A place I have enjoyed visiting ever since I was a child is Swansea, South Wales and although my earlier memories are somewhat vague I can vividly recall spending a considerable amount of time with my parents building sand castles on one of the beautiful beaches that the City has to offer. What I particularly love about Swansea is that in additional to enjoying the relaxation of the beaches the City offers a good shopping experience and for those of you who know me you will be aware of my passion for shopping! Whilst I have probably visited Swansea several hundred times over the years it was only approximately six years ago that I realised that the city had so much more to offer and over time my husband and I have explored many of the huge range of attractions and I'd like to share them with you in this review. My review will begin at the shops, as these are generally our first port of call when we visit the City. I apologise that this is a fairly long review, but it was harder to write in any fewer words, particularly as the City has so much splendour to offer.
THE SHOPPING EXPERIENCE IN SWANSEA
Whilst there are a number of car parks from which to choose, we opt for one, which is situated directly in front of the Waterfront, an area that is currently under extensive development. I cannot admit to the Waterfront being much of an attraction at this present moment in time, as whilst there are a number of luxurious apartments overlooking an array of expensive boats in the water there is very little else to see. The car park is suitable for up to four hours, which is something we were totally unaware of until last year when we returned to the car to discover that a Traffic Warden had taken delight in placing a ticket on our windscreen. Fortunately, I used my persuasive writing charms with Swansea City Council and the fee was eventually waived! Parking is charged by the hour and we always opt for the maximum of four hours and if my memory serves me correct it costs around £5 as opposed to £6 in the longer stay multi story car parking, which is only a short distance away. Our short walk to the shops takes us past a huge Tesco store and through the bus station where we enter the undercover area, which contains around 30+ shops such as WH Smiths, Boots and The Body Shop.
Situated in the centre is a fairly large area located directly in front of a huge Debenhams store where you can enjoy a cup of tea or coffee and a delicious cake. There are toilets located on the first floor, which can be reached by either the stairs or the lift. The toilets are always extremely clean and well equipped with toilet rolls, liquid dispenser soap and fully operating hand towels. Disabled and baby changing facilities are also available although I cannot speak of their cleanliness having never used them. However, there is always a staff member present who frequently checks the toilets to ensure they are kept clean and tidy at all times. There are no shops situated on the first floor, as other than for the toilets this is the entrance to one of the multi-story car parks. Located adjacent to the exit doors is a fantastic indoor market, which sells almost everything you could possibly think of and was recently featured on an episode of the TV programme Come Dine With Me or you can choose to go through the glass doors and shop amongst the outdoor stores.
It is at this point that I am able to sniff out Lush, which is located several stores away, but most definitely detectable. Unfortunately, the store is rather small and it is very rare that I will step inside, as it always seems to be full of rather eager women and I cannot bear shopping anywhere that is overcrowded, so my Lush purchases tend to be made in the much bigger store situated in Cardiff. I'm not intending to discuss each and every one of the shops, as you are able to find your general high street stores, such as all of the major banks, Samuels, Poundland, Tie Rack, Marks and Spencer, Wilkinsons Game, Card Factory and what I love about Swansea is that there are a number of shops selling unusual items. As I like something a little different I enjoy rummaging through quirky shops and picking up items for my home or as gifts, such as vases, candle holders and cuddly toys. For those of you who know me you will be aware that I am a huge fan of Betty Boop and was pleased to discover a year ago that there are two retailers in the City selling gorgeous figurines!
Whilst the majority of the shopping area is pedestrianised there are a number of areas that allow traffic, which is something I often forget until I find some frustrated driver behind me frantically beeping his horn! There are a number of places to eat such as coffee shops and pubs, but we enjoying eating in a small restaurant named Tiffanys where we are able to enjoy the most delicious home made meals. The restaurant is simply delightful and you can either choose to eat outside or on the ground or first floor. The restaurant offers a clean and well equipped toilet and the tables are beautifully presented with a crisp clean white table cloth and they offer the most wonderful customer service and I cannot admit to ever having a bad meal in there. Consequently, we've returned time and time again.
Unfortunately, the only public toilets we have found are those situated above the coffee shop that I have previously mentioned or there are some located at the bus station, but I cannot admit to ever having used these, as they do not appeal to me. Consequently, I tend to nip into one of the pubs selling food, as it's easy to pop in and out without being noticed! I have to mention that there is a newly opened ice cream parlour that is situated fairly close to the indoor shopping area and they sell every flavour of ice cream that you could possibly think of. During our last visit my husband and I decided to be really greedy and selected many flavours, which were presented to us in huge plastic cups together with various sauces, biscuits and a selection of childrens' sweets, such as smarties and chocolate flakes. Both ice creams came to well over £10, but they were simply delicious and I found that my eyes were far too big for my stomach, which resulted in me wasting half of mine. Once we have finished our shopping we generally head for Mumbles, so the next section of my review will discuss our journey to this beautiful cove.
The journey to Mumbles isn't too far a distance, but unfortunately, the road is what my husband and I have named "traffic light city", as I have never in my life seen so many sets of traffic lights, which always seem to change to red as we approach them! Located a couple of miles away are the most beautiful gardens I have ever seen namely Clyne Gardens, which are located at Singleton Park and are owned by the City of Swansea and somewhere we have visited on a number of occasions, particularly as there is no admission fee. The gardens could be a review in themselves, as they are so spectacular with their huge displays of stunning plants and flowers from rare species to natural collections. Seeing is believing with the plants the gardens have to offer, as amongst the array of species you are able to witness the outstanding giant Elephant Rhubarb and beautiful rhododendrons to the wood filled with pretty bluebells. The gardens are set over acres upon acres of land and are a place of total peace and tranquillity and we have frequently taken picnics and sat on one of the wooden benches and simply watched the world go by.
