Things To Do In South Wales (2024 Guide)

written by local expert Catrin Lynn

Catrin is a history enthusiast based in Wales. Her passions are her animals, exploring the Welsh mountains with her husband, wellness, and traveling to different European cities.

Looking for the very best things to do in South Wales? Welcome, (or Croeso) to this magical corner of the world where rolling hills meet rugged coastlines, and every nook and cranny tells a story!

It’s also my home, so trust me when I tell you that I know the best places to go, from wild beach days to cozy nights in quaint villages. 

Where is Wales?

Tucked away in the western part of the UK, right next to England, Wales is an enchanting land of contrasts. You’ve got sandy beaches, charming towns, and ancient castles standing tall amidst modern cities. 

Famous for its breathtaking national parks like Snowdonia, its rich mining history, and a passion for rugby that’s hard to match, Wales offers a unique blend of nature, culture, and adventure. 

Whether you’re hiking up Pen y Fan, exploring the vibrant streets of Cardiff, or singing along at a traditional Welsh festival, there’s always something magical around the corner.

So, if you’re looking for a mix of the old and the new, with a sprinkle of mythical charm, Wales has got you covered!

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Things to do in South Wales

South Wales is a captivating blend of coastlines, lush valleys, and buzzing cities. From ancient castles whispering old tales to vibrant festivals that’ll get your feet tapping, there’s a world of adventures waiting for you. 

Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a history lover, or just someone with a serious case of wanderlust, South Wales promises memories that’ll last a lifetime.

Ready to discover its hidden gems? Let’s embark on this Welsh journey together!

1. Explore Cardiff City 

Let’s start with the capital of Wales – Cardiff! This is my favorite city as it has so much to offer.

Every beat resonates with vibrant energy and hidden tales. Beyond the city’s lively pulse, there’s a world of unexpected treasures. 

From whimsical boutiques to tucked-away lanes and vivid murals that color the streets, Cardiff is a canvas of wonders waiting for your discovery. There is truly nothing better than wandering through the unique arcades. 

Oh, and while you’re at it, don’t miss the iconic Cardiff Market. Have you ever tried a Welsh Cake? This is where they are made hot and fresh! It’s more than just a market—it’s a melting pot of history, culture, and mouthwatering local delights.

You can witness all of Cardiff using this hop-on hop-off bus tour where you get to learn about the city as well as see the scenery! 

Empty Road of a Cardiff City
Exploring Cardiff City is one of the best things to do in South Wales

2. Uncover Cardiff Bay

Step into Cardiff Bay, where history meets hip vibes. This isn’t just a waterfront—it’s a journey through Cardiff’s maritime tales, now jazzed up with contemporary architecture.

You can take a walk across the Barrage where you can appreciate the natural scenery, partake in some culinary delights and even see some important buildings. This includes The Senedd – Home of Welsh Parliament, The Millennium Centre and the Pierhead Building.

As you wander, old dock remnants whisper stories of yesteryears, while chic cafes beckon you for a quick bite. Cardiff Bay is where the past gets a trendy makeover!

Ready to explore? This Self-Guided Audio Tour is just what you need to discover the Bay at your own pace.

Cardiff bay
Cardiff Bay


3. Cardiff Castle

Nestled in the city’s heart, this iconic fortress is more than just stone walls and turrets. Every corner of the castle tells tales of ancient battles, royal banquets, and hidden secrets.

The intricate Gothic architecture, the Norman keep with panoramic views of the city and the wartime shelters – each element adds to the castle’s unique charm.

What truly stands out is the opulent interiors of the castle apartments. The Arab Room, with its gold leaf ceiling, is a testament to the castle’s Victorian-era splendor. And the Clock Tower? It feels like stepping into a fairy tale!

If you’re planning a visit, I’d highly recommend the Private Day Tour of South Wales. Along with getting to explore Cardiff Castle in all its glory, you’ll also discover other gems like Caerphilly Castle. 

Not only is Cardiff Castle full of history and learning, but concerts and events are also held here. If you’re visiting at Christmas time, check out the ice rink and Winter Wonderland that is set up within the castle grounds each year. 

Watch Tower of Cardiff Castle
Watch Tower of Cardiff Castle

4. Visit a Museum

National Museum Cardiff: Dive deep into the wonders of art, geology, and natural history. This isn’t just a museum; it’s an interactive playground where Wales’ rich tapestry comes alive. Perfect for curious minds of all ages!

