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What To Do In Newport

Whilst Wales’ third largest city may not be your first port of call on a cultural trip across the border. Anyone who visits Newport will be in the unique position of walking through streets that are located in both a rich cultural present and past.

The host city of the 2014 NATO summit, the 2010 Ryder Cup and the birthplace of seminal rap group GLC, Newport boasts a long lineage of important events, the remnants of many can be seen across its architectural landscape.

Whilst its history makes up a large part of the sights to see in Newport, there are a number of things to see and do to occupy your time in the city centre and further afield. For the uninitiated, we’ve compiled a list of five ‘days out’ we think would give you the most comprehensive introduction to our city.

 

Spend a Day in Newport City Centre

Newport hasn’t got the biggest city centre, and if you’re a fast walker, it’s possible you could make it from one end to the other in a little under 20 minutes. However, what it lacks in size, it makes up for in important cultural and historic sights.

Newport Cathedral

Take a walk past the cathedral, art gallery, museum, indoor market and pieces of outstanding architecture like the Newport Transporter Bridge, one of the few remaining of its kind in the world.

There are a number of interesting civic art pieces, including a statue commemorating WH Davies, the ‘Supertramp’ poet of Newport, as well as the Wave, a 40-foot tall steel wave by Peter Fink. A mosaic mural representing the city’s strong associations with Chartism, the working class movement for political reform in the 19th Century, articulating the revolt lead by the then mayor, sits at the top of Baneswell.

Newport Indoor Market

In terms of entertainment, the Newport Leisure Centre regularly hosts gigs in its 2000 capacity venue, as well as a pool, sports facilities and regular summer classes and clubs. On the banks of the River Usk, the Riverfront, a 500 seat theatre and cinema regularly schedules performances across the spectrum of classical, comedy, music, dance, opera and drama. Not to forget the Dolman Theatre and the newly refurbished NEON, booking a mix of live music acts and independent theatre.

Newport Riverfront Theatre

Although now closed, legendary rock venue TJ’s is worth a visit, if only to tell your friend’s you’ve seen the place where Kurt Cobain allegedly proposed to Courtney Love whilst on tour.

 

Tredegar Park

Not only a beautiful 90-acre park, but a fabulously maintained Charles II mansion dating back to the 17th Century, Tredegar Park is a wonderful place to spend a day exploring.

Tredegar Park

The house was originally built by local landlords and later Lords of Tredegar, the Morgan family. Whilst the Morgan family were powerful enough in their own right in their time, their real claim to fame now comes courtesy of their son, Sir Henry Morgan. If that name sounds familiar, it is because Sir Henry Morgan was the original Pirate of the Caribbean, a few centuries before Jack Sparrow ever took up the mantle, and is the man Captain Morgan’s Rum is named after. It seems their sons were born for the limelight, as another one of the Morgan sons, Godfrey, survived the Light Brigade, alongside his horse Sir Briggs, and became a hero of the Crimean War. Sir Briggs is buried in the Cedar Garden.

Preserved by the National Trust, through the interior of the house you can track the passage of the house through time, beginning in the flamboyant 17th Century, through to the Victorian days and the wild party days of the 1930’s. Take extra note of the pineapple carvings above the main gates, a status symbol born of the ability to travel to the newly discovered Americas.

The Morgan family also built the Transporter Bridge in 1906. Despite being constructed in 1906 and now being only one of eight left surviving, it still works and for the small fee of £1, you can take your car across.

If you think you’ve seen it before, it’s worth mentioning that Tredegar Park is in the opening credits of the Antiques Roadshow.

 

RSPB Newport Wetlands Reserve

The Gwent Levels, as they are otherwise known, are the 100km of wetland that stretches along the length of the Severn Estuary. Over thousands of years, the people in the surrounding areas have been reclaiming their land from the sea and now this area is one of the most important places for wildlife in the whole country.

Initially created to compensate for the loss of the mudflats that the Cardiff Bay barrage overtook in the 1990s, the 438 hectares of scrub, wet grassland, reedbeds and lagoons have attracted a multitude of wildlife back to the area. Now wetland birds, orchids, dragonflies, otters and butterflies thrive in the environment.

Although what species of each you’ll see is entirely dependent on the time of year you visit, you’re guaranteed to see your fill of flora and fauna.

 

National Roman Legion Museum

One of the farthest flung outposts of the Roman Empire, Wales was first colonised by the Romans in AD 48. A few miles from the important port that is now Newport, the Romans built a fortress at Caerleon in AD 75 that would guard over the region for nearly 200 years and is still visible now.

One of three permanent fortresses built by the Romans in Britain, Caerleon was the home to the over 5000 soldiers and horsemen of the Augustan Legion. With an amphitheatre, shops, a temple and a bath house, the fortress was one of the largest complete Roman discoveries made in Britain. Now a museum lies within what remains of the fortress, the ruins of which include the most complete amphitheatre found in Britain, as well as the only remains of Roman Legionary barracks on view in Europe. With over half a million objects on display, including archaeological finds from the nearby forts of Isca and Burrium (Usk), informative shows and interactive exhibitions, the Museum is an easy place to get lost for a day.

Newport Amphitheatre

Whilst you’re there, check out the rest of Caerleon. Although we mentioned two of the villages hotspots in our guide to Where to Go in Newport, the bakeries, craft shops, independent boutiques and cycle path along the River Usk is well worth a wander.

 

Fourteen Locks Canal Centre

In the height of the industrial revolution, the hills around Newport posed a huge obstacle to the industrialists looking to transport raw materials like iron, limestone and coal down from the Welsh Valleys to the docks.

The Monmouthshire Canal offered the only plausible method of transport through the peaks and troughs of Carmarthenshire to the 11 mile Crumlin branch of the river.

By 1799, the Fourteen Locks Canal Centre was built to as a solution. The ingenious system of 14 locks, supported by a series of sluices, ponds, and weirs, is one of the world’s best examples of the art of canal engineering. Still, in use today, although with nowhere near the frequency of its past, the canal towpath is now equally a lovely place to go for a walk, including a quick pass through of the Allt-yr-Yn Nature Reserve.

If you’d like more information about moving to Newport, or the city itself, check out our other guides:

Newport Guides

Or please don’t hesitate to get in touch on 01633 481391.