Swansea is Wales’ second largest city and home to Wales’ biggest indoor market and waterpark, oldest museum, and a vibrant city center filled with ancient history, a wide range of shops and exciting nightlife. You’re never far from the coast of Swansea Bay and a visit wouldn’t be complete without a day (or more!) spent in Britain’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Gower Peninsula. Here’s how to spend 48 hours visiting both destinations.
HOW TO GET HERE:
Swansea is three hours by train from London and just under an hour by train from Cardiff.
TIME TO CHECK IN:
When staying in Swansea, choose a place around the bay for views of the marina like at Swansea Marriott Hotel. Not only do you get great coastal views, you are also within quick walking distance to Swansea city center’s main attractions. Meanwhile, a historical city center accommodation option is at Morgans Hotel, a luxury boutique hotel housed in the former building built for the Swansea Harbour Trust. Just a five minute drive from the city center is Beachcomber Guest House, a family run guest house right on Swansea seafront.
For somewhere closer to the fishing village of Mumbles and quietly situated just a 15 minute drive from Swansea, Langland Bay House Bed & Breakfast is another family run accommodation located along the Wales Coast Path. And if you’d like to experience staying in the Gower, a warm welcome awaits at Parc-Le-Breos, a bed and breakfast in a former Victorian hunting lodge on the grounds of a Norman deer park.
Start the day exploring Swansea’s city center by taking part in a walking tour. Begin at St. Mary’s Church and admire the stained glass windows. The building has changed over time but the church has sat on the same site since the 1300s. Walk towards Swansea Castle and see the remains of one of the oldest buildings in Swansea, then head towards Wind Street, the town’s main thoroughfare in the 17th century.
Make your way towards Dylan Thomas Centre to learn all about the life of Swansea born and raised poet, Dylan Thomas. Choose to stay at the exhibition, or head towards the next destination.
Two museums to visit, which are only a three minute walk away from each other are Swansea Museum and the National Waterfront Museum. Swansea Museum is the oldest museum in Wales, filled with Egyptian artifacts, boats and ships on display. Meanwhile, the National Waterfront Museum goes in depth into Wales’ industrial and maritime history through high tech exhibitions. Admission is free to both museums.
Afterwards, take a walk along the water at Swansea Marina. It’s here that boat owners can book a berth at the marina and sail on Swansea Bay.
Head back to the city center for lunch at Swansea Indoor Market, the largest indoor market in Wales. Originally established in 1897, the indoor market was rebuilt after it was destroyed during World War II and today has more than 100 stalls for fresh produce, clothes, jewelry and several spots for quick bites or leisurely lunches. Try baked goods at Davies of Mumbles, Yorkshire pudding wraps at The Lunchbox, coffee at Cafe Janet, and you can’t leave the market without sampling a hot welshcake fresh off the griddle.
Relax or go on an adventure no matter the weather at LC Swansea Waterpark, Wales’ biggest indoor waterpark. The waterpark is home to massive water slides, aqua tubes, wave pools, lazy river, a surf simulator and pools for all ages.
Or opt for a more laid back activity and drive about 10 minutes outside of Swansea city center to Clyne Gardens. This park and gardens belonged to Admiral Algernon Vivian, who established the garden’s extensive plant collection from around the world, a Japanese bridge, Admiral’s tower and gazebo.
Note: If you prefer not to drive, Swansea has a public transportation, cycling and walking route initiative that will help you get all over the bay from the city to Gower Peninsula. Check out their website for detailed routes and information.
After your afternoon activities, head to Swansea Marina for dinner with a waterfront view. The River House is an award-winning restaurant located right next to the River Tawe with a sophisticated cocktail bar and terrace area. Next door is Diablo’s SA1 for a stylish, informal dining experience also overlooking the river. And nearby Swigg Swansea is a trendy venue serving produce sourced from Swansea, Gower and South Wales.
