Hey there, ready for an adventure? Pack your bags because South Wales is calling your name. From stunning coastlines to medieval castles, this picturesque region of the UK is filled with surprises. You’ll find yourself immersed in history one moment and surrounded by natural beauty the next. Whether you’re looking to soak in the culture or get your adrenaline pumping, South Wales has something for everyone. With dramatic cliffs, secret beaches, and charming towns around every turn, you’ll never run out of things to explore. Get ready to experience the magic of South Wales for yourself. The only hard part will be narrowing down this list to just 10 must-see attractions! Adventure awaits, so let’s dive in.
Top 10 Things to Do in South Wales
Explore the Brecon Beacons National Park
The Brecon Beacons National Park is one of the most stunning places in South Wales. Spanning over 520 square miles, this park offers something for everyone.
Start your adventure in the town of Brecon, the “Gateway to the Beacons.” Stock up on supplies, grab a pint at one of the local pubs, and rest up for your trip into the hills. Some highlights:
- Climb Pen-y-Fan, the park’s highest peak at 2,906 feet. On a clear day, you’ll get panoramic views of the entire park. The hike up is strenuous but rewarding.
- Visit the Dan-yr-Ogof caves, one of the largest cave systems in Europe. Take a guided tour to see the massive caverns and underground waterfalls.
- Check out the waterfalls like Henrhyd Falls, the highest in South Wales at 90 feet. Sgwd yr Eira and Sgwd Gwladus are also stunning, especially after heavy rain.
- Go horseback riding or mountain biking on one of the many trails. The Taff Trail and Usk Valley Walk are great for cycling.
- Spot red kites, peregrine falcons and even otters in their natural habitat. The park is home to many rare plants, birds and mammals.
Whether you want to get your adrenaline pumping with outdoor adventures or simply enjoy the scenic views, the Brecon Beacons National Park has something for you. The stunning vistas and variety of activities will leave you planning your next trip before you even leave.
Visit the Picturesque Pembrokeshire Coast
The Pembrokeshire Coast in South Wales is stunning, with 186 miles of coastal path to explore. You could spend weeks hiking and still not see it all! Here are a few of the must-sees:
Visit St. Davids, the smallest city in Britain with a beautiful 12th-century cathedral. Take a boat tour to see whales, dolphins and seabirds in their natural habitat.
- See colorful fishing boats and try fresh seafood at the picturesque harbor village of Solva.
- Spot fuzzy sheep and ancient stone cottages in the countryside.
- Check out Pentre Ifan, a massive 5,000-year-old burial chamber. Spooky!
Head to Pembrokeshire’s beaches, some of the best in the UK with soft sand and turquoise water.
- Go surfing or kayaking at Freshwater West, the backdrop for many movies.
- Sunbathe at Barafundle Bay, a scenic cove only accessible by foot.
- Look for starfish and crabs in the rock pools of Whitesands Bay.
Visit historic castles like Carew Castle, an 11th-century fortress, and Pembroke Castle, the birthplace of Henry VII. Climb the winding staircases and ramparts for panoramic views.
With coastal scenery, historic sights and outdoor adventures galore, Pembrokeshire should be at the top of your South Wales itinerary. The picturesque beaches and clifftop trails will leave you awe-struck by the diverse beauty. Pack your bags—paradise awaits!
Check Out the Charming Welsh Castles
South Wales is home to some of the finest medieval castles in all of Europe. No trip to this region is complete without exploring at least a few of these iconic Welsh castles.
Just north of Cardiff, Caerphilly Castle is one of the largest castles in Wales. Built in the 13th century, this formidable fortress is surrounded by moats and waterways for maximum defense. Walk along the ramparts and through the grand gatehouse to get a sense of its immense scale. Caerphilly’s fairy tale-like towers and green scenery make it a popular spot for photos.
Perched atop cliffs overlooking the River Wye, Chepstow Castle is one of the oldest stone castles in Britain, built in 1067. While parts have crumbled over time, many of the original walls and towers still stand. The views from the battlements over the river and surrounding countryside are breathtaking. For history buffs, Chepstow holds artifacts from all periods of its use, from medieval times through the English Civil War.
