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Swansea is Wales’ second biggest city and one of the must-visit places in South Wales thanks to iconic locations and standout landmarks. With unmissable adventures for locals and visitors alike, exploring new places works wonders for your physical and mental health. Turn the mundane into the extraordinary by switching off for a day or two.
It’s also perfectly situated for exploring the Gower peninsular. Ready to explore? Let’s discover the 12 best things to do in Swansea.
1. Revel in outstanding natural beauty along the Gower Peninsula
Surrounding Swansea is a plethora of award-winning beaches on the Gower Peninsular which are perfect for sand, surf, sunburn, and strolls. The golden beaches and captivating landscape of the Gower Peninsula are constantly praised as some of the best in Britain.
Feel the salty sea breeze caress your face as it funnels along the dramatic Three Cliffs Bay coastline. Get your surf on at Llangennith beach and sunscreen out for the kids at Caswell Bay. Or why not get the blood pumping while walking along the Rhosili headland walk.
2. Take in a show at the Swansea Grand Theatre
Swansea’s Grand Theatre is a legendary historic performing arts venue. This Victorian-era city landmark, designed by theatre architect William Hope and opened by opera diva Madame Adalina Patti in 1897, has been a hub of cultural innovation throughout its long history1 (source: BBC).
Still standing strong, this charming, 1000-seat theatre is a vibrant venue for families and anyone looking for an eclectic mix of live events, art and culture exhibitions.
When? The Grand Theatre presents till late in the evening from Monday through Saturday, so book before they sell out. Enjoy a glass of wine or snacks from the Footlights Cafe Bar, then head to the terrace for stunning views of the city.
3. Get closer to a literary giant at The Dylan Thomas Centre
The Dylan Thomas Centre is the perfect place to learn more about the legacy of a Swansea-born lad who went on to become one of the world’s most famous poets.
At Swansea’s progressive Maritime quarter, Dylan Thomas’ life and work are honoured within grade II listed neo-classical architecture. It’s a fitting location considering the man himself was born and raised just around the corner.#
Former US president Jimmy Carter opened the venue in 1995, and it has been a destination for literature lovers worldwide ever since. Dylan’s talent is showcased through notebooks, letters, photographs, and interactive displays.
When? You can drop by anytime between 10am and 4pm, Wednesday through Sunday. Listen to ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night‘ while you’re there- gives you goosebumps, right?
4. Experience Mumbles – the quirkiest village in Swansea
History and tradition meet cosmopolitan charm in this cosy fishing village situated along Swansea Bay. The 12th century Oystermouth Castle offers spectacular views of Swansea Bay and Mumbles.
You can enjoy a walk along Mumbles’ famous promenade with the dogs, explore the many landmarks and stop at local favourite Joe’s Ice Cream parlour for a treat. On the way back, visit the iconic Mumbles Pier and Lighthouse (shown above) before wetting your feet at the award-winning Bracelet bay.
When? Visitors can explore history at Oystermouth Castle between 11am and 5pm, Monday to Sunday, with tickets costing £3-15 (free entry for under 5s). Families with children can make a day of it and be entertained no matter the activity.
5. Discover the unexpected at Swansea Clyne Gardens
Swansea Clyne Gardens is a gloriously lush park and botanical garden site situated just outside the city. You can walk there in an hour, take a taxi, or hop on a bus from Swansea bus station and disembark at Blackpill (about a 10-minute walk from the gardens).
Established by the noble Vivian family in 1860, the gardens began as a lavish representation of wealth2 (source: Swansea Council). This charming woodland is a habitat for notable National Tree Collections- a few, the tallest in Britain. You won’t mind getting lost in this haven of tranquillity with over 2,000 blooming plant species, and exciting features spread over 45 acres.
Bring the kids to the Japanese Garden or explore Admiral Vivian’s tower and gazebo. It’s also a great dog-friendly activity in Swansea if you’re travelling with four-legged friends.
When? Clyne Gardens are open 24 hours a day and are a welcome respite from the everyday hustle and bustle.
6. Try your hand at Coasteering
South Wales is one of the best spots in Britain for coasteering. If you don’t know what this is, expect rock climbing, caves, scrambling along the cliffside and maybe even a cliff jump for those brave enough.
One of the companies offering coasteering opportunities in Rhosilli near Swansea is RipnRock whose experienced guides will take you along the cliffs of the Gower peninsular. As well as getting your adrenaline pumping, you’ll witness some of the most beautiful coastlines and even come face to face with marine animals such as seals, porpoises, and otters.
When? Head over to RipnRock to book your experience now. Unless you are travelling in a large group, you’ll need to make your own way to the start point in Rhosilli which is about half an hour from Swansea.
7. Make waves at Swansea Leisure Complex
This is no ordinary leisure complex, Swansea LC is the most exciting water-themed adventure attraction around. As a Swansea local, I’ve been here more times than I can count at least a handful of times- and that’s just as an adult!
