Swansea is the second-largest city in Wales and sits on the South West Wales Coast. Swansea was once a crucial part of the industrial revolution thanks to its production of copper, which during the 19th century earned the city the nickname ‘Copperopolis’. The city has a rich history, with archeological findings dating back to the stone age. The city really began to develop however during Viking rule, where it served as a trading post.
Despite being a city, Swansea also has open countryside and spectacular coastlines waiting to be explored. The sea borders almost three-quarters of the city. The area is complex in its geology, which earned the Gower Peninsula, in which Swansea lies to be the first area of the United Kingdom to be designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
When in the city, try some of the local delicacies. As a coastal city seafood is popular. Try cockles or laverbread sourced from the nearby Loughor estuary. Aside from history and nature, the city is filled with many attractions to suit the needs of any visitor. Swansea is filled with museums, bars, restaurants, arts and culture centres, and more. Here are 21 things to do when visiting Swansea.
- Swansea, Wales
- 21 Things To Do In Swansea
- 1- Explore Culver Hole
- 2- National Waterfront Museum
- 3- Glynn Vivian Art Gallery
- 4- Mumbles Village
- 5- Swansea Indoor Market
- 6- Dylan Thomas Centre
- 7- Clyne Gardens
- 8- Three Cliffs Bay
- 9- Rhossili Bay
- 10- Swansea.com Stadium
- 11- Swansea Grand Theatre
- 12- Joes Ice Cream
- 13- Swansea Marina
- 14- Egypt Centre at Swansea University
- 15- Gower Coast Adventures
- 16- Oystermouth Castle
- 17- Uplands
- 18- Plantasia Tropical Zoo
- 19- Penllergare Valley Woods
- 20- Singleton Park
- 21- Swansea Museum
- 21 Things To Do In Swansea
21 Things To Do In Swansea
1- Explore Culver Hole
The mysterious and hauntingly beautiful Culver Hole is a must-visit when in Swansea.
Located to the west of Port Eynon, this unusual structure is worth the short drive.
Wynford Vaughn Thomas described Culver Hole as ‘the great Gower mystery’, linking to its location in the Gower Peninsula.
The unusual manmade rectangular carvings in the face of a limestone wall is certainly mysterious.
Stories fill the local area of smugglers, pirates and secret underground passages leading to a nearby bay.
The true source of these unusual holes is, however, unknown.
The lower opening is accessible during low tide, and upon entering the cave, a staircase can be seen that links to the other levels of this limestone structure.
Culver Hole is at Port Eynon, Swansea, SA3 1NN.
2- National Waterfront Museum
The National Waterfront Museum charts more than 300 years of the history of Swansea through its innovation and industry.
The museum combines historical artefacts with current technological advancements to create a fully interactive experience.
There are 15 galleries inside the museum, each focusing on a different period in the city’s history and there are temporary exhibitions throughout the year.
The museum is in the South Dock of 1859, which was once the city’s commercial heart.
National Waterfront Museum is at Oystermouth Road, Maritime Quarter, Swansea, SA1 3RD.
3- Glynn Vivian Art Gallery
Glynn Vivian Art Gallery is formed of two Grade II listed buildings which were carefully restored in 2016.
The art gallery is considered a world-class gallery offering exhibitions around the visual arts.
The gallery houses historical, modern and contemporary art exhibitions and holds regular lectures around the art on display.
Glynn Vivian Arty Gallery also offers support for local established and emerging artists by displaying their work and offering commissions for site-specific work that will positively impact the local communities.
Glynn Vivian Art Gallery (free to enter) is at Alexandra Road, Swansea, SA1 5DZ.
4- Mumbles Village
Mumbles Village is a fishing village to the west of Swansea Bay and is the entrance to the Gower Peninsula.
The village is a beautiful place to visit away from the city.
Mumbles is the birthplace of actress Catherine Zeta-Jones.
The village is packed with independent shops, cafes, restaurants and cosy pubs.
Along the promenade are numerous ice cream parlours and amusements. Look out for the Mumbles Land Train, which makes its way through the village during the summer months.
Whilst visiting Mumbles, head to nearby Oystermouth Castle, which is on the hillside behind the main shopping area of the village.
Mumbles Village is on the western edge of Swansea Bay on the southern coast of Wales.
5- Swansea Indoor Market
Swansea Indoor Market is Wales’ largest indoor market and is frequented by locals and tourists.
Thanks to the Norman invasion, the market can date its roots back to 1106 when Swansea first established itself as a market town.
The Normans established a market at a former Viking trading post where crafts, produce and crops were sold.
Sir Percy Thomas and Son designed the current market hall in 1959 and transformed it into an airy and bright retail location.
There are numerous stalls in the market, including fishmongers, butchers, bakers and greengrocers, and stalls offering ready-to-eat snacks and meals.
There are also stalls for clothing, fabrics and DIY.
Swansea Indoor Market is at Oxford Street, Swansea, SA1 3PA.
