Newport is an absolute gem of a city on the beautiful River Usk. Stacked with that legendary Welsh pride and centuries of success as a coal port, an industrial behemoth and oddly connected to stars such as The Clash’s Joe Strummer, actor Anthony Hopkins and even Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, Newport has a whole lot of culture going on.
Not at all new, Newport grew from the historic Roman fort Caerleon to become a contemporary city with a vibrant art scene and edgy politics. Add to that the golf courses, the rolling Welsh countryside and the nation’s capital, Cardiff, just 12 miles away, the question really is how quickly can you get here?
Add one more day to your stay in one of our serviced apartments because you’re going to need it.
The big five things to do
Search for top things to do in Newport, and you’ll get the big five: the immersive experiences of Caerleon Roman Fortress and Baths (get the app for added treasures); Caerleon Amphitheatre, which, legend has it, is King Arthur’s Round Table; the peaceful Fourteen Locks; bird spotting, walking and general out-siding at RSPB Newport Wetlands; and, of course, Tredegar House Country Park, a mansion rich in stories of extravagance and affluence – and it does a jolly good afternoon tea, too.
Shop at Friars Walk
Friars Walk shopping centre is seriously loaded with things to do. We’re talking household shopping and restaurant names galore as well as a cinema and tenpin bowling. You could easily make a day of it if the retail therapy bug bites. Kingsway, right next door, has all those supermarket and household essentials to enhance your self-catered holiday in Newport.
For more shopping, head out of town to Newport Retail Park or Mendalgief Retail Park for more high-street favourites.
Newport Museum & Art Gallery
As Friars Walk is right in Newport city centre, it’s also a great place to base yourself for a day of city sightseeing. A short potter gets you to Newport Museum and Art Gallery, which tracks the area’s history and impressive development from 250,000 years ago, through its time as a Roman outpost to the Chartist social uprising in defence of democracy.
There are weapons and wartime paraphernalia and household objects from days gone by to open your eyes to another time, a different world. It gives you something to talk about over dinner, that’s for sure.
If you like a museum, pop by Newport Ship for a fantastically interesting look at medieval wooden shipbuilding.
Let Wales do the planning for you and follow one of these themed itineraries. Maybe you want to continue your exploration of Newport’s ancient and modern history at Caerleon legionary fortress before a pub lunch. Or you could up the elegance on the Fascinating Heritage tour that celebrates the glories of industrialisation at the Transporter Bridge and Tredegar House, punctuated by an entirely memorable lunch and, of course, that refined afternoon tea.
The Wild, Wild World itinerary incorporates a leisurely morning bird watching at RSPB Newport Wetlands Reserve, part of the extraordinary Wales Coastal Path, with lunch in the reserve’s glass-walled refectory. It all just sounds too relaxing.
You’d be hard pressed to miss the Transporter Bridge towering above the River Usk. One of just six transporter bridges worldwide, this Edwardian feat of engineering is a beautifully preserved foreshadowing of urban gondolas and was high enough for the tall trade ships to pass under as they headed out into international waters.
With a vibrant blue turret, it has probably the cutest driver’s cabin ever, which you can snap away at while the platform transports you and up to three cars across the Usk from Wednesday to Sunday.
Add a bit of adventure to your visit and take the 50m-high walkway, entertainingly part of the Wales Coastal Path, that looks down on the towering gondola.
Self-guided walk in Monmouthshire
Monmouthshire is heaving with countryside walks, each one well kept and clearly marked with waymark discs. Exhilarating, refreshing, good for the soul, a walk just beyond the city walls takes you down rural footpaths and through beautiful woodland, over stiles and pretty bridges. Put yourself in the mind of a docker, of a Roman soldier, of a refined Victorian on any of these fabulous walks.
For a bit of coast and a bit of countryside, the five-mile Redwick Circular Walk is a great choice, starting at the pretty Redwick Church and heading out along the sea wall. Oh go on then, why not stop for a pint at the Rose Inn when you get back to Redwick … it has a log fire after all.
If you like a walk, maybe give the Newport public art trail a go.