Another option is in Wales’ tallest building, the Meridian Tower. On the highest floor is Grape and Olive Swansea, a restaurant with 360 degree views of Swansea Bay, where on a clear day you can see five miles out towards Mumbles.
Nightlife in Swansea is centered around Wind Street, where you can find plenty of bars and clubs. Head to Bambu for a beach bar experience, Peppermint Bar & Kitchen for a stylish and fun cocktail bar, and find out the intriguing history of No Sign Wine Bar while sipping your favorite drink. This venue is known as Swansea’s oldest pub established in 1690 and was frequented by Swansea born poet, Dylan Thomas.
Also check out Joe’s Ice Cream parlor for a scoop of their famous fresh vanilla, or choose from a variety of flavors from caramel crunch to welshcake ice cream. They also have a location in Mumbles, where you are headed tomorrow.
The Gower Peninsula was first to be named an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Britain and is located just outside Swansea. Go in search of archaeological sites, jaw dropping views, beach activities, watersport adventures, mountain biking, horseback riding, and of course, coastal walks to see dramatic cliffs and spectacular waterfront.
There are plenty of walking routes to take. To see the heart of the Gower Peninsula, walk all or part of The Gower Way. This 35 mile path straight through the middle of the peninsula can be broken up into smaller sections. For the shortest section, which is 8 miles long, start at Rhossili and end in Penmaen. To see the natural beauty of Three Cliffs Bay, take the Southgate to Three Cliffs Bay walk. Or explore woodlands through the Oxwich Point Walk, which ends at an award-winning restaurant, Beach House.
Check out Visit Swansea Bay’s downloadable Walking Routes and Guides for more options that will suit your interests.
Have lunch at a hotel along or at the end of one of the walks. If you’re taking the Oxwich Point Walk, be sure to stop at Beach House Restaurant, an AA Restaurant of the Year in Wales and a Michelin star restaurant. Also by Oxwich Bay is The Oxwich Bay Hotel, home to an award-winning restaurant open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and afternoon tea. If you see it on a menu anywhere in Gower, be sure to order either cockles or laverbread (seaweed paste), both Welsh delicacies from Gower.
Outdoor lovers are in for a treat in Gower. Take a guided boat trip to see the coastline from the water and learn about the peninsula’s wildlife and history. Or put on a wetsuit and go coasteering, jumping off the rocky coastline and into the water, or learn to surf with the national governing body for Welsh surfing, established in 1981. If water sports aren’t your thing, opt for a round of golf at Pennard Golf Club with views over Three Cliffs Bay. And if your interests lie in castles and all things historical, the Castle and Historical Tour will take you to see heritage sites around the peninsula like Oxwich Castle.
After a morning and afternoon of walks and adventures, head to Mumbles, a fishing village located on Swansea Bay and just a 16 minute drive from Swansea city center. There are a number of shops to browse here from independent shops and galleries to handmade items and designer goods. Stop at Mumbles Pier, a Victorian pier with restaurants and an amusement arcade.
The world’s first passenger railway ran from Swansea to Mumbles. Relive those days by hopping on the Swansea Bay Rider Land Train, which runs along the Swansea promenade to Mumbles. And go back in time to the 13th century at Oystermouth Castle to walk on a 30 foot high glass bridge and enjoy uninterrupted views out to the sea.
End your day with dinner at Mumbles with views of the sea. For classic and seasonal French dishes, Bistrot Pierre’s menu caters to everyone’s needs including food suitable for gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian diets. Head next door to Mumtaz for fine Indian cuisine or to the pier at Copperfish for cocktails and seafood, including traditional fish and chips in a relaxed environment.
Wales is known as the best place to eat ice cream outside of Italy. More than 100 years ago, Italian immigrants established cafes and ice cream parlors when they made Wales their home. So end your 48 hours in Swansea with ice cream at Joe’s Ice Cream, or an 11 minute walk down the road at Verdi’s, a family run business serving 30 different flavors of their award-winning Fresh Cream Italian ice cream produced daily with milk and cream from local dairies.