6- Dylan Thomas Centre
Dylan Thomas Centre celebrates the short life and works of Dylan Thomas, a playwright and poet from Swansea.
Former US President Jimmy Carter, a fan of Thomas’ work, opened the Dylan Thomas Centre in 1995.
The centre is a home for literature and culture.
Thomas Bowen and architect John Collingwood built the centre as a guildhall for Swansea in 1829.
As the city grew in size, the guildhall was relocated, and the building became a centre for education, employment, and an army recruitment station for a brief period in WWII.
Today the house celebrates Thomas’s work and other literature and arts prevalent in the city.
The centre houses the only permanent exhibition on Thomas in the United Kingdom.
Dylan Thomas Centre is at 6 Somerset Place, Swansea, SA1 1RR.
7- Clyne Gardens
Clyne Gardens is a botanical park to the west of the city centre that holds the Green Flag status.
The garden is famous internationally for its collection of rhododendrons and enkianthus.
William Graham Vivian purchased Clyne Castle and filled its grounds with a range of plants from all over the world in 1860.
Since then, the gardens have grown as they have been passed down through Vivian’s family.
There are many rare species within the gardens and award-winning annual displays of plants and flowers.
Within the gardens are a bluebell wood, traditional Japanese bridge, Italian bridge, wildflower garden and one of the tallest Monterey Cypress trees in the United Kingdom.
Clyne Gardens is at Mayals, Swansea, SA3 5BW.
8- Three Cliffs Bay
Three Cliffs Bay is a picturesque expanse of dunes and shoreline surrounded by three limestone cliffs which give the bay its name.
The bay is dotted with salt marsh and rock pools.
Pennard Pill stream also runs through the beach, which adds to its beauty.
Thanks to its array of natural features, Three Cliffs Bay is one of the most photographed sites in the Gower Peninsula.
While the beach is stunning, the landscape vanishes at high tide, so care should be taken when visiting and do check the tide times online.
Three Cliffs Bay is at Southgate.
9- Rhossili Bay
Rhossili Bay is another incredible expanse of sandy beaches surrounded by cliffs making for a welcome haven away from the city.
The beach has won the title of Britain’s Best Beach twice in a row and the honours of being named the third best beach in Europe and the ninth-best beach in the world.
Aside from its accolades, the beach is the perfect location for a quiet stroll, picnic, walking your dog and surfing all year round.
The sand dramatically increases in size at low tide, making it possible to walk from the bay to nearby Llangennith.
The beach itself is reached by venturing down a steep clifftop pathway.
Rhossili Bay is at Rhossili.
10- Swansea.com Stadium
swansea.com Stadium, the home of Swansea City AFC and Ospreys Rugby, opened in 2005 and seats 21,000 people.
The stadium is primarily a sporting ground and was built on the site of the former Morfa Athletics Stadium.
It also offers concerts and conferences and several other events throughout the year.
swansea.com stadium is at Plasmarl, Swansea, SA1 2FA.
11- Swansea Grand Theatre
William Hope designed Swansea Grand Theatre, which opened in 1897.
The theatre was designed as a centre for a broad range of cultural and artistic entertainment events.
The theatre quickly established itself as a venue for stars to perform at and saw the likes of Jessie Matthews and Sir Henry Irving performing there.
You can still find Sir Irving’s signature at the theatre today.
The theatre experienced some years of turmoil following its heyday and was briefly transformed into a cinema before being abandoned.
A refurbishment program in the 1980s saw the theatre restored to its 1897 grandeur, with all of the technical advancements of a modern theatre.
Today, in addition to its 1000 seat theatre space, a new arts wing, opened by Catherine Zeta-Jones, was added.
Swansea Grand Theatre is at Singleton Street, Swansea, SA1 3QJ.
12- Joes Ice Cream
Joes has served ice cream to the people of Swansea for 100 years.
Joes was founded by Joe Cascarini, an Italian who moved to Swansea as a child.
After being given a cafe to run by his father, Joe began to incorporate Italian ice cream onto its menu.
Using local ingredients, he used a secret family recipe from Italy to create his ice cream.
Today Joe’s signature vanilla ice cream is made daily and is served to customers either plain or with a light sprinkle of vermicelli.
This signature flavour has remained completely unchanged.
In addition to vanilla, Joe’s offers 25 flavours, many of which are based on the original recipe.
More recent flavour additions include biscotti and chocolate brownie.
Joes Ice Cream is at various locations across Swansea.
13- Swansea Marina
Swansea Marina is the perfect place to head to on an evening while in Swansea.
The marina features hundreds of small boats gently bobbing in its waters, overlooked by numerous lit up buildings.
The marina has restaurants, bars and nightclubs, making it a must-visit evening destination.
Many of the restaurants offer a sea view and serve local delicacies.
Swansea Marina is at Lockside, Maritime Quater, Swansea, SA1 1WG.
14- Egypt Centre at Swansea University
The Egypt Centre at Swansea University began life in 1994 as a small collection of Egyptian artefacts gathered across the century.
