Swansea Accommodation and Holiday Guide
Located right on the south coast of Wales, Swansea is the second largest city in Wales, with a population of over 200,000. There has been significant investment in Swansea in recent years, and a number of major companies (eg Amazon, Cap Gemini) have opened sites in the area. As a result, Swansea’s amenities are rapidly developing to cater for the wider profile of the population.
Swansea is about a 45 minute drive west from Cardiff. Like Cardiff, Swansea is easily accessible from London and Southern England, being located very close to the M4, which comes to an end shortly afterwards. Swansea is also on the main line from London Paddington Station (3 hours). Due to its location and facilities, Swansea is the gateway to the more rural, individual villages and towns of Carmarthenshire
and Pembrokeshire, which lie further to the west. Swansea train station is the main station connecting to lines serving South West Wales and the North of Wales, right up through to Shrewsbury in Shropshire.
Swansea has a modern shopping centre and has a vibrant nightlife, with extensive bars, restaurants and clubs, particularly around the Kingsway and Wind Street area (see below on details on Wining and Dining). It also has a thriving nightlife around the recently re-developed marina. Swansea also has a University to the West.
Swansea has its own beach, lined with sand dunes and an extensive promenade overlooking Swansea Bay. It also has a botanical gardens and extensive manicured parks that accompany the promenade to the West of the City, on the Mumbles Road.
Swansea is also the home to Swansea City FC, Click here for Swansea City Football Club details who are currently riding high in Division 1 of the football league, and to the Ospreys rugby union team Click here for Swansea Neath Ospreys details. Both Swansea City FC and the Ospreys play at the recently built Liberty Stadium.
Swansea was also the birthplace of Dylan Thomas, the legendary Welsh writer who was famous for writing Under Milk Wood Click here for Dylan Thomas details.
If that wasn’t enough, then Catherine Zeta-Jones (another local) and Michael Douglas have built a home on the Swansea coast. Charlotte Church and her rugby playing other half, Gavin Henson (who plays for the Ospreys) are also frequently seen in town.
Closely located to Swansea is the beautiful Gower Peninsula, famous for its beautiful beaches and wild coastline.
Also nearby is Mumbles, a pretty coastal village, which is renowned for being one of the main stag and hen do venues in Britain (attracted by the village having over 50 pubs and bars within 1 mile! This area is known as the ‘Mumbles Mile’.
As you would expect of a major city, Swansea has an extensive range of accommodation, particularly hotels and B&B’s, with a range of prices. For more quaint or individual places to stay, you should consider staying nearby in the Gower.
Brief History of Swansea
Swansea’s Welsh name is Abertawe, Aber meaning “Mouth of the River” in Welsh and Tawe after the City’s River Tawe. The City was believed to originate in the 11th Century.
Swansea still boasts a Castle, located in Castle Street, above the Strand. It dates back to the 14th Century, built by Bishop Henry de Gower. However, the castle was largely destroyed in the Civil War.
Historically, Swansea was an industrial town that heavily relied upon its port, which used to export iron and coal (and more latterly, copper) mined from the Valleys to the North. The National Waterfront Museum captures this aspect of the City.
Swansea was also the birthplace of Dylan Thomas (his birthplace is situated on Cwmdonkin Drive to the West of the City, and is marked out by a blue plaque) although he is more widely celebrated in Laugharne, a coastal village about 25 miles to the West of Swansea, which he made his home.
Swansea suffered extensive damage from bombings in World War II, such that some parts of the city are relatively modern and uninspiring. Additionally, the industrial heritage renders certain aspects of the city as less than aesthetic. However, recently, there has been significant investment in the area, particularly around the marina, where there is a wide range of bars, restaurants and shops.
Geography of Swansea
Swansea is a relatively compact City which can largely be enjoyed on foot.
Wind street is the main street for nightlife, bars and restaurants and runs through the City Centre.
The train station is at the top of the High Street in the North of the City. The bus station (01792 456 116) is located near the Quadrant shopping Centre. There are buses that take you out to the Mumbles and to the Gower Peninsula.
The Ferry Port for Swansea – Cork Ferries is based about a mile to the East of Swansea City Centre and is well signposted from the M4. For those wanting to stay in Swansea overnight before travelling on the ferry, the accommodation on Oystermouth Road provides a cheap option that is relatively close to the ferry port.
There is extensive accommodation in Swansea. The Marriott Hotel is located by the marina and there are numerous other hotels situated around the City centre. The Uplands area (West Swansea) is more aesthetic and has more expensive accommodation. There are also numerous low cost hotels and B&B’s along the Oystermouth Road (the road that takes you along the seafront and eventually takes you to Mumbles).
Events in Swansea
The tourist office is situated near the bus station and will provide full details of local events.
