What to see and do in Swansea area over a week-end
Swansea is the second largest town of Wales after Cardiff and lies on a sandy bay extending for over 8 km. Swansea used to play a prominent role during the Industrial Revolution as it was an important area for copper mining and its harbour was mostly renowned for wool, coal, and copper trading.
The city today is famous for its international university and for being a welcoming seafront city with a laid-back atmosphere and the starting point to visit the Gower Peninsula and the endless sandy beaches and coastal paths available.
Swansea is located at about one hour driving from Cardiff or one hour by train. This vibrant ocean city is well connected to the airport and constitutes one of the main beach escapes for people living in Cardiff thanks to its vicinity and natural attractions.
Here is my list of what you should visit in Swansea on a week-end:
1. Swansea Marina
Swansea Marina is the perfect place for boat watching and to glance closer at the modern glassy flats with incredible views over the ocean. The sound of the wind blowing through the sails, the old creaks of wooden boats, the seagulls flying all around in the breeze are what you will experience taking a relaxing walk in this quiet area of Swansea.
2. National Waterfront Museum
This free museum is one of the top highlights of the city and it has been built in an abandoned warehouse near the ocean. The museum is focussed on the industrial progress of Wales and the world from a transport and materials point of view. This interactive museum is a must do for all people passionate about engineering, technology and history. It has been rated one of the top activities to do in the region and people are positively surprised by the collections of this modern building!
3. Swansea Beachfront
Swansea main beach, called the Mumbles beach, stretches for over 8 km and it’s the perfect place to walk alone with your thoughts, play with dogs and children safely on this sandy and wide beach. It is not good for swimming but it’s perfect for gathering with friends, do picnics, run and do all sorts of wind related sports or paddle, rent a kayak etc. From here you can also enjoy the view on the tallest tower of Wales, the Meridian Tower, one of the must-visit places to enjoy the best sunsets and views over the whole bay!
4. Oystermouth Castle
This 12th Norman castle, is one the finest historical building in Wales and stands on hill dominating Swansea Bay starring some of the best ocean views of this area! This castle is famous for the intricate maze of old staircases linking the vaults to the banqueting rooms and for the discovery of some 14th century graffiti. The castle is in ruins but it has been renovated in the 2000s. Visiting this ruined fortress is the perfect occasion to take some spectacular pictures of Swansea Bay and spend a nice day out discovering history!
5. Dylan Thomas Birthplace
Visiting the house where the famous Welsh writer used to live feels like intruding in the Dylan Thomas privacy and life. The furniture, objects, letters everything is left as it was and we have the impression he might enter the door from one moment to another. His house is used for events and pre-bookable dinners and afternoon teas.
As Literature’s lover, I always try to visit all my favourite’s authors birthplaces. Seeing the place where they lived and spent time writing and pouring their souls in their works make them more human and real. This brilliant author lived in a normal terraced house in Swansea like a common person and wrote some of the most brilliant pieces of work.
Dylan Thomas is one of the main 20th century writers and best known for the famous poem “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” dedicated to his dying father, in which he exhorts him not to give up to death without fighting his illness. You can also visit the Dylan Thomas Centre, a museum focussed on its works and life.
6. The Swansea Covered Market
Whether you have a crave or you are looking to buy a picnic, a take away dish or fresh ingredients for your Sunday meal you should definitely come to Swansea covered market considered as one the best in terms of quality and range of goods on the whole region! Make sure you buy fresh fish and delicious Welsh cakes at the market!
The Gower Peninsula Beach Guide
Have enough of the city and you are craving to stretch your legs and long coastal paths, sunbathe on a secluded and tranquil cove far from traffic and city noise? Rent a car or join an organised guided tour to explore some extraordinary beach rated among the best in the UK and Wales!
Here is my top list of the beaches you shouldn’t miss on your Gower Peninsula road trip:
Part of the National Trust, this multi awarded sandy beach is the symbol of the Gower Peninsula and has been elected the best beach of Wales and one of the top 10 beaches in the UK. It stretches for over 4 km and this golden bay is surrounded by green cliffs and little Welsh cottage at distance. Rhossili is perfect for great scenic views, sunset chasers, romantic picnics and walkers. Rhossili is also sadly famous for the Helvetia’s shipwreck in 1887.
It is particularly known among surfers to catch great waves or to see dolphins and seals occasionally. The best way to reach it is by car, and leave the car at the National Trust parking nearby. Facilities are available at less than 200 meters away.
Don’t forget to take a picture of the iconic “Worm’s Head” rocky peninsula which justify the bizarre name with its peculiar shape.
2. The Three Cliffs Beach
This wide and spectacular sandy beach is one of the most featured on postcards and leaflets due to the three limestone cliffs from which the beach takes the name.
Even though swimming is not recommended because of the strong currents, it a great place to walk, organise a picnic, run with your dog and meditate about all the small things of life listening to the sound of the wind and the waves crashing! Parking is at about 400 meters away and there are no facilities.
3. Oxwich Bay
A popular family destination due to the shallow and clear waters perfect for swimming and relaxing on this golden beach. Water sports are allowed, parking and facilities are nearby and for this reason it can get crowded during summer or holidays!
It is considered one of the top three beaches of the peninsula and it is very well known; nevertheless I suggest you to visit it because the sand and water quality are worth it!
4. Caswell Bay
If you are looking for something out of the beaten tracks and find some real isolation, Caswell Bay and its coastal path could be what you are looking for.
This golden sandy beach has it all: shallow transparent water ideal for paddling and swimming, good enough waves for surfing, it has a parking nearby, facilities and it is surrounded by green cliffs which are the starting point for scenic paths not to be missed!
5. Tor Bay Beach
This secluded and sheltered bay is accessible through a panoramic cliff path and for this reason is one of the less popular locations for families since the parking is at 400 meters away and there are no facilities. The perfect escape from the chaos of the city and for adventurers looking for some peace and quiet.