If you’re looking for information on South Wales, UK then we’re here to help.
We’ve guides to the best South Wales hotels, the best pubs, clubs, restaurants and even casinos.
We’ve info on how to get to South Wales, and the best ways to travel around. If you’re looking for help on where to visit, or which are the best South Wales beaches then our tourist and vacation guides are here to help point you in the right direction.
Here’s some advice of how to get to South Wales. For other website info on traveling to and around South Wales try our Travel Information Websites page.
Getting To South Wales By Car
The main road route to South Wales is via the M4 from London and Bristol. From the north the A470 is the main route. Coming along the M4 into Wales can be tedious but the view into Wales as you cross over the Severn Estuary via either of the Severn Bridges is well worth it. However, the good views are soon tempered when you have to pay the toll for crossing the bridge into Wales! The current toll (2009) is £5.40 for a car, £10.90 for vans and mini-buses, and £16.30 for lorries. Bizarrely, there isn’t a toll for traveling back into England!! Some see this as a tax for entering Wales. We see this as a small price to pay to visit Wales!
If you’re coming from the north or north east then you can avoid the toll by traveling via Monmouth. You can plan your route using this site – http://www.viamichelin.com which allows you to plan your route to Wales from anywhere in Europe.
Getting To South Wales By Train
There are two main routes to South Wales by train, either from London and Bristol or from central England. The express trains to and from London are every hour with slightly slower trains between. The journey time from London is about 2 hours. To plan your journey try the National Rail website which also has information on engineering work and other delays. Try avoid travelling on Sundays as engineering work is more common and can often cause delays or diversions. The Trainline website allows you to check timetables as well as book tickets online.
Getting To South Wales By Air
Wales has it’s own International airport – Cardiff, Wales (CWL) (http://www.cial.co.uk) with flights throughout Europe and the UK. Transatlantic flights to and from North America are rare though there has been a weekly service to and from Toronto in Canada in the past. A service to and from Florida is due to start in July for the holiday market. Cardiff Wales airport is within 2 hours drive of all of South Wales.
The best way to reach Wales directly by air is via Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS). There are several flights a day to and from Amsterdam with a journey time of 1 hour. KLM and Northwest Airlines do combined fares across the Atlantic to Cardiff via Amsterdam. KLM quite often do good offers via their website.
The alternative is to fly to London Heathrow (LHW). This airport is only 150 miles from Cardiff and has worldwide connections. From London Heathrow its about 2 – 3 hours to get to the eastern part of South Wales and perhaps another 1½ hours to get to Swansea and beyond.
Getting To South Wales By Sea
The main ferry routes to South Wales are from Ireland.
You can travel on Stena who operate frequent services from Rosslare to Fishguard. The slow ferry takes under 4 hours and the high speed Cat under 2 hours.
Swansea-Cork ferries used to operate a 3 times a week service. However, they are currently out of service due to a lack of a ship and hope to start operating again in 2008.
Irish Ferries (http://www.irishferries.com) operate between Rosslare and Pembroke Dock. The crossing time is just under 4 hours.
All companies allow you to book online.
For a unique experience you can travel to Penarth from Bristol or various ports in the West Country on the paddle steamer Waverley or the Balmoral. Round trip excursions can also be made from Penarth. The view from the centre of the Bristol Channel definitely gives you another perspective of South Wales.
The Gower peninsular is a place of wonder west of Swansea (map). It has a bit of everything – country pubs, picturesque cottages, brilliant scenery, lots of sheep and some of the best beaches in South Wales. The following is a short guide to some of those beaches. Many thanks to Suzanne Martin who lives in the Gower for the local perspective. Make sure you check the tides before you go as the Bristol Channel has a huge tidal range.
If you want to take your dog with you to the beach then please check this page out for more information – Dogs on Swansea Beaches
Bracelet Bay: Small sandy beach near Mumbles pier and lighthouse. Good for rock pools. Plenty of parking but can get busy. Toilets and cafe/restaurant nearby. Drive to Mumbles and follow the road to the end of the village with the sea on your left. Follow the road round and the beach will come into view.