Set within the gardens is a castle, which was purchased in 1860 by the millionaire of Clyne, namely William Graham Vivian. The gardens hold considerable history because in addition to the castle there is a chapel and beneath it is a volt containing the bodies of some of the family members. We particularly enjoy the stunning Japanese Bridge, which is situated above water, which travels through the gardens and to the sea in Blackpill. The views are totally magnificent, as we are able to looks towards the sea and watch the luxurious yachts and speedboats as they bob up and down and sail through the clear blue water. The best time of year for visiting the gardens is during the month of August when all of the flowers are in full bloom. It is a perfect place to capture some wonderful photographic images of wildlife, such as birds of prey, which can frequently be seen hiding in the vast amount of beautiful trees.
There is a small barbeque area to enable you to take your own food and cook yourself a feast on a beautiful day and there are plenty of picnic benches and seats located throughout the entire gardens. There are toilets located near to the entrance, which are always clean and fully equipped, but unfortunately, these are the only ones situated in the gardens, so if you have walked to the top and are desperate to spend a penny, it is rather a long way to walk to relieve yourself. I cannot recommend these gardens highly enough and could go and on and on discussing them. However, if you require further information I am attaching the appropriate link at the end of this review where you can learn about their history and forthcoming events.
MUMBLES LEADING TO BRACELET BAY
We continue along Mumbles Road and as soon as we hit Mumbles itself we are able to witness the famous Joes, which is an absolutely delicious ice cream parlour. Unfortunately, parking here is very problematic and it is very rare that we are able to stop and enjoy one of their delicious ice creams. However, we have visited on many previous occasions where we will head for Mumbles prior to shopping in Swansea and can easily obtain a car parking space. We are able to either enjoy our ice cream sat inside the parlour or take it away and once you've tasted a Joes ice cream you will wonder what you've been missing. We continue to head towards Bracelet Bay, which is our favourite part of Swansea and it is on this journey that we are very close to where Catherine Zeta-Jones used to live during the time that she was starring in The Darling Buds of May.
Bracelet Bay has to be one of the most picturesque places I have ever visited and is home to the Coastguard Station and Mumbles Lighthouse. Parking is plentiful and by way of pay and display, which costs £1 - £2 dependent upon the length of your stay. We love sitting at the top of the bay and simply gazing across the sea, as on a clear day we are able to witness parts of Devon, which is an absolutely amazing experience considering it is so far away to travel by road. The bay offers numerous areas where refreshments can be obtained, such as a small shop selling ice creams, lollies, confectionary and hot and cold drinks; all of which are reasonably priced. There is a small café/restaurant located nearby with a good choice of hot and cold foods that can either be enjoyed indoors or out with us choosing the latter on a hot day, so we can enjoy the great outdoors as we eat our meal. The beach is a combination of sand, pebbles and rock pools and doesn't seem to get too crowded, but there are regularly families enjoying the sunshine whilst their children are merrily making sand castles. There are public toilets, which are generally clean and fresh and first thing in the morning they are fully equipped with toilet paper, hand wash and hand dryers. I use the word "generally" because as the day proceeds the toilets become a little smelly and there is no loo roll, so I always ensure I have an emergency pack of tissues in my handbag.
Situated approximately a quarter of a mile in the direction we had travelled from is another part of Bracelet Bay, which again, has easy parking by way of pay and display. Despite me having an awful phobia of heights you are able to stand on the cliff's edge and enjoy the magnificent views, but I have to stand approximately five foot away due to my fear. You can walk down to the lower section to access the small wooden slatted pier, which is by way of some very steep winding steps or a road for those with mobility problems, wheelchairs and parents with pushchairs. The pier has a huge amusement arcade and whilst I very rarely gamble other than for my twice weekly Lotto ticket, our last visit saw me nipping into the over 18's area and deciding to place a maximum of £5 into the slot machines. My first £1 coin gave me a win of £30, so I proceeded along the remaining identical three machines and walked away with £145 much to my sheer delight and amazement. I couldn't get out of there quick enough after changing my pound coins for notes, as it seemed too good to be true!
We then headed for the café/restaurant and purchased a pot of tea for two where we sat on one of the outdoor wooden benches and gazed across the water where we could see the City of Swansea from where we had just travelled. There is a small section of the pier that is cordoned off for fisherman or anyone else that wishes to visit and is accessible at 50p. We've never walked along this section, particularly as it is a fairly short length of pier and not worth spending the money unless we were intending to catch some fish. The café has two toilets; one of which is disabled and accessible by a Radar key. The toilets are generally clean and tidy, but unfortunately, there are always long queues. As my husband is registered disabled he owns a Radar key, which gives him access to any disabled toilets throughout the country, so it comes in handy at times especially when I'm absolutely desperate after drinking a cup of tea!
OTHER BEACHES AND COVES
Whilst there are over 50 beaches and coves located within Swansea I cannot admit to having visited them all, but the majority are on the list for future visits. We attempted to visit the Gower last year, but due to the fact that we do not own Sat Nav and I am absolutely useless with directions, we ended up driving around the wilderness for what seemed like hours, but although we never reached our destination, the journey was very tranquil and the views picturesque and we managed to find toilet and refreshments on our travels. However, I do not believe I could ever retrace that journey, as I have no idea where we were! I learned from carrying out a little online research that one of the beaches, namely Oxwich Bay was named the most beautiful beach in the United Kingdom for 2007 by a writer who travelled around the world studying more than 1,000 beaches in his/her search for the most perfect. Swansea has a most stunning coastline and we have been recommended many beaches and coves such as Rhossili Bay, Port Eynon and Caswell Bay; all of which are situated in the Gower, so it will be a case of borrowing my parents' sat nav for those visits!
I cannot speak of nightlife in Swansea, as I'm not really one for the club circuit having enjoyed too much of it in my younger days. Whilst I have never stayed overnight in Swansea or Mumbles, there are dozens upon dozens of hotels and bed and breakfast establishments; many of which are located on the sea front along the Mumbles road and I am attaching a link at the end of my review where you will be able to obtain full details of the attractions in Swansea together with places to stay. There are air shows that take place every two years in Swansea, which offer free entry. I am unsure if this year's air show took place due to the recent and very tragic death of one of the Red Arrow pilots and would advise that the next air show is due to take place in the summer of 2013. We attended the show in 2009 and were absolutely amazed at the excitement and roar of the sound of the magnificent planes as we watched them in the perfectly blue skies. Additional parking is laid on during the air shows where a nearby park is used, but a rather hefty fee is charged. However, it is well worth it considering you will be witnessing a spectacular show free of charge.