St Fagans National Museum of History: Step back in time at this open-air museum. Wander through historical buildings, each telling a unique story of Welsh history. It’s like time-traveling without a machine!

National Waterfront Museum: Set sail through Wales’ industrial and maritime heritage. Located in Swansea, this museum offers a blend of technology and tales, showcasing the nation’s revolutionary past.

Big Pit National Coal Museum: Delve into the world of coal mining! Located in Blaenavon, this museum offers an authentic underground tour. Feel the life of a miner and understand the industry that once powered Wales.

For more information such as opening times, click here

National Museum of Wales in Cardiff, Great Britain
National Museum of Wales in Cardiff

6. Magical Waterfall Walks

There are so many fantastic walks to choose from in South Wales. One of my favorites is the waterfalls in Brecon. 

You can take this exhilarating guided tour of the 8 waterfalls. The walk is around 10 miles, and it’s worth every step. With two waterfalls that you can walk behind, it feels like you’re in a romantic fairytale… or Batman’s cave! 

7. Try Canyoning in the Brecon Beacons

If walking isn’t adventurous enough for you, you can also try canyoning! 

Imagine navigating through rugged terrains, descending waterfalls, and jumping into crystal-clear pools. Canyoning in the Brecon Beacons is all about embracing the wild side of nature.

With the guidance of experienced instructors, even beginners can safely dive into this adventure.

8. Hike a Mountain

Everyone in South Wales has heard of Pen y Fan. It’s the highest peak in South Wales and the highest mountain in Southern Britain.

Located in Bannau Brycheiniog National Park (Brecon Beacons National Park), Pen Y Fan is almost a right of passage for anyone visiting. There are several routes to take which vary in difficulty level. 

If you’re an avid hiker, there are some routes that can increase the distance and intensity. The hardest walk I’ve done is the walk from Brecon through to Corn Du, Pen y Fan and Cribyn.

It was 13 miles of gorgeous scenery with all four seasons! So make sure to prepare for all weather as it can change quickly in Wales. 

Pen y Fan at Sunset is a magical experience that I really recommend. Check out this guided tour and watch the sunset over the lush green mountains. 

Pen Y fan, Brecon Beacons, South Wales, UK
Pen Y fan, Brecon Beacons

8. Give Gorge Walking a Go

Scrambling is that sweet spot between hiking and rock climbing, offering adventure enthusiasts a chance to navigate rocky terrains using both their hands and feet. 

Whether you’re clambering up rocky outcrops or navigating narrow ridges, every moment is filled with excitement and awe. If you’re looking to truly immerse yourself in this exhilarating experience, check out the Gorge Scrambling trip in Brecon.

Guided by seasoned professionals, you’ll not only challenge yourself but also discover hidden gems of the Brecon Beacons that few get to see.

9. Visit the Gower Peninsula

The Gower Peninsula is one of my favorite places in Wales! It was the UK’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

It’s renowned for its diverse natural environment, including heathland, limestone grassland, marshes, dunes, and oak woodlands. The Gower offers a slice of paradise for everyone.

If you’re considering a trip to the Gower Peninsula, I highly recommend the Mumbles and Gower Peninsular Tour. It’s a fantastic way to explore the region’s highlights and hidden gems while soaking in its natural beauty and charm.

So, if you’re looking for a coastal retreat that offers both adventure and relaxation, the Gower Peninsula awaits.

10. Surf’s Up at Llangennith Beach

Llangennith Beach on the Gower Peninsula is a surfer’s dream spot!

Facing west, it catches consistent waves year-round, perfect for both novices and pros. The beach offers diverse surfing areas, from the sheltered Rhossili to the wave-rich Peaks. 

Need gear or lessons? There are plenty of surf schools available to help. The best time to catch waves is mid-tide but be prepared for crowds on sunny days.

Llangennith Beach on the Gower Peninsula in Wales
Llangennith Beach on the Gower Peninsula in Wales

11. Relax at Rhossili Bay

Rhossili Bay is a breathtaking stretch of golden sand and azure waters that seems to go on forever. Frequently voted as one of the UK’s best beaches, it’s a haven for nature lovers, surfers, and those seeking a serene escape. 

The iconic Worm’s Head promontory offers a unique hiking experience, revealing stunning panoramic views at its peak. With its untouched beauty and tranquil ambiance, it’s no wonder visitors are drawn back time and time again. If you’re looking for a slice of coastal paradise, Rhossili Bay is the place to be.

