Discover serene woodland and vast green spaces in the lush Valleys of South Wales. Unearth world-famous heritage sites and learn how the industrial landscape has shaped the region. From outdoor pursuits to historic riches, find your ideal day out on holiday in the region.
South Wales is packed full of entertaining activities for the whole family to enjoy. Walkers and mountain bikers can tackle the trails of the Brecon Beacons National Park, shoppers can indulge in retail therapy, and historians can explore the many museums and castles that pepper the region. Whatever your interest, we’ve put together our list of top attractions to help you get the most out of your holiday.
Wales Millennium Centre
Wales Millennium Centre is a performing arts centre located in the Cardiff Bay area of Cardiff. The centre regularly hosts musical, ballet, and operatic performances for visitors to enjoy. Whether you wish to see the latest comedy act or take part in a drama workshop, there is plenty to see and do across this internationally renowned site. A prominent feature in television and film productions, including Dr Who, visitors can take part in behind the scenes tours or learn about the technical direction of drama productions. After all that exhilarating fun, the complex offers several restaurants and bars to relax in.
Barry Island is a seaside resort forming part of the town of Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan in South Wales. Barry Island was, in fact, an island until the 1880s when it was linked to the mainland with docks. With an impressive beach and pleasure park, it is a popular attraction for families looking for a fun day out, as entrance to the park is completely free. With several rides to choose from, you can ride ghost trains, slides, and waltzers all day. Barry Island is also known for being the setting of the BBC TV programme Gavin and Stacey, attracting fans of the show who want to see see the haunts of beloved characters like Nessa, Bryn and Gwen.
The dinosaur park
Find out what it would be like to walk alongside dinosaurs at The Dinosaur Park in Tenby. One of the world’s largest dinosaur parks, this indoor and outdoor prehistoric experience has over 220 life-sized models of dinosaurs in a zoo-like environment. Follow the Dinosaur Trail and stand next to a Brachiosaurus or the fearsome Tyrannosaurus Rex. Learn fascinating facts about the food chain and eating habits of these majestic beasts, born millions of years ago, in The Info Centre. There are even more rides and attractions outside with a variety of attractions including slides, go-karts, and trampolines to choose from. If the weather turns, there is a huge indoor playground with a soft play area for little ones.
Rhossili is situated within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in a small village on the southwestern tip of the Gower Peninsula. Regularly referred to as one of the best beaches in Britain, it is not surprising that it has been nominated for numerous awards for its beauty and even dog-friendliness. With over 3 miles of sandy beach to walk along, it is the perfect retreat from the hustle and bustle of urban life. Walkers can look out over the bay and see the famous landmark, Worm’s Head. Named by Viking Invaders (“Wurm” translates as “dragon”), the rock formation snakes out into the sea, connected to an island “head” by the ominously named natural rock passageway “Devils Bridge”.
Cardiff Castle is a popular heritage tourist attraction situated in Cardiff city centre in South Wales. Built on the site of a Roman fort, this fairytale castle is steeped in over 2,000 years of history. The current castle keep and towers were built after the Norman conquest but still retain some of the original Roman features. Learn about the many families who were associated with the castle and take the house tour through the castle apartments to see how they lived. Discover the castle walls and tunnels that were used during the Second World War as air raid shelters. Whether you are looking to learn about its prominent past or simply take in the views and the beautiful parklands that surround it, Cardiff Castle is an educational day out for the whole family.
St Fagan’s National History Museum
St Fagan’s National History Museum is one of the world’s leading open-air museums, situated within the grounds of St Fagan’s Castle in Cardiff. One of the most visited heritage attractions in Wales, it documents the history of the Welsh people and has been open to the public since 1948. Visitors can explore the original buildings from different historical periods and learn about traditional Welsh crafts in one of the many workshops. Explore the castle grounds and beautiful beech woodland at your leisure, as admission is completely free. The nature trail is especially popular with children, where they can spot minibeasts and animals along the way.
Big Pit National Coal Museum
The Big Pit National Coal Museum is an industrial heritage museum situated in Blaenavon in Wales. A working coal mine until 1980, the Big Pit is now at the heart of the Blaenavon UNESCO World Heritage Site. Opened to the public in 1983, visitors can descend the 90-metre mine shaft to see the workings of the coal mine. Learn what it was like to be a coal miner throughout history on the underground tour. Bizarrely, the conditions deep in the mine are also ideal for maturing cheese and visitors can purchase some of the mine-matured cheddar in the gift shop!
Activities in South Wales
Explore Waterfall country
Over 160,000 people visit Brecon Beacons’ Waterfall Country each year to see its striking tree-lined gorges and dramatic cascading waterfalls. With so many visitors, the area has suffered from extensive erosion which has led to increased efforts to repair and protect it. Read about the geological history of the surrounding area as you walk through the beautiful waterfalls of the Neath Valley. As a Special Area of Conservation, a variety of animals reside in the area, so make sure you bring a pair of binoculars to do some wildlife spotting. For a wilder ride, the rivers leading up to the falls are fast flowing and great for experienced canoeists or kayakers.
Doctor Who Experience
Fans of Doctor Who come from all over the world to take part in the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff Bay. A fully interactive and multi-sensory space, visitors are always surprised by the sheer scale of the attractions and experience on offer. Join the adventure through space and time by following the Twelfth Doctor through the set and scenes from the show. With an array of props and costumes on show, it is the perfect day for a die-hard fan. The official Doctor Who shop is stocked up with plenty of iconic memorabilia to make sure you have something to remember your trip by.
Take a ride on the Brecon Mountain Railway
The Brecon Mountain Railway is a 1 ft. 11 ³/4 in narrow gauge tourist railway that runs through the Brecon Beacons. A popular South Wales attraction, the railway runs the length of local reservoirs, including Taf Fechan and Pontsticill, providing spectacular views through the Brecon Beacons National Park. Learn all about the traditional steam trains still in use and how the expert team at the Pant station keep them in top condition all the way to the line’s end at Torpantau. Pontsticill is the perfect place to stop for a picnic or visit the cafe. Enjoy the idyllic views across the Broads or let the children run out of steam as they enjoy the play area.
Did you know?
South Wales has a quarter of the UK’s population visit each year. That’s 17 million visitors a year!
Modern life washes away quickly on the warm golden beaches of South Wales. With nothing but seals, shearwaters and wildflowers to disturb the peace, you’ll be free to explore the hidden horse shoe coves, unblemished beaches and thrilling cliff top paths.
Admittedly, I am slightly biased due to the fact that I’ve been lucky enough to grow up in the wonderful part of the world, making memories which will last for a lifetime. I enjoy nothing better than hearing the sound of crashing waves and the sensation of sand running beneath my toes when strolling across one of the numerous blue flag beaches of Pembrokeshire. For me, the most important ingredient in making a holiday memorable is having lots of interesting things to do. With dozens of picturesque coastal towns and villages bursting with welsh culture and perfectly preserved Norman Castles, traditional Georgian market towns and Iron Age hill forts, this part of Wales provides the ultimate destination for an adventure, whatever your occasion!
Tenby - a picturesque harbour town encased in its historic walls is most definitely my favourite place to visit. With its timeless cobbled streets, eclectic gift shops, tranquil fishing harbour and thrilling leisure attractions nearby, there’s no wonder why it is commonly know to us locals as the jewel in Pembrokeshire’s crown.