The Top Things to Do and See in Swansea, Wales

A stroll on the Mumbles Pier in Swansea, Wales, is highly recommended
A stroll on the Mumbles Pier in Swansea, Wales, is highly recommended | © robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Poppy Jacob
28 August 2020

The coastal city of Swansea is an underrated UK gem. As one of the biggest cities in South Wales, it offers a range of must-visit attractions, from Oystermouth Castle to Clyne Gardens. To help you build your Swansea itinerary, Culture Trip takes you through the top things to see and do in this Welsh city.

Check out the Mumbles

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Mumbles Lighthouse, Mumbles Pier, Mumbles, Gower, Swansea, Wales, United Kingdom, Europe
© robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo
The Mumbles is a vibrant seaside village with over 120 shops, restaurants and pubs running along the west side of curving Swansea Bay. This area is a treat for foodies, as you’ll be able to find fresh seafood caught locally, go to the annual Mumbles Oyster Festival or get an ice cream made with love from one of the many parlours. Those who are driving should plan to arrive early, as the parking spaces tend to fill up quickly on sunny days.

Spend an afternoon at the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery

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This gallery had a £6 million refurbishment a few years ago, so it’s safe to say it’s up to scratch. It was born in 1905, when Richard Glynn Vivian offered his collection of paintings, drawings and china to Swansea, while the gallery was formally opened in 1911. It hosts loan exhibitions, events, an educational programme and an impressive art collection, including local and internationally acclaimed pieces.

Learn about local history at the Wales National Waterfront Museum

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lightship and other boats part of the national waterfront museum display swansea maritime quarter swansea wales uk
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The fascinating National Waterfront Museum focuses on the industrial and innovative history in Wales, from 300 years ago to the present day. It covers the Industrial Revolution and the region’s extensive maritime heritage, using modern technology to bring exhibitions, displays and information to life.

Sample the delights of Swansea Market

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Award-winning Swansea Market is the largest indoor market in Wales. It keeps alive a tradition of market trading in the heart of the city and is a chance to get a real feel for Swansea, speak to locals and taste local produce. More than 100 stalls sell a range of wares, including traditional Welsh fayre. Pick up gifts, jewellery, leather goods, toys and lots more. Plus, you can relax at one of the cafés and coffee shops.

Visit Dylan Thomas landmarks

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The renowned Swansea writer often wrote affectionately about his city. Throughout Swansea, there are dedicated Dylan Thomas attractions and the chance to visit many of his haunts. First up is the Dylan Thomas Centre in the old city Guildhall, in the Maritime Quarter. Follow the permanent Love With Words exhibition that takes you through Thomas’s life with interactive exhibits. Then there are the pubs he loved to frequent, such as the Uplands Tavern, the No-Sign Bar and the Queens Hotel. And you can also visit his birthplace, 5 Cwmdonkin Drive.

Go to the beach

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Three Cliffs Bay on the Gower Peninsular in South Wales captured from the cliffs to the East of the beach.
© Andrew Ray / Alamy Stock Photo
Swansea is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world – the south-facing coast includes beaches Langland, Caswell, Three Cliffs, and Oxwich, as well as Port Eynon and Rhossilli. The dramatic landscape of the Gower Peninsula was the first place in the UK to be named an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1956. Go to the beach for a surf (where permitted), a walk or a sand-castle building session.

Walk among the flowers at Clyne Gardens

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Clyne Gardens are a collection of botanical gardens set in sprawling parkland. Admire the renowned collection of rare species, national collections and famous annual displays. Visitors can indulge in a coffee and cake at one of the nearby cafes, after a stroll through this sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Make a splash at LC Water Park

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The LC is home to Wales’ biggest indoor water park with slides, waves and one of the UK’s only indoor surf machines, the Boardrider. With a number of thrilling rides to choose from, including the Masterblaster, a roller coaster water slide, or the aqua slide and aqua tube, this park will have something to get your adrenaline going. If you’re looking for a more relaxing time, you can bob around in the wave pool, relax in the whirlpool or float around the lazy river. For small children, there’s an interactive pool with mini slides, tipping buckets and fountains, or Volcano Bay.

Go to a show at the Grand Theatre

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Swansea Grand Theatre, Wales
© Michael Olivers / Alamy Stock Photo
As one of the most beautiful theatres in South Wales, the Grand Theatre is definitely one of the top spots to visit in the city. Frequently hosting some of the UK’s biggest comedy acts, events, exhibitions and performances, the theatre will definitely have something that catches your eye. Don’t miss out on one of the theatre’s fortnightly behind-the-scenes tours that explore some of its rich history.

Visit the Gower

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The first-ever location in the UK to be given the title of Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Gower offers a wonderful selection of landscape and wildlife. Featuring rolling moors, sandy beaches and stark cliff faces, the park has no shortage of breathtaking views. If you want to extend your trip, the area has a number of cosy campsites where you can get some extra time in the great outdoors.

Catch the Rugby at Liberty Stadium

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There’s nothing quite like watching a game at the 20,00-capacity Liberty Stadium, featuring one of the top rugby teams in the UK, the Ospreys. If Wales is known for one thing, it’s their love of rugby, and this spot gives you an excellent opportunity to soak up some of that atmosphere at a home game. If sport isn’t your ticket, then the stadium also plays host to some amazing acts throughout the year, with former performances from the Killers, Little Mix and even Lionel Richie.

Additional reporting by Nicholas Grantham

These recommendations were updated on August 28, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.