St Fagans National History Museum

Top choice in Cardiff

Historic buildings from all over the country have been dismantled and re-erected in the semirural surrounds of St Fagans village, 5 miles west of central Cardiff. More than 40 buildings are on show, including thatched farmhouses, barns, a watermill, a school, an 18th-century Unitarian chapel and shops selling period-appropriate goods. Buses 32, 32A and 320 (£1.80, 26 minutes) head here from Cardiff. By car it's reached from the continuation of Cathedral Rd.

You'll need at least half a day to do the whole complex justice and you could easily spend longer, picnicking in the grounds. It's a great place for kids, with special events in the summer, tractor-and-trailer rides (60p per stop; five stops) and an old-time fun fair. Craftspeople are often on hand, demonstrating how blankets, clogs, barrels, tools and cider were once made. In winter, fires are stoked by staff in period costume, and there's a high-ropes course through the beeches, CoedLan, between May and October (£10 per person).

Highlights include a 16th-century farmhouse imbued with the smell of old timber, beeswax and wood smoke. A row of six miners' cottages from Merthyr Tydfil has been restored and furnished to represent different periods in the town's history, from the austere minimalism of 1805 to all the mod cons of 1985. It took 20 years to move St Teilo's church (built 1100 to 1520) here, stone by stone. It's been restored to its original look, before Protestant whitewash covered the vividly painted interior.

St Fagans Castle is no johnny-come-lately to this site. It was originally built by the Normans in 1091 as a motte-and-bailey castle before being rebuilt in stone. The slightly creepy manor house at its heart was grafted on in 1580 and is recognised as one of the finest Elizabethan houses in Wales. The property was donated by the earl of Plymouth in 1946, along with its lovingly maintained formal gardens and the grounds that encompass the site.

The museum's lengthy multimillion-pound redevelopment is due to be completed in October 2018, when the reproduction Celtic village will reopen and new indoor galleries will open for the first time.

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