Birthplace of Henry VII, the first Tudor king, magnificent Pembroke Castle is one of Wales’ most famous castles. The stone keep, towers and curtain walls have been stunningly preserved. Climb the steep steps to the top of the keep for panoramic views. The castle’s vast dimensions give you a sense of how lavish and well-fortified it would have been in its heyday. Film buffs may recognize it from scenes in movies like Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
With a rich history spanning over 700 years, the castles of South Wales offer an unparalleled glimpse into the region’s storied past. Whether you’re intrigued by medieval architecture, interested in Welsh heritage or just want to feel like royalty for a day, visiting a few of these castles should be at the top of your list for any trip to South Wales.
Experience the Vibrant Cardiff City
No trip to South Wales is complete without visiting the capital city of Cardiff. This eclectic city has something for everyone with a vibrant mix of culture, dining, nightlife, and outdoor activities.
Explore the Stunning Cardiff Castle
At the heart of the city center, you’ll find Cardiff Castle, a medieval castle complex with gardens and elaborate apartments. Take a guided tour to learn about its 2,000 years of history and see the opulent décor like the Arab Room. The castle grounds also host festivals, sporting events, and open-air concerts throughout the year.
Shop and Dine Along Mermaid Quay
For dining with a view, head to Mermaid Quay, a lively waterfront development along Cardiff Bay. You’ll find everything from casual fish and chips to upscale seafood restaurants featuring fresh catches from the nearby fish market. After dinner, stroll along the boardwalk or catch a show at Wales Millennium Center, an iconic performing arts center.
Cheer on a Rugby Match
No trip to Cardiff is complete without experiencing a rugby match firsthand. Catch a match between two powerhouse clubs at the iconic Principality Stadium, the national stadium of Wales. The atmosphere will be electric as passionate fans sing traditional Welsh songs to cheer on their teams. Even if you’re not a rugby fan, you’ll be swept up in the excitement.
Bar Hop Through the City Center
By night, make your way to the city center where you’ll find a buzzing bar and live music scene along St. Mary Street and Mill Lane. Grab a pint of Brains, a popular Welsh beer, or sample a Welsh whisky at one of the traditional pubs like The Rummer Tavern or The City Arms. As the bars close, the party continues at several nightclubs open until the wee hours of the morning.
Cardiff has so much to offer for a fun-filled city getaway. Experience the vibrant culture, food, nightlife, and outdoor activities in the Welsh capital. You’ll soon discover why Cardiff was named one of the best cities in the world to visit.
Learn About Welsh History at St Fagans National Museum of History
Learn About Welsh History at St Fagans National Museum of History
One of the best places to learn about Welsh history and culture is St Fagans National Museum of History, an open-air museum located just outside Cardiff. This museum is home to over 40 historic buildings from different periods in Welsh history, all of which have been relocated and reconstructed.
As you wander the 100-acre grounds, you’ll get a glimpse into traditional Welsh life. Some of the highlights include:
- A row of six ironworkers’ cottages from Merthyr Tydfil, showcasing the living conditions of 19th-century workers.
- A farmstead from the Brecon Beacons in the 17th century, complete with farm animals.
- St Teilo’s Church, originally built in the 12th century, with intricate Celtic stonework.
- A school from the late 19th century, where you can sit at old wooden desks and see educational tools from the era.
In each building, you’ll find artifacts, furnishings, and equipment used in that time period. Costumed guides are on hand to answer questions and provide demonstrations of traditional crafts and skills like candle making, weaving, and blacksmithing.
The museum also hosts special events, exhibitions, and activities throughout the year. Some of the highlights include folk music and dance performances, vintage vehicle shows, and food festivals featuring traditional Welsh fare. St Fagans aims to bring history to life through engaging and interactive experiences.
