For this south Wales itinerary, we’re focusing on the Gower Peninsula south of Swansea.
It’s a truly beautiful area covering 70 square miles and was actually declared the UK’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty back in 1956.
From stunning beaches and cliff top views to wild moors, salt marshes and oak woodlands, the Gower has inspired many artists and literary figures including none other than Dylan Thomas.
And in amongst all this inspiring nature, you’ll find a place steeped in history – from ancient castles and church ruins to olde world pubs and inns.
We’ve partnered with Visit Swansea Bay to bring you this itinerary, which shows you how to best enjoy a long weekend in this most beautiful part of Wales.
How To Spend A Long Weekend In Wales
Today is all about taking your time, getting cosy and indulging your sweet tooth.
Oxwich Bay and Oxwich Woods
Oxwich Bay is home to a lovely sandy beach, which is perfect for a relaxing stroll, rockpooling and even lazing on during the warmer months.
You can even try some watersports here like kayaking, sailing and windsurfing.
Nearby, you’ll also find Oxwich Woods. There’s a small 13th century church of St Illtyd here, which has an interesting story to tell.
It’s the resting place of the de la Mare family who lived in Oxwich Castle and the church is said to be haunted by a white horse, a ‘ceffyl dwr’ (water horse), which appears in the churchyard before disappearing down a well.
Although we didn’t see any ghost horses ourselves, it’s a pretty little church and leads onto a relaxing walk in the woods. Just note that you’ll need to climb a lot of steps (easily over 150) before joining the woodland trails above the church.
Address: Gower, SA3 1LS
More info: www.visitswanseabay.com/listings/oxwich-bay-beach
Parking: £4 per day; the car park overlooks the beach
Lunch at Oxwich Bay Hotel
Oxwich Bay Hotel overlooks the bay and is a superb place to come for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner.
We joined them for lunch and tucked into tasty burgers and pulled pork sandwiches, as well as a Welsh Cake trifle and honeycomb cheesecake. Everything we tried was delicious – and the desserts looked so Instagrammable.
If you’d rather eat something else then they have a large selection of different dishes from fish and mussels to steak and tagines to ice cream sundaes and apple strudel. They even serve traditional roast dinners with all the trimmings on Sundays – a must if you ask us!
Oxwich Bay Hotel has its own dog friendly snug inside the restaurant so your pet pooch will also always be welcome. We brought Kai with us during our visit and he was treated to lots of fuss and cuddles, while we felt extra cosy in our warm and comfortable surroundings. We didn’t want to leave!
Address: Oxwich Bay, Gower, SA3 1LS
Parking: Free at the hotel
Rhossili Bay and Coastal Walk
Rhossili Bay and the surrounding coastal walk is owned by the National Trust and has made it onto Britain’s top four best beaches, as voted by TripAdvisor users, for four years running. It’s also one of the most popular day trips from Swansea.
And upon seeing it for the first time ourselves recently – it’s easy to see why!
The beach is large and sandy and stretches for three miles following some of Gower’s dramatic hills and cliffs.
At low tide, you can also see the remains of the Helvetia, a ship wrecked in 1887. We could just see the mast sticking out of the water when we visited so we’d love to go back and see what the full wreck looks like.
While you’re here, you simply must head out on a coastal walk to take in the breathtaking views across the coast and countryside.
You have two options: follow the gravel paths towards Worm’s Head, which offers superb views of the Atlantic, or head up to the top of the Rhossili Downs, which has an excellent mix of coastal and countryside views.
Address: Rhossili, Swansea, SA3 1PR
More info: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/rhosili-and-south-gower-coast
Parking: Free for National Trust members at the official car park; £5 per day or £2.50 per half day for everyone else. You can also park at nearby Saint Mary’s Church, which uses an honesty box to go towards church donations.
Check-in at The King’s Head Inn
The King’s Head is a four star 17th century inn in Llangennith – and it’s positively charming!
Family rooms are based in the Town House next door to the pub and there are another two buildings devoted to rooms for couples, dog owners and everyone else, which is where we stayed.
The rooms at the back of the pub look like they are converted stable blocks with olde worlde brick and mahogany patio doors.
It was really interesting to stay in a room like this, but what surprised us most was the large room size and its high standard of finishings including waterfall shower, large bath and underfloor heating. Not to mention you can ask for fresh milk for your tea; they’ll give you a small bottle you can keep in your own fridge – none of that UHT rubbish for us!
The inn serves breakfast daily between 8.30am to 10.30am and is a short walk from Llangennith beach where the sand stretches for nearly four miles – all the way to Rhossili.
