The perfect city with a castle, old pubs and breathtaking scenery that you can reach from Cardiff in half an hour without a car

If you like old, cute pubs, feel-good food and friendly people then Chepstow is the place for you. Not to mention the beautiful scenery… it’s an ideal day trip wherever you live in South Wales or the surrounding areas, but especially if you live in Cardiff and want an easy journey that doesn’t require a car or a long bus need driving.

Depending on which route you take (the fastest is the train from Cardiff Central to Nottingham). It was a sunny Sunday afternoon when I decided to take the train to Chepstow, Monmouthshire, and I was surprised at how easy it was to get there and spend a few hours in this lovely Monmouthshire town.

I had been to Chepstow before, but this was the first time I was there without an agenda or plans and was able to just explore the area and experience everything the town has to offer. Sign up to our newsletter to get the latest Welsh news delivered to your inbox.

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After arriving it was an 11 minute walk to the castle, which was even more enchanting than I remembered. The first time I was in Chepstow was for a performance at the racecourse, so there wasn’t enough time to wander around and take it all in, and the castle was much bigger than I expected.

On the river there are a range of pubs and restaurants with perfect buzz, and the Boat Inn looked like it was doing the best roasts I’ve ever seen in Wales. There was a mix of people who looked like locals, but also tourists or people who had traveled from nearby towns, all enjoying the summer atmosphere, drinking cider – all enjoying life.

The River Wye, where the Old Town Bridge connects Wales and England, is a great photo opportunity. And if you walk behind one of the walking paths near the castle, you will have a beautiful panoramic view of the castle and the surrounding landscape.

On a sunny day, the Old Bridge looks postcard-ready(Image: Bethany Gavaghan/WalesOnline)
Standing next to the castle walls(Image: Bethany Gavaghan/WalesOnline)

The best thing about Chepstow was the number of people with dogs. It was so nice to see how dog friendly the city was. Almost every café or restaurant seems to welcome them with open arms. Get the best user experience with WalesOnline’s Premium App at Apple or Android.

At around 3pm Chepstow looked quite busy. Spontaneous days out are the best, until you realize you haven’t really eaten and everything is fully booked. So instead of trying to get a table somewhere to eat, I bought a takeaway margherita to share from Stone Rock Pizza, which I had previously heard was ‘the best pizza in Wales’ for £10, and ate it in a quiet public garden, and I can confirm after tasting that it was a very good pizza.

I was in full vacation mode at that moment. And as you stroll along the river you’ll soon feel like you’re on a little European escape, rather than on a half-hour train journey from Cardiff. Of course, it’s easy to get carried away when visiting a new place, but a little while later I got talking to a woman who lived in one of the beautiful riverside houses, who had lived in Zurich, Switzerland. her partner from New York.

The 10 takeaway margherita pizza from Stone Rock Pizza, Chepstow was a 10/10.(Image: Bethany Gavaghan/WalesOnline)
Outside Stone Rock Pizza, which is highly rated by customers.(Image: Bethany Gavaghan/WalesOnline)
Spending a day visiting Chepstow feels like a mini holiday(Image: David Williams/Getty)

My friend who was with me is also from Geneva, Switzerland. So watching them both strike up a conversation in French in South Wales was an unusual experience, but it made me realize how connected and close-knit the world can be, especially when you’re exploring new places.

She said: ‘I had a vision for the garden in my river house. There’s just something about this place.” As I looked around at the hustle and bustle by the River Wye that day, I wondered what it was like to live somewhere so beautiful with visitors descending as the sun rose.

“Does it get busier than this in the summer?” I have asked. “It’s going to be pretty busy, but we’re having a great time,” she said with a smile. When you meet such cool, calm and collected people, you can definitely see the appeal of the small town lifestyle. With quaint colorful houses, cobbled streets and real Welsh charm, what more could you want?

Row of Georgian terraced houses in Chepstow, Wales(Image: Jeremy Stone/Getty)
A view of Chepstow Castle across the River Wye at sunset.(Image: Maxian/Getty)
The cobbled Hocker Hill Street, an Instagram-worthy stop as you wander around Chepstow

Another great thing I found in Chepstow was how little it cost to enjoy a trip out of town, so it’s perfect if you’re working on a tighter budget. In total the journey that day cost around £23 (including a return train ticket with a train ticket, a takeaway pizza and a cider from The Boat Inn).

If you haven’t been there before, it’s definitely worth reading up on the area and talking to people in the town if you want to find out more about Welsh culture in this part of Wales. I didn’t know much about the area.

Chepstow used to be an essential port town where ships sailed to various destinations. Ships from Chepstow would travel to places like Bristol, Ireland, and even across the Atlantic to North America.

The city’s strategic location along the river made it a hub for trade and transport, connecting Wales to the wider world via maritime routes. And the resident I spoke to also noted that the tides in the river were one of the highest in the world.

I was a little skeptical about this, but if you looked more closely at the rocks you could see how much higher the water is as there were lines showing where it had been before. And according to Chepstow Town Council, Chepstow actually has the third highest tides in the world.

Apparently it’s one of the best places to observe them, because in high tide areas the entire tidal range is usually far offshore. But at Chepstow, almost the entire possible tidal range in the world can be seen within 50 metres.

After a dreamy afternoon of exploring we headed home on a train that again took just half an hour and we were back in Cardiff safe and sound. I will definitely be taking the train to Chepstow again soon and looking for other hidden gems that you can reach without a car.

Let us know where your favorite place to visit outside the city in Cardiff is in the comments box below.