Monmouthshire is, for many, a first step into Wales - a journey over the Severn Estuary and home of Chepstow, Monmouth and Abergavenny - before you know it, you're there, in another country. Also known as the County of Monmouth, this part of the world was an important mining resource right up until the last century. For a while, its Welsh status was even questioned, with some considering the area to be English. Nevertheless, it's an interesting and beautiful spot with much to amuse everyone.
Directly over the Severn Bridge is Chepstow, a pretty riverside town overlooked by a castle which was founded just after the Norman conquest. It's located on a bend in the River Wye and its cliffs provide opportunities for rock climbing and cave exploration - including Otter Hole, said to be one of the longest cave systems in the UK and quite the day out. It's known, of course, for its horse racing and so a day at Chepstow Racecourse might be something you'd like to consider. In addition to the castle, there's also Tintern Abbey - or rather, the ruins of - which is impressive no matter your age. The surrounding village is also lovely; the perfect place for a quick cup of tea in a quaint café.
Going even further back into the past - and providing a great walk - is Offa’s Dyke, the remains of a border which is thought to have been built at the behest of the 8th Century King, Offa. It was supposed to have marked out where English Mercia and Welsh Powys met; now it guides walkers (and for some of the journey, cyclists) along a 176 mile footpath which goes as far as Liverpool in the north, but starts in the Severn Estuary.
To learn more about Monmouthshire's history, there is no end of museums which will tell you some interesting stories. These include Abergavenny House and Museum, the Nelson Museum and Local History Centre in Monmouth and the Chepstow Museum, which is especially child-friendly.
If all that history makes you hungry, you'll be pleased to learn that there's no shortage of great places to eat in this county. You could opt for something special at the award-winning Restaurant 1861, The Hardwick or The Walnut Tree, all in Abergavenny, or The Whitebrook in Monmouth. There are also several vineyards and breweries around; the highest rated (according to Trip Advisor) being the Ancre Hill Estates Winery and the Sugarloaf Vineyard.
However you spend your time in Monmouthshire, it's bound to be wonderful and make you want to explore more of Wales in years to come.