With a fun-fueled network of slides and rides, a family-friendly swimming pool, and thrilling 30ft climbing wall, there’s enough here to fill the entire day. Put on your bathers and trunks and get your surf on riding the Boardrider- you’ll be a pro in no time. Float away on the lazy river or unwind at the spa, where you’ll discover what tranquillity really feels like.
When? Swansea LC has enough to keep the youngsters entertained seven days a week. Ticket prices are reasonable and opening times vary depending on activity.
8. Spot deer in Margam Country Park
If you like wildlife, then Swansea has you covered that’s to Margam Country park, a titan of history, beauty, wildlife, and attractions just a 20 minute drive from the city.
Earning the people’s choice award for best park in Wales, Margam Country Park boasts 1000 acres of outstanding natural beauty and heritage features that’ll transport you back in time. As part of Her Majesty’s Silver Jubilee Year celebrations, the Queen reopened the one of a kind Orangery, the longest design in Britain.
While walking around the park, taking in the breathtaking views and beautiful ornamental gardens, see if you can spot any of the deer roaming freely about the land.
Those seeking an adrenaline rush will be delighted to find fantastic water sports to enjoy, suitable for ages 7+, nestled between glorious landscapes and historical landmarks. Make a leap of faith and try Go Ape, their only treetop adventure in Wales. This rope obstacle course will have you feeling like Tarzan as you swing from tree to tree, test your agility on balance logs, and tackle the Bosun’s chair.
When? The park is free to enter on any day of the week between 10am and 6pm (£6.80 for parking). Take the entire family, head out alone with your camera, or take your dog for a long (or short) walk. Although it’s only a 20-minute drive by car, it’s more difficult to reach by public transport which can take up to 1 hour.
9. Have a kick around at Swansea Footgolf
Swansea hosts the first footgolf-only course in Wales. But what on Earth is footgolf I hear you ask. Well, it’s a sport that combines the best elements of golf and football, available to all ages and anyone willing to try something new.
Established by sports industry specialists and designed as a way to invigorate the game of golf. It combines the rules of golf with a regulation football and is just as fun as it sounds. After taking in the beautiful Swansea Bay view, which will serve as the backdrop for an afternoon of fun, you’ll be greeted with a friendly welcome and instructions on how to play.
When? Seven days a week, visitors can forget about fitness and skill here (although it helps!). Get outside, and compete against friends on a course of 9 or 18 holes for groups of 2 to 36 (£12-216).
10. Paddleboard or kayak across the breathtaking Lliw Reservoir
If you fancy being a little more adventurous during your trip to Swansea, then visit Lliw Reservoir and pick up a kayak or paddleboard from Swansea Adventures.
There’s nowhere safer to take the plunge with your first kayaking experience or test your skills on the stand-up paddle board. Following a brief welcome, you’re free to paddle away and take in the picturesque surroundings and clear waters at your own pace.
When? Swansea Adventures is open Thursday through Monday, 9am-5.30pm, offering a variety of activities starting from £5 for a self-launch session with both family and couple-friendly adventures available.
11. Explore Swansea’s Museums and Galleries
Swansea is home to several museums that are worth checking out. The National Waterfront Museum is a state-of-the-art museum telling the story of 300 years of Welsh industry, transformation, and innovation.
In addition to educational exhibits on industrial, social, and cultural history, the museum is dedicated to preserving history through research and collections of art, natural science, and archaeology. Try seeing all 15 themed galleries (plus more), and you’ll be better for it.
Another museum I can highly recommend is The Gower Heritage Centre which is based around a 12th-century preserved watermill that provides a fascinating glimpse into rural Swansea. Spend an afternoon exploring the mill demonstrations, craft workshops, technology, and anthropology exhibits.
And my final recommendation is the inspiring and vibrant art space at the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery. This grade II listing has been restored to its former glory through a £6 million restoration project. Discover collections from the 20th century to contemporary art, learning activities that encourage community engagements, and exhibitions showcasing Welsh talent and world-renowned artists.
12. Experience an indoor rainforest at the Plantasia Tropical Zoo
If I told you there was a rainforest right in the middle of Swansea, you’d think I was pulling your leg, but it’s no joke, that’s exactly what you’ll find at Plantasia Tropical Zoo.
Swansea’s fully immersive greenhouse participates in protecting and conserving some of the world’s most endangered tropical animals and plants3 (source: Wales Online). It provides a fascinating insight into the dynamics of a tropical climate. Featuring over 5000 plant species, some of which are only found north and south of the equator.
With around 40 species of animals, from Piranhas and Pythons to Crocodiles and Tarantulas, it’ll feel like stepping into a different world full of fascinating secrets.
When? Swansea’s Plantasia is home to the closest things to a tropical rainforest you’ll ever see. Open for all, seven days a week, between 10am and 5pm, free for toddlers and £3-8 for adult adventurists.
50% Welsh, 50% English, 100% Swansea. While writing about all things lush and supreme about her home town, you'll also find Kelly writing content for business owners worldwide, and getting lost in books and the woods.