A SUSTAINABLE GUIDE TO THE BEST OF SWANSEA BAY, WALES
Swansea County, and city are located in South Wales and comprises of Swansea Bay, The Gower Peninsula, Langland Bay and The Mumbles, collectively, covering some 380 kilometres of land surrounded by one of the most beautiful coastlines imaginable. Think rugged coastal vistas, city vibes and old Victorian fishing villages.
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Full Disclosure: This post is sponsored as part of a collaboration with Visit Swansea Bay, where Be-lavie was invited to experience the area as part of a Press Trip. The itinerary was largely compiled by Visit Swansea Bay with a couple of personal additions that can be incorporated into a visit with ease. Please note, all views and opinions are honest and together with the photography remain a copyright of Be-lavie.
It’s hard to imagine that Swansea only occupies 2% of Wales but that just adds to its unique offerings making it more attractive and exciting to visit. Swansea is Wale’s Cultural City and home to the UK’s first area of outstanding natural beauty, known as The Gower Peninsula. Whatever your travel style includes, there is something here for everyone! Luxury hotels, delicious foodie spots, walks along the rugged coastline, discovering hidden bays and pristine award-winning beaches to hair-raising activities for the adventure lovers! A plethora of local galleries for the art-lovers, and coffee stops serving the famous Gower coffee. Expect to be wooed by Swansea Bays castles and caves that form it’s magnificent heritage.
Additionally, the area has placed sustainability and preservation of the environment, flora and fauna at the forefront of tourism so expect to see cottage industries, locally sourced produce and the good outdoor life.
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- A Sustainable Guide to the Best of Swansea Bay
- Travel Planning Essentials
- How to get to Swansea Bay
- How to get around Swansea Bay
- When to Visit Swansea Bay
- How long to Plan Your Visit?
- Where to Stay in Swansea Bay
- Best & Sustainable Things to do in Swansea Bay
- Rhossili Bay & Worm’s Head
- Penmeen to Three Cliffs Bay Walk
- Pennlegare Valley Woods
- North Gower
- Swansea City
- Where to Eat in Swansea Bay
- Further Related Related
- Pin & Save For Later
How to get to Swansea Bay
- Car: The most flexible option is by far driving with the fasted routes being via the M4, M5, M6 and M56. London: Swansea: can take around 3.5 hours. Leicester – Swansea: 3-4 hours minutes. For more information on route times check The AA route planner.
- Coach – National Express coach network has the following direct routes to Wales: London Victoria Coach Station > Cardiff, Swansea, Pembrokeshire. Hull, Nottingham, Leicester, Birmingham > Cardiff, Swansea, Pembrokeshire.
- Megabus provides low cost intercity travel in the UK, with a coach service running from London and Bristol to Newport, Cardiff, Swansea, Carmarthen and Pembroke Dock.
- By Train -The main direct rail route to Wales is from London Paddington, Reading, Bath and Bristol to Newport and Cardiff, with easy connections to Swansea, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire. The fastest trains from London to Cardiff take 1 hour 42 minutes. From Manchester to Llandudno Junction, it’s about 2 hours. For rail enquires check Trainline
- There is a coastal bus service and you can get to the villages and towns along the Gower Peninsula by using the moovit app
How to get around Swansea Bay
The most convenient way is to travel by car to allow for flexibility of reacting quite remote locations but buses are available, more information is available via the moovit app
Many of the points of interest and coastal walks have car parks, which are run by the National Trust. National Trust Membership would be a great investment if you travel around the UK and like to walk, visit stately houses and gardens. You do not need to pay for parking with National Trust Membership as well as other perks.
When to Visit Swansea Bay
Swansea Bay is an all-year-round destination. Coastal walks, local activities, art galleries, shopping, beautiful views and delicious cosy fires with food and drink can be experienced at any time of year. Shoulder season is a great time particularly, spring and autumn. If you’re here for the beaches and beach life, summer’s your friend for at least some guaranteed good weather.
How long to Plan Your Visit?
A long weekend away is perfect to get a good taste of the Swansea, the bay including The Gower and Mumbles. Similarly, a week is great to enjoy a slower pace of life of the villages and towns as well as the coastal walks, revealing beautiful bays and beaches.
