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If you are looking for the perfect cosy winter getaway, Gower, and Swansea Bay, in South West Wales is going to tick all the boxes. It was made the UK’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1956, and for good reason! There are so many wonderful things to do in Gower, you won’t want to leave.
Swansea Bay and the Gower Peninsula are located in South Wales and comprise over 380km of land with some of the most stunning coastlines you could imagine. Packed full of beautiful beaches, cute little towns, ruined castles, limestone cliffs, wooded valleys, quaint villages and rolling hills. There is something for everyone from those who love long walks, to history and food lovers.
Getting to Gower
- Car: This is by far the easiest option, and many of the things on this list will require you to have a car to access them. Arrive via the M4, and from London, it takes around 3.5 hours to drive.
When to visit Gower?
Swansea Bay is a year-round destination. I visited in December, and it was the perfect getaway before the festive season. The weather was beautiful and gave the most idyllic cosy weekend away – packed full of pubs with crackling fires.
Shoulder season is a great time if you want slightly longer days, but not the summer traffic. But if you are here to make the most of the beaches – then summer is the time of year for you!
How long do you need in Gower?
I had two nights, and the best part of three days in the region – and this was perfect. Leave London early on the Friday, arriving in time for a stretch of the legs before lunch. This amount of days is the perfect length to get a real taste for the area.
Best things to do in Gower
Without further ado, here are the best things to do in Gower which will guarantee you to have the best weekend, and make the most of your time in the region.
Visiting this beautiful stretch of coastline is an absolute must of things to do in Gower. It leads to Worm’s Head, the name is from the Viking word ‘wurm’, meaning ‘dragon’. And it looks just like one!
Two rocky islands are joined to the mainland by a narrow causeway, accessible only at low tide. They are also linked to one another by Devil’s Bridge, a narrow neck of rock. On the further island, there is a blow hole that blows up water visible from the village nearly two miles away. If you are going to head out to the islands, make sure to check the tide times – there are signs at the beginning of the walk and as you by the steps down to the causeway by the Coastwatch house If you ask to use their binoculars – you might see seals basking on the rocky shores of Worm’s Head.
From the walk down to Worm’s Head, you will also see the beautiful expanse of the beach, the largest of white sand on Gower. Look closely to spot the wreck of the Norwegian barque Helvetia, which was driven onto the beach in a gale in 1887.
Discover Arthur’s Stone
Sitting proudly atop Cefyn Bryn Common is the prehistoric monument of Arthur’s Stone. But how did it get there? Legend says that King Arthur removed a stone from his shoe, and threw it across the bay. By the time it landed, the stone had become a huge boulder. While the legend is fascinating, it has been discovered that it is a Neolithic tomb. While perhaps not as interesting, that is a whole lot of history! Plus the views from the stone over the bay are fantastic, and you will also get a chance to spot some wild Welsh horses.
Sunset at Three Cliffs Bay
If you are looking for the perfect sunset spot, then look no further! I headed to Three Cliffs Bay for sunset, and can safely say it was one of the best UK sunsets I have seen. This is one of the most photographed places on the peninsula, with great swaths of golden sand beneath huge cliffs and ending in three connected peaks. A truly stunning place, and somewhere not to be missed.
Park in the National Trust Car Park in the village of Southgate and facing the sea, take the walking route to your left.
If you have time in the area before sunset, walk down to Three Cliffs Bay Beach, which is known to be one of the prettiest in the area. Although, be aware it is a steep hike down to the beach from the cliffs.
Overlooking Three Cliffs Bay are the ruins of Pennard Castle. It was built in the early 12th century, following the Norman invasion of Wales. In 1321 part of the castle collapsed, and if folklore is to be believed, the cause was of mystical origins. The Queen of the Faeries was angered at not being invited to a banquet at the castle and conjured up a sandstorm to bury it. By 1650 it was described as a desolate ruin. The castle is also surrounded by stories of Folklore and fairies, so make sure to check it out if this is your thing!
Wander around Mumbles
This adorable little town is less than five miles from Swansea and officially marks ‘the gateway to Gower’. It is packed full of charm and is perfect for an afternoon of wandering. It is a charming Victorian seaside town, with a real community vibe. When you visit start with a wander down the promenade, and onto Mumbles pier. Here you can look out over Mumbles Lighthouse. If it is low tide you can walk out to Lighthouse Island.
Mumbles is also known for its abundance of arts and crafts. When you are there, make sure to visit Lovespoon Gallery – which
has the largest collection of lovespoon designs from Wales’ best carvers and you can even find out how this traditional craft and history of romantic gifting began. After don’t miss Gower Gallery for local arts and crafts, inspired by the beautiful local coastline.
Perched on a hilltop overlooking the town of Mumbles, is the impressive ruins of Oystermouth Castle. It is named Oystermouth, not because of any relation to Oysters (as is a common misconception), but from the Welsh word ‘Ystumllwynarth’, which means curved wooden ridge. The French occupants of the caste couldn’t pronounce it, so it became Oystermouth.
It was built in 1140, with the walls built 400 years later. Built by the Norman lords, who were all given land, money and a priest to build castles to protect from Welsh and Scottish invasions. Originally it was wooden, but the Welsh burnt it down. Twice. William de Londres finally rebuilt it in stone. It was for defence and also the living quarters of the lord and lady.