HOW TO GET TO SWANSEA
My husband and I live in the Caerphilly County borough so our journey to Swansea is by way of the M4 where we pass the outskirts of Port Talbot. It is well sign posted and we reach our destination in approximately 50 minutes. Whilst Swansea offers a park and ride service we drive directly into the City, as parking spaces are always readily available and fairly reasonably priced as opposed to other Cities that we've visited. There is a bus station situated directly in the centre of the City, so the shops are only a few steps away. The train station is a short walk from the City itself and there is a regular service offered by First Great Western and Arriva Wales. For details of coach and train times please see the link that I have provided at the end of this review.
As you have gathered from reading my review, there is so much to see and do in Swansea and it comes with my full recommendation. I could have gone into great length discussing each and every one of the attractions, but this review is to give you a flavour of what you could expect should you decide to visit. For further information about the City of Swansea please see http://www.swansea.com/Default.aspx
Further useful Links:-
Clyne Gardens http://www.swansea.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=1238
Travelling to Swansea http://www.swansea.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=11505
I hope you found my review useful and would thank you for reading.
This review also appears on Ciao under the same user name.
I have lived in Swansea for 25 years and originally come from the South East of England. The two places are completely different and Swansea and the surrounding area really is something special.
Swansea is in South West Wales about 40 miles west of Cardiff. The city has a population of about 250,000 within the populous area. The best thing about Swansea is the town and country lifestyle, you have a city with many bars and restaraunts complete with your average shopping areas for a city this size but the real added benefit is that Gower is part of the city and count of Swansea and has some amazing beaches, up to 1 million visitors visit Swansea and the Gower every year.
The city itself has your usual high street shops scattered around the centre with the main shopping centre called the quardrant, there is also an indoor market in the city which is the largest in Wales.
The nightlife in Swansea is very good, the main area to go out is called Wind Street with around 20 - 30 bars and clubs on the 250 metre strecth of road. Wind street has only been like this for about 10 years, the main areas for drinking used to be the Mumbles about 3 miles away and also the Kingsway which still has various clubs aswell such as Oceania.
The council thought it best for Wind Street to be the main area as the city wasn't big enough to have 3 drinking areas which is understandable as this would stretch resources for the police in Swansea areas.
Currently the city is under a massive regeneration project which is though to cost 1 - 2 billion over 10 years. This is fantastic news for Swansea as it has always been in the shadow of Cardiff the capital city of Wales for many years. Already changes can be seen with the new 20,000 all seater stadium which has a fantastic regional rugby team the Ospreys and the Swansea City f c which is also flying high in the championship (could this be the year for premiership football).
There is also a mjor development at the gateway from the east of the city called SA1 which is a mixture of offices and new apartments and flats taking up a huge area on entering the city from the M4. Also Wales largest residential building has just been complete in the Marina area which is 29 storeys high with a roof top 3 storey restaraunt and concierge service to go with it.
3 miles to the west is a lovely village called Mumbles which is very well known in the UK and has amzing views across Swansea bay taking in the city of swansea, lovely for running and walkers as there is a cycle path, the area has lots of restaraunts and a lovely pier which must be nearly 100 years old.
The Gower is also on the doorstepand was voted the first area in the UK of outstanding natural beauty, long may it continue, it is also home to bayss such as Three cliffs, rhossilli and the famous worms head.
Some of these have been voted best views in britain and also best beaches.
20 years ago there was no development, I honestly think within the next 10 years Swansea will have changed considerably from those days long ago. Swansea its the place I call home.
I have lived in Swansea all my life, if you are thinking of visiting the city you will find lots of things here such as wine bars, restaurants, ten pin bowling, parks, cinemas and beaches.
Here are a few places to visit in Swansea.
I love shopping in town as there as so many different shops, I do not recommend the High Street as it is very run down and unfortunately a lot of homeless people seem to hang around there. Not that there is anything wrong with homeless people BUT quite often they will be drunk and will annoy passers by.
The council is at the moment doing a lot of work to change how Swansea looks, the bus station is at present being demolished to make way for a new one which everyone in Swansea has wanted for a long time. The problem of course is now the bus stops are all over the city so you can have quite a trek to catch a bus.
Whenever we go into town one of the places we always go to is the market, there are so many stalls to visit! I like the crafting stalls so tend to have a wander round while my husband and son go off to find the sweet stall.In the market you will find fruit & veg, childrenswear, cardshops, bookstalls, electrical, bakerys, butchers and so much more.
The market is so full of character, you will find everyone who works in the market to be very friendly and chatty.
If you do visit the market don`t forget to try the lavabread and cockelshells!
In the middle of town are the gardens which have changed a lot over the years, there is plenty of seating and from the gardens you can see the remains of Swansea castle. Years ago Castle Gardens was a garden which was beautiful with lots of trees, grass and flowers but for some reason the council decided to dig it up and put paving stones down instead, yes there is a water feature which would look nice if the kids did not vandalise it.
There are 2 cinemas in the city, Vue which is located in York street which is near St Davids carpark and the Odeon which is located in Parc Tawe.
There is a huge free carpark which you can use for the Odeon though it can get very full during busy periods as there are a few shops in Parc Tawe.
Swansea has a really nice Marina which we used to like to walk around, you will find pubs, an amusement aracade and restaurants. Unfortunately the area seems to be going downhill due to teenagers and the police not doing anything about it.
Is located next to Swansea University, this is a great park for children, there are swings, slide, climbing frames which are all inside an enclosed area to keep the little ones safe.
You will also find the boating lake where you can hire a little boat, I have never been on one but my son loves them. Lots of ducks and swans live in the lake and they are always looking for food!
There is also a putting range.