Where to Stay in Swansea Bay
Luxury City Hotel
Morgan’s HotelHotel Spotlight
A grade II listed building, previously home to the port authority, the Swansea city hotel Morgans is brimming with character and charm and features forty two luxurious bedrooms, superb dining facilities and duo of contemporary bars. It is one of the oldest buildings remaining in the heart of Swansea with a great location in front of the Marina and Sail Bridge, where you’’ find a range of independent restaurants and bars.
Rooms are all individually decorated and named after boats, as in the past this port authority building was responsible for naming ships. Accommodation ranges from double, superior, superior deluxe rooms in the main hotel and townhouse. For an especially spacious stay opt for the superior deluxe rooms in the main hotel, with hight ceilings, king beds and contemporary amenities and plush bathrooms and if you love watching TV in bed, there’s and absolutely huge screen TV in each room!
Molton Brown toiletries, fluffy bathrobes, slippers and tea and coffee making facilities are available. There is also a huge bar with comfy leather seating as well as a restaurant on the top floor of the main building.
Although the hotel is located in the heart of the city, free car parking is available opposite the hotel for staying guests.
Breakfast is optional and can be purchased as an add on. It includes a selection of continental breakfast items with some great cooked options made to order.
Address: Somerset Place, Swansea SA1 1RR. Tel: 01792 484848. Website: The Morgan’s Hotel.
Read reviews and book The Morgan’s Hotel, Swansea
Glamping Casual: The Secret Garden Pods
The Secret Garden glamping pods are approximately a two minute walk from Oxwich Bay. Every pod has its own private entrance from within the Secret Garden, and its own private patio area with table and chairs. Hedges and walkways within the garden separate the rooms. It’s a great way to get close to nature without all the fuss of camping as well as having a great location right on the beach. The décor is contemporary, and the pods are located on the Oxwich Bay Hotel’s Secret Garden which has a wonderful award-winning restaurant. There is a true feeling of being secluded here.
Address: Oxwich Bay Hotel, Oxwich, Gower Peninsula, Swansea, SA3 1LS.. Tel: 01792 390329
Website: The Secret Garden Pods.
Traditional Inn: The King Arthur
The King Arthur is a traditional and friendly country inn situated in the heart of the Gower Peninsula and only a short drive away from Rhossili Bay. Attached to the pub are modern and homely cottages, ideal for putting your feet up after a day exploring the Gower countryside. At this multi-award winning Inn, there is the option of staying in cottage style accommodation or rooms and there is a great pub, in-fact it has the accolade of being one of the top ten pubs in Britain. This is one place you’ll find hard to leave!
Address: Higher Green, Reynoldston, Gower SA3 1AD. Tel: 01792 390775
Website: The King Arthur.
Best & Sustainable Things to do in Swansea Bay
Rhossili Bay & Worm’s Head
Situated on the Southwestern tip of the Gower Peninsula, lies the stunning Rhossili Bay. It is difficult to imagine the beauty that lies ahead when you drive through the village and pull into the National Trust car Park at the end of the road.
The long stretch of sandy beach comes with a string of accolades including being named an area of outstanding natural beauty. It has been voted TripAdvisor’s Best Beach in Britain twice including 2021 and deemed the third best beach in Europe as well as ninth-best in the world. These awards are completely justified and its easy to see why when you’ve seen it for yourself!
Rhossili Bay has the largest expanse of white sand on the Gower Peninsula, stretching around three miles framed by huge cliffs, favoured by surfers, paragliders and ramblers. The scenery and walks here, especially at the time of this visit in late autumn, is absolutely spectacular. A mix of intensifying chestnut and green hues interspersed with heather and the sight of wild ponies roaming the Cliffside and coastal paths.
The village of Rhossili is full of history and you can still see the wreck of the Helvetia, which ran aground on Rhossili Bay in November 1887. Take a leisurely walk around the village taking in the thirteenth century medieval church of St Mary or pop into the local gallery. Check out the cute cottages with views over the bay.
Worm’s Head is named due to its appearance, is joined to Rhossili by a path which is often not seen due to the tide. For the adventurous, take the path down towards Worm’s Head. If walking down the causeway, it’s advisable to call into the Coast watch house before taking the steps down to ensure there’s enough time to return. Usually the Coast watch will have a sign out with return by times.