The Swansea Bay Summer Festival takes place from May to September. Swansea Bay Festival website
The Swansea Festival of Music and Arts takes place in October. Swansea Festival of Music and Arts website
The Dylan Thomas Festival runs in November. The Dylan Thomas Centre website
The RAC Lombard Rally was held in October – November 2007, with one of the stages going through Swansea.
Over the Christmas period, the area near the marina was transformed into a Winter Wonderland, with a temporary ice skating rink, grotto and lots of festive market stalls.
A massive ferris wheel (based on the London Eye format) has also been erected near the marina, having previously been located at Cardiff docklands area.
Activities in Swansea
Near the marina is the National Waterfront Museum . This museum, opened in 2005, is probably the best one in Wales and covers the history of Wales.
The Swansea Museum is situated near the marina and includes an exhibit of an Egyptian Mummy. While it reflects the fact that it is the oldest museum in Wales, it is a pleasant distraction, particularly given that it is pleasantly situated in amongst some nice cafes and restaurants (such as the pumphouse, which also has an outdoor area) that have sprung up around the marina.
Located nearer the City Centre (on the Strand) is Plantasia, a large pyramid shaped greenhouse which houses tropical flora in a variety of climate zones, as well as an array of tamarind monkeys, fish, tropical birds and insects. Plantasia Information
The Singleton Park Botanical gardens are also worth a visit, housed in the old wall of Singleton Park to the west of the Marina, the gardens have various different areas that showcase one of the finest botanical collections in Wales. One of the most interesting displays is in the economic glasshouse, where plants from the Mediterranean and sub-tropical regions that are important from an economic viewpoint are on display. These include: coconuts; sugar cane; coffee and olives. Singleton Park Botanic Gardens Information
The Dylan Thomas Centre is also situated near the Marina, to the East of Wind Street and by the River Tawe. Apart from exhibits regarding Dylan Thomas’ life and works, the centre also has galleries, craftshops and bookshops. The Dylan Thomas Theatre is also situated near the marina and shows local productions, together with those by the man himself.
The Dylan Thomas Centre website
Swansea’s leisure centre has been completely redeveloped and opened its doors early in 2008. It is a state of the art facility with a modern exciting water park and Wales’s largest fitness arena. The pools will include an indoor surf rider!
Swansea Leisure Centre Information
This is in addition to The Wales National Pool - a 50m Olympic sized swimming pool, the only one in Wales, which is situated behind the Marina in a modern glass building. There is also a smaller 25m pool where children over the age of 8 can swim unattended. Wales National Pool Swansea website
A large casino has also been developed alongside the marina to complement the bars and restaurants that are already thriving in the area.
Aspers Casino Swansea website
There is also a covered market in the Quadrant Centre, which sells traditional foods, local baked produce and locally caught fish and shellfish and brings a bit of character to the centre. Swansea Covered Market information
For those with a penchant for art, there is the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, which exhibits paintings by local artists, including Ceri Richards, one of Wales’ most well known artists of the 20th Century. It also houses internationally famous porcelain exhibits, including porcelain made during a short period in Swansea itself.
Glynn Vivian Art Gallery information
There is also the Attic Gallery, which is Wales’ oldest private gallery. Attic Gallery website
Wining and Dining in Swansea
As you would expect, Swansea has bars, pubs cafes and restaurants to serve every budget and every taste. The main areas to go for food and drink are the Marina, Wind Street and the Kingsway.
Click here for http://www.welshwales.co.uk and their recommendations.
There is also an Odeon Cinema in the City Centre. Odeon website
Nearby Attractions and Towns
A must for any animal lover, The Cefn-Yr-Erw Primate Sanctuary in the Swansea Valley. The sanctuary was once a traditional Welsh hill farm an now provides much needed homes for many animals especially primates, such as chimpanzees, baboons, spider monkeys, capuchins and marmosets. Many of the animals here have come from zoos or even laboratories and as such are ill equipped to be released into the wild. The sanctuary aims to provide the animals with a stress free life.
In addition to the charming primates, the sanctuary also has two Canadian Timber Wolves. The wolves were rescued from a flat in Belfast, where the owner had raised them from pups. When they became too large and unruly they needed they had to find a new home for them. The santuary offers fantastic experiences such as "Be a keeper for a day" and "walk with the wolves", as well as "adopt and animal".
For further details on the primates and the wolves see http://www.cefn-yr-erw.co.uk/
The closest town of interest is the coastal village of Oystermouth, also known as Mumbles, which is the gateway to the Gower Peninsula. Mumbles is about 3 miles to the West of Swansea. In addition to Mumbles’ quaint feel and extensive pub range, it is also well known for good quality home cooked food.
Porthcawl, a lively tourist resort, which also boasts excellent surfing, is about 20 miles East of Swansea.
Singleton Hospital, Sketty Park Lane, Singleton, West Swansea (tel: 01792 205666).
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015