WHEN Wales begins to open up following the latest coronavirus-related lockdown, many people will be looking for places to visit for nice, relaxing days out and a change of scenery.

Here we look at the top five places in Monmouthshire to visit according to reviewers on TripAdvisor which may provide some inspiration for when you are able to travel.

Please note that due to the coronavirus restrictions in place in line with Welsh Government guidelines, many of the attractions are closed to visitors at this present time.

1 – Raglan Castle

South Wales Argus:

Raglan Castle. Picture: South Wales Argus Camera Club member Adrian Mahagan

Raglan Castle was voted by TripAdvisor reviewers as the number one attraction in Monmouthshire. It is described in the TripAdvisor information tab as "the unmistakable silhouette of Raglan crowning a ridge amid glorious countryside is the grandest castle ever built by Welshmen". The moated great tower was built in 1435 by Sir William ap Thomas (the ‘blue knight of Gwent’) and his son Sir William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke, created the gatehouse.

‘David and Leslie’ on TripAdvisor said: “Worth a visit. Have an hour or so to spare, want to keep the kids amused, this is a great place to visit, things to see and do with great views, as you would expect, of the surrounding countryside.”

‘Tripleplay97’ said: “A fairly well-preserved castle with plenty to wander around for an hour. The information signs are more aimed at kids, but not annoyingly so. Was worth the stop.”

2- Tintern Abbey

South Wales Argus:

Tintern Abbey taken by Roger Fuller

The county's second-best attraction according to TripAdvisor reviewers is Tintern Abbey. The Cistercian abbey is an area of "outstanding beauty complemented by this outstanding beauty in stone". It is the best-preserved medieval abbey in Wales, despite the structure being open to the skies. It was founded in 1131 by then Lord of Chepstow, Walter de Clare.

‘Radioman60’ said: “I love visiting old historic buildings, and places like Tintern have just so much character. Actually, what made me aware of Tintern Abbey long before I knew about its history was the fact that in 1968 a band called the Flirtations filmed one of the earliest pop videos there with their Northern Soul classic Nothing but a Heartache (if you haven't checked it out already look for it on Youtube). Nothing has changed so it was fun re-creating the scenes set in the grounds of the abbey during my visit (they also filmed another video within the abbey itself however during my visit that was closed. The abbey grounds are truly stunning and the buildings themselves remarkably well preserved, however as usual with abbeys destroyed in the 'disillusion of the monasteries period'. I came away truly annoyed at Henry VIII and his kin for the pointless vandalism to what must have been truly magnificent buildings in their heyday. Still there is more of Tintern left than many other abbeys I’ve been to from that period. I loved Tintern and would gladly come back again hopefully this time to also be able to visit the main abbey.”

‘Rupes_bath’ said: “Absolutely lovely. Amazing how well it is preserved: no rook, supports and yet all standing. Astonishingly atmospheric and quite eerie.”

3- Chepstow Castle

South Wales Argus: Chepstow Castle

Work on Chepstow Castle began in 1067 by Earl William fitz Osbern, a friend of William the Conqueror – which made it one of the first Norman strongholds in Wales. For 600 years, it played home to some of the medieval and Tudor ages’ wealthiest and most powerful men. TripAdvisor says the castle is "beautifully preserved" and "stretches out along a limestone cliff above the River Wye like a history lesson in stone".

‘Fran’ said: “Really specular Norman Castle, well worth the modest entry fee, staff were helpful, and we spent a good hour wandering around and looking at the view of the river. Parking literally outside too.”

‘David B’ added: “The castle is really interesting. Well preserved and great views. Well worth a visit. Much bigger than you would imagine.”

4 – Tintern

South Wales Argus:

Angidy Valley in Tintern. Picture: Ian Agland

The village of Tintern itself comes in fourth on the TripAdvisor list. Popularised by the ruins of Tintern Abbey, visitors are known to revel in the beauty of the scenic surroundings. There have been a number of forges and furnaces in the area that had been found during conservation works and the first transatlantic cable was made in Tintern.

‘Jerry E’ said: "Understandably you couldn't go into the Abbey because of the current coronavirus restrictions. That didn't deflect from the majesty of the building which was bathed in the most glorious sunshine the day we visited. The rich history of the area was more than apparent. A truly beautiful part of the country and an essential stop for any Wye Valley trip.”

5 – Caldicot Castle

South Wales Argus:

Majestic: Caldicot Castle. Picture: Amy Leigh Huyton, South Wales Argus Camera Club.

Caldicot Castle came in fifth for places to visit in Monmouthshire. TripAdvisor describe the 55-acre country park and castle as "the home of Welsh castle life". The castle was built in 1100 and was developed as a fortress in the Middle Ages and restored as a Victorian family home. Now the castle allows visitors to travel through time to discover what castle life in Wales was like throughout history.

‘Sarah’ said: “Despite the pouring rain, we had a pleasant walk around Caldicot Castle. Free to get in. None of the inside stuff was open due to Covid-19 so we couldn’t go up the tower but perhaps on another visit. The kiosk was open for hot/cold drinks and snacks, with payment by card only. There were picnic tables available. Bought the guide which is very interesting (£2.60). Would pop in again if combining with a visit to somewhere else as well. Lots of space for children to run around in.”

‘Beakeeler’ said: “Decided to come here for a few hours and it was a lovely day which definitely helped. And the inside castle grounds were open which was good.

Free parking is a definite plus, but the loo's didn't have any sanitiser in which is obviously not great in these times.

But apart from that would definitely come back when the castle towers are open.”

To find out more about places to visit in Monmouthshire, visit https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attractions-g186462-Activities-c47-Monmouthshire_South_Wales_Wales.html