The best things to do in Swansea Bay, Wales
*This blog post features a press trip with Visit Swansea Bay but all opinions remain my own.
Despite growing up in the UK and spending most of my life here, I’ve only been to Wales once before and unfortunately that trip didn’t last long due to severe weather warnings. When I planned my first trip in my new camper van, I couldn’t wait to spend two weeks road tripping around Wales with an old friend. So when Visit Swansea Bay got in touch asking if I would like to explore the area, I couldn’t wait to visit this beautiful part of Wales after making our way along the Pembrokeshire coastline.
After spending two weeks travelling around Cornwall and Devon, Wales was so peaceful even in the middle of school holidays. It may have been quiet, but there were so many amazing things to do in Swansea and beyond so I’m excited to share this guide with you all. I hope if you’re planning any trips to Wales, this guide will convince you that a stay in Swansea Bay is a non-negotiable!
Don’t forget to check out my other UK travel guides:
- Why Norfolk holidays should be on your UK bucket list
- 35 best things to do in Southwold, Suffolk
- 7 stunning coastal stop-offs for a UK road trip
Why visit Swansea Bay and where to stay:
The Gower Peninsula is nestled on the stunning southern coast of Wales – an area known for its award-winning beaches. Boasting a huge range of activities suitable for the whole family, whether you’re an adrenaline-chaser, a foodie, weekend walkers, history hunters or you fancy a touch of luxury. Home to Swansea Bay and the beloved Mumbles, you will also find countless castles filled with living legends, water-based activities, spectacular scenery and amazing places to eat and drink.
If you’re travelling from London, it takes just 3.5 hours by car and 4 hours by train, making Swansea a perfect destination for a weekend getaway or a week’s holiday. Once you arrive, I recommend having a car – whether you prefer to hire one or drive to the area. That way you can base yourself in one of the cute little villages and explore at your own pace. There are so many fantastic attractions within less than 30 minutes drive from each other so you’ll be spoilt for choice with fun, family and dog-friendly activities to enjoy during your trip.
Staying at The King’s Head Inn, Llangennith
During our visit to Gower, we were staying at The King’s Head Inn, in Llangennith which proved to be a perfect base for three days of activities around the region. This four star 17th century inn is set in the picturesque village with views over the largest church on the Gower peninsula and ocean providing the perfect setting for drinks or breakfast on the terrace of the pub. Picture exposed stone and beams, with stunning red and green ivy growing across the front of the building.
A quiet and relaxing location, it’s perfect for walkers and from the village there is access to Llangennith beach which stretches to Rhossili which is nearly four miles away. Best of all, the hotel also has pet-friendly rooms and a pet-friendly area in the pub in case you want to take your pooch on holiday with you! The beach is also dog-friendly all year round. Each room comes with cosy under-floor heating, en suite, plasma TV and a mini-fridge. One thing I also loved was that the rooms come with a huge bath – so many places just offer showers now so it’s always a treat to enjoy a bath at a hotel.
Best places to eat in Swansea Bay
For me, food is such an important part of travel and I love finding independent restaurants that use great quality local ingredients. Swansea Bay has some amazing and even award-winning restaurants and pubs scattered around the Gower Peninsula. Not only do they have fantastic menus and wine selections, but they’re in beautiful locations with walks through the countryside and coastline.
Hearty meals with local ingredients at The King’s Head, Llangennith
Picture evening drinks in the sunshine overlooking the village church and with views of the ocean. This 17th century inn, The King’s Head, is in the heart of Llangennith on the gorgeous Gower Peninsula and also has rooms if you would like to base yourself here during your trip. The menu is full of local ingredients including Welsh lamb, fish and cheeses. I highly recommend the fresh, local mussels and the curry dishes. There are also some great options for vegetarians. If you stay at the hotel attached, they also do a great breakfast.
Dining at the beautiful King Arthur Hotel, Reynoldston
One of the most beautiful hotels I have ever seen, the floral displays at the entrance to the King Arthur Hotel wowed me before I had even tasted the food. A perfect spot to enjoy a drink outside on a sunny day. We stopped at the hotel for a quick bite at lunch and we loved the cosy feel of the main bar with its reclaimed timbers, original stone work and open log fires in the winter. Appealing to my traveller nature, their stunning Gower Room displayed nautical artefacts including local maps and photographs of Gower’s nautical history. The restaurant is renowned for their home cooked food with a menu that includes locally caught fish and seasonal game. I particularly liked seeing so much Welsh fare on the menu and so many locally sourced products displayed with pride.
Award-winning bistro dining at the Britannia Inn, Llanmadoc
This was by far one of our favourite meals of the entire two weeks in Wales. This award-winning 17th century Britannia Inn features beams from shipwrecks, original fireplaces, bread oven and gas lamps. It has all the cosy pub vibes but also a menu that showcases Welsh ingredients at their best. Their menu features locally sourced Gower Salt Marsh lamb, Selwyn’s seaweed, Swansea smoked salmon and Gower gold ale. We were particularly impressed that there was a separate vegetarian menu which featured truffle mushroom and pea risotto which is without doubt one of the best risottos I’ve ever had.
Fresh seafood at Langland’s Brasserie, Langland Bay Beach
Another highlight of the trip, Langland’s Brasserie is right on the beach with spectacular views across the bay. If you love seafood, this is the place to eat. They have a fantastic menu with seafood platters, fresh fish, lobster and meat dishes. They also have great vegan options and the presentation of each dish is outstanding. After making our way along the beautiful coastline, it was a great way to spend the last afternoon of our trip. I dined on the fresh sea bass and roasted vegetables dish from the specials while my friend tried a dish from the vegan menu and both of them blew us away.
