With a population of 246,217 and just shy of 5 million visitors yearly, Swansea is the second-largest city in Wales, with only capital Cardiff coming out ahead. Ideal for visitors looking to enjoy a more scenic Welsh city-scape, this seaside location is home to a thriving art scene that boasts cultural highlights throughout the year. And, it does it all to the backdrop of some of the most stunning beach settings in all of Wales. To understand why exactly tourists can’t get enough, we’re going to look at what makes Swansea famous, and why.
Visit Swansea in Cymru (Wales)
1 – The Gower Peninsula
It’s impossible to talk about Swansea without first addressing the Gower Peninsula, a location so stunning that it was the first-ever area of astounding beauty (1956), and remains one of just five such Welsh locations today. As anyone who has seen the Gower will attest, it’s a well-deserved accolade.
With stunning views across 39 miles of footpath on dramatic limestone cliffs, visitors here can enjoy natural beauty and wildlife galore, including porpoise and more. Equally, The Gower’s Rhossili Bay was voted the UK’s best beach and came in ninth-best in the world according to Trip Advisor. Talk about a claim to fame!
2 – Dylan Thomas’ Birthplace
Iconic poet Dylan Thomas was born in Swansea, and many tourists flock to the birthplace of this Welsh icon at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive.
A visit to the restored building can see guests enjoying an Edwardian tea party in the poet’s very own parlour. For those looking to stay local, there’s also the opportunity to stay in some of the house’s stunning restored rooms which are in keeping with the 1914 style Thomas himself would’ve enjoyed. From here, visitors can also take a guided tour with the owner of the house, visiting Thomas’ old haunts, including optional actors who will read Thomas’ work aloud.
3 – The Mumbles
Located in Swansea Bay, The Mumbles fishing village also boasts plenty of tourist-attracting locations for Swansea fame. Most notably, a long promenade complete with iconic Mumble Pier makes for one of Swansea’s most popular beach resorts.
As if that weren’t enough, the Mumbles, or Mwmbls in Welsh, brings Welsh history to the fore, with 16th-century Oystermouth Castle, and the route of the first passenger railway in the world. The Swansea and Mumbles train first ran in 1807 before closing in 1960. At time of closure, it had been the world’s longest-serving railway, and still holds the record for the highest number of forms of traction of any railway in the world.
4 – The oldest and newest Welsh museums
Aptly named Swansea Museum is the oldest museum in Wales, making it a pretty famous site indeed. First opened in 1841, this is certainly a fascinating building to visit. Originally founded by the Royal Institute of South Wales, Swansea’s museum namesake has now been under the guardianship of the City & County of Swansea since 1990. Home to everything from an Egyptian mummy to a Welsh kitchen in six galleries, the site is also host to a 19th-century library. Do note, though, that visits are by appointment only and books are not for loan.
Meanwhile, on the other end of the scale, the National Waterfront Museum opened in 2005 and outlines the last 300 years of Welsh industry and innovation. Funded through the Welsh Development Agency and Heritage Lottery Fund, the £33.5millon museum was no mean feat, but it’s since brought plenty of tourism to Swansea its fifteen themed galleries, steam engines, and maritime artefacts.
5 – Glynn Vivian Art Gallery
Given that Swansea’s rich culture is largely behind its fame, it would be remiss not to mention the iconic Glynn Vivian Art Gallery here. Founded way back in 1911, to display artistic works donated by art collector Richard Glynn Vivian, the gallery was renovated to the tune of multi-millions back in 2016.
Since then, the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery has become a real location of note, supported by grants from the Arts Council of Wales and the Heritage Lottery Fund. Visitors here can enjoy works from iconic figures such as Monet, as well as getting a taste for Welsh art with pieces by Bedwyr Williams and Gwen John to name just a few.
Swansea might not quite reach the tourism heights of Cardiff, but it’s certainly high on the list of places to visit in Wales for a fair few reasons. Anyone looking for sea, history, and culture, could certainly benefit from heading here instead.
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