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Lying in glorious Swansea Bay and next to an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the Gower Peninsula, Swansea’s location alone would be reason enough to visit.
However, with rich cultural heritage, one of the UK’s largest indoor markets, castle ruins, a picturesque fishing village and plenty of great shopping and restaurants, Swansea has plenty to offer without ever needing to leave the city.
One of Swansea’s most famous sons, poet Dylan Thomas described his hometown as an “ugly, lovely city.” Apart from Dylan Thomas memorabilia, the poet’s work is best brought to life with recorded performances of his work – including a reading by Hollywood legend Richard Burton.
Release your inner bard by creating your own poem with Thomas’ words. There are also occasional special events, including readings and signings from visiting writers. No visit to the gift shop would be complete without buying one of his collections of poetry and then having a read over a cup of tea in the café.
Wales’ largest market, award-winning Swansea Market is packed with 100 stalls selling pretty much everything, including baked goods, jewellery, DIY supplies, hats, flowers and cosmetics.
If you want a proper taste of Swansea, tuck into the Gower Salt Marsh lamb, Penclawdd cockles or laverbread. Otherwise, more international flavours include Chinese and Thai food.
Only about 10 miles from Swansea City Centre, Three Cliffs Bay feels a world away. The bay gets its name from the three pointed crag that juts out at its eastern end. Only accessible by walking along a sandy path, the great expanse of the beach never feels too crowded.
The surrounding green hills dotted with wildflowers and the meandering channel running into the sea also give Three Cliffs Bay a wild and fertile feel. If you find sandcastles a little underwhelming, there are the ruins of 13th-century Pennard Castle to explore – which also offer a spectacular view of the bay.
With over 5,000 Ancient Egyptian objects, the collection at the Egypt Centre is a treasure trove of antiquities. Thanks to a collaboration between The Egypt Centre and Swansea University, there is a wealth of information about each artefact – whether it’s an amulet or beautifully detailed papyrus.
While you may not be able to carry off any of the treasures, there is a gift shop which sells slightly newer reproductions – including children’s toys and jewellery. The objects may be priceless, but fortunately admission is free.
Mumbles is the pretty fishing village counterpoint to bustling Swansea. Don’t mistake this for some quaint backwater, however: the peninsula on which Mumbles lies is home to the fabulous mansion of Catherine Zeta-Jones.
Mumbles has high end shops, boutiques and art galleries, whilst the “Mumbles Mile” provides the night life. It has some of the best seafood restaurants around, produces local chocolates and some world-class ice cream. If you visit in the spring or summer, climb the hill to the magnificent ruins of Norman fortress, Oystermouth Castle.
Liberty Stadium is a great place to catch a Swansea City football match, an Ospreys rugby game or one of the many other events hosted at this 20,000 city venue. Previous performances have included concerts from Take That and Manic Street Preachers.
There’s also a behind the scenes tour which includes the players’ tunnel, dressing room, dug out seats and club shop. Tip: check out nearby Rossi’s Original for fish and chips. They even have a gluten-free version of the British favourite.
The NWM tells the story of Swansea’s industrial and maritime heritage via interactive technology and imposing physical objects in a beautiful gallery setting.
From early examples of steam engines, buggy-like automobiles, rickety aeroplanes and steam ships, Swansea is presented as a hub of innovation and manufacturing excellence during the Industrial Revolution.
A newer form of innovation is currently exhibited in Generation Games – running to 18th March 2018. This special exhibition followed the evolution of consoles through eight generations, featuring playable games from every electronic epoch.
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