw is moving forward with resident artists and regular arts and crafts sessions.
Fragments rescued from the original pottery are turned into jewellery you can buy.
- While away the afternoon in Ynysangharad War Memorial Park, Pontypridd, see the sunken gardens and tree-lined avenues
- Take a trip to Ynyshir to enjoy the Worker’s Gallery, which has an amazing range of art, photography, and craft exhibitions
- Visit the fairy-tale Castell Coch, which is just over the road from Nantgarw Chinaworks
Stay a while:
Nearby Miskin Manor Country Hotel is sheer indulgence. It’s a beautifully restored Manor House with restaurant and Health and Wellbeing Clinic . Dine indoors or in pods scattered throughout the stunning grounds.
Places to eat
The Otley Brewpub and Kitchen is a fantastic independent pub and restaurant and micro-brewery. It’s famed for its street food meets home-brewed craft beer and amazing Sunday roasts. Or try The Gatto Lounge, which is a new arrival in Pontypridd and taking the town by storm. Visit for a sophisticated, laid-back environment with great food and drink.
A change of scenery
The open spaces in Rhondda Cynon Taf are worth their own section. They are a perfect way to spend a few hours in Mother Nature, whether you like to walk, run, cycle or horse-ride.
Whether you love a gentle riverside stroll or an epic mountain-top ascent – take your pick!
Here’s a few of our favourites.
Penpych is a challenging walk but worth it. Start right at the top of the Rhondda Fawr, in Blaencwm, and climb up through forestry, past the waterfall and up to one of the best views in Wales.
If you can tear yourself away from the stunning views over the Brecon Beacons, you can walk a circular route from the Rhigos viewpoint car park – there are lots of trails to follow and sights to see – make sure you wave at the “zippers” enjoying Zip World Tower!
Thisis a stunning open space to explore. See the remains of the Castell Nos castle, believed to have been built by the Welsh Lords of Meisgyn, descendants of Iestyn ap Gwrgant, the last Welsh King of Glamorgan.
Dare Valley Country Park
Has hundreds of acres to explore. There are guided trails to suit every need – from wheelchair friendly trails to mountain-top climbs. It’s also a great place for cycling and the neighbouring riding stables are handy if you fancy hacking out in nature. Those with caravan and campervans can also stay here – all pitches have electric hook up and use of modernised shower and washing up facilities. Oh, and the on-site Black Rock Café serves gorgeous food!
The Taff Trail
runs from Cardiff all the way to the Brecon Beacons, crossing through Rhondda Cynon Taf. You can pick it up at a number of points and follow north and south.
Find out more in our free Visit guide - get yours now.
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