Whether you have a couple of hours or a whole day, St Fagans National Museum of History is a great place to delve into Welsh history and culture. You’ll come away with a deeper understanding of how people in Wales lived, worked, and spent their leisure time in past centuries. A visit here is a must for anyone interested in the heritage and traditions of this enchanting country.
Go Surfing at the Gower Peninsula
One of the top things to do in South Wales is surfing at the Gower Peninsula. With over 50 miles of coastline and 22 sandy beaches, the Gower is a premier surfing destination in the UK. ###The Waves
The Gower is known for its consistent waves, with conditions suitable for all levels of surfers. The most popular spots are Langland Bay, Caswell Bay, and Rhossili Bay, which have swells best for beginners and longboarders. More advanced surfers flock to Pwll Du Headland and Mumbles Point, which can handle bigger waves. The coast faces both west and south, so you can usually find offshore winds and clean barrels no matter the season.
Surf Shops and Rentals
Don’t have your own gear? No worries, there are several surf shops where you can rent boards and wetsuits. Some recommended spots are:
- The Surf Shop in Mumbles – Opened in 1982, this is the oldest surf shop in Wales. They offer rentals, lessons, and new/used gear for sale.
- Secretspot Surf Shop – Located right on Langland Bay, you can watch the waves as you shop or rent your gear. They also run surf camps and private lessons.
- Rhossili Surf School – Conveniently situated at Rhossili Bay, they rent surfboards, wetsuits, and paddleboards and provide group/private lessons for all skill levels.
Where to Stay
For the ultimate surf getaway, stay right along the coast. Some options include:
- The Beach House in Oxwich Bay – A casual B&B only a short walk to Oxwich Beach. Some rooms offer sea views.
- The Gower Hotel – A refurbished 19th-century hotel at the heart of Mumbles village, just a mile from Bracelet Bay.
- The King Arthur Hotel – A cozy inn located in Reynoldston, surrounded by countryside yet only a 10-minute drive to most of the popular surf beaches.
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just learning to ride the waves, the Gower Peninsula offers an epic surf adventure. With its stunning beaches, consistent swells, and laid-back vibe, you’ll be hanging loose in no time. Cowabunga, dude!
Take a Tour of Dylan Thomas’ Boat House
Visit the Boathouse
One of the top things to do in South Wales is visit the Dylan Thomas Boathouse in Laugharne. This is where the renowned Welsh poet lived and worked during the last four years of his life. Open daily from April to October, the Boathouse offers guided tours where you can see Thomas’ actual writing shed, printed manuscripts, and learn more about his life in Laugharne.
Soak in the Scenery
The Boathouse is set along the Taf Estuary, offering picturesque views of the Carmarthenshire coastline and Gower Peninsula. After your tour, spend time strolling along the estuary walkways and soaking in the natural scenery that inspired much of Thomas’ later poetry. The landscape has remained largely unchanged since his time, transporting you back to the postwar 1940s and ‘50s.
This charming village is worth exploring in its own right. Walk the narrow lanes lined with traditional Welsh cottages, many of which are still home to locals. Check out Laugharne Castle, a well-preserved medieval castle that was influential in Welsh history. Or stop by for a pint at Brown’s Hotel, Thomas’ favorite watering hole, which remains largely unchanged.
Learn About Thomas’ Life
Dylan Thomas, renowned for poems like “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night,” spent his final years in Laugharne. The Boathouse tour provides insight into Thomas’ daily life, marriage, children, and writing habits during this period. You’ll gain a deeper understanding of what drew him to this area and community.
A trip to the Dylan Thomas Boathouse offers a glimpse into Welsh culture and history, as well as one of Britain’s most celebrated poets. By visiting where Thomas lived and worked, hearing stories of his life in Laugharne, and seeing his actual manuscripts, you’ll connect with his poetry in an entirely new way. This enriching experience is a must for any Dylan Thomas or literature enthusiast visiting South Wales.
