Unlike our other city breaks, this trip was to somewhere that I’ve been before. It’s somewhere I’ve even lived before actually: the beautiful city of Swansea! Long gone is the small coastal village, instead, it is replaced by a major diverse region. It offers everything a person could want, rural landscapes dotted with small villages in the west, the coastal strip of Swansea Bay in the east, and the urban city centre cutting right through the middle.
Since it would be a shame to miss out on exploring your own backyard, we partnered up with VisitSwanseaBay tourism board to help us discover parts of the city that even I hadn’t come across yet.
Swansea in 48 Hours: My Itinerary
For once, we were not completely clueless about how we were going to get around! Like most places in Wales, Swansea City is small enough that it is easy to walk almost everywhere. If you want to explore further areas of Swansea, a bus is more than sufficient with a day rider pass costing £4 ($5). To cram in the beautiful scenery, adventures and fantastic food joints all in 48 hours, check out our itinerary below.
Things to See and Do on your City Break in Swansea
Mumbles is one of my favourite places in the whole of Swansea. It still retains its original fishing village charm and is full of quirky shops, crafts galleries and the occasional food or cheese markets. You could walk around here for hours! Out of all the places in the area, I adore Mumbles Pier. Nothing is better than buying an ice-cream and walking along the seaside wrapped up warmly while taking a leisurely stroll in the cold weather. The pier has some really nice places to eat, beautiful views of the full Swansea coast line and the mumbles lighthouse. It also has an ancient arcade around the back which just adds to its historical charm.
I’d recommend: The Lovespoon Gallery – learn about the Welsh history of the lovespoon and admire the intricate designs!
What I’d never done before, and what had been recommended to us, was to walk from Bracelet Bay to Langland Bay. Walking along the coastal path with the fresh sea air on my face and incredible views, I realized that this was why I was so excited to come back to Wales. Its natural beauty is breathtaking that no matter how many times you’ve been there before, each time you end up smiling from ear to ear. This walk was particularly stunning in the evening as the sun was setting through the sea of clouds.
LC2 & 360 Beach and Watersports in Swansea
Naturally with a coastal city comes watersports! Surfing, kayaking and just taking your boat out for a spin are particularly popular here in Swansea. Instead of surfing at our local beach, we turned to the two main watersports centers in Swansea: 360 Beach & Watersports and LC2.
360 Beach & Watersports is a multisport facility right on the beach in Swansea Bay. They offer everything from kayaking and kite surfing to beach sports such as volleyball. However, we were here for one thing-Paddleboarding! Never having done this before, I was excited but had thoughts such as “it’s not going to be that exciting” and “it can’t be that hard.” Wrong! It was an incredibly fun sport and much more difficult than I had imagined. Standing on the board and paddling over the waves, you just want to close your eyes and take in your surroundings. I wouldn’t recommend doing this as if you fall in, the water is painfully cold!
Our guide, Sean, was really great. He gave us really good instruction to improve our technique which is what this sport is all about. So in the end was this sport exhilarating? Maybe not in the adrenaline pumping way but it actually was. It was so much fun paddleboarding with the group and even more fun competing against yourself to perfect this skill. Trust me when I say you’ll be exhausted after!
Next up was LC2! Newly developed, the old leisure center I remember as a child has since become the biggest indoor waterpark in Swansea. As much as I love a good waterslide, we were actually here for the Boardrider. Sounds ominous right? This indoor surf machine has been increasing in popularity since LC2 opened so we wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Again, I underestimated how fun this activity would be as I love surfing outdoors, but nonetheless, this was amazing. I did not stop smiling and laughing the whole way through!
The boardrider was very different from actual surfing as you’re ‘surfing’ against a never ending wave rather than with it. First off, our guide got us to the bodyboard to get used to the power of the wave and to show us how much a slight shift of balance could affect you. This was so much fun and I found myself grinning like an idiot! When it came to the actual surfing, I was rubbish! It is actually more like snowboarding or skateboarding the way you shift your weight to move, so I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t do well in either of those sports.
Our guide, Cameron, really made our time on the Boardrider special. He helped us with our technique and had an unwavering belief that I could do it, when in reality, I fell on my face like a goof. The guys here really have fun which is great. It makes you unafraid of looking like an idiot and gives you the confidence to go for it! As well as the Boardrider, we also got the chance to take on the 30ft climbing wall. It doesn’t look big initially but it actually has over 20 routes to take on at every level of expertise. Long story short, it was a great challenge and I kicked ass on every route!
