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The Brecon Beacons are perhaps best known for the specatular views from its mountainous landscape, and as home to the largest mountain in Southern Britain, Pen Y Fan. Some of the mountains are used by the military to test and train the SAS, whilst other areas of the Beacons are enjoyed by walkers and explorers of all ages and abilities every day. 

You will find much more in the area beyond just those luscious mountains, however, from a town which hosts one of the biggest literary events in the world, to somewhere with an annual jazz event which attracts musicians from around the globe.

This article will introduce you to some of the different towns and villages where you can base yourself in the Brecon Beacons, giving you some highlights of the area, and some recommended places to stay.

1. Brecon

Best For: Access to Cafes, Bars, and Restaurants, Hiking, Museums

Brecon is a market town in Powys, the third largest in the county, and it’s easily my favourite place to stay in the Brecon Beacons. There are also lots of museums and things to do in the town itself, plus it is well located to access the rest of the park. For accommodation, there are lots of hotel options in the town and many cottages or AirBnBs in the surrounding area.

There’s not much nightlife in the Brecon Beacons as a whole, but if that’s your thing, Brecon has the best selection of late-night pubs compared to most of the smaller places. It is also home to the Brecon Jazz Festival, an annual event which started in 1984 based on the New Orleans Jazz festivals with a range of live music performances throughout the town.

Highlights: Brecon Jazz Festival, Royal Welsh Regimental Museum, Brecon Cathedral, Theatr Brycheiniog, Climb Pen Y Fan mountain (for more, read my full guide on things to do in Brecon).

Recommended places to stay:

  • The Castle of Brecon Hotel – Regarded as the ‘oldest Hotel in Wales’, it offers wonderful mountain views from a great location.
  • The Wellington – Based in the town square, this wonderful Georgian building is a great place to stay.
  • Camden Lodge B&B – A luxurious B&B offering a high standard of accommodation.

2. Hay-on-Wye

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Best For: Book Lovers, Independent Shops. Cute Cafes

A beacon for book-lovers worldwide, Hay is home to over twenty bookshops, and the iconic Hay Festival of Literature and Arts – an annual event, which attracts a huge number of visitors and authors from across the world.

Outside of the Hay Festival, you will find a charming market town, with lots of independent and boutique shops, plus various outdoor activities available on the River Wye.

The only downside is that being at the very north-east of the national park means it can take a while to reach some of the attractions. It’s also quite expensive to stay here because it really is a beautiful little town.

Highlights: Hay Festival, Market Day (every Thursday), Hay Castle, Kayaking and Canoeing on the River Wye

Recommended places to stay:

  • Seven Stars – A beautiful 16th century building transformed into a guest house with swimming pool and sauna.
  • The Swan at Hay – An independent hotel in a great location, with a restaurant and bistro onsite.
  • Hay Retreats – Neighbouring pet-friendly townhouses, offering a great opportunity for bigger groups to stay in the same space. 

3. Crickhowell

Best for: Reasonably Central Location, Quaint Town

Located in the south east of the Brecon Beacons, Crickhowell might be a small town, but it is a popular location, not least because you can easily reach most of the top things to do in the Brecon Beacons from here.

There are welcoming independent shops in the centre, alongside interesting places to visit, like the 18th-century Crickhowell Bridge. There may not be enough in the town alone to occupy you for a longer visit, but it is a good place to travel from.

Highlights: Crickhowell Bridge, Crickhowell Castle, Brecon Park Boats (see my guide of things to do in Crickhowell for more)

Recommended places to stay:

  • The Horseshoe Inn – Located in the centre of the town, the Horseshoe Inn is a family run pub and B&B.
  • The Bear – The Bear dates back to 1432, and has won a number of accolades including ‘Inn of the Year 2010’
  • Old Rectory Country Hotel – Located just outside the centre, this luxurious hotel retains many original features dating back to the 16th century, and has a great restaurant. 

4. Talgarth

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Best for: Ruralness, Walking

Talgarth is a small market town with lots of history, including a 14th-century Church. Whilst it has less than 2,000 residents, it is a good place to stay and explore the surrounding areas. The Nature Reserve at Pwll-y-Wrach is great for walking, there is also the historical Mill which has recently received restoration funding.

As it is a small town, restaurants and pubs are limited and there aren’t a huge number of hotels to choose from so make sure you book early.