12. Enjoy the Sights at Swansea

Just up the road from the Gower is Swansea, Wales – a waterfront gem. 

Swansea is where the sea’s calming waves meet a buzzing city. As you wander through its streets, you’ll encounter a delightful blend of historic architecture, modern art, and a coastline that beckons for a leisurely stroll.

The city’s Maritime Quarter is a nod to its seafaring past, while vibrant markets and indie shops showcase its contemporary spirit.

You will love this walking tour which will take you through the city from the Dylan Thomas Centre, dedicated to the famed poet, to the stunning views from Swansea Bay, this tour is a rich tapestry of tales and sights.

Simply put, it’s worth booking a city break to Swansea!

13. Visit Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

Nestled in southwest Wales, Pembrokeshire Coast National Park is a haven of rugged cliffs, pristine beaches, and wildlife wonders. As the UK’s only coastal national park, it’s a must-visit for stunning sea views and diverse adventures! 

Hike the coast path for breathtaking vistas, spot seals, and dolphins, or delve into history with ancient Celtic ruins.

Adventure seekers can dive into coasteering, surfing, kayaking, or another one of the best outdoor activities in Wales.

Those looking for a tranquil escape can explore hidden coves or visit the serene St. David’s Cathedral.

Whether you’re up for adrenaline-packed water sports or a peaceful beach stroll, Pembrokeshire offers a unique escape for all.

Secluded Cove near the Pembrokeshire Coast in Early Summer
A secluded cove near the Pembrokeshire Coast

14. Step Back in Time in Pembroke Castle

Pembroke Castle in Pembrokeshire is a history lover’s dream, the birthplace of Henry VII and an impressive medieval fortress.

Walk the grounds and climb to the top of the 75-foot tower which rewards you with breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding town and countryside.

The castle is set within a picturesque mill pond, offering a peaceful setting for a stroll after exploring the castle’s robust stone walls and towers.

It has a natural limestone cave beneath the castle, Wogan Cavern is a unique feature. It’s a large, atmospheric space that has been in use since prehistoric times

Explore its past with engaging exhibits, and if you’re lucky, catch live events on its outdoor screen. 

15. Visit The Charming Seaside Town of Tenby

Tenby, nestled on the Pembrokeshire coast, is a seaside haven brimming with charm. With its golden beaches, historic harbor, and vibrant atmosphere, there are lots of things to do in Tenby making it a must-visit. 

Dive into water sports, explore the Tenby Museum and Art Gallery, or get spooked on a Tenby Ghost Walk. 

I visit Tenby around once a year and I always want to go back, it has a unique charm. A perfect spot for all, it’s no wonder this town is a Welsh favorite!

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in the area, check out these amazing campsites in Tenby that have everything you need for an incredible Welsh getaway.

16. Enjoy the Impressive Caerphilly Castle

As Wales’ grandest castle, Caerphilly Castle stands as a testament to medieval craftsmanship. Its iconic leaning tower, rivaling Pisa’s famed structure, is a must-see. Encircled by moats and serene lakes, the castle showcases ingenious water defenses and impressive drawbridges. 

With vibrant events painting a vivid picture of its storied past, Caerphilly Castle beckons history enthusiasts and wanderers alike. Step back in time and embrace the magic of this Welsh architectural wonder!

Caerphilly Castle in Wales UK
Caerphilly Castle in Wales

17. Afon Forest Park: Wales’ Nature Haven

Nestled in South Wales, Afon Forest Park beckons outdoor enthusiasts. Tackle its thrilling mountain bike trails or wander through scenic hiking paths, all while spotting local wildlife. If you’re without wheels, the park offers bike rentals. 

If you’re looking for a longer stay, camping facilities are available. For insights or trail maps, the visitor center is your go-to spot. In essence, Afon Forest Park is a refreshing blend of adventure and tranquillity.

18. Discover the Merthyr Mawr Sand Dunes

Tucked near Bridgend, Merthyr Mawr boasts some of Europe’s grandest dunes. It’s not just about the vast sandy landscapes; it’s an adventure waiting to unfold. I love climbing these dunes and sledding down! 

Wander trails that reveal nature’s artistry, spot diverse wildlife, and stumble upon the hauntingly beautiful Candleston Castle ruins.

With every step, the dunes promise a blend of history, nature, and sheer beauty. A visit here is a journey into a mesmerizing, untouched world.

19. Visit River Wye

Nestled between England and Wales, the Wye Valley offers a mix of historic charm and natural beauty.