Okay so I may have a little soft spot for the Gower as I grew up here, but I’m not lying when I say it’s an amazing place to visit. The Gower Peninsula (located in South Wales) was designated the first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the UK, so expect a lot of stunning landscapes! The region is full of rolling hills, picturesque bays, little villages straddling the coastline, and sandy or rocky beaches. Did I also mention the place is full of pubs? Wherever you go, you will find a local pub with a fantastic atmosphere. If you want to experience the full British experience, walk along the beach, eat some fish and chips, get ice cream, even though it’s cold and cap it off with a drink at the pub. The Gower is particularly great for surfing and you’ll find a lot of camping sites around. To make the most of your time here, these are the best beaches to look out for:
- Llangennith Beach – particularly good for surfing and full of big sand dunes.
- Caswell Bay – best loved for its rock pools and scenic coastal path.
- Three Cliffs Bay – my favorite! A beautiful area to walk around with amazing views. The beach itself is big with an estuary you can swim in.
- Oxwich Bay – popular sandy beach.
- Port Eynon Bay – Voted the Best British Beach in 2011 apparently! It is a lovely combination of sand and rock and perfect for watersports.
A boat yard that built and serviced boats has since become the award winning Maritime Quarter of Swansea City. Who knows what the award was for, but what I do know is that this area of the city is vibrant and upmarket. Full of quirky cafes, trendy bars and the tallest building in the UK, this is definitely a place of interest at any time of day. I have been to the top of Meridian Tower before to have drinks and admire the views of Swansea from the air. This time however, we decided to eat in the restaurant to get the full experience. With mouthwatering dishes topped up with fantastic views of the city, it was a great experience. Just remember to wear your glad-rags here guys, it’s quite a classy place!
Close by: Dylan Thomas Museum, National Waterfront Museum and Swansea Museum.
Other Activities/Things to do in Swansea
- Oystermouth Castle – if you want to walk through some Welsh history, visit the Oystermouth Castle in the heart of the mumbles. Not only will you learn some pretty cool stuff, you’ll also get to see some stunning views of Swansea from the castle walls. Cost: £3 for adults.
- Clyne Gardens – I love taking time out of the day to walk and clear my head, and when there are beautiful surroundings it makes it even better! Clyne Gardens are a hidden gem in Swansea, the perfect place to walk around and appreciate nature. What’s great about this place is that it is beautiful all year long, especially in Spring.
- Penllergare Valley Woods – Love hiking? Penllergare Valley Woods is a stunning location with plenty of routes to walk and explore. All routes are dotted with cafes so you can literally spend the whole day exploring the woodland oasis.
- Liberty Stadium – If you’re a sports fan, check out Liberty stadium – home of the Swansea City Football Club and the Ospreys regional rugby team. It may be worth checking what events are on when you’re here too, as the stadium hosts music events and other entertainment.
- Take a day trip to New Quay or Tenby – Only 80 minutes away from Swansea by car, it’s easy to explore the likes of New Quay, Wales on a day trip from Swansea. Alternatively, you could also stay at a great Tenby campsite to check out the best things to do in Tenby and discover its beautiful beaches.
Where to Stay in Swansea
Finding accommodation at an affordable price is refreshingly easy in Swansea. However, location is the key! We wanted to stay somewhere that was close enough to everything while still having the option to explore further. In the heart of the city centre, a 10 minute walk from the bus and train station, is The Dragon Hotel, a perfectly located, beautifully modern and recently refurbished hotel.
For two nights we stayed in an executive suite, complete with a spacious bedroom and separate lounge area both with TVs. Each room was modernly decorated with a comfortable bed and countless lighting options. It might sound sad, but I was very excited by the different combination of lights and the atmosphere they created! Other room options include standard double and twin rooms, disabled access double rooms, executive rooms and superior double rooms all with en-suites.
My favourite part when staying at The Dragon Hotel was the breakfast! I have never seen such a wide variety of choice in a hotel breakfast before, so this is definitely a perfect accommodation option for all you foodies out there! Choose between a continental breakfast full of pastries, meats and cheeses, or an amazing cooked breakfast buffet. If none of this is taking your fancy, you can even request something from the kitchen such as pancakes, welshcakes, even salmon on toast! Lets just say you won’t be hungry for the rest of the day.
The hotel itself offers a variety of facilities and places to socialise. Our particular favourite was The Dragon Brasserie & Cafe Bar. It was the perfect environment to sit and have drinks as the surroundings were warm and welcoming and the staff were really amicable.