Next to the park is the Pub on the Pond and I really want to recommed them as their food is really good and you get served very quickly.
This is located on Mumbles road halfway between the university and the Mumbles. If you have children they will love Blackpill as there are climbing frames, swings, a beach, paddling pool and a cycle route.
Mumbles is a seaside village with tons of character, you will find shops, lots of pubs, restaurants and a park. If you do visit the Mumbles don`t forget to try Joe`s ice cream which sells gorgeous creamy ice cream!
In the Mumbles you will also find the amusement arcade and pier which seems very popular with visitors.
Is located on the outskirts of the Mumbles, it is a beautiful ruined castle and back in June we took my son to have a look at it inside which cost us £1 for the 3 of us! We were able to have a good look round the castle and climb the steps to the top of the walls, when we did get to the top we could see the whole of swansea bay which looked amazing!
My son loves to visit the beach and so over the summer we have been going to different beaches around the Gower. You will need a car to get around this beautiful countryside because although there are some buses they are not very frequent and when they do turn up they are often full.
One of our favourite beaches is Port Eynon, there is plenty of car parking which will cost a couple of £`s depending on how long you stay. You will find a couple of cafes and chip shops and a post office. Port Eynon offers a really nice beach, a camping and caravan site, and lots of walks.
The last time we visited we had a look at a ruined salt house which was quite interesting, my son wanted to know why it didn`t have a roof!
Do I recommend you visit Swansea? Yes I do but don`t forget to bring an umbrella as it rains quite a lot here!
I grew up in Swansea and have to say that is one city which has a little bit of everything. Swansea is a sea side town with a town center, Mariana, beautiful country side and many beaches to visit (great for surfers).
At the moment the town center of Swansea is under re-development and has been for the last few years (it's almost finished), I think this will make the town center a nicer place to shop and eat. As in any town is has all of the main high street shops including Debenhams, River Island, Next etc. and a Zara is coming soon. There is also a theater in the town which brings in many variety of performances to Swansea throughout the year including ballets, musicals, dramas and of course pantomime. By the Marina in Swansea there is a heritage museum which is free to visit and is open 6 days a week.
Restaurants and bars
Swansea is renowned for it's night life with many different restaurants and bars to chose from. Wind street is the main place to go for a night out, restaurants like Frankie & Bennies, T.G.I Fridays and 2 brasseries (which I would recommend). Bars like walkabout and revolution are on this street and you can either stay in these bars for the night or as most do, go to the nightclubs like Oceana along the Kingsway (about 10 minute walk).
Countryside and Beaches
The Gower Peninsula is the countryside surrounding Swansea where you can take long walks and take in many of the views. You will need a car to get out to these areas as there are not many buses but the ones which do run only come once and hour and stop fairly early on in the evening. Many of the countryside walks can lead to a sandy beach. The beaches are very big so there is plenty of room and never seem over crowded. Three Cliffs Bay is one which I would recommend and has been voted one of the most beautiful beaches in Britain (however it is a long walk to the beach but is worth it).
Hotels such as Dragon, Ramada Javis and Priemeire inn and many more are all easily asseable if you are traveling by car or by public transport. There are also many B&B's along Swansea's sea front all of which can book up (especially in the summer session).
Swansea has a main line train station where trains run to Cardiff and London and also more remote areas of Wales. The station is just on the edge of Swansea town and has a taxi ramp and bus stops just outside. National express buses run from Swansea main bus station which is in the center of town and from here you can get other bus links or taxis.
As with any town there are places which are rough but these are mainly residential so shouldn't be a problem if your coming for a visit. I would say that there is plenty of do in Swansea at any time of the year and I've lived there for over 20 years and still love it.
As a former resident of Swansea and having lived in several places around the UK and abroad I believe I have a fairly good persective anout Swansea. This is a city that has all the potential to be a great destination located on the Eastern edge of the gower penisula and on the sea front it self, the location is fantastic.
The City centre itself has a wide range of shops and has recently been undergoing redevelopment over the last couple of years. The main streets are 'The Kingsway', 'High Street' and 'Oxford Street' which have be subject to this redevelopment. Oxford street has the majority of shops located there including Burtons, Marks and Spensor, Warehouse, Zara, to name but a few, and the 'Quadrant' shopping centre is located just off this street containing WH Smiths, Debinghams, Boots, HMV and more...
Parc Tawe is located about a 5 minute walk from the Quadrant shopping centre and contains 10 pin bowling and a 10 screen cinema (Odeon) as well as a giant green house housing exotic plants, spiders, snakes and butterflies to walk around. It also has a range of shops such as Staples and Mothercare.
Swansea University is located about a 20 minute walk from the city centre along the sea front and is a well regarded university especially in Engineering and Natural Sciences, and recently added Medicine and Law to its list of fields.
The night life is certainly well thought of throughout Wales with a Street called 'Wind Street' hosting a collection of Bars and restaurants such as Walkabout, Idols, Weatherspoons and Ask. This continues to the Kingsway where the majority of Night clubs are located.
The main bus station is located at the Quadrant centre and the Train Station is found on High Street which is part of the Great Western Railway line providing a direct link to London Paddington with no changes.
The Gower Penisular is definitely the crown jewel of Swansea boasting miles of sandy beaches clean water and miles upon miles of countryside walks. In my opinion the best beach isw Three Cliffs Bay but Rossili and Llangeneth are very nice and popular with surfers.
Its a great city, lacks some design and character but the location is second to none and has a great night life. Beautiful countryside surrounding it makes it a great place to visit.
-Should you visit Swansea?-
The short answer is yes!
As a tourist destination Swansea is a wonderful place. Surrounded by some of the UK's most beautiful countryside and situated so close to the sea I don't think you will find many places as beautiful as Swansea to visit.
Like all places in the UK Swansea is a slave to British weather and your experience of Swansea will be highly dependant on the weather.
Don't go in the winter. Swansea is one of the places in the UK with the most rain and being on the coast you have little protection from the weather.
In the summer Swansea is a wonderful place to be, perhaps best for those with cars who can travel easily to all the many places around Swansea that are worth visiting.