Explore Chepstow’s majestic castle, hike the panoramic Wye Valley Trail, and wander through the atmospheric ruins of Tintern Abbey

For adventure seekers, the River Wye beckons with canoeing and kayaking opportunities. Furthermore, don’t miss the breathtaking views from Symonds Yat Rock. Rich in history and teeming with activities, the Wye Valley is a must-visit for every traveler.

If you are keen to visit the Wye Valley but don’t have much time, check out this tour which combines Wye Valley and Brecon Beacons in a day trip.  

view of the River Wye and surrounding countryside
A view of the River Wye in South Wales

20. Hensol Castle: A Regal Experience in Wales

Stepping into Hensol Castle is like stepping into a fairy tale. Set amidst picturesque parkland, this 17th-century stately home near Cardiff exudes grandeur and charm.

As you wander through its historic halls, you can almost hear the whispers of the past, each room echoing with stories of elegance and intrigue.

But Hensol Castle isn’t just about history; it’s also a haven for gin enthusiasts! The castle is home to the Hensol Castle Distillery, where the art of gin-making comes to life. 

21. Abergavenny: The Gateway to Wales’ Adventure

Nestled in the heart of Monmouthshire, Abergavenny is a welcoming town known for its stunning natural scenery, rich history, and vibrant local culture. 

As you stroll through its charming streets, you’ll discover a blend of quaint shops, delightful cafes, and historic landmarks, like the Abergavenny Castle.

The town is surrounded by the Brecon Beacons and the Black Mountains, making it a dream base for outdoor enthusiasts.

But Abergavenny isn’t just a place to pass through; it’s a starting point for adventure, especially on the water, where you can enjoy a kayaking tour. 

22. Explore Haye on Wye

Ever heard of a town that’s almost entirely dedicated to books? Well, welcome to Hay-on-Wye! Nestled on the border between England and Wales, this charming town is a bibliophile’s dream!

Known as the “First Booktown in the World,” Hay is dotted with unique bookshops that cater to every literary taste. From rare editions to contemporary bestsellers, you’ll find a book (or ten) that piques your interest.

Hay on Wye Booksellers
Hay on Wye Booksellers

23. The Royal Mint Experience in Llantrisant: Coins, Craftsmanship, and History Unveiled

Nestled just outside of Cardiff, the Royal Mint in Llantrisant is a vibrant, interactive journey through Britain’s rich numismatic history, far more than just a production facility. 

Join a behind-the-scenes guided tour, led by knowledgeable guides, and witness firsthand the meticulous transformation of metal into crafted coins.

Explore exhibitions that showcase rare and historic coins, medals, and global treasures, each with its captivating tale. For a truly unique keepsake, seize the opportunity to strike your coin – a hands-on, memorable part of your visit that you can take home.

The Royal Mint Experience is more than a visit; it’s an engaging and enlightening adventure that appeals to history enthusiasts, curious explorers, and anyone intrigued by the story behind the coins in their pocket.

24. Sip and Savor: Llanerch Vineyard & Penderyn Distillery

If you like to enjoy trying the local flavors, then a visit to Llanerch Vineyard and Penderyn Distillery is a delightful pairing that promises a day of indulgence in the heart of Wales.

Llanerch Vineyard is a serene escape nestled in the rolling Welsh countryside. Here, wine is more than a beverage; it’s a passion.

Wander through the lush vine rows and learn about the delicate process of turning grapes into Wales’ finest wines. The guides are as warm as they are knowledgeable, making the tour feel like a walk with friends.

After the tour, settle into the elegant tasting room to sample the vineyard’s award-winning wines. Each sip is a taste of the Welsh terroir.

Just a short drive away lies the Penderyn Distillery in Brecon, the birthplace of Wales’ premier whiskies.

Embark on a journey through the art of whisky making. From the mashing of grains to the magic of the copper pot still, you’ll see, smell, and taste whisky in a whole new way.

The tour culminates in the best way possible – with a tasting. Sample the distillery’s range of spirits, each with its unique character and story.

Together, Llanerch Vineyard and Penderyn Distillery offer a day of sensory delights, where the traditions of winemaking and distilling come alive through engaging tours and generous tastings.

It’s a perfect day trip for connoisseurs and curious visitors alike, offering a true taste of Welsh craftsmanship and hospitality.

25. Visit Hay Castle 

Recently opened to the public for the first time in its 900-year history, visiting Hay Castle is like stepping into a living, breathing history book.