Panoramic views can be had walking up to Rhossili Downs and don’t forget to pop into the National Trust Shop and Visitor Centre. It’s closed during the winter season but its housed in former Coastguard buildings dating back to the 1930’s and offers some lovely souvenirs and gifts.
Lastly don’t forget to drop by The Lookout. An independently run cafe serving up delicious fresh local produce from Gower Coffee to Welsh brew tea and fancy lattes to all day breakfasts, delicious brownies and blondies, local ice-cream to pasties, all day veggie breakfasts and even their famous sunset pizzas.
- Walk along the beach from Rhossili to Llangennith, around four miles
- Walk across to Worms head
- Sit on the cliff edge and watch the Ponies
- Walk up to the Rhossili Downs
- Treat yourself to some local food and drink at The Lookout
- Visit St. Mary’s Church
- Checkout the Rhossili Gallery and locally made products.
- Call into the National Trust Shop & Visitor Centre.
Parking: Rhossili Bay is part of the National Trust Membership Card holders can park free of charge by scanning a valid membership card and printing a ticket. Non-members can pay and display for the length of their visit.
Sat Nav : Rhossili, Swansea. SA3 1PR
Penmeen to Three Cliffs Bay Walk
The ancient village of Penmeen lies on the A4118, a 15-20 minute drive from Rhossili Bay and offers some of the most outstanding views of Three Cliffs Bay on the Gower Coastline.
Penmeen is located around 19 miles west of Swansea and is home to some fab walking trails in the area. Penmeen actuallky means Stone Top and the village sits on the second highest point on Gower and was discovered to be scattered with archaeological sites.
Park in the National Trust car park and follow the coastal signs to the walk down to Three Cliffs bay beach. The beach is known to be one of the UK’s most beautiful beaches and it is obvious to see when you arrive that it’s named after the three limestone cliffs right by the bay surrounded by a stunning stretch of sandy beaches and sand dunes. The view as you walk down the path to the beach, are framed with the green foliage and you’ll capture a full panoramic shot of the bay below you. This is a steep hike but manageable, you can always stop and gaze over to the view to motivate you!
In peak season the beach is peppered with climbers but you can discover the bay by walking under the cliffs via an arch. Step across the stone bridge which connects the walk to the main portion of the beach.
Be-lavie Tip: A great time to visit is sunset or sunrise for some incredible landscape photography!
- Walking along the coast
- Rock Scrarmbling
- Taking in the vistas
- Picnic on the beach
- Sunrise or sunset walk
Sat nav: Penmaen Gower. SA£ 2HB
Mumbles is a traditional Victorian Welsh fishing village located to the west of Swansea Bay and is around a 20 minute drive from the city of Swansea. It sits at the entry point or mouth of the Gower peninsula and was voted the best place to live in Wales by the British Times. It’s village community vibe in a city was part of this accolade as well as the coastal roads being lined with independent shops from cafes and restaurants to arts and crafts centres as well as the famous Mumbles ice-cream parlours, wine bars, luxury boutiques, craft stores and galleries as well as an impressive artisan market on a Saturday.
Mumbles’ claim to fame is Catherine Zeta Jones (darling Buds of May, The Mask of Zorro. Entrapment) who lived in Mumbles for many years and according to the locals returns annually with Michael Douglas and her family to holiday.
A morning in Mumbles, taking in the surroundings is the perfect length of time and incorporating a spot of lunch or coffee at one of the many cute and cosy independent dining spots is just what the doctor ordered!
The Lovespoon Gallery
Mumbles is bursting with local character and charm and has a fine abundance of arts and crafts. The Lovespoon Gallery is a great example of a local art. They are the original specialists in lovespons and have a large collection of Wales’ best love spoon carvers. If you’re not familiar with Love spoons, these were originally gifted as courting or wedding presents to your love but as time went on they became more and more elaborate. For example, intertwined sections showing the coming together of two souls. The tell stories of relationships.
The Gower Gallery
The Gower Gallery is the perfect shop for gifts. It contains paintings, ceramics, jewellery, sculptures and the most beautiful handmade Christmas decorations, all inspired by the stunning Gower coastline.
Do not miss a walk down the Victorian Pier for unparalleled views of across Swansea Bay. The Pier has been lovingly restored and brought back to life as in it’s hayday you can envisage the locals promenading in their best seaside outfits.