Dinner at The King’s Head Inn
As this is a relaxing start to your weekend in Wales, you won’t need to stride too far for dinner tonight.
The King’s Head has its own restaurant and bar onsite, which serves a large array of British favourites including sausage and mash, curry, steak and ale pie using Gower’s brewery ale and Gower beer-battered fish.
And if you’re looking for something more local then you’ll find dishes using Welsh lamb, Welsh pork and Welsh venison on their specials board.
Its bar is also a great place to come if you like a stiff drink – and if you have a dog with you.
Here, you’ll find a good selection of real ales from the local brewery, over 130 different gins, the largest collection of malt whiskeys (over 100 types) outside of Scotland and all the delicious dishes we mentioned above.
Address: Clos St Cenydd, Llangennith, SA3 1HX
Parking: Free at the inn
On the agenda for today: history… oodles and oodles of history.
Mumbles is a delightful little seaside town and is often described as the ‘gateway to Gower’ as it marks the start of Gower Peninsula’s coastline.
The town has a rich and varied history. For instance, did you know that it used to be Dylan Thomas’ frequent stomping ground? Not to mention the pier was built as early as 1898 and is Grade II listed.
Mumbles Pier was once a station for the Mumbles Railway and has since become home to the Mumbles RNLI station, which is open to the public.
Although the pier is currently undergoing some renovation work, there’s no disguising its Victorian roots and quintessential pier features like white wrought iron railings, wooden slatted floor and marine-inspired finishing touches.
Aside from a relaxing stroll along the pier, you can also head to its amusements arcade, bowling alley, Pirate Boating Lake and ice cream parlour.
You can also walk along the seaside promenade, which has sailing boats parked up all along it or wander along Mumbles high street, which is home to art galleries, luxury boutiques and stores selling homemade arts and crafts.
Address: Old Lifeboat Cottage, Mumbles Road, The Mumbles, SA3 4EN
Parking: Various car parks along the Mumbles promenade charge hourly rates; suggested ones are Southend and Knab Rock so that you’re more central to everything in this area.
Lunch at Verdi’s
Found along the Mumbles promenade and facing the seafront is the vastly popular Verdi’s Cafe.
You can choose to sit outside on their canopied decking or inside near one of the large windows overlooking the bay.
Known for its authentic Italian flavour and quality, the cafe is a delightful place to come for a full-blown meal or to simply indulge in coffee and cake.
When we visited, we both had ham and mozzarella toasted sandwiches, which were divine. The mozzarella was the perfect level of stretchiness and the bread was buttery and crispy.
Next we tried their Welsh cakes, which were much larger and thicker than we’re used to but still tasty.
But the cream of the crop simply had to be Verdi’s Italian hot chocolate, which was next level. It was rich, smooth like velvet and tasted like it had been made from an entire bar of chocolate – now that’s MY kind of drink!
Address: Knab Rock, Mumbles Road, The Mumbles, SA3 4EE
Parking: Knab Rock along the Mumbles promenade is the closest car park and charges an hourly rate. You can also park at Southend on the other side if this one is full.
Dating as far back as the 12th century, Oystermouth Castle overlooks Mumbles and Swansea Bay and is cloaked in history.
Over the centuries, it has been burned by an invading Welsh King, witnessed upteen sieges and has been passed from Lord to Lord until as late as 1927.
Today, you can visit both the castle and its grounds for as little as £4 per adult and marvel at ancient graffiti from the 14th century, twist and turn through secret passageways and staircases, or simply admire the coastal views from the castle’s windows and glass viewing platform.
Address: Castle Avenue, The Mumbles, SA3 4BA
Parking: Although there is parking in Castle Avenue, we’d suggest leaving your car parked along the Mumbles Promenade as it’s only a short 20 minute walk to the castle. This saves you paying for parking twice or losing your spot on a busy day.
Gower Heritage Centre
The Gower Heritage Centre is an absolute gem of a museum.
It’s built around a working 12th century watermill and has numerous exhibitions waiting to be discovered including a WWII bunker, steam engines and a replica mill worker’s home.
Alongside its historical exhibits, you’ll also find a children’s play area, animal park, craft areas and tearooms.
Throughout the year, there are a number of events held here such as medieval reenactments, cider festivals, craft fairs and food festivals.
Address: Parkmill, Gower Peninsula, SA3 2EH
Parking: Free parking (and overflow car park) for visitors to the centre just across the lane.
Dinner at the Beaufort Arms
We told you this would be a day of history and dinner at the Beaufort Arms in Kittle is no exception.