The artefacts found at the museum are predominately based on a range of items from Sir Henry Wellcome, a local pharmacist.
The collection was displayed in London following his death in 1936 but eventually returned to Swansea.
As well as displaying numerous artefacts from Ancient Egypt, the centre also offers regular talks and lectures around life during this time.
Courses are also offered, including The Funerary Artefacts of Ancient Egyptians.
Workshops for children are also a regular feature of the centre.
Egypt Centre at Swansea University is at Swansea University, Singleton Park Campus, Swansea, SA2 8PP.
15- Gower Coast Adventures
One way to enjoy the beauty and wildlife of the Gower Coast is by heading out to sea on a Gower Coast Adventure.
Gower Coast Adventures are interactive boat trips that explore the coastline of the Gower Penninsula and take in its coastline nature, wildlife and, of course, its history.
Look out for seals, porpoises and sea birds getting ready to nest.
Each trip is run by experts who will point out the incredible wildlife to visitors and explain the importance of conservation.
Gower Coast Adventures is at Oxwich, Swansea, SA3 1LS.
16- Oystermouth Castle
Oystermouth Castle overlooks Mumbles Village from a 40ft (12.19m) high limestone ridge.
The keep in the central block of the castle is the oldest section and dates back to the 12th century.
The castle was regularly under attack from the Welsh, and as such, it passed through many families.
The most recent owners were the Dukes of Beaufort, who lived and held the castle until 1927 when they transferred ownership to Swansea Corporation.
Today the castle is looked after by Swansea Council and Friends of Oystermouth Castle.
Thanks to extensive restoration works, the castle is now open to the public, with many rooms now safe and fully accessible.
The recent addition of a glass bridge set at a height of 30ft (9.14m) offers views of the castle and surrounding area that had not been seen for centuries, including some 14th-century graffiti.
Oystermouth Castle is at Castle Avenue, The Mumbles, Swansea, SA3 4BA.
During the day, the suburb of Uplands is filled with families shopping, dining and visiting its many boutiques and stores.
There are numerous independent stores and a monthly local produce market in Gwydr Square.
Uplands comes to life at night with its wide range of late-night bars and restaurants.
This burst of nightlife added Uplands to the top 20 UK Hip Hang-Out locations of 2017.
Despite its modern bars and allure, the area has a history tied to it.
Dylan Thomas was born in Uplands, and his childhood home is marked with a blue plaque.
The Uplands Tavern is the most historical pub to visit in the area and was frequented by both Thomas and Sir Kingsley Amis, a poet and novelist.
Uplands is a suburb of Swansea.
18- Plantasia Tropical Zoo
Look no further than Plantasia Tropical Zoo for a more family-themed day out.
Plantasia has five key areas; Below Ground, Forest Floor, The Watering Hole, Arid Climate, and The Canopy.
Each area is tailored to the different levels of the rainforest and filled with plants, animals and temperate climates that reflect each level.
There are 40 species of animals in Plantasia, with 10% being of conservation concern.
Plantasia aims to teach its visitors about these animals and the importance of conservation.
Look out for the endangered Egyptian Tortoise, Axolotl, and Crested gecko.
Plantasia Tropical Zoo is at Parc Tase Retail Park, Swansea, SA1 2AL.
19- Penllergare Valley Woods
Penllegare Valley Woods lies on the northern fringe of the city.
This tranquil woodland is described locally as a secret and magical place, seemingly a world away from the city.
John Dillwyn Llewelyn, a pioneer in science, nature, photography and astronomy, designed the gardens in the 19th century.
Sadly it fell into neglect and was lost to time.
The gardens recently were renovated, revived, and transformed into the spectacular gardens they began as.
The gardens include wildflowers, exotic plants and numerous birds.
Penllergare Valley Woods is at Penllergaer, Swansea, SA4 9GS.
20- Singleton Park
John Henry Vivian purchased Veranda House for his son Henry in 1847.
Following the death of his wife, Henry moved away from the house, with much of it being dismantled and turned into farmland.
Thanks to the purchase by the County Borough Council in 1919, the estate, now known as the Singleton Estate, was transformed into a public park.
Daniel Bliss, a gardener with training from Kew Gardens, planned the park and oversaw its transformation into a haven within the city.
Look out for the Swiss Chalet pond and the nearby Botanical Gardens.
Singleton Park is at Mumbles Road, Sketty, Swansea, SA2 8PY.
21- Swansea Museum
Swansea Museum is Wales’ oldest museum and houses numerous collections linking to the city’s industrial heritage to further afield.
Collections include Egyptian Artefacts, where Hor the Mummy resides, to a collection of transportation and nautical objects.
Look out for the local findings from Swansea and Neath.
Artefacts include Roman Bone Combs and the Gnoll Stone, a carved stone featuring a Celtic priest.
Swansea Museum is free to enter and is closed on Mondays and Thursdays.
Swansea Museum is at Victoria Road, Maritime Quarter, Swansea, SA1 1SN.
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