What you can expect from this article...
- 1 Visit Monmouth; Your Complete Guide
- 2 Where is Monmouth?
- 3 How To Get Here & Where to Park in Monmouth
- 4 Why You Should Visit Monmouth
- 5 The History of Monmouth
- 6 Things to do in Monmouth
- 7 Things to Do in Monmouthshire and The Wye Valley
- 8 Events in Monmouth
- 9 Where to Stay in Monmouth
- 10 Where to Eat in Monmouth
Visit Monmouth; Your Complete Guide
Nestled between rolling hills and valleys and close to the enchanting Forest of Dean, this Welsh Market town makes the perfect place for a weekend away from the hustle and bustle of city life. If you’re a fan of quaint buildings, old castles, cute cafes and beautiful countryside, you most definitely need to visit Monmouth. In this Monmouth visitor guide, we will cover;
- Where is Monmouth?
- How to get to Monmouth
- Where to park in Monmouth
- Why you should visit Monmouth
- The history of Monmouth
- Things to do in Monmouth
- Things to do in Monmouthshire
- Events in Monmouth
- Hotels in Monmouth
- Camping in Monmouth
- Where to eat and drink in Monmouth
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Where is Monmouth?
Monmouth is a small market town in South East Wales with a population of around 11000 inhabitants. It has a lucky position where the River Wye meets the River Monnow and is situated on the Welsh-English border, 30 miles from Cardiff and 113 miles from London. It is the county town of Monmouthshire
How To Get Here & Where to Park in Monmouth
Reaching Monmouth by Car
With a car, Monmouth is very easy to reach being just off the A449. There is rarely traffic jams on this stretch of road and is easily reached from the M50 or M4.
Where to Park in Monmouth
Parking in Monmouth is easier than it used to be. There is free parking for up to an hour along the high street though these spaces are highly sought after. You may be better off parking in the car parks near Monnow bridge or near Blake theatre for a small but reasonable fee. Parking is free on Sundays.
If you’re a cheapskate like me, you may prefer to park in the new carpark on Rockfield road for free. It’s just a 5-minute walk into town from there.
Reaching Monmouth by Public Transport
Unfortunately, you may find it difficult to visit Monmouth by public transport! But there are usually National Express buses headed to in the direction of London or Cardiff that pass through at least once a day.
Sadly there is no train station in Monmouth so you cannot reach Monmouth by train.
Why You Should Visit Monmouth
Okay, firstly a confession. There’s a reason why I’m biased about Monmouth. I was actually bought up there from the age of 13 to 18 and still visit frequently to see my family. I have really fond memories of my teenage years living in this beautiful town.
Recently, whilst I was visiting for Monmouth Festival (more about that later,) I got into a discussion about Monmouth with some of our family that were visiting. They loved the sense of community in Monmouth, how friendly everyone was and how lively it was given how small the town actually is. Every time they visit, they contemplate upping sticks and moving to Monmouth. Just chatting with them about it made me love Monmouth a little bit more, I really am proud of the little community I still call ‘home.’
Monmouth would be the perfect place to visit if you want to escape the city for a few days and breath some fresh countryside air. Being a lively market town, there’s always something going on whether it be a country show or a live band playing in the local pub. But Monmouth is also a great launching point for day trips into the Forest of Dean, the rolling hills of Monmouthshire or the Brecon Beacons.
The History of Monmouth
If you are a history buff, you will love Monmouth. Monmouth’s first claim to fame is that it boasts the only fortified medieval bridge left in the UK.
Monmouth started out as a small Roman fort Blestium which was the first recorded settlement. In 1067, the Normans built Monmouth Castle which later came into ownership by the House of Lancaster. King Henry V was born in Monmouth Castle in 1387 and a statue of Henry V still stands in the square opposite Shire Hall. In 1536, Monmouth became the county town of Monmouthshire.
Things to do in Monmouth
There are plenty of things to do in Monmouth to fill a long weekend. That said, there are so many beautiful places in the nearby countryside that you should leave some time to explore a little further afield. Here are some of my favourite things to do in Monmouth;
- Go Shopping. Whilst Monmouth may not boast a full selection of high street fashion stores, it does have a wide selection of shops worth browsing. I personally love browsing all the cute gift stores, art galleries and quirky homeware shops. It’s would be a brilliant place to do your Christmas shopping!
- Enjoy the Cafe Culture. If there’s one thing Monmouth does really well, it’s cafes. There seems to be one every few metres along the high street. Enjoying a cuppa with friends definitely seems to be one of the most popular things to do in Monmouth!
- Visit the Savoy Theatre. Visiting this well preserved old theatre is like taking a step back in time with its plush velvet curtains and old ticket office. It’s actually the oldest theatre in Wales! Visit the cinema here or see a comedy show or musical performance. Check out what’s on here.
- Visit Monmouth Castle and Monmouth Museum. Monmouth castle is small but worth a look and right next to it is a free museum where you can learn about Monmouth’s history.
- Enjoy the Pubs in Monmouth. Whilst Monmouth may be a small town, it certainly is lively! It’s full of the sort of pubs where everyone seems to know each other and visitors are welcomed like family. My favourites include the Gate House (right next to the famous Monnow bridge with a lovely beer garden overlooking the river) The Punch House (a brains pub in the main square) and The Nags Head (where you’ll find a pool table and live music most nights.)
- Take a massage. What’s a relaxing weekend without a bit of ‘me time?’ I highly recommend getting a massage at Body Holistic.