The pub is said to be the oldest in all of Gower and dates back as far as 1460. This was at the height of the War of the Roses in which the Dukes of Beaufort played a pivotal role and became the ancestors of the Tudor dynasty.
Once inside, you’ll find a friendly atmosphere, exposed brick features and a wood burner adding to the pub’s cosy feel.
On the menu, you’ll find pub classics like burgers, pies, hunter’s chicken and fish and chips, alongside curries, steaks and seasonal dishes. Don’t forget to indulge in chocolate fudge cake, fruit tarts, cheesecakes and ice cream sundaes for dessert!
Address: 18 Pennard Road, Kittle, SA3 3JG
Parking: Free at the pub
Step back from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and spend the day in nature.
12th century Pennard Castle is in ruins but has the most marvellous backdrop. It overlooks the valley of Pennard Pill and Three Cliffs Bay.
In the early 12th century, the first Earl of Warwick, Henry de Beaumont, was granted the lordship of Gower, so it was likely that Pennard Castle was built under his leadership.
Given its position, it would have made a great lookout against both land armies and naval attacks, but it was also sadly vulnerable to sand blow leading to its abandonment by the end of the 14th century.
You’ll need to hike across the Welsh countryside and up some hills to see the castle but its history, views and the walk itself definitely make it worth it!
Address: (for nearest parking) Linkside Drive, Southgate, SA3 2BR
More info: www.visitswanseabay.com/castles
Parking: Free parking along Linkside Drive, which is a residential street.
Lunch at the Three Cliffs Coffee Shop
The Three Cliffs Coffee Shop is a very popular lunch spot with locals and visitors alike.
It’s renowned for its homemade dishes made from local produce and is the perfect place to come if you’re after some traditional Welsh food.
We had the chance to speak to the owner Jamie who told us that they frequently partner with local community projects to champion locally sourced products and local businesses. He said he also gives his chefs free reign in the kitchen to create seasonal dishes and different spins on classics.
Alongside traditional Welsh food, you should also save room for a slice of one – or two or three – of their delicious cakes; a specialty of this coffee shop!
When we visited, we were treated to all kinds of tasty things – apologies in advance if you start drooling:
- Laverbread and cockles – different from the original but great for a first taste of the oats and seaweed combination
- Glamorgan sausage – vegetarian; made from cheese, leeks and breadcrumbs
- Welsh cakes – a must when in Wales!
- Welsh brie toasted sandwiches – simple yet delicious
- Steak and ale pie – a classic but in miniature
- Curried aubergine pie – an interesting spin on pie and was definitely my favourite!
- Cream scones – we couldn’t resist; we do love an afternoon tea
- Carrot cake – light and creamy and oh so yummy
- White and milk hot chocolates – with whipped cream, marshmallows and extra flakes of course!
You should also stop by the shop just next door too; it’s run by the same owner and has a large array of Welsh souvenirs and different food items to takeaway with you.
Address: 68 Southgate Road, Southgate, SA3 2DH
Parking: Ample parking just across the road from the coffee shop if the spaces outside the shop are taken. Parking is managed by the National Trust but is sometimes free when the hut and machines are not in use.
Three Cliffs Walk
From the Three Cliffs Coffee Shop, you can head to the east or west to follow the coastal paths for sweeping views across the sea.
To the west, you can see Three Cliffs Bay from above and just about glimpse Pennard Castle in the distance.
And to the east, you can look back towards the Three Cliffs countryside but will likely see far less people during your walk.
Penllergare Valley Woods
Conveniently located close to the M4 near Swansea, Penllergare Valley Woods is both the perfect pitstop enroute back home and a superb way to say goodbye to the Welsh countryside.
And if you’re already in Swansea, then it makes for an ideal day out for all the family – including your dog!
Penllergare is free to visit (apart from parking costs which are put towards restoration and maintenance fees) and is home to a stunning waterfall, as well as lakes, all manner of wildlife including kingfishers, buzzards and red kites – and a whopping 12km of walking trails.
So grab your walking boots or wellies and escape the 9-5 with us into nature!
Address: Penllergaer, Swansea, SA4 9GS
Parking: £2 for up to 4 hours at the onsite car park
We were invited to the Gower Peninsula by Visit Swansea Bay as part of a long weekend press trip. Although our accommodation, meals and excursions were complimentary, all our thoughts, opinions, photos and sweet tooth descriptions are entirely our own.
We loved our weekend in Wales and we’re pleased to be able to share our south Wales itinerary with you in the hopes that you’ll want to discover this beautiful part of Wales too.
Have you ever been to the Gower Peninsula before? Would you visit now? We’d love to know what you think! Just leave us a comment below…
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