Last Updated 28/01/2023.
The Museum of Welsh Life is an outstanding museum and day out in South Wales, at St. Fagans near Cardiff. It’s a must-do day trip from Cardiff and a must for international visitors to Wales. This Welsh museum is free and has an incredible collection of Welsh buildings throughout history. Check out our review post and trip blog to learn more!
My name is Alyson, I am from Wales originally but these days I’m a professional travel blogger touring the world with my kids and husband. The whole family loved The Museum of Welsh Life at St Fagans.
Just outside Cardiff, the little town of St Fagans is pretty and ancient enough to be a museum in its own right. A gorgeous old church and a collection of thatched cottages nestle in the unspoiled green valley. A little further along the road, a lane really, is the Museum of Welsh Life St Fagans AKA Wales National History Museum.
I’d never visited until recently and it’s been there forever, over 50 years, so we took the kids to find out what Welsh life used to be like.
The Museum of Welsh Life
St Fagans Museum of Welsh Life is fabulous. We had a great time, not just because of the exhibits, but because we could roam around some beautiful Welsh countryside checking out the wildlife and the kids could run some of their energy off fairly safely.
Give or take some mud. But mud for kids is a bonus and you expect that in Wales with kids.
The Museum of Welsh Life is not just a museum, it’s a lovely spot for a walk and the sort of place you can go again and again.
What The Museum of Welsh Life St Fagans is All About.
The magnificent 16th Century St Fagans castle is at the heart of the museum. The building and grounds were donated to the people of Wales by the Earl of Plymouth. That was nice of him!
You can explore the beautiful castle, its grounds and gardens to see how the other half lived back in the day and when you’re done with the aristocracy you can move on to take a peek into simple people’s lives in Wales.
They have moved over forty original buildings and rebuilt in the grounds of St Fagan’s castle. They’re well spread out, you feel like you’re taking a walk in the country, not touring a museum. Most of them hold furniture and appliances typical of their era.
We loved this slate miner’s cottage from North Wales, it was home to 10 people. The parents, their six children, the maid and a lodger. A guide kept a gorgeous coal fire blazing inside and could answer all our questions, in English and Welsh.
Slate roofs and thatched roofs on the cottages at The Museum of Welsh Life, so very Welsh!
The original dove cote that belonged to the castle is still home to dozens of white doves. They used to be kept for food.
I had one of these in the garden when I was a kid. A garden from a Welsh cottage last century.
There are grocers, ironmongers, a post office and a bakery. It’s strange how familiar a lot of the exhibits were to me, memories of my childhood.
This place is very similar to Herberton Historic Village, back home in Queensland, another collection of old buildings and articles that’s well worth a visit (post coming!) unfortunately you have to pay for Herberton, I believe it’s privately owned, St Fagans is funded by the Welsh government and the Heritage Lottery.
This was a purpose-built cock fighting pit. I’ve never seen anything like that before!
There are animals too at the Museum of Welsh Life. Traditional Welsh breeds. These Welsh black cattle were the only ones out braving the cold when we visited, and they were gorgeous.
All museums in Wales are free so if you’re in this part of the UK, try to get to St Fagans, no excuses. In 2023, we can tell you that The Museum of Welsh Life at St. Fagans is open Check their website for full details. Things could change.
Where To Stay Near The Museum of Welsh Life and St Fagans Castle Wales?
You can easily visit both The Museum of Welsh Life and St Fagans Castle from your Cardiff hotel, apartment or holiday rental. For home rentals, cottages, flats etc, we suggest you use Stayz/VRBO in Wales. For hotels near St Fagans and the Museum of Welsh Life, or list of hotels, below, starts with those closest to St Fagans and as you scroll down the listings are further away, we hope you find this feature useful.
It’s wonderful for me, that even though we’re “home” in Wales we’re still learning, travelling and experiencing new things. It’s taken me a very long absence to appreciate what a magnificent country Wales is. I love it, come visit! The other must-see museum near Cardiff is Big-Pit Mining Museum, perfect with kids.