But don't discount it just because you don't drive. Swansea has a somewhat reliable bus service and walking around Swansea is really a pleasure.
I find the people of Swansea to be mostly very friendly and have always felt safe when travellilng around Swansea, although I would not recommend going out in Swansea town centre on a Friday or Saturday night. There have been many occasions when I witnessed English people being harassed and in some extreme cases attacked just for being English.
I don't like to dwell too much on the negative because wherever you go there are going to be problems but if you do visit Swansea it's important to know what to expect. Most people in Swansea are very friendly but it is a city known for it's racism and homophobia. It's like with any place though, you just have to be sensible.
Another negative side to Swansea is that in the town centre there always seems to be a huge amount of litter around the roads.
Now, assuming that you actually want to visit Swansea and I haven't put you off you might want to take into account the following things.
When I visit Swansea I always stay in the Marriott, partly out of loyalty to the Marriott hotel but mostly because it really is a wonderful hotel. It is located in the marina and unfortunately at the moment overlooks a building site. But usually the views are fantastic, looking either over the Marina or out to sea. The location is close to the town centre and also right on the beach so I honestly don't think you could find somewhere that was a better location.
The hotel itseslf is one of the best Marriott's that I've ever stayed in. The staff are by far the friendliest in my experience. Service tends to be very fast and whether it's the room attendant or the hotel manager the staff are always willing to answer any questions and give advice. The only issue I've ever had with the staff is that sometimes they talk a lot and when you're in a rush that's not always what you want.
Like all Marriott's the rooms are very comfortable and clean.
The only complaint I have about this hotel is that the leisure club is tiny. Last time I stayed there the gym was literally on the side of the swimming pool.
There are a number of bed and breakfasts located on the beach front. I've never stayed in any of them so I can't comment but they are in a great location and the prices are far cheaper than the Marriott is.
Swansea isn't the best city for shopping and if you're there as a tourist it's probably not worth going shopping. But if you are the kind of person who loves to shop and you insist on visiting the Swansea Town Centre you will find that the majority of shops are your average high street chains. There is a nice little indoor shopping centre called the quadrant that links on one side to the bus station and on the other to the indoor market.
The quadrant isn't anything special, just a group of shops that you will find in any city centre but if you do like looking around shops it's the best place to go (especially in the winter when it rains so much that you won't want to go outside if you can avoid it).
I do enjoy looking around the market. It just seems so traditional and the service you get there is so much better than in any of the big chains. The people working on the stalls are always friendly and willing to chat. I think it's the best place in Swansea to find independent sellers and shops that are a little bit different.
If you're looking for somewhere to have lunch in the town centre I would recommend Sapore. It's an independent cafe that's located in the picton arcade. The service there is excellent, one of the only cafe's I've found in Swansea that gives table service. It's not the friendliest service but it is quick and efficient. The coffee is also excellent. It's a really peaceful place to enjoy a quiet cup of coffee and lunch, although it does get busy during lunch time.
-Pubs and Clubs-
Swansea is a university town and so it has a lot of nightlife. If you're looking for a lively pub just head down to Wind Street in the town centre. It's a street of pubs and restaurants and I think it's a great place to have dinner with friends and then go out for a couple of drinks.
My favourite place on Wind Street is Reflex, an 80s bar with a dance floor. I love cheesy 80s music when I'm out with my friends so this place is perfect for us, but you do have to be in the right mood and be willing to make a complete fool of yourself. Alcohol helps and luckily the prices in reflex are usually pretty competitive and there is always a special offer on. Unfortunately it does not have disabled accessibility to the dance floor which is up a step.
Whatever kind of bar you like you'll find it on wind street- cocktail bars, sports bars and chain pubs like yates.
If you prefer to go clubbing then you're better off heading to the Kingsway.
Just a warning for anyone going to Kingsway- avoid Flares. It's not the music that puts me off- I think that 60s and 70s pop can be a lot of fun with the right crowd and I've always enjoyed the activities that they do there, like bouncing on a hippetyhop but if you are female in Flares you can expect to be harrassed by men who are old enough to know better. I don't just mean being chatted up. The men in flares seem to think it's acceptable to slap and pinch bums or grab your arm and not let you go. It makes it next to impossible to enjoy a night in flares.
I personally like rock music, particularly metal and if that's your thing then you should head to sin city on a Friday night for face off. While face off isn't as good as it used to be you will still find it to be the best rock night in Swansea. Face Off at one time was a great night out with one room of really heavy metal and the other of softer rock. In theory it still is but I've found that the music has been...diluted I guess. I'm not the best person to review music or clubs because I really don't know much about it, I just know what I like and since face off moved to sin city I don't like the music as much. However, it's still the best night out in Swansea.
Now, I couldn't review Swansea without mentioning the mumbles mile. For those of you who don't know, the Mumbles Mile is a mile of pubs. If you're up for the challenge I would definitely recommend doing this. I've never actually completed it and don't drink alcohol anymore but it's always fun to try if you do like to drink. There are different rules that you can play by so there's something to suit everyone's drinking ability. If like me you don't drink this might not be as much fun.
In Swansea you can get pretty much any kind of food. I'm just going to mention some of my favourites.
For Indian food I would recommend Miah's. It's on St. Helens Road and is set in an old church which I think adds a really nice touch to the restaurant. It's really beautifully decorated and I love going in just because it is so beautiful. The food does match the decor, serving the best curry you will get in Swansea. I have found that on occasions the service can be quite slow but that is completely forgivable when you taste how wonderful the food is.
For Italian food it has to be Ask. I've eaten in there a number of times and found their food to be consistently excellent. I think the restaurant is comfortable and the staff are always willing to help. The only complaint I have is that they're not completely disabled accessible and even when we called to inform them that we were going to have a wheelchair user with us they seated us in an area that had no wheelchair access.
I don't actually like sushi which I discovered when I went to Wasabi for dinner. Although I didn't like the food I did think that the service was fantastic and very fast. So if you do like sushi Wasabi in upplands is a good place to go.
