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The South Coast of Wales: Our Favourite Places


Monday, 1 July 2024

The South Coast of Wales: Our Favourite Places

Are you planning a holiday in Wales this year? The South Wales coast is one of the most beautiful spots in Britain, with excellent beaches and footpaths as well as a lot of pretty villages. We love this welcoming part of the country and know that you will, too. Here are a few of our favourite places to visit along the south coast of Wales. 

Coastal walks in South Wales

If you enjoy cliff top walks or scenic drives, stopping off along the way in pretty villages and secret bays, South Wales is the place for you. Pembrokeshire in the west is home to some stunning beaches, and the whole coastline is in the National Park. Take a boat to Skomer Island to see its bustling colony of puffins (it’s where puffins come to raise their young, the beautifully named “pufflings”).

The famous Gower Peninsula was the first place in the UK to be designated an AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and you can see why. With glorious sandy beaches and excellent coastal walking, it’s one of our favourite spots in Wales. Further east, try the coast paths and beaches of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast, a 14-mile stretch between Porthcawl and Aberthaw. Don’t miss the lighthouse at Nash Point.

The best beaches in South Wales

With so much coastline, you know you’re in for a treat when it comes to beaches. Rhossili Bay on the Gower often tops the best British beaches list, with its golden sands and great surf. Rhossili is dog-friendly all year, but be aware that the paths down (and up again) are a bit tricky and steep.

Freshwater West Beach in Pembrokeshire is where the experienced boarders go; however, it’s also a draw for Harry Potter fans, who’ll instantly recognise “Dobby’s beach”. Rest Bay (Porthcawl) is good for families, and we love the prom and pier in Penarth. Fancy a traditional day at the seaside? Barry Island of course, which stars in BBC’s Gavin and Stacey.

Seaside towns in South Wales

There are some lovely little towns and villages along the South Wales coast. Mumbles, the “Gateway to the Gower”, has a castle, a lighthouse and a pier to explore, as well as lovely independent shops, galleries and cafes. Come here for ice cream, coffee and people watching. Tenby in Pembrokeshire is an almost-impossibly pretty harbour town, and we never miss the chance to relax on Castle Beach. If you get the chance, take a boat out to Caldey Island.

Stay in Pembrokeshire to visit St David’s, Britain’s smallest city. Visit St David’s Cathedral, the Bishop’s Palace and Oriel Y Parc Gallery, before exploring the charming little streets and lush surrounding countryside. Visit Pembroke for the castle and Pendine for its seven-mile sweep of  sands.

Visiting Cardiff, Swansea and Newport

Wales’ largest cities sit along its southern coast. The capital Cardiff is a lively and modern city:  head to Cardiff Bay for waterside eateries and bars, or take in a performance in the Wales Millenium Centre. Home to the Senedd (the Welsh parliament), the Bay is also a great place for museums, galleries and exhibitions. Back in the city centre, you’ll find more visitor attractions including the magnificent castle and the Principality Stadium, as well as a lot of shops.

Swansea has a spectacular waterfront (it’s especially impressive at night) and some excellent museums and galleries. Don’t miss the lively Indoor Market and if the kids need to let off steam, the LC Waterpark. Further east, Wales’ third largest city Newport also has a selection of great museums and visitor attractions (the Newport Ship is fascinating). We like to head out of the city to explore the RSPB Wetlands on the Severn Estuary.

Visitor attractions in South Wales

We’ve mentioned some fabulous city-based attractions and there are plenty more places scattered along the South Wales coast. Wales is rich in castles and concentric Caerffili is one of the best to explore. Look out for its famous leaning tower! 

Castell Coch is a fairytale castle in the woods outside Cardiff, built in the 19th century in the Gothic Revival style. St Fagans National Museum of History is just down the road from Castell Coch and you’ll need to allow a few hours for this one. Over 50 old buildings from a range of periods and from all across Wales have been faithfully reconstructed or rebuilt in this wonderful open-air museum.

Find out more about South Wales’ industrial heritage at Big Pit National Coal Museum in Torfaen and the Royal Mint Experience in Pontyclun celebrates Wales’ role in numismatics. If you want a change from the coast, head inland for a hike in the Bannau Brycheiniog (the Brecon Beacons National Park) or spend the day in beautiful Monmouth.

Book your holiday in the South Wales coast

Here at Handpicked Cottages, we have a carefully chosen collection of luxury holiday cottages in South Wales. From old townhouses in quaint little towns to rural escapes, you’re bound to found your perfect Welsh holiday cottage with us.

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