Spot Puffins and Seals on Skomer Island
One of the top highlights of South Wales is visiting Skomer Island to see the puffins and seals in their natural habitat. Skomer is an important breeding colony for thousands of seabirds, including puffins, guillemots, and razorbills. You also have a good chance of spotting gray seals lounging on the beaches or swimming in the waters around the island.
Take a Boat Tour
The only way to reach Skomer is by taking a short boat ride from Martin’s Haven. Boat tours run from April to October and last 2 to 3 hours. As you cruise around the island, your guide will point out puffins flying overhead or seals popping their heads out of the water. You may even spot dolphins if you’re lucky! The boat will drop you off at the Wick, one of the main visitor areas on Skomer where you can go on self-guided walks to view more wildlife.
Hike Around the Island
Once you’re on the island, there are a few walking trails you can explore. The easiest is the half mile path from the Wick to the farm. This will take you through fields where puffins burrow and you may spot them carrying fish for their pufflings. For a longer hike, head to Garland Stone and the southern end of the island. The 3-mile round trip offers stunning cliff top views and the best chance to see rare birds like choughs and peregrine falcons.
Bring a zoom lens, binoculars, and patience. The wildlife can be shy, so move slowly and avoid direct eye contact. For puffins, look for burrows around rocky sea cliffs and sit still—the puffins will eventually emerge and you may capture a cute shot of a puffling peeking out! Seals tend to haul out on beaches, so find a high vantage point and zoom in. The golden light at sunrise and sunset will make your photos glow.
A trip to Skomer Island is a perfect escape into nature. By taking a boat tour and hiking around, you’ll have lots of opportunities to spot the colorful puffins and seals that make this wildlife haven their home each year. With some patience and the right camera equipment, you can capture the natural beauty of these charismatic creatures in their native environment.
Things to Do in South Wales FAQ: Planning Your Trip
Planning a trip to South Wales? Here are some frequently asked questions to help you prepare.
Do I need a visa to visit South Wales?
If you’re a citizen of the UK or EU, you won’t need a visa for South Wales. Visitors from the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand can enter for up to 6 months without a visa. Make sure your passport is valid for the duration of your stay.
- How do I get to South Wales?
The easiest ways to reach South Wales are:
- Fly into Cardiff Airport, located just 12 miles south of Cardiff. There are flights from many UK and European cities.
- Take a train to Cardiff Central station. South Wales has excellent rail connections with frequent service from London, Bristol, Birmingham and other British cities.
- Drive using the M4 motorway. The M4 runs directly into South Wales from London and the east. The drive takes around 3 to 5 hours depending on traffic.
- What is the weather like?
South Wales has a temperate climate with mild weather all year round. Summers are warm and sunny, while winters are cool with little chance of extreme cold or snow. The warmest months are July through September. Pack a mix of clothing for rain and sun, as well as walking shoes, a jacket, and an umbrella.
- Where should I stay?
Some of the most popular places to stay in South Wales include:
• Cardiff – The capital city offers historic hotels, modern apartments, and budget hostels. Stay near Cardiff Bay or the city center.
• Swansea – A coastal city with beachfront hotels, B&Bs, and holiday rentals. It’s a great base for exploring the Gower Peninsula.
• Brecon Beacons – For a countryside escape, stay in a cozy inn, cottage, or bed and breakfast within Brecon Beacons National Park.
• Pembrokeshire – Picturesque Pembrokeshire has accommodation options in charming towns like Tenby, as well as rural farmhouses and cottages.
• Snowdonia – Majestic Snowdonia National Park offers lodges, cabins, hotels, and campsites with stunning mountain views.
You’ve now got a great list of the top 10 things to do in South Wales. From stunning coastlines to rolling green countryside, medieval castles to modern culture, South Wales packs a lot into its small area. No matter what you’re into, you’re sure to find something to spark your interest in this scenic and historic region. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip and experience all the natural and man-made wonders South Wales has to offer. The dramatic landscapes, rich history and vibrant cities will leave you wanting to come back for more. There’s a reason South Wales is fast becoming one of the UK’s top tourist destinations.