10 Awesome things to do in Swansea Bay
As you may have seen on social media over the last week with my various posts of sea views and scrumptious food, I was galavanting around Swansea Bay last weekend enjoying everything this beautiful Welsh city had to offer after being invited by Visit Swansea Bay. I found that Swansea Bay is much more than stunning coastal views and some good ‘ol fashioned fresh air, as I tried my hand at some watersports, visited a 12th century castle, scaled a 30ft climbing wall and ate dinner with a 360 view from Wales’ tallest tower! Want to find out more? Here are 10 awesome things to do in Swansea Bay.
1) Go Stand-up Paddle Boarding
Stand-up paddle boarding is the fastest growing watersport in the world and for good reason…it’s super fun! Not only only that, but it’s also a full-body work-out, especially great for working out your core and upper body. Swansea Bay’s top watersports centre, 360 Beach and Watersports offers stand-up paddle boarding sessions for first-timers as well as those that are more experienced, which makes it a perfect adventure activity for everyone. The centre also has a cafe with panoramic views of Swansea Bay so if you want to sit this one out, you can relax and enjoy the view whilst the rest of your party hit the boards.
2) Get a bird’s eye view from Oystermouth Castle
If you love a bit of history or even just a fantastic view (or if you’re a nerd like me who can’t resist either!), I highly recommend Oystermouth Castle. The castle has been sitting on top of Mumbles since the 12th century, watching over the city and still boasting one of the best views of Swansea Bay. It has a labyrinth of medieval vaults, chambers and rooms for you to explore and if you ask the lovely guides at reception, they will tell you a ghost story or two from their recent renovation works…
3) Browse around the quirky shops in Mumbles
One thing you will love about Swansea Bay is all the cute little quirky shops you’ll find down by the seafront in Mumbles. There are art and craft shops as well as trendy surf shops to get all your gear for a weekend of watersports. The Lovespoon Gallery was one of my favourites, they are the original lovespoon specialists offering the largest collection of lovespoon designs from Wales’ best carvers.
What is a lovespoon you may ask? They are traditionally hand carved wooden spoons that were originally a symbol of romantic love and exchanged between couples. In modern times they are designed with beautiful intricate symbols such as knots to symbolise everlasting love, keyholes to symbolise home and security, horseshoes to symbolise good luck and dragons to symbolise protection (and Wales of course!).
If you are looking for a unique keepsake of your time in Swansea Bay, lovespoons are the way to go as they are also a really thoughtful gift for family and friends with the craftsmanship unlike anything they would have seen.
4) Take a hike around Bracelet Bay
You can’t possibly visit the seaside and not go on a coastal walk and Swansea Bay has some of the most scenic coastline in the UK. Bracelet Bay is only a half hour walk from the centre of Mumbles and features beautiful limestone cliffs and cool pebble beaches you can explore. It’s a great walking trail too because you just follow the path round the bay and walk for as long as you like, seeing the bay from different view points at every turn. Make sure you wear some decent walking shoes though as although the paths are easy to follow, the inclines can be a killer!
5) Visit the National WaterFront Museum
The National Waterfront Museum is a fun, interactive museum that tells the story of Wales’ industry and innovation over the last 300 years, including its coal production and maritime trade history. The atmosphere in the museum is really lively and a great place if you’re visiting with family (especially with the little ones) or as a group because there are lots of activities that everyone can join in on.
Whilst I was there, the museum were having a pirate themed weekend which included a pirate surgeon giving lessons on what type of medicines and medical procedures were used onboard a ship, live music from two jolly buccaneers and a visit from one of the most famous pirates of all…Captain Jack Sparrow. The Captain in particular was so bob on that I did wonder whether Johnny Depp just happened to have popped in whilst on a weekend of jollies in Swansea Bay!
The museum have a wide variety of fun events going on all year-round so when you are planning your own trip to Swansea Bay, there is guaranteed to be something fun for you to check out. Best of all? It’s free!
6) Ride the waves at Wales’ largest indoor waterpark
The LC Swansea was one of the highlights of my weekend in Swansea Bay, not only does it have an awesome indoor surf simulator (the first of its kind in Wales), it has waterslides, a wave pool and a 30ft climbing wall!
The wave simulator in particular is a real treat at the LC Swansea because it gives beginners (like me!) a chance to learn how to surf the waves safely with a one-to-one lesson with a trained surfer dude. After only 10 minutes of practise with our fantastic (and very patient) instructor, I had managed to take my hands off the board and balance using just my lower body.
I imagine after a couple more lessons I would have been able to stand-up on the board without wiping out, which goes to show how quickly you can make progress and then use those skills to apply when surfing the real waves…the perfect thing to do in Swansea Bay!
7) Visit the Dylan Thomas Centre
The Dylan Thomas Centre is a lovely little museum based at Swansea’s Marina that is home to a permanent exhibition called, “love the words”, which celebrates the life and works of the great Welsh poet and writer, Dylan Thomas. Even if you haven’t heard his name before, you may have heard of some of Dylan’s greatest works, which were later adapted into films such as, “Rebecca’s Daughters” starring Peter O’Toole and Joely Richardson and “Under Milk Wood”, which starred Elizabeth Taylor.
Although not knowing a lot about Dylan Thomas before my visit, I found it a really interesting experience to get to know Swansea through his life and works, with many famous voices such as Prince Charles reading out some of his most memorable words as a thoughtful backdrop to the experience.
8) Eat local food delicacies at Swansea Market
Swansea Market is the largest indoor market in Wales and has been at the centre of Swansea life for over 50 years. The market sells everything from clothes and jewellery to fresh local seafood and sweets. You can find some really good bargains here and the local traders are so friendly and welcoming. Don’t forget to try out some traditional Welsh cakes, they are delicious and make the perfect shopping snack!
9) Check out Swansea Museum’s Great War exhibition
Swansea Museum is the oldest museum in Swansea and is in arguably one of the most beautiful and historic buildings in Swansea having been originally built for the Royal Institution of South Wales in 1841. The museum houses items from ancient Egypt and historical nautical and transportation items but it is their exhibition on Swansea’s contribution to the War effort which is the most poignant.
In the exhibition, you’ll find key items from the war as well as a replica of a what a real trench would have looked like, but it is the stories from the men who served in the War that are the most powerful. Every town and city have their own War time stories and Swansea is no exception. They were a key part of running the gauntlet of U boats bringing essential supplies to Britain, using their position on the coast to aid the war effort.
10) Dine at Grape and Olive for 360 views of Swansea
Definitely one of the best things to do in Swansea Bay is have dinner with 360 views of Swansea at the Grape and Olive restaurant, situated at the top of Wales’ tallest building. But it’s not just the amazing views that make this restaurant famous, it is also the incredibly delicious food and superb service.
Make a reservation right before sunset so you can enjoy the view in the daylight and then eat as the sun goes down over the marina, enjoying the sight of the twinkling lights of the city at night. Make sure you get a table at side of the restaurant and not a sea view as when the sun goes down, you won’t be able to see as much of the city lit up.
Have you ever been to Swansea Bay? Is there anything you would add to the list of things to do in Swansea Bay? Let me know below :)
Disclaimer: I was invited by Visit Swansea Bay to review fun activities and restaurants for the weekend but as always my opinions are all my own and would only recommend activities and places I think you’ll love ;)