If you're looking for Chinese food I woud recommend China China. It's a Chinese buffet on Wind Street and you will find a huge selection of Chinese food. The prices are really reasonable and of course it is all you can eat. The staff aren't the most attentive or the particularly polite but with a buffett good service isn't so important.
There is so much to do around Swansea and I am sure that you won't be bored if you do decide to visit. I haven't done everything there is to do in Swansea but I have visited quite a few places in and around Swansea and these are the places that I would recommend.
-The Gower. This is quite possibly one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. An area of outstanding natural beauty, the gower offers a number of beaches. It's easier to visit all of the many beaches if you have a car but it is possible to do it by bus. I have done both and to be honest I wouldn't recommend doing it by bus. The bus service is okay but it's not that regular and the last thing you want to do is be waiting around for buses. All of the beaches in the gower are beautiful and worth visiting so if you are using public transport it might be best just to pick one beach and stay there.
If you are going to choose one beach I would recommend Rhossili. I'm not sure exactly why it is my favourite of all the beaches, it just has this really magical feel to it. It's such a peaceful and beautiful place and it's absolutely wonderful for walking.
However, if you do have a car it is worth going to all of the beaches if you have time. Each one has it's own views and every single one is beautiful.
Clyne gardens is a really really big park, basically. I love going there because it's just so peaceful and when you're there you forget that you're in a city, it's like you're in the middle of the countryside. I love walking and have found that this is one of the best places to walk in Swansea. I know that it's very popular and a lot of people go there but whenever I've visited I've always felt like I was the only person there and was always shocked to run into other people! I guess it's because it's so big so you can have lots of people there without them bothering each other.
I know nothing at all about botany but the flowers are very pretty and it's the perfect setting for picnics or long walks.
You don't have to travel far for beautiful views. If you sit on Swansea beach you can see right the way out to mumbles in one direction and all the way to port talbot in the other (admittedly looking out to port talbot isn't so nice during the day). You will find that during term time there are a lot of students on the beach because it's so close to the university and often a lot of litter because of this.
I think the walk from the marina to mumbles is one of the most pleasant walks I've ever taken. It took me about two hours each way but I enjoyed every moment of it and probably could have walked it in much less time if I didn't stop to admire the view every step of the way. Plus if you make it to mumbles you can reward yourself with an ice cream!
I haven't actually been to Swansea with any children but I'm always looking out for places that would be good to take my family and have often thought that I would like to take them to Swansea. During the summer it seems like the perfect place for children, with plenty of beaches for them to play on, Swansea beach has a children's play area in the form of a pirate ship which I think is great and even at the age of 24 I love playing on it. There are also outdoor paddling pools where children can play.
One place that I would recommend for children and families is Pub on the Pond. It's located across from the beach, next to the university. It serves lots of great food (although I've found that they run out of food very quickly) and has a lovely outdoor area with a play area and a pond where you rent swan shaped boats.
Swansea does have a vibrant gay night life. On High Street there are a number of gay pubs and clubs. If you've been to cities like Manchester, London or Brighton where there is a really big gay community and really great clubs then you will probably be disappointed because it's nothing compared to that but it is very up and coming.
I don't intend to review all of the gay pubs and clubs, I really just wanted to issue a warning. Homophobia is high in Swansea. Attacks on gay people aren't uncommon and there are even taxi firms that refuse to pick people up from gay clubs.
If like me you love places of natural beauty Swansea is definitely the place for you to visit. The beaches and parks in and around Swansea are some of the most beautiful in the country and many of them have won awards.
Swansea does have a lot of nightlife and you can have a really great time going out in Swansea but I wouldn't recommend going there just for the night life. It's good but it's certainly not as good as Cardiff, which is only an hour away. So, if a wild weekend partying is what you're looking for Swansea isn't the best place for you.
If, however, you're looking for natural beauty, a place to unwind, relax and maybe reflect then you won't find anywhere better than Swansea.
Swansea is a City of variables, and has a lot of features within it. Dylan Thomas described it as a 'lovely, ugly town' and in a perverse way i would agree with that:
As with any town or City, there are some undesirable areas and some rough areas, but on the whole Swansea has some great people and great features and facilities!
Swansea is going through a massive period of re-generation and as a result is having a lot of money invested. The city has a great Marina, and a new 'entertainment' quarter in Saliburious Place and Wind St where the majority of bars and bar/restaurants (like TGI Fridays etc) are.
Swansea is on the coast and has some amazing beaches (especially in Mumbles/Gower area). There are also some excellent restaurants with many serving local produce.
Sports-wise you have Swansea FC (playing in the Championship) and the high flying Ospreys RFC (heading up the Magners league), both of which play from the newly built Liberty Stadium. There is also the Wales National Pool hosted in Swansea, and a redeveloped Leisure Centre right in the middle of the City. There are also plenty of Sports clubs if you want to try your hand at anything locally.
There are two Universities - both of which are pretty central, and lots of schools and colleges throughout.
Great city, great people.
