The Gower Peninsular in South Wales is an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) with world class beaches.
Highlights, anti-clockwise from Swansea:
- The Mumbles - seaside town with seafront prom, ruined castle, sea front cafes, pier, and picturesque tidal islands on the horizon
- Three Cliffs Bay - a sandy beach with an arch that floods with the tide to become a river valley twice a day
- Oxwich - a long sandy beach backed by dunes
- Rhosilli - a mile long sandy beach with a hill (Rhosilli Down) behind it, and a headland at one end that leads to the Worm's Head (tidal islands) with a pub with a spectacular view from its terrace
- Whiteford Sands NT - a beautiful and quiet beach backed by sand dunes and a pine forest
- A cliff top coastal path linking all these beaches
- Also: Caswell, Langland, Rotherslad and Brandy Cove beaches and a couple of (low) hills with great coastal views
Travel - Get There
By train: Hourly from London Paddington to Swansea. Much slower but cheaper from London Waterloo via Salisbury, Bristol and Bath
By Car: 3 hours from London via the M4. The Severn Bridge is now free.
Travel - Get Around
By Car: There are 3 roads from Swansea - Mumbles Road, South Gower Road and North Gower Road. Cars (not buses) can link between them. Expect peak times queues on sunny summer days.
By Bus: Bizzarely complex bus timetables. All routes are to/from Swansea Bus Station, a 10 minute walk from the train station. Singles are expensive, but returns (usually a day pass) are very good value.
By bicycle: You can cycle, but you must very be fit. The hills aren't high, but there are lots of them as the roads cross many river valleys.
Mumbles is the nicest place to stay (nightime walks along the prom. / to the castle, seafront cafes). Swansea, which doesn't have much for the tourist, is the best for public transport, clubbing, and large budget hotels.
Large budget hotels in Swansea Centre or Marina / road to the M4. Smaller boutieque hotels & B&Bs in Mumbles. Only small places in Gower proper, but many camping and caravan sites. The ones near Three Cliffs have fabulous coastal views.
Langland and Rotherslade
These 2 picturesque sandy beaches are joined at low tide.
They is a bus service from Swansea via Mumbles. You can walk over the hill from Mumbles, or (much longer) follow the coast path around the headland.
The coast path continues in both directions.
Cafes. Some pay parking, but parking at the top of the hill is easier. No dogs on the beach in the summer.
Large sandy bay (at high tide) with headlands and cliff path walks on either side. Beach small at low tide.
Coast path continues in both directions.
Cafe with sea view. Pay parking. Bus service from Swansea via Mumbles. No dogs in the summer.
Small sandy cove. Access via a track. Short walk along the coast path from Caswell, or along the beach at low tide
Pronounced "pull-do", this hidden bay (no public road access) is remote, and a little scraggy. Easiest access along the coast path from Brandy Cove/Caswell or Pennard (aka Southgate - access point for Three Cliffs)
Southgate - Parking for Three Cliffs
Parking for Three Cliffs Bay via a lovely cliff top walk. SA3 2DH. Not a bad view for a car park!
Stunningly beautiful beach - a valley that partially floods at high tide, but a wide sandy beach at low tide, with an extra cliff (with an arch) that sticks out into the bay.
There is a bus service from Swansea to Pennard (NT pay car park, small sop/deli/cafe, 1/2 mile very pretty walk along the cliffs, short easy descent but sandy) or Parkmill (1 mile walk inland along the valley).
The closest access point is Pennard. Its a lovely cliff walk to the beach, about 1/2 mile, but the last part which gently descends sand dunes isnot wheelchair accessable.
The coast path continues in both directions. You can walk along the beach to Oxwich at low tide.
The ruins of Pennard castle (free) are in the dunes behind the beach overlooking the valley.
No facilities. Dogs allowed.
The highest hill in Gower at 188m (by a few feet), inland from Three Cliffs Bay. Short steep ascent from car parks on the A4118 road which runs below it, or a longer easy and gentle ascent from Reynoldston (pub) along the ridge. Great views. Pronounced 'kevin-brin'.
Stunningly beautiful beach - a long expanse of sand, backed by dunes, backed by low hills.
At one end of the beach is a hotel (pub), bus stop (to Swansea), and Oxwich Head (a headland with a small castle, nice walk)
At the other end of this very long beach is a headland liking to Three Cliffs at low tide. At high tide, follow the cliff top coat path.
Expensive pay parking. Dogs allowed.
Small village with a part rocky but mostly sandy beach. Chippy. Bus to Swansea (and on to Rhossili)
World class beach. A very long sandy beach backed by a Down (grassy hill)
At the end of the beach is a headland (which makes for a stunning viewing gallery), with the Worm's Head (2 tidal islands) which is a great walk at low tide
The beach is so large that even on a sunny Bank Holiday you can find a quiet spot.
Bus to Swansea. Pub, cafes, NT car park (£4 per day)
Church with a memorial to Captain Oates (who sacrificed himself for others on an Arctic expedition)
The terrace of Rhossili's pub overlooks the beach from the headland - it easily has the best view of any pub in the country.