This castle also comes with its own ghost stories! A ghost hunter spent a night in the castle and reportedly saw five ghosts. The most famous ghost of the castle is ‘the Lady in White’, Alina de Braose who lived in the castle during its heyday (in the 1290s and early 1300s). She was imprisoned in the Tower of London before returning to Gower and now has been spotted as a sobbing spectre who wanders the castle walls and grounds. Enter if you dare!
It has a fascinating history, and you can see how the castle changed over the years. Including the building of a chapel by Alina De Braose herself. The views from the top overlooking Swansea Bay are incredible.
Oystermouth Castle is open to the public through the summer season from April to October. We were shown around out of season by the incredibly charismatic Hamish, who volunteers at the castle. He was incredibly passionate and knowledgeable about the castle. It was an honour to have had the opportunity to have him as a guide.
Walk the Gower Coast path in Cwm Ivy and Whiteford.
The Gower Coast path offers plenty of choices for beautiful walks in the part of Wales and takes in the whole range of the fabulous coastline. But head towards Cym Ivy and Whiteford to explore another part of this region. Park in the village and head through the National Trust gate – the options for walks in this area are endless. The beautiful Whiteford Sands, Cym Ivy woods and marsh, and once again some impressive landscapes. The walks are very quiet, so expect a truly peaceful experience. Even if it is pouring rain like it was when I visited.
Penllergare Valley Woods
A hidden gem in this part of Wales, and the perfect way to end a weekend before heading home. Penllegare was originally the Victorian estate of renowned horticulturist John Dillwyn Llewelyn. During the second half of the twentieth century, the glories of the estate faded, and the slide into dereliction began. The house was abandoned, and further neglect was caused by development and vandalism. The woodland gardens were cut off by the M4 motorway and new houses were built next to the walled gardens. Finally, the derelict house was demolished in the 1960s.
But after nearly half a century of neglect, the garden has been rediscovered and has been painstakingly restored and revealed to the public. The formerly ‘forgotten’ Victorian garden is now a paradise with lakes, waterfalls, terraces, panoramic views and exotic trees. The Woods comprises over 250 acres of ancient woodlands, wood pastures, open heathland, two stunning lakes and the river Llan running through it. Ideal for whiling an afternoon wandering around, you can imagine what it would have been like to promenade in Victorian times.
Where to eat in Gower
Gower and Swansea Bay is a paradise for food lovers and is filled with some of the best places to eat in Wales. Make sure to check out these fantastic spots for some incredibly delicious food.
The King Arthur Hotel, Reynoldston
This cosy country pub nestled underneath the hills of Cefn Bryn, is the perfect place to stop for a bite to eat after visiting Rhossilli Bay and before you discover Arthur’s Stone. They have a stylish restaurant, as well as two bars. With roaring fires and a delicious menu to tempt you, perfect to warm up on a winter’s day.
The Kings Head, Llangennith
The food at the King’s Head is simply delicious. Not just your usual pub grub, I had the venison burger which was one of the best burgers I have had. Whenever possible they use local ingredients, and the menus are extensive. There are even separate gluten-free and veggie menus, which are just as long.
The Oyster House, Mumbles
The Oyster House in Mumbles is incredibly stylish and perfect for a Saturday lunch. The decor inside is colourful and funky, and the menu is varied. From more snacky bites to full-on lunches. They are also open for brunch. Perfect to kick start the weekend.
Secret Bar and Kitchen, Swansea
The location of the Secret Bar and Kitchen is second to none. I would recommend visiting during the daytime so that you have the perfect view of the coastline while you dine. Fresh and modern inside, with large portions.
Britannia Inn, Llanmadoc
The Britannia Inn serves the most delicious Sunday roast. Everything you want in a cosy, country pub – it is a well-preserved late 17th Century Inn, with beams in the lounge that are reputed to be from shipwrecks which were “lanterned” ashore by wreckers for their valuable cargo. The pub even still has its original fireplace and bread oven and in parts of the pub, you can still see the original gas lamps.
Where to stay in Gower
The Kings Head in Llangennith is perfectly located for exploring this region. It is set in the most adorable village – quiet, peaceful and beautiful and you can even see the sea! Everything you need for a good night’s sleep. It is an easy driving distance from all the sights and best spots in the region.
The beds are extremely comfy, and they have both double and twins. Rooms are booked on a B&B basis, and the breakfast is worth trying. Plus you have the pub right on your doorstep for a delicious evening meal.
Kings Head, Clos St Cenydd, Llangennith, Swansea SA3 1HX | Map
Things to do in Gower for festive fun
If you are lucky enough to be visiting this part of Wales during the festive session then make sure to add these two activities to your to-do list! Perfect for some Christmas shopping and getting into the festive spirit.
Uplands Christmas Market
The Uplands area of Swansea hosts a Christmas Market, where lots of local traders display and sell their wares. From paintings to blankets, soaps and cakes there is so much on offer and perfect for picking up Christmas gifts for loved ones.
For a real dose of festive cheer head to Museum Park in Swansea during December, for rides, food, music and of course mulled wine.
Mumbles Baptist Church
In December 2023 Mumbles Baptist church was showcasing an amazing display of nativity scenes from all over the world. Scenes from Nepal, to Bangladesh, Peru and South Africa, and everywhere in between, were on display. It was fascinating to see how different cultures and countries interpret the birth. Well worth a visit when in Mumbles.
A huge thank you to Visit Swansea Bay for this trip. My trip to Swansea Bay was a complimentary PR press trip, but all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I genuinely had the best time!
Looking for other UK weekends away? Take a look at my post on the 10 best weekend trips in the UK.
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