I have been living in Swansea for two years now. I moved here to spend do a degree at Swansea Institue of higher Education. I have spent one year in halls and one year in a house close to the town centre. And what can i say, i like it here. There is a wide variety of shops, offering everything you could want. As well as nearly all the major nationwide chains, there are numerous shops that would you wont find anywhere else. One highlight in the Indoor market, open everyday, right in the heart of the town. The beach is not far, only about 10 minutes walk from town, and it surprisingly, a very nice beach. Big sandy and clean. A short drive away is the Gower, which is an area of outstanding natural beauty and is also great for surfing. If your looking to eat then there are a wide range of possibilties. There are many many Indian resteraunts, most of them offering all you can eat for around £6. As well as this there is a selection, of chinese, itailian, and every other restaurant you could want. Particuarly recommended are the Vietnam Restaurant and the Mongolian BBQ. There are a vast number of pubs, clubs and bars. They all have various nights and offers which change all the time. At the time of writing the best value pub award goes to the Orange House in the Kingsway on Monday and Wednesday day, where they off 2 of any drink for £2. So thats stella for a £1 a pint, now you cant argue with that. The majority of the larger pubs are in Wind Street. Beautifully set up for a pub crawl. Down here you will find a lot of chain pubs, a weatherspoons, hogs head, the square, etc. But because they arte all in intense competition they are all reasonably priced (except the square, which is expensive). My favourite pub in the day time has to be Th Cross Keys, located near castle square. It is a very old building made of various 15th, and 17th century architecture. (this may be inaccurate, but you get the geist). It h
as the best pub garden in the city. As for clubs, well whatever your taste it will hopefully be catered for, but there is a lot of leaning to cheesy pop nights and drum and bass style evenings. If they are your cup of tea you will be fine, but if like me you prefer rock nights then the only place to go is Escape on Friday nights. On every other night of the week this is Swansea hippest dance venue, but on firday night they host 'Face Off' with one room of rock and one room of Indie. Its a quality night everytime. In short, best club for cheese: Spoofers. Best Club for dance: Escape, but not on fridays. Best club for rock: well it used to be the Rocket, but this has recently changed into the dance station, so hopefully if will turn back, so at the moment, Escape on Fridays. Best Club for older people: Jumping Jacks The worst thing has to be the hills. the centre i flat but as soon as you get away form the coastline a bit, its hils hills and more hills. There is much more than i have mentioned here. Come down and give it a try.
Meet up with your mates at The Crosskeys in Princess Way. Soak up the ambience and excitement resonating throughout the stone building whilst taking advantage of the 2-4-1 offer on selected bottled drinks. There is always a large friendly crowd in the evenings and for all you young and free females there are always some sexy rugby lads! However, you might have trouble finding a seat. That of course, is the ideal excuse to make the trek across the town centre over to Wind Street and straight into The Square. Everyone in Swansea knows this is the premier place to be if you like your shots and cocktails. Of course such fame comes with a price, so down a few Brain Damage (Grenadine, Archers and Baileys - guaranteed to get you steaming for under a fiver!!). Then settle back for a while with a bottle of Smirnoff Ice, enjoy the lively atmosphere and watch (or dance - depending on level of drunkenness) the pop videos on the GIANT square TV rotating in the middle of ceiling! Enhance the mood by staggering up to the top of Wind Street and straight into Walkabout. This really is the pub with the party atmosphere and as you enter you'll find music blaring from all sides. They play everything from golden oldies like YMCA or Car Wash to hits from the 90's such as Bonjovi's Living On A Prayer (guaranteed to get the whole place singing along!). Move on down to the back and boogie with the DJ. Go in the week and you might just catch a live band! The Australian theme is shown throughout and all the staff are a great laugh and if you ask nicely one of them might lend you their corkscrew hat! As closing time draws near head on into the "Dunnies" and smarten yourself up a little before heading off the The Kingsway and of course the clubs! This is where the decision for the next move gets hard! The choice will depend mainly on your taste in music - the bank balance damage is about the same up and down the Kingsway with the average
entry fee after 11PM falling at around the £6 mark! Jumpin Jaks - Cheapest of them all, with loads of drinks on offer! If you love to get up on the tables and dance, singing "Come On Eileen" all the way then this is the place for you! Time - Good all round club scene with a different DJ and sound every night! The dance floor is large and always packed at the weekends. Thursday is student night and incredibly cheap! Icon - Sounds of the 90's and once again fairly cheap drinks. Once again Thursday is student night - the best bit being that you can walk between Time and Icon for free! Escape - My firm favourite! This is the trance club of Swansea with some rockin' sounds coming every which ways. This place literally buzzes and kicks off every weekend! It has the biggest and best sounds and is always crammed. Of course such fun comes with a price, and this is easily the most expensive club in town. Save yourself a few bob by getting a club card! Look out for Tim on a Sunday night, he sells Glo-Stiks on the corner! So there's your guide to an evening in Swansea, so go get your clubbing clothes on... we're going out!
As a born and bred 'Swansea Jack', I just had to pen a few lines about this wonderful city. Swansea has an awful lot to offer in terms of areas of outstanding natural beauty, an array of beaches that would put a lot of European holiday resorts to shame, and bars, restaurants and nightlife, that despite having lived in regions throughout the UK and Europe, I have never seen matched. If you enjoy a game of golf, you will be spoilt for choice. It is home to Swansea University, an amazing self-contained campus on the sea front, Swansea Institute, just outside of the town centre, and a number of major FE colleges, and because of the high level of students, there is a massive market for 'buy to let' properties. If you want to move here, house prices are still quite reasonable, although rising, and we are home to some pretty good schools. The city has a superb shopping centre housing all of the big-name major stores, including a very popular market,(where you can get cockles and laverbread - not for the faint-hearted) and also has a large Enterprise Zone which houses stores ranging from Hypermarkets and electrical stores to Furniture stores, garden centres and car dealerships. You will need a car however to visit this area of town, as the bus services at the weekend are non-existent, I think there is some public transport during the week geared towards local workers, check at the bus station. Swansea Leisure centre is well worth a visit, and houses a large swimming pool, complete with wave machine, water shutes and diving pool, together with a range of other activities including badminton, squash, a gym, kids clubs and bowling, to name just a few. It is not however cheap, if you are a student or unemployed, take some ID with you, the discounts are quite good. A visit to Swansea will never be complete without a visit to Joe's ice-cream parlour, where you can purchase a wonderful array of products which can be eaten
in their smart cafe, or taken home. I would defy anyone to visit this shop over the weekend and not have to queue, whatever the time of year and weather. There is a large range of hotels in both Swansea and Mumbles, catering for all budgets, ranging from the Marriott, for those who can afford to stay in the same hotel as Michael Douglas, to the small bed and breakfasts on the sea-front, although book early to avoid disappointment. The city has a wide sporting base, being home to both a major football and rugby team, and also will, in the near future be home to the only olympic size pool in Wales. It is in the night that the city really comes into it's own, and people travel from all over South Wales at the weekend to sample the nightlife. There is an area of the city, known as Wind Street, which has given its identity over to the cafe quarter, and houses a massive range of bars which again will suit a large range of budgets, the biggest problem is having to queue to get into them at weekends because of the sheer number of people around. When the pubs close, customers can make their way to one of the many nightclubs on the Kingsway,(be prepared to queue) or for the more serene amongst us, enjoy a fantastic meal at one of the many late night restaurants, covering Chinese, Spanish, Indian, Greek, Veggie, Italian to name a few, the biggest problem you will have is deciding where to go. Swansea is known locally as 'the graveyard of ambition', because of the high level of people who holiday on the Gower when their families are young, and then move here when they retire. Many people who come here to study, stay, providing they can get a job. This is the biggest problem in Swansea, as well paid jobs are hard to come by, however, if you are prepared to commute and want live in a nice city, there is a reasonable choice of jobs in Cardiff. So please, if you are at a loose end, enjoy site seeing, and fancy a few nights out, t
ry Swansea. One word of warning, it does rain a lot.
