An insider

An insider's guide to Brecon

Julie Smith 11 January 2021

Nestled at the top edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park is Brecon, a historic market town that’s surrounded by rolling hills, lush green countryside and the gently flowing water of the River Usk. 

Brecon town

Wander amongst the town’s handsome Georgian buildings, browse a range of independent shops then take a leisurely canal trip through the Brecon Beacons countryside. Brecon is an idyllic base for a getaway and you’ll find a range of charming holiday cottages in and around this lovely market town.

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๐Ÿ‘‰ Things to do

๐Ÿ‘‰ On the water

๐Ÿ‘‰ Brecon walks

๐Ÿ‘‰ Brecon food and drink

๐Ÿ‘‰ Shopping in Brecon

๐Ÿ‘‰ Brecon holiday cottages

Things to do in Brecon

Brecon cathedral

From visiting a historic cathedral and a canal-side theatre to attending Britain’s oldest county show, there are lots of things to do during a visit to Brecon.

Brecon Cathedral

Dating back to 1093, the majestic Brecon Cathedral is set atop a hill surrounded by ancient yew trees. Wonderful historic features, beautiful stained glass windows and a calm sense of peace make the cathedral well worth visiting during a Brecon Beacons getaway. You can also enjoy a cuppa and cake in the cathedral grounds at the on-site Pilgrims Tearooms.

The Regimental Museum of the Royal Welsh

Telling the fascinating story of four different Welsh army regiments, The Regimental Museum of the Royal Welsh delves into the UK’s military history with medals, photographs, letters from the front and weapons amongst the more than 30,000 artefacts on display.  

Arden Gallery

Housed in one of Brecon’s oldest buildings, the Arden Gallery showcases original artwork and limited edition prints from Welsh and international artists. There’s also an on-site coffee shop and the PaintPot where visitors of all ages can practise their artistic skills by decorating some pottery.

Brecon County Show

The Brecon County Show is Britain’s oldest agricultural show and typically takes place each year on the first Saturday in August. A 36-acre site on the edge of Brecon is filled with trade stands, animals, and local food and drink stalls. There’s also a main ring at the centre of the showground where you can watch motorbike displays, vintage car parades and show jumping competitions.

Theatr Brycheiniog

With a picturesque setting at the head of the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, Theatr Brycheiniog has a 500-seat auditorium where you can enjoy theatre productions, musical performances and the annual Brecon Baroque Festival. Also at the venue is the Andrew Lamont Gallery which showcases local and international artists through regularly changing exhibitions.

Brecon Beacons National Park Visitor Centre

Explore the wonderful Brecon Beacons countryside that surrounds the town of Brecon with the nearby village of Libanus housing the National Park visitor centre. This useful hub is called the Mountain Centre by locals and knowledgeable staff can provide help, advice and maps to help you go exploring. There’s also an outdoor play area here with views of nearby Pen Y Fan and a cafe to call in at for refreshments.  

On the water

Brecon waterwaysImage credit: Colin Burdett


The Brecon Beacons are filled with wonderful waterways so whether you fancy canoeing on the river or taking a cruise along a tranquil canal, here are some of the best ways to take to the water in Brecon.

The Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal

The Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal starts in Brecon and you can spend a few idyllic hours cruising through the Welsh countryside on a relaxing dayboat. Dragonfly Cruises have saloon seating on their handsome green narrowboat for up to 50 people with commentary provided throughout the 2-hour journey and light refreshments available.  

Llangorse Lake

The largest natural lake in the Brecon Beacons, Llangorse Lake is a short drive from Brecon and has a spectacular backdrop of the Black Mountains, surrounded by rolling hills and hedgerows. You can take a scenic walk around the perimeter of the lake and if you fancy trying some water sports, then dinghies, canoes, paddleboards, rowing boats, pedalos and kayaks are all available from Lakeside Boat Hire.

River Usk

The Brecon Water Trail is a specially created boating route along the River Usk that runs from Brecon Promenade to Talybont-on-Usk with canoe hire available from Brecon Park Day Boats and Backwatershire. As long as you check the conditions before setting off and already have some canoeing experience, this is a wonderful journey with wildlife along the way including otters, voles and herons.

Brecon walks

Brecon walking routes

If you prefer to keep your feet firmly on dry land there are lots of pretty walks to try around Brecon. Here are some of our favourites:

Brecon Canal Basin to Brynich Lock

For a gentle easy access stroll, we recommend walking along the fairly flat and smooth Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal towpath from the basin at Theatr Brycheiniog to Brynich Lock which is around 2 miles away. There are information panels along the route, a model showing what the canal’s original horse-drawn trams would have looked like, and narrowboats to watch as they cruise along the water.

Brecon Cathedral to Pen Y Crug

Pen Y Crug sits atop a large hill in the Brecon Beacons National Park and you can take a scenic walk to this iron age hillfort from Brecon Cathedral. The walk to Pen Y Crug and back again is around 2.5 miles and you’ll follow grassy paths with a steady climb up the hill where you can explore a collection of archaeological remains and enjoy views out over the Central Beacons. 

