South Wales Travel Guide

Cardiff Bay, South Wales - © Cardiff Harbour Authority

Introduction and Overview

The South Wales Travel Guide outlines interesting local attractions, places of interest and includes tourist information for visitors. The area guide features travel information on local transport and travel, facts & figures, entertainment, events, maps and accommodation.

The region has a mix of areas with a long industrial history and heritage and a superb coastline that runs on the Gower peninsula.

South Wales includes the two largest cities in Wales, Cardiff and Swansea in the vicinity along with some beautiful scenic countryside. This mix of town and country means visitors with varying interests and tastes are catered for.

The Gower Peninsula is located to the south west of Swansea. The area is one of the most popular destinations for beach lovers, surfers, walkers and families in Wales. There is a tremendous coastline and great beaches that attract plenty of visitors.

Oxley Bay is among the very best beaches in the whole of the UK, the Gower Peninsula was the first place in Britain to be designated an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) and has a rich history.

There are a range of attractions here including castles, iron age fortifications, castles, medieval churches, caves, great beaches and hills. Shops, bars, restaurants and cafes are located at Mumbles, with the Mumbles Mile, having so many pubs, it is the scene of one the famous Wales pub crawls.

Swansea is the second city in Wales, it is a historic city too but unfortunately much of the evidence has been lost due to World War II and industrialisation.

The docks were originally established sometime in the 1300s and were later used to export coal and copper among others.

There are a range of attractions for visitors in and around the city, with Swansea Bay a short walk away. The city is known for its vibrant nightlife, visitors will find a range of bars, restaurants and clubs in the area.

There are historic attractions such as Swansea Castle, Swansea Museum, National Waterfront Museum and the famous beaches of the Gower Peninsula are only a short distance away.

Porthcawl was once a coal port and later developed into a seaside resort when the coal industry began to wind down. It has three sheltered bays and has a large amusement park at Coney Beach.

It is one of the most popular resorts in the region and has something for most tastes, including surfing and golf facilities. On clear days views extend all the way to Exmoor. The Grand Pavilion is the main entertainment venue that hosts music festivals, comedy evenings and theatre productions.

Bridgend is an ancient market town and a favourite for history lovers. The 12th century ruin of the Newcastle Castle overlooking the River Ogmore, a Norman defensive monastery close by and the ruins of the 14th century Coity Castle. The town has a shopping centre, the Rhiw shopping centre.

The City of Cardiff is the capital of Wales, it displays a strong sense of identity and Welsh pride. This compact city is easy to explore and boasts some great attractions for visitors to see including historic sites, museums and galleries.

The Millennium Stadium hosts a range of events including rugby, a great Welsh passion and many concerts.

Cardiff Bay is located about a mile from the city centre, it has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years and has been transformed in to a place that now contains public gardens, modern art sculptures and refreshments. It also hosts the National Assembly and the Welsh parliament, a significant step in devolution.

Cardiff is home to the Wales Millennium Centre, National Museum of Wales and St David’s Hall. Shopping is catered for with plenty of high street shopping and historic shopping arcades and the city hosts a number of festivals each year.

Newport is located in Gwent, set in the wonderful countryside of the Wye Valley that is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Newport is located less than 15 miles from the capital Cardiff and is the third largest city in Wales.

One of the popular walks is the Pilgrims’ Way, whilst nature lovers will be interested in the West Wales Eco Centre, who aim to encourage ecologically sustainable development among other things. Among the heritage sites in Newport are burial chamber Carreg Coetan Arthur at around 5,000 years old and St. Woolos cathedral.

Other attractions include Caerleon, a village close to Newport notable for the Roman legionary fortress, an Iron Age hill fort and Isca Augusta. The city has the Newport Wetlands Centre, Riverfront Arts Centre and the Roman Baths at Caerleon.

Neath is located less than 10 miles from Swansea, a historic market town Neath is a town that has a strong industrial heritage, playing a leading role in the industrial revolution with its manufacture of steel and tin.

The location of the town makes it conveniently located for touring both Swansea and Swansea Bay and the scenic Brecon Beacons.

Local attractions include the 12th century Neath Abbey and the ruins of Neath Castle located in the town centre. The town has plenty of attractions for arts aficionados, The Princess Royal Theatre, the Little Theatre and Pontardawe Arts Centre all have varied programmes covering the arts, drams, music and literature.

The Vale of Neath has some lovely scenery in its midst, the valley is also known as Waterfall Country. The South Wales industrial heartland includes places like Merthyr Tydfil, the Rhondda Valley and Pontypridd. The Rhondda Valley is known for its male choirs and its long mining heritage.

The Three Castles of Skenfrith, Grosmont and White are located on the agricultural lands of South Wales. They were built by the Normans, in 1260 they were refortified to guard against threat of invasion and became increasingly domesticated over the following centuries.

The castles themselves have quite different characters, Skenfrith is a scenic border village and the castle reflects this fact. The contrast to this is Grosmont Castle that is the most ruined of the castles and sits high on a hill above the village.

White Castle is perhaps the most impressive of the castles and benefits from rolling borders countryside across to the River Monnow.

South Wales has one of the best beaches in the UK in Oxwich Bay, well worth seeing for those who enjoy the beach. The two main cities in Wales, Cardiff and Swansea are also in this locality meaning those that like the temptations of the cities are also catered for.

The region is well connected by road, rail and air via Cardiff Airport making it convenient for visitors from the UK and abroad to enjoy a break in this historical region of Wales.

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