Things to Do in Monmouthshire and The Wye Valley
There are so many things to do in Monmouthshire that I could spend a week writing about them all! So below is a list of some of my favourite places to visit near Monmouth and some of the most popular things to do in the Wye Valley;
- Go kayaking on the River Wye. One of my favourite things to do on a weekend in Monmouth is to canoe or kayak along the River Wye. You will be picked up in Monmouth and taken to Symonds Yat and taught how to use the canoes or kayaks. You then paddle your way back along the River Wye to Monmouth making sure to stop off at as many of the beautiful riverside pubs along the way as you can! If you have a little more time, consider doing a 2-day canoe trip from Ross-on-wye to Monmouth, camping overnight at Symonds Yat. I’ve done both trips and loved them both! Visit River Wye Canoe here.
- Go Walking in the Forest of Dean or other woodlands near Monmouth. There is no shortage of woodland walks in the area from short walks like at Wet Meadows near Trellech, The Narth woodlands and the sculpture trail in the Forest of Dean.
- Take a walk along the Wye River from Monmouth to Symonds Yat and back. There’s a great pub called The Saracens Head where you can stop for a delicious lunch before turning back. You can park the car and start the walk at Hadnock road and the full route is 9 miles.
- Visit surrounding towns in Monmouthshire. There are so many beautiful market towns and villages within easy reach of Monmouth. Ross-on-wye, Abergavenny and Usk to name just a few. Usk is particularly lovely in the Summer and has won awards for it’s floral displays.
- Visit Tintern Abbey. Tintern Abbey is the best preserved medieval abbey in Wales. It was rebuilt in the late 13th century by the Lord of Chepstow Castle however the original design was always retained. It costs £6.90 to get in (as of 2018) and in open between 0900-1800 in the summer and 1030-1600 in the winter. Opposite the Abbey is a great pub with delicious food, lovely roaring fires and a pleasant beer garden, The Anchor Inn.
- Visit Raglan Castle. This late medieval castle dates back to the 15th-early 17th century. It has a large hexagonal keep known as The Great Tower and is surrounded by gardens and parkland. You can explore this impressive castle for just £6.90.
- Go Ape. If you’re the adventurous type, take to the trees with Go Ape for a treetop adventure as you swing climb and zip between the trees in the Forest of Dean.
- Visit Chepstow Racecourse. Put on your glad rags and visit this famous racecourse for a day at the races! I’m yet to win a single penny but it’s a great, fun way to spend the day. (Please gamble responsibly…)
- Visit The Rolls of Monmouth. If you like golfing, there’s a famous fancy golf course in Monmouth called The Rolls of Monmouth. Now I never inherited the golf gene from my Dad but I do love taking a stroll around the beautiful grounds and visiting the stunning country house.
Events in Monmouth
Monmouth Music Festival is one of Europe’s largest free music festivals and runs over 9 days culminating in a firework display. Each day the music genre changes and there will be 2 main acts on the main stage and other smaller acts in the pubs and even churches.
Monmouth Music Festival really brings the community together and young and old. When the festival is over, everyone piles into the pubs and continues the party!
Monmouth Music Festival usually takes place on the last weekend of July and finishes the first weekend of August.
The biggest one-day country show in the whole of Wales, Monmouthshire Show is a really popular family day out in Monmouth. From show jumping to dog agility competitions to fairground attractions, there’s something for everyone. It’s a great spectacle of country life.
Where to Stay in Monmouth
Hotels in Monmouth
There is now a Premier Inn and I’ve heard great feedback about it from family members who’ve stayed there when visiting. It’s about a 5-10 minute walk from the town centre.
A better option may be Steepes Farm Cottages. I’ve not stayed there personally (I stay at the hotel of Mum & Dad!) but I have eaten at the attached fantastic restaurant, The Stone Mill. I’ve also walked around the perfectly manicured gardens and soaked up the amazing views just a few miles outside of Monmouth. The photos of the cottages here look amazing and if my parents didn’t live so close, I would love to stay here!
Another lovely option if you don’t mind a 2-mile walk into town, is Redhill Grange, a luxury B&B which has 5 stars. The pictures of this stunning converted barn look amazing!
You could also consider staying in an Airbnb. If you haven’t used Airbnb before then you can grab yourself a £25 off voucher by clicking HERE.
Camping In Monmouth
There are many campsites in Monmouth but if you want to be just a few minutes walk from the town centre, your best options are Monmouth Caravan Park and Monnow Bridge Caravan.
Monmouth Caravan Park actually belongs to the lovely family I lived next door to when I was growing up. They’re a lively bunch and the campsite is no different! I worked there for a while during my university holidays and what I really loved was how many happy campers kept returning year after year so that the on-site pub where I worked, felt like it was full of locals! Whilst they are mainly set up for caravans, they are able to host some small tents as well.
Monnow Bridge Caravan Park is ideally situated on the edge of the town centre and backs onto yet another lively pub. They cater for tents, caravans and motorhomes.
If you’re more of a glamper than a camper then check out this glamping site near to Monmouth where you can stay in a tipi (bed included!)
Where to Eat in Monmouth
For a small town, there are a fair few great restaurants in Monmouth. Most of the pubs serve up good pub grub but if you’re looking for something a bit different, here are a few of my favourites.
The Jewel Balti – on the edge of town, this is a brilliant Indian restaurant where the food is delicious and the staff are extremely friendly. My family are regulars there and we are treated like old friends when we visit!
La Piccola – this is a lovely Italian restaurant with an extensive menu and delicious food. I love the chicken in a creamy tarragon sauce.
The Estero Lounge is a great option for tapas food and for drinks if you prefer a quirky bar over a traditional pub.
So I hope this Monmouth Travel Guide has persuaded you to visit Monmouth soon?! It’s a small town which is full of charm and energy and the surrounding beautiful countryside will leave you feeling rested and relaxed.
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