Langland: Large sandy/rocky beach with easy access, toilets and ice-creams. Famous for its bathing huts. Busy in summer. Drive to Mumbles and turn right at the White Rose pub. Up the hill, left at the top and follow the signs for a further half a mile. (map)
Caswell Bay: Attractive, large beach but quite small when tide in. Easy parking (but not large car park so get there early in summer). Several seaside shops selling ice cream, chips and drinks, buckets, spades and other beach paraphernalia. Good rock pools! Very popular. Follow the signs from Mumbles.
Foxhole: Small beach with no facilities but worth the scramble down to get there. Sand and rock pools, often deserted. Head towards Mumbles from Swansea City Centre. Turn right at Blackpill (Woodman pub on your right) and follow the road for approx 5 miles towards the village of Southgate. Park at the roundabout at the end of Southgate and follow the little gravel path down to the beach.
Pobbles: Drive towards Southgate as described above. Park near Pennard golf club (you can’t miss it on your right). Follow the path just to the left of the golf clubhouse, down through the valley. Large, extremely beautiful sandy beach which joins onto Three Cliffs beach. No facilities. Popular with locals but never crowded. Watch the rock climbers!
Three Cliffs Bay: Either walk from Pobbles or park at Penmaen – follow signs to Oxwich and South Gower from Pennard. Keep following the road through the village of Parkmill and up the hill on the other side. Park near Penmaen church on your right. Cross the road and follow farm track. Take next right down lane past some houses. The track goes right down to the beach. Stepping stones cross the river onto the beach. No facilities. Can also walk up the valley and visit Pennard Castle half way up. If you walk right up the valley you arrive back at Parkmill.
Torbay: Pass through Penmaen (described above) and park at the next (small) car park on your left. Go through farm gate and walk across the cliffs and down onto this small but beautiful sandy beach. (Takes about 15 mins from car park) Again, no facilities.
Oxwich Bay: Large popular sandy beach with many facilites. Follow the signs for South Gower
Port Eynon/ Horton: Popular beaches with sand/rock pools backed by sand dunes. Can be windy so good for wind surfing. Plenty of car parking with easy access.
Rhossili: Huge sandy beach popular with surfers and hang gliders due to the large, dramatic cliffs. Lots of long cliff walks including one to Worms Head when the tide is out. Path down to the beach but quite steep for little children on the way back. Interesting shipwreck on the beach. Car parking, but not cheap. Can park in the small church car park on right as approaching the village, donations welcome. Good facilities, toilets, tea rooms and National Trust shop.
South Wales Music Venues
Uplands Tavern, Swansea – a popular pub in Swansea. Formally known as the Uplands Hotel it used to be frequented by Dylan Thomas. Music every night except Mondays.
Borough Blues Club, Pontypool – a non-profit music club promoting Rhythm & Blues and its related forms in the South Wales area by organising performance nights with good blues acts and by means of workshop, educational and outreach activities.
Things To Do In South Wales
Here are a few ideas of things to do if you’re at a loose end!
– Visit Big Pit in Blaenavon.
– Go to Southerndown beach (map)
– Visit Cardiff Bay and go on a boat trip around the bay, or a high-speed ride out on the Bristol Channel. Afterwards relax in one of the many bars or restaurants in the Bay area.
– Go to Merthyr Mawr, (map) near Bridgend and explore the sand dunes. Take a sledge or sand board for some good fun. (P.S. the dunes were a location for the film Lawrence of Arabia. The dunes are that good!)
– Visit Cardiff Castle.
– Walk your dog around the quiet lanes of the Vale of Glamorgan.
– Go fossil collecting. See South Wales Fossils for more information.
– Visit Follyfarm. Great for the kids. (map).
– Have a great day out at Oakwood Theme Park. Big rides and lots to do for the little ones as well. (map)
– Visit Tenby. Lots of beaches. A great little harbour. Nice sea-side shops. Lots of attractions. (map)
– Window shop, or even buy, in Cowbridge and end up for afternoon tea in the Bear Hotel.
– Go and see the Red Kites in Kite Country. Visit Gigrin Farm where you can see the Kites being fed.