Best things to do in Swansea Bay
Paddle boarding in Swansea Bay
Travelling around the UK, I’d set myself the challenge to get in the water as much as possible. The sea around the Gower Peninsula has some of the warmest water I’ve experienced in the UK. We couldn’t resist jumping in when we arrived at Rhossili Bay. There were even some people surfing! We headed to Oxwich Bay which was the busiest beach we visited while in Wales. But it was easy to see why, it was a popular spot for families as it was so sheltered and warm. The bay being so enclosed made it the perfect spot for water sports. We were signed up for a hour’s stand-up paddle boarding with Oxwich Watersports.
I’ve been paddle boarding before but it was the first time for my friend and we both loved the experience. It was such a lovely way to start our morning. You have the option to have a class with an instructor or just to hire the boards for £15 for an hour. I recommend hiring the boards for longer as an hour felt quite short. I could have happily stayed out on the water for a few hours. Oxwich Watersports also offer kayaks and jet ski safaris. There is lots of parking available by the beach. Warning: if you have a camper van or larger vehicle it is expensive as they charge a day rate no matter how long you will be there.
Best walks on the Gower Peninsula
If there’s one thing you guys know that I love, it’s a good walk! If it’s a coastal walk, all the better. Gower had some beautiful walks. Those areas protected by the National Trust were absolutely pristine and all of the walks offered amazing scenery, peace and quiet.
Rhossili Bay & Worms Head
This is a beautiful area to explore with endless miles of walks available in every direction. Head down to Rhossili Bay via the easy path down the cliff and you can stroll for miles. Or, head past the National Trust Shop and Visitor Centre in the former Coastguard buildings that date back to the 1930’s, you can also pop in for information about the area and gifts.
Keep walking along the cliffs for spectacular views over Rhossili Bay and around towards Worms Head. This is actually a causeway that you can walk across at low tide. Be sure to pop into the Coastwatch house to check you have enough time before the tide turns. We arrived at the wrong time so instead we popped into Rhossili Sunflowers. It costs just £2 and gives you beautiful views of the sunflower fields over the ocean. You can then head up to Rhossili Downs for breathtaking views.
Llanmadoc & Llanrhidian, North Gower
These two are not too far apart if you fancy fitting a few different walks into one day. You’ll be spoilt for choice! Head to North Gower where you’ll find beautiful Llanmadoc – the village is beautiful and it’s easy to find parking. There’s a 4km route to walk, which includes Whiteford Burrows, Llanmadoc Church and views over the Loughor Estuary. However you can easily make this walk stretch further if you decide to explore the woodland and the beach more extensively. This walk is also accessible by bus.
Llanrhidian has over 38km to choose from with routes taking walkers through farmland, commons, salt marshes and ancient woodland. These scenic footpaths have varying distances with a choice of a 2.5km Red Route, a 3.5km Blue Route and a 7.5km Orange Route depending on how much time/energy you might have.
Mumbles & the Gower Coast Path
You can’t visit Swansea Bay without exploring the charming seaside village of Mumbles. It’s a great place to spend a leisurely morning popping into the handmade craft shops and boutiques. We loved visiting the Lovespoon Gallery with the largest collection of lovespoon designs from Wales’ best carvers. We even picked up a lovespoon of our own! For beautiful local artwork and gifts, head to the Gower Gallery where you’ll find lots of paintings, sculptures and ceramics. If you’re planning to stay around Mumbles, you can also do the “Mumbles Mile”. It’s lots of fun hiring bikes and exploring the seafront restaurants and bars up to the beautiful Victorian Pier.
Or, if you prefer to explore on foot and fancy going further afield, follow the Gower Coast Path. You’ll find the path by Fortes Ice Cream Parlour, near Limeslade Bay, and can follow the path all the way to Langland Bay. It’s a beautiful walk and mostly pedestrianised so it’s super peaceful overlooking the water.
Beaches to visit around Swansea Bay
- Rhossili Bay has made the top four of Britain’s Best Beaches for four years running, as voted by Trip Advisor users. With 3 miles of sandy beach to explore, it’s perfect for families, walkers and those who love water sports.
- Llanmadoc has some amazing walks but it’s also a perfect spot to enjoy an afternoon on an empty beach. Even in the middle of summer & school holidays, we were almost the only people there and found a great sunbathing spot up in the sand-dunes.
- Oxwich Bay is great for water sports as it’s super sheltered and shallow water, so it’s great for children. It was a busier beach but still really peaceful and perfect for the whole family.
- Langlands Bay was the busiest beach we visited but we could see why! It was a great spot on the Gower coast and clearly a favourite with families. It’s completely pedestrianised, is home to lots of cute beach huts and the amazing Langland’s Brasserie if you decide to eat out. Or hit the water and try some of the many water sports on offer.
A huge thank you to Visit Swansea Bay for such an amazing trip. As always, I won’t recommend anything that I don’t love and that I wouldn’t be happy booking myself. This truly is a spectacular part of Wales with so many amazing activities and places to explore. I can’t recommend Wales enough whether it’s for a holiday, a weekend break or a vanlife trip. I’m already excited to go back and explore more of this beautiful country.
Have you been to Swansea Bay? How was your experience? Have I persuaded you to visit on your next staycation?