Highlights: Talgarth Mill, Pwll-y-Wrach Nature Reserve, Dinas Castle

Recommended places to stay:

  • The Castle Hotel – This traditional Hotel is pet friendly, and well placed to offer various activities on the water, from Canoeing to Fishing.
  • Llaethdy Milkhouse – This holiday home offers four bedrooms and combines the traditional with the modern. It’s a lovely spot which also welcomes pets.
  • Tower Hotel – Located in the centre of Talgarth, Tower Hotel offers simple accomodation with a hearty breakfast, perfect for explorers.

5. Abergavenny

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Best For: Shopping, Transport Links

Abergavenny is one of the busier towns in our list, with a great high street shopping experience, along with lots of pubs and restaurants. The town is almost completely surrounded by mountains – great for exploring – and it is home to some very high quality restaurants, including the iconic Michelin-starred Walnut Tree. 

It’s technically just outside the Beacons, but it makes a great place to base yourself for visiting the southern parts. It’s the only place on this list with both a railway station and good bus links so it’s the best option for those visiting without their own transport.

Highlights: Sugarloaf Mountain, White Castle, Abergavenny Museum, Sugarloaf Vineyard, Fine Dining

Recommended places to stay:

  • The Kings Head – A former Coaching Inn, The Kings Head offers a good standard of accomodation, and the onsite restaurant offers Nepalese and Indian food in the evening, alongside a British menu.
  • Pen-y-Worlod Cottages – Beautiful cottages in a rural location with mountain views and a hot tub included.
  • The Kings Arms – The Kings Arms offers bed and breakfast accommodation in the heart of Abergavenny. There are various room options, including a larger family room.

6. Pontneddfechan

Best for: Waterfalls, Rural Village

Pontneddfechan is a small village on the edge of the Brecon Beacons, close to Neath and Swansea. More importantly, it is right in the middle of an area known as Waterfall Country, and that brings with it the opportunity for fantastic walks past, and even through, waterfalls in some cases, ideal for anyone who loves the outdoors.

It’s a small village so you’ll definitely need to have your own transport and be prepared to travel by car for restaurants and amenities.

Highlights: Waterfalls, River rafting, Canyoning and Rappelling tours

Recommended places to stay:  

  • Sgwd Gwladys Lodge – This traditional lodge is perfectly placed for Waterfall hunters. 
  • Waterfall Lodge – Offering a home from home option, this three bedroom house is well-placed for exploring or relaxing.
  • Canyon Cottage – This holiday home offers two bedrooms and a children’s playground and terrace.

7. Llangorse

Best For: Kayaking, Paddleboarding, Watersports

The quiet village of Llangorse is home to the largest natural lake in Wales: Llangorse Lake, which is one of the best spots for kayaking and paddleboarding in the Beacons. This is a great area to stay if that’s your thing.

As well as the Lake itself, the surrounding area offers accommodation and watersports onsite, as well as a great area to walk. Though the village is small, it is a popular tourist destination which is well located to explore the wider Brecon Beacons area.

Highlights: Llangorse Lake, Llangorse Multi-Activity Centre, Allt Yr Esgair Iron Age Fort

Recommended places to stay:

  • Penybont Barn – This beautiful holiday home comes with lots of traditional charm, complemented by modern fixtures and fittings.
  • Brynderwen – Situated just outside Llangorse, Brynderwen offers en suite accommodation in a rural location.
  • Sweet Briar Shepherds Hut – For something a little different, try this Shepherds Hut, which packs a bathroom, bedroom, seating area and a kitchen, inside a smartly arranged small space.

Related Questions

What is the Biggest Town in the Brecon Beacons?

Abergavenny is the biggest, with a population of over 12,500 people based on the 2011 census1 (source: Wikipedia). Brecon is not far behind with over 8,000, but some of the other towns and villages listed above are much, much smaller. Everything is commutable though, so don’t be put off by staying in a small town. 

Are the Brecon Beacons Worth Visiting?

Yes, the Brecon Beacons are well worth visiting with the biggest mountain in Southern Britain, an area known as Waterfall Country, and a handful of great festivals such as Brecon Jazz Festival and Green Man.

Beyond those activities, the views of the Brecon Beacons say more than we ever could, and have to be seen to be believed. Market towns with boutique independent shops also provide a warm welcome with unique, high quality products available, alongside great pubs and restaurants to enjoy. 

Kieren is the founder and editor-in-chief of Wales Guidebook. Originally from rural Mid-Wales, he has lived all over the country from Cardiff to Wrexham. A true Welshman, Kieren created this site to share his passion for Wales and help others discover this beautiful country.