Mumbles Pier is 835 feet long, which equates to five Nelson’s Columns and 25.5 London buses! Impressive right?
Visit the Saturday market on the seafront where local artisan traders sell local produce from hot and cold sandwiches, to cakes and biscuits, jams and preserves as well as arts and crafts.
Meander the streets of Mumbles and walk up the side elevations and stumble upon colourful original fisherman’s houses (you’ll find these on Village Lane) as well as holiday cottages and a nature reserve trail.
From the shoreline if you look up, you’ll see a castle, this is known as Oystermouth Castle and sits up on the hill overlooking mumbles. It originates from the twelfth century and is a fine example of a Norman stone castle. It’s open during the summer months with activities galore for adults and children but during the low season it’s possible to see the castle from outside and walk around it.
The castle has exceptional views over Mumbles and Swansea Bay.
The Coastal Path: Bracelet Bay, Limeslade Bay & Langland Bay
Bracelet Bay is the perfect place for an afternoon walk, admiring the rugged Gower coastline. Look out onto the stunning views, grab a famous Mumble ice-cream and make your way to Limeslade Bay just to the right of Bracelet Bay.
The Gower Coastal Path starts at Limeslade Bay and is a brilliant way to see the landscape of the area. The path is part of the Wales Coast Path network, circumnavigating the country’s coastline. Bring a pair of comfy boots or shoes. On your walk you’ll see a number of sculptures en route, part of the sculpture on the coast series, funded by the Welsh Government’s Tourism Product Innovation Fund, which aims to attract more visitors to the area.
The distance between Limeslade Bay and Langland is Bay is around 4.5km and takes just under an hour.
Once at Langland Bay, check out Langland’s Brasseries, which is located perfectly with a stunning view of the sea and the uniform green beach huts.
If you’re looking for a spot of lunch or dinner, either side of the long walks, the Shared plate is a great sustainable community spot that focusses on locally sourced ingredients from the area as well as zero waste. The specials board is full of delicious food as well as a varied regular menu.
- Walk around this Victorian fishing village
- Shop in the local artisan shops
- Mumbles Pier
- Mumbles seafront
- Saturday Artisan Market
- The Gower Coast Path from Limeslade to Langland Bay
- Bracelet Bay
Pennlegare Valley Woods
A true hidden gem and fairytale garden on the northern fringe of Swansea. This Victorian estate was previously home to John Dillwyn Llewelyn, renowned horticulturalist, pioneering photographer and astronomer, consisting of over 100 hectares of woodland and over 500 years of Welsh history. The Grade II listed garden has laid hidden for 150 years and is being painstakingly uncovered and revealed to the public. You can expect over seven miles of pathways to explore woods, two magnificent lakes (upper and lower),
Spot Kingfishers, Herons, Waterfowl, Otters, the iconic waterfall is a must-see, the Rhododendron and Azaelia collection was once the best in the country and the sustainability efforts in increasing biodiversity and restoring the area are impressive. Penllegare Valley Woods are also largely run by award-winning volunteers and are completely free to visit. There’s an onsite coffee shop serving delicious homemade cakes and coffee and the small parking fee allows the charity to maintain the restorative work. The Car park in openfrom 0900-17:00 daily.
As well as the spring and summer, the woods are particularly beautiful around autumn with the changing colours and woodland backdrop.
Address: Penllergaer, Swansea. S44 9GS Tel: 01792 344224. Website: Pennlegare Valley Woods
Owned by the National Trust, Llanrhidian Marsh and Whiteford Burrows are outstanding both for their landscape beauty and for their wildlife.
Whiteford Burrows is seen as one of the best dune systems in Britain and have an excellent series of dune habitats. Whiteford Sands lie to the east of the Burrows, punctuated by the dilapidated cast iron lighthouse (not NT owned) at its northern end. There are views across the estuary towards Pembrey Sands and Burry Port opposite.
Llanrhidian Marsh is one of the best examples of a salt marsh in Britain and is of international importance for its enormous population of wintering wildfowl and waders. The award-winning Saltmarsh Lamb, a local delicacy, is reared on Llanrhidian Marsh.
The flora of Whiteford Burrows is exceptional and includes many rare breeds and local species, including early marsh orchid, fen orchid, early grass sand and dune gentian. Look out for birds on the Marsh including the oystercatcher, knot, pintail and golden plover.