Pen Y Fan

Pen Y Fan, the highest mountain in South Wales, is located just a short distance from Brecon and well worth tackling during a short break or holiday to the Brecon Beacons National Park. We recommend starting at the Nant Cwm Llwch car park which is at the south of the town and following a scenic 4.6-mile route to the top which takes in the Llyn Cwm Llwch glacial lake.

Brecon food and drink

Brecon food and drink

Whether you’re looking to stock up on locally produced food or fancy a cosy pint by the fire, here are some of our favourite Brecon food and drink options:

Food stores and festivals

  • The Brecon Beacons Food Festival is an annual celebration of local artisan producers. Browse around 60 stalls, enjoy a selection of free samples and watch a series of informative demonstrations at this popular Brecon event.
  • Camden Stores is a Brecon farm shop and delicatessen selling freshly baked breads and pies, local cheeses, cured meat and seasonal vegetables. A great choice for stocking up on supplies during your Brecon Beacons cottage holiday.
  • St Mary’s Bakery is located in the centre of town and is the only place in the UK that bakes its bread in a traditional oven that's fired by wood chippings. A daily selection of biscuits, cakes and savoury treats are also available to either takeaway or enjoy in their on-site cafe.

Brecon pubs

  • The Brecon Tap is a cosy dog-friendly bar located in the heart of Brecon that serves a collection of local Welsh ales alongside their own homemade pies.
  • A couple of miles from Brecon in the small village of Groesffordd is the Three Horseshoes Inn, a dog-friendly gastropub that serves seasonal food, fine wines and local beers to enjoy in front of roaring log fires.
  • Located across the River Usk in the nearby village of Llanfaes is The Drovers Arms, a pub with a small comfortable bar and charming outdoor terrace that serves hearty portions of simple home-cooked food.
  • The Old Ford Inn is a traditional old coaching inn with a classic beamed bar that’s located in beautiful countryside to the east of Brecon with panoramic views of the Brecon Beacons National Park. 

Cafes and restaurants

  • The Hours Cafe and Bookshop is one of Brecon’s hidden gems, located in a distinctive green building that dates back to Tudor times. Enjoy some fresh, made-to-order food then browse a curated selection of books in the small but perfectly formed shop.
  • You can look out over the River Usk as you tuck into your food and drink at the quirkily named Cat Soup Kitchen. Choose from a wide range of teas, coffees, ice creams and cakes with a selection of light bites on the menu too. 
  • The Gurkha Corner serves authentic Nepalese cuisine in a traditional whitewashed building with rustic scenes of the Himalayas adorning the walls.

Shopping in Brecon

Brecon shoppingBrecon market by PS Williams


Whether you fancy browsing the stalls in a historic market hall or visiting one of the Brecon Beacons’ leading department stores, there are a variety of shopping options in Brecon. Here are some of our favourite places for indulging in a spot of retail therapy.   

  • Brecon Indoor Market takes place in the town’s historic market hall on Tuesdays and Fridays and a selection of stall holders sell everything from food and drinks to clothes and collectables. The market hall also hosts a number of special events during the year including farmers' markets and antique fairs.  
  • Nicholls sells clothing from leading British brands such as Joules, Hunter and Barbour from its store on Brecon high street. It’s one of four Nicholls department stores throughout the Brecon Beacons and you can also pick up Pandora jewellery and quality homeware items from this lovely shop.  
  • McCartneys holds monthly general and antique furniture sales from their auction house located on the edge of Brecon. Auctions typically take place on the third Friday of every month with prior viewings and online catalogues available.  
  • Brecon Vintage and Vinyl is an Aladdin's cave of collectables with rare records and antique gold and silver jewellery amongst the treasures on display in this interesting shop. 
  • Welsh Delights sells handmade fudge and chocolates, retro pick ‘n’ mix from classic glass jars and a range of local gifts and Brecon Beacons souvenirs.  
  • Little Poppets is an independent Brecon children’s boutique that sells quality clothing and gifts from a number of small hand-picked suppliers with clothes and shoes available for newborns and up to age 11.

Where to stay in Brecon

If you have been inspired to visit Brecon, you’ll find lots of lovely places to rest your head after fun-filled days of exploring the town and surrounding Brecon Beacons National Park. Here are just some of our Brecon cottages: 

Dros Yr Afon | Sleeps: 4 guests 

This lovely cottage has a prime spot in Brecon and you can look out over the River Usk from a south-facing balcony that's just right for either a morning cuppa or an alfresco supper. When the weather turns colder light the wood-burner to keep the open-plan living space cosy and warm. 

Gludy | Sleeps: 12 guests

Brecon Holiday Cottages

This luxurious 6-bedroom cottage is perfect for getting together with family and friends and comes with a sumptuous hot tub where you can enjoy panoramic views of the Usk Valley. The comfortable lounge is warmed by a cosy wood burner and a large dining room is just right for sociable meals together. 

Browse our full collection of Brecon holiday cottages and start planning your next getaway to the Brecon Beacons National Park.


Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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