It’s not just about the ancient walls, but the castle also hosts exhibitions, music events, performing arts, and other cultural activities.

Attached to the medieval keep is a Jacobean mansion, a rare surviving example of this style of architecture. It’s a striking contrast to the rugged stones of the keep. 

 And the best part is the views! Simply breathtaking!

Hay Castle in Hay-on-Wye Wales
Hay Castle in Wales

26. Zip World: South Wales’ Ultimate Adventure Destination

Visiting Zip World in South Wales is like unlocking a playground for adrenaline junkies and adventure seekers.

Nestled amidst the stunning natural landscapes of Wales, this place is designed to get your heart racing and your spirit soaring. Here’s a glimpse of the thrilling adventures they have on offer:

Fforest Coaster: Experience the UK’s only alpine coaster of its kind. It’s a gravity-driven rollercoaster that zips you through the stunning woodland scenery on a toboggan-style cart. They let you control the speed so you can make it as wild or as mild as you like!

Phoenix: The world’s fastest seated zip line, Phoenix is a heart-pounding, wind-in-your-hair kind of ride. I can tell you, it’s an incredible experience! It was raining when I went down the zipline but it didn’t dampen the experience, I highly recommend it!

With four parallel lines, you can race your friends and family across the stunning South Wales scenery.

27. Soak Up Some Culture In A Festival

Enjoy a festival to experience South Wales’ rich and varied cultural calendar. Each offers a unique and immersive experience, reflecting the diverse heritage and contemporary vibrancy:

Hay Festival of Literature & Arts

Where: Hay-on-Wye
When: Late May to early June
What: A world-renowned celebration of literature and arts, attracting writers, poets, and artists from around the globe. Think of inspiring talks, book signings, and a buzzing festival atmosphere.

Cardiff International Food & Drink Festival

Where: Cardiff Bay
When: July
What: A gastronomic delight set against the backdrop of Cardiff Bay. Indulge in a world of flavors, from local Welsh produce to international delicacies.

Brecon Jazz Festival

Where: Brecon
When: August
What: A long-standing jazz event that brings together a fantastic line-up of artists in the picturesque Brecon Beacons. It’s a weekend of soulful tunes in a stunning setting.

Abergavenny Food Festival

Where: Abergavenny
When: September
What: A culinary extravaganza that gathers chefs, food enthusiasts, and producers. Expect cooking demos, tastings, and a vibrant market atmosphere.

St David’s Day Parade

Where: Various locations, including Cardiff
When: March 1
What: Celebrating the patron saint of Wales, this parade is a lively display of Welsh culture, complete with traditional music, dance, and vibrant costumes.

St. David's Day parade, Cardiff
A St. David’s Day parade in Cardiff

There we have it – a whirlwind tour of South Wales, a land where history whispers through ancient castles, where rugged coastlines meet golden sands, and where adventure is just around the corner. 

Whether you’re sipping fine wines at Llanerch Vineyard, exploring the literary lanes of Hay-on-Wye, or soaring through the skies at Zip World, South Wales offers a vibrant tapestry of experiences that are as diverse as they are unforgettable.

But this is just some of the highlights available in South Wales. It is filled with adventure and experiences. Come and see for yourself what makes South Wales such a magical place to explore. Trust me, it’s a journey you won’t soon forget.

FAQ about visiting South Wales

What is the most beautiful part of South Wales?

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, with its rugged coastal cliffs and golden beaches, and the Gower Peninsula, known for its breathtaking coastline and serene countryside are probably the most beautiful parts of South Wales.

What is South Wales UK known for?

South Wales is known for its rich industrial history, stunning coastal scenery, historic castles, vibrant cities and its strong cultural heritage.

What is in South Wales?

South Wales boasts bustling cities, historic castles, scenic coastal and mountain landscapes, exhilarating adventures, and a deep-rooted cultural heritage marked by Welsh language and traditions.

Is it worth visiting Swansea?

Absolutely, Swansea is worth visiting for its beautiful sandy beaches, vibrant cultural scene, historic landmarks, and proximity to the stunning Gower Peninsula

Check out these articles for more UK travel guides:

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Things To Do In South Wales | Discover the enchanting beauty of South Wales! Ready for an unforgettable adventure? Dive into our latest blog to uncover the top things to do in this stunning region. From historic castles to breathtaking landscapes, we've got your itinerary covered. Read this post to start exploring! #SouthWalesAdventures #ExploreWales #TravelInspiration #SouthWalesUK
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