I had the opportunity to visit Swansea recently and was pleasantly surprised by what the city and surrounding areas have to offer both in terms of scenic beauty and stretching coastlines, and variety of pubs,winebars, restaurants and clubs. The city of Swansea situated in South-West Wales offers spectacular contrasts of lively entertainment and natural vibrant beauty. It has a varied yet beautiful coastline and the famous Gower Peninsula which is only a few miles out of the city. You will find all the pubs, restaurants, wine bars and café bar’s in Swansea’s Wind Street. There is a wide array of clubs both in the city as well as in the picturesque holiday town of Mumbles which is 3 miles out of the city. Whatever music you’re into, be it Heavy Rock, Hip Hop, Techno or Jazz you will surely find something to your taste here. One of the big Club names at Swansea is Escape, which is the main dance club. Swansea has a large student population so there are always cheap drinks, admission and events happening throughout the week at these clubs. No trip to Swansea would be complete without a visit is Joe’s ice-cream which is exclusive to Swansea. Joe’s is an Italian ice-cream parlour owned through family generations, who have been making ice-cream since 1922. There are 2 or 3 of these ice-cream parlours throughout Swansea. The speciality is vanilla ice-cream. I tried a combination of vanilla and cassata ice-cream, very creamy and tasty, reasonable prices from single scoop from 65p upwards. To get away from the bright lights and buzz of the city you are only within minutes drive to some of Wales most beautiful stretches of sandy beaches along Swansea’s broad sweeping bay. The first stretch is the beautiful small town of Mumbles which follows into the famous 19 mile long Gower Peninsula. There are plenty of walks nearby, and many outdoor activities such as windsurfing and canoeing. As Swanse
a offers a beautiful coastline there is never shortage of B&B’s alongside Swansea Bay with views of the Bay, prices vary from £18-£35. I had free accommodation (fortunately!!) so have not experienced any of the B&B’s. I also noticed a few large Hotels, such as the Marriot which overlooks Swansea Bay. Ah, so now you know a little about it, if you’re tempted to visit; Getting to Swansea was not too hard for me by car although the journey took 3 hours from the North the variety of scenery and terrains kept me interested. From the North connection to Swansea is via M6,M5,M42 (briefly) M50 and the M4 connects to Swansea. From the South I guess the journey may be slightly quicker via M2 and M4. If you don’t enjoy driving there are rail services to Swansea, though from the North there was no direct train service, with journey time quoted as 5-6 hours. You can obtain exact train schedules from National Rail should you decide on this mode of transport (subject to current Rail maintenance and speed restrictions..). There are coaches too, though journey times quoted were far too long for me (8hrs!) Should you wish to fly the nearest airport is in city of Cardiff, approx. 40 mins drive from Swansea. On the whole, in the few days I spent in Swansea and its surrounding areas I felt, relaxed and had a variety of entertainment to prevent me getting bored. If you don’t live near the coast the sea breeze and varied coastline makes a refreshing change of scene ideal for a short weekend away.
This is my home town. I find it very nice to libe, there are many beaches, there is one right near the town centre, so it is easy to get to from hotels, there are some wonderful; hotels to stay in like the Marriott and the Forte which are about £40 a night. Along the seafront there are rows of B&B so you would never have to worry about somewhere to stay. Mumbles is also in Swansea which is a little village, it has a pier and a beach, there are lots of little restarunts scattered around up further is the Oystermouth which is another area, it has a little pool for children and one you can go on boats. I would recommend eating in the Woodmans pub it is lovely
Swansea is Wales' second largest city and has a lot to offer its visitors and its residents. I have lived in Swansea all my life! The best thing about Swansea is that it is next the sea and has many beautiful beaches, there is also the Gower Peninsula, which has breath taking scenery, ideal for walkers, campers. Swansea also has a very important historical background, it used to be a major port for nickel and steal, the biggest of its type in the world, there are places like the Maritime museum that you can visit if your interested in Swansea's history. Swansea city centre itself is nothing special, there aren’t loads of shops, just the typical shops like Argos, all the shops are all scattered around there is like the City Centre, and then there is Parc Tawe so its not all in one place. There is a centre attraction to the City Centre and that is Castle Quays where fairs and small shows are put on. If your coming to Swansea for shopping - don’t bother, if your coming for great beaches, great scenery then definitely come to Swansea.
Swansea is not as bad as it used to be. The city itself is a busy pedestrianised area with a lot going for it. All the big shops are there, and a lot of smaller out of the way ones too, if you're willing to explore. The leisure centre has been updated over the last few years, and has all the usual facilities, including squash courts, pool, badminton and a lot more besides. How about having a pool party? That could be arranged the last time I looked. If the city is not for you, then how about Singleton and Brynmill parks. Singleton is the bigger of the two parks, and offers beautiful walks through open parkland or if you prefer, wooded areas. The botanical gardens there are well worth a look too. Seaside more for you? Then the gower peninsula is only a few minutes from the city, and boasts many beautiful beaches and country walks through the national heritage park. Well worth a visit, something for everyone. ( and no, it doesn't rain all the time)