What the hotel offers:
- Breakfast buffet if you choose
- The Dragon Brasserie & Cafe Bar
- The Piano Restaurant
- The Margam Lounge
- Free WI-FI throughout the entire hotel
- Indoor swimming pool
- Beauty and massage treatment rooms
Cost per night: As of 2016, Executive Suite prices start from GBP 115 ($143) per night
Other City Break Accommodation Options
Budget: – Ibis Swansea from GBP 29/night (Travel lodges/hotels range GBP 29-60)
Splurge: – Morgans Hotel from GBP 100/night (4/5 star hotels range GBP 70-200)
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Where to Eat in Swansea – Food to Try!
There are endless places to eat in Swansea! Whether you like quirky cafes like Lush, chains like Nandos or independent places you’ve never seen anywhere else, you can find it here. Here are a few of our top picks for where to eat in Swansea.
Without sounding too typically British, I don’t like eating roast dinner in restaurants as it is never as good as home. That was until now anyway. I have finally found a warm and delicious roast dinner that is as close to home as they come in Café TwoCann! Even the place itself felt homey, with modern wooden decoration and soft lighting. Both the relaxed atmosphere and high quality local produce were a perfect respite from the chilly Autumn weather. We found ourselves sitting and chatting for a long time as we were so relaxed here, so make sure to factor in the time to fully enjoy this experience.
We recommend the Lunch Menu (£14.50 Two courses/£17 Three courses):
- The fish cakes and tomato soup to start
- Lamb and chicken for main
- Chocolate torte and Lemon posset for desert
Also do check out their other menus as the burgers looked delicious!
Where you’ll find it: 2, J Shed Arcade, Kings Rd, Swansea SA1 8PL
360 Cafe Bar
Boy did this place take us by surprise! After just finishing our paddleboarding session with 360 Beach and Watersports, we were unbelievably hungry so decided to check out their 360 Cafe Bar. We expected it to be a basic cafe with snacks but it turned out to be a lot more upmarket than we thought with amazing food choices! With lovely food and a seaside view, this cafe was the perfect place to refuel. The atmosphere was great too, full of local families, friends and their dogs all sitting outside with hot drinks and food.
- Fries GBP 3 ($4)
- Fish finger sandwich GBP 6.95 ($8.40)
- Salt & pepper squid with sweet chilli dip GBP 3.95 ($4.80)
Where you’ll find it: Mumbles Rd, Brynmill, Swansea SA2 0AY
Grape & Olive
We wanted to treat ourselves to a three course meal on our last night, where we could dress up fancy and go somewhere different. The obvious choice was the Grape & Olive. Situated at the top of Wales’ tallest building, we enjoyed a complete sensory experience from the superior quality food to the unobstructed views across Swansea Bay. It was amazing! The locally sourced seafood was delicious and the atmosphere was incredibly relaxing (or that might of just been the wine!). If you want a full a la carte meal, I’d recommend coming here in the evening to see the city lit up.
- Baked camembert sharer GBP 11.95 ($14.50)
- Seabass and Crab tortelli GBP 18 / 12 ($22 / 15)
- Cheesecake and Sticky toffee pudding GBP 5.95 ($7.20)
Where you’ll find it: Meridian Tower, Trawler Road, Swansea SA1 1JW
Price Break Down of this City Break Weekend in Swansea
Swansea is a really affordable destination to have a weekend away, and you can easily find accommodation and places to eat within any budget. If you are there for longer than a weekend or want to explore further than the centre, public transport maybe costly. This isn’t London after all!
- Accommodation – £230 for two people for two nights
- Food & Drink –£60 per person
- Transport for weekend –£8 per person (2 x Day Rider bus tickets)
- Attractions –£30 per person (£12.50 for the Paddleboarding,£7 for LC2,£5 for the boardrider and £5.50 for rockclimbing)
Approximately£213 ($259) per person for a weekend, excluding the price of getting there.
I really enjoyed my city break in Swansea, and not just because I grew up here. Swansea is a place that you should take as it comes. It’s not incredibly modern with iconic sites or breathtaking architecture, but it has history. Enjoy walking along the beach front, exploring the quaint fishing villages and learning about the culture. Swansea city is definitely a place you should consider for your next weekend away.
This article was written in partnership between Adventure in You and the Swansea Tourism Board
How do you make the most of your weekends? Check out our other City Break Guides for inspiration!
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