Dogs allowed. Pronounced 'row-silly' (that's row as in row a boat)
Two tidal islands at the end of a headland which is a great walk at low tide (2.5 hours either side of low tide) - do heed the warning, there is an 8m tide here and a tidal race. You are asked to avoid climbing on to the islands during the spring (bird nesting season), but many don't. Its easier to walk around the first island than over it. Even if the tide times are wrong, its a lovely walk out to the headland. Times are posted at the start of the walk, and they ring a bell to warn you to start back.
NT pay car park in Rhossili, or hourly bus from Swansea. Pub with awesome view from the terrace at the start.
Low grassy hill (193m) behind Rhossili beach. Stunning coastal views. Walk out along the down, and back along the beach.
The north end of Rhossili, a world class sandy beach. Much quiter than the Rhossili end.
Large Caravan park / camp site with a cafe in the dunes. Pub in the village, and Llangennith Down (500 feet high grassy hill) behind it
Spaniards Rock (tidal) at the far end of the beach.
The beach is so large that even on a sunny Bank Holiday you can find a quiet spot.
Low grassy hill (186m) on the north coast. Grassy remains of an iron age camp. Stunning views of Rhossili beach, whiteford Burrows and northwards over the estuary.
A large and very beautiful NT owned sandy beach in a quiet corner of Gower, backed by sand dunes, then a pine forest, then a salt marsh.
The far end is used by discreet naturists.
Rare buses to Swansea and on to Llangennith
Park in Llanmadoc (pub), walk down towards 'Cwm Ivy'. Dogs allowed.
Gower - North Coast
A river estuary that empties at low tide leaving salt marsh and salt marsh lambs.
Unlike the south coast of Gower, no stunning beaches, or indeed, any beaches at all.
Weobly Castle (Welsh Heritage) is nice.
There is a coast path, but while pretty, its a bit samey.
Seaside village with ruined castle, boutique shops and small hotels, a town hill, a long promenade with great view of the bay leading to a pier and 2 picturesque tidal islands silhouetted on the horizon.
The seafront walk to the pier is highly recommended.
Cliff path walkable around the Mumbles headland to Rotherslade and Langland beaches, or walk uphill, past the shops, and veer left at the park for a shortcut.
A bit lacking in good pubs nowadays. The venerable White Swan on the high street is hit and miss. The Mumbles Ale House (a micro pub) is by far the best bet.
Bus from Swansea. Some pay parking on the seafront, or free parking inland (not much after the mini-roundabout). Check - a few roads near the centre are in a CPZ.
Mumbles seafront walk
2km long pedestrianised walk seafront walk with fabulous view of Swansea Bay, from the village centre to the pier and The Mumbles (2 islands on the horizon).
Cafe restaurant at the start. Verdi's (large Italian cafe with outside terrace on the seafront) about half way to the pier, is an institution. And a cafe by the pier at the end.
No beach (mud, and the tide goes out too far), but you can swim off the promenade in deep water at high tide. Do not swim at mid tide (currents) - the sea would be too low anyway.
Not much of the "Mumbles Mile" remains. The seafront road was once lined with pubs, now redeveloped into hotels and flats. Only The Village Inn (dog friendly), and the The George (large food pub) about half way to the pier, remain. The action's moved to mega bars in Wind Street, Swansea.
Picturesque ruined 12thC castle just off the high street. Castle hill on which it stands, has lovely views of the bay
The town hill, will views over Swansea Bay. Access from Bracelet Bay (past the pier), by The George pub (half way along the seafront), and from the village
The pier (free) has a cafe (nice view) and a life boat station (free).
You can walk out to the tidal islands on a falling tide. But beware, there is an 8m (24 foot) tide here, and a tidal race between the islands. If you leave it too late, DO NOT try and beat the tide back. The coastguard for the Severn Estuary, and the lifeboat station overlooks the islands.
Bracelet and Limeslade Bay
Around the headland, past the pier and The Mumbles (tidal islands) are 2 small coves, Bracelet Bay and Limeslade Bay, and an Italian seafront cafe (only restaurant part has sea views).
The coast path continues on to Langland, or you can walk back over the headland hill, which has nice views of Swansea Bay (recommended).
Swansea - City
Not much for tourists apart from large hotels, bus and train station, and Wind Street (mega bars)
Wind Street (pronounced Wine Street) has lots of mega party bars. Nice enough in the day, but a bit wild on Friday and Saturday night
The National Waterfront museum (free) is pretty, but its contents are uninspiring. Sadly, a good example of a Lottery vanity project.
There's a mainly residential marina area with a few restaurants.
There's the usual shopping area, but the indoor market is very good.
The sea goes out a very long way, so not much use is made of the waterfront's sandy beach.
The best thing for car-free tourists though is the bus station for days trips to the Gower.
Swansea - SA1
New waterside accommodation and a marina with a few restaurants and pay-parking
Just beyond it, are several large chain hotels, the IBIS (a mile outside town on the road in from the M4) has free parking. The centre (Wind Street) is walkable from them on a night out
Swansea - Bay
Pleasant car-free seafront promenade for walking / running / child-friendly cycling around the bay to Mumbles - the Mumbles islands are very picturesque on the horizon
Swansea - Clyne Valley Park
Traffic free bike ride from the seafront inland along the route of a former rail line gently uphill to Killay. Child friendly cycling. Starts at Black Pill. Links to Swansea Bay promenade traffic free cycle route
Also a pretty garden in its own right, especially during spring flowering.