Whiteford Sands is peaceful, tranquil, and home to the only wave washed lighthouse still standing in the UK, known as Whiteford Lighthouse. The beach can’t be accessed by car however park in the nearby village of Llanmadoc, and walk via the country path through the woods
Sat Nav: Swansea SA3 1DL
A pretty rutal village and home to a 13th century church, the area is also home to an Iron Age Hill fort and Cwm Ivy, a haven for birdwatchers. Little egrets, herons, kingfishers and lapwings can be spotted here. The National Trust has two bird hides at Cwm Ivy, Cheriton hide and Monterey hide, located either side of the marsh, which forms part of the wider Whiteford National Nature Reserve.
Llanmadoc Swansea SA3 1DH
The dramatic location of Weobley Castle, on the windswept coast of the Gower peninsula – overlooking marshes and mudflats with the wild Llwchwr estuary beyond is quite the site.
This stunning view must be the same today as it was 700 years ago when this fortified manor house was raised in stages by the wealthy de la Bere family, stewards to the lords of Gower. Their aim was to create an elegant family home to entertain their high society guests. The grand hall, guest chambers with en-suite loos and the lord’s solar, or private withdrawing room, all speak splendour.
The castle is fortified and suffered serious damage during the uprising of Owain Glyndŵr in the early 15th century.
Other suggestions on what you can do whilst in Swansea and easily accessible from the Morgan s Hotel:
Sat Nav Gower Peninsula, Swansea SA3
Swansea’s SA1 area takes in the marina with its picturesque rows of boats, and the former docks, where stylishly converted industrial buildings sit shoulder to shoulder with bold new architecture.
Discover the bars and restaurants in SA1 followed by a picturesque walk along the golden curve of Swansea Bay and around the marina and the docks, crossing the River Tawe via the foot bridges.
It’s a great place for a sunset or sunrise walk and to grab a coffee or watch the rowing club practicing on Saturday mornings.
El Pescador Restaurant & Bar on the waterfront is a great Spanish restaurant serving authentic Spanish food, in particular great for its fresh seafood with lovely views of the water and moored boats.
Sat Nav: Follow signs for SA1 Waterfront
Swansea Market is situated in the heart of Swansea city centre and is the largest indoor market in Wales. It’s covered by a steel arched portal frame roof clad in steel and glass. The current market was built in 1959-1960 by Percy Edwards and is a hive of activity, especially on Saturday mornings. It opened in 1964 and there are over 100 stalls selling a variety of goods. The foodie stalls are a particular draw with a great array of local fresh seafood, meat, coffees and the most delicious authentic Welsh cakes.
Address: Swansea Market,.Oxford Street Swansea SA1 3PQ Tel: 01792 654 296
Website: Swansea Market
Dylan Thomas Centre
The Dylan Thomas Centre is home to a year-round programme of literary events, including book launches, plays, poetry evenings, changing exhibitions and science talks. It also hosts the annual Dylan Thomas Festival held between Dylan’s birth and death dates, 27 October to 9 November. Its located in a Grade II listed building in the Maritime Centre and worth a visit if you’re a fan of his writings.
Address: 6 Somerset Pl, Swansea SA1 1RR. Tel: 01792 463980. Website
Where to Eat in Swansea Bay
Related Post: The Best Places to Dine in Swansea Bay.Mumbles & Gower
If a walk along Swansea seafront is on your itinerary, The Secret Beach Bar & Restaurant is a great place to stop off for a hot drink and snacks during the day or lunch and a more substantial meal in the evening. Right on the beach, the restaurant is lit with flame heaters and has an open bar. The food is modern and contemporary and the brownie topped with a giant marshmallow comes highly recommended!
To start planning your trip to Swansea Bay, head to Visit Swansea Bay with the latest information on happenings in the area. Swansea Bay is a great location to visit all year around but as this guide suggests low season, namely the autumn can be a great time to visit benefitting from far less crowds and the beauty of the changing of the colours. Additionally much of the activities in this part of the country coupled with the time of year, are eco-friendly such as walks, spending time out in nature and supporting the local small businesses and tourism. A spectacular part of the coast that has still yet to be largely discovered by the world.
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