The Best Things to Do in South Wales
See what poet Dylan Thomas saw.
Wales is split into three parts from the south to the north, with a great big ‘mid’ between the two. It so happens that the southern section is the most populous, with the capital city of Cardiff propping it up. In South Wales, you’ll find some of the country’s most historic and iconic attractions. Heading west, you’ll reach the Mumbles – an actual name of a place – by Swansea, with the region’s beaches and seaside entertainment.
Pick up some Welsh sayings and learn a bit of the language, while finding out about the many celebs and historic figures that hail from these parts, whether it be Richard Burton and Anthony Hopkins or the country’s most famous literary son, Dylan Thomas. Rugby, leeks, daffodils and a big red dragon are among the region's most famous exports, but we at the Plum Guide have put our heads together and come up with some truly unique things to do in South Wales...
Watch the rugby
…well, come on, it’s the rugby, a sport that is absolutely huge among the Welsh. We couldn't miss it out. Despite their relatively small population of 3 million people, the Welsh have a rich and impressive history in the game. The Millennium Stadium (also known as the Principality Stadium) is one of the largest and most-impressive sports arenas in the UK and also hosts football games. But, it’s rugby that steals the attention of sports enthusiasts across the land. Check out the schedule to see if Wales might be playing in the Six Nations tournament against the likes of England, France and Ireland (also: Scotland and Italy). Perhaps the famous All Blacks of New Zealand or the Springboks of South Africa will be paying a momentous visit during your stay in South Wales.
There are also plenty of pubs in the heart of Cardiff that we’d recommend to watch the live action. Try the Old Arcade, which has framed signed jerseys adorning the walls. The City Arms is great for fans of the Cardiff Blues rugby union team. You can always set up a Rugby League of your own using the ample outdoor space surrounding this lovely Plum Guide home in South Wales.
Smell the daffodils
It’s the national flower of Wales and is worn by locals (and you can join in the fun too) on St. David’s Day at the beginning of March. It’s a sign of joy, because it indicates that spring has arrived and the deathly winter (bit much?) is past. Make your way west from Cardiff to Saundersfoot, where you’ll find the Colby Woodland Garden. They planted 6,000 daffodils between 2011 and 2015, so wear sunglasses if it’s bright out. A little north sits the daffodils, woodland and river of Llanerchaeron. Don’t try to pronounce it; just breathe it all in.
See the seaside
A trip to the seaside is one of the best things to do in South Wales. Where better to start than The Mumbles? One of our favourite places to visit in South Wales, it may sound like a rock and roll group from the 1960s with an alcohol problem, but it’s actually a stunning coastal haven that has long attracted the rich and famous. Find yourself mumbling into the early hours, after a visit to the many pubs that mark the Mumbles Mile. Admire the All Saints’ Church in Oystermouth and walk out along the Mumbles Pier for stunning views of the sea. Soak up some sun (wishful thinking) at one of the sandy strands, such as the Mumbles Beach, the Bracelet Bay and the Limeslade Bay. Alternatively, this Plum Guide home in South Wales is designed with sunbathing in mind, so you might not need to leave your lodgings at all.
Swan around Swansea
Right by The Mumbles on the Gower Peninsula stands the coastal city of Swansea. Stroll along the rear of the beaches and drop in at the shops, before heading into the outskirts. Among the natural highlights decorating the coast are the Three Cliffs Bay, the Clyne Gardens and the Penllergare Valley Woods. Visit the National Waterfront Museum and take a boat trip out around the headland. Watch Swansea City play football at the Liberty Stadium and do your major shopping in the Quadrant Centre and Oxford Street.
Back in the capital
As the capital, Cardiff is a must when it comes to places to visit in Wales. It's the cultural highlight of the country, with its Wales Millennium Centre for dance recitals, opera and West End musicals. Visit the Llandaf Cathedral – which sounds like a Lord of the Rings character – and drop in at the Caerau Castle Ringwork, the Cathays Park and the Castell Coch.
Among the city’s highlights is the Cardiff Castle, with its own Roman and Norman ruins well preserved. Now, it’s time to enjoy the commercial delights of Cardiff, known as the City of Arcades for its many shopping areas. Waltz through the Capitol Shopping Centre, the St. David’s Dewi Sant and the Royal Arcade, picking out your favourite items from the myriad stores.
There you have it: the best things to do in South Wales. Why not start looking for a place to stay? At Plum Guide, our fastidious home critics have tried and tested Wales' very best lodgings, listing only the top 3% of homes. So whether you'd like a cosy base for exploring Snowdonia or the most gorgeous rural escape you'll likely ever see, you know you're in for a great night's sleep in a Plum Guide home.