South Wales boasts a distinct character formed by its fascinating history, rich culture and stunning natural beauty. Once an industrial coal and iron working heartland, the region today boasts green valleys, peaceful forests and rolling moorlands. To top it all off there are castles, glorious beaches and, the icing on the cake, Cardiff, the capital of Wales.
The core South Wales region consists of Cardiff, the South Wales Valleys, the Vale of Glamorgan, and the borderlands of the Wye Valley and Vale of Usk. Within these there is enough to cater for everyone, from nature lovers keen to explore idyllic scenery to history buffs interested in medieval castles and museums, and culture, shopping and food aficionados will love the great shops, dining and entertainments of Cardiff and the region’s other vibrant towns.
Sightseeing in South WalesIf sightseeing is your bag, you won’t be disappointed by South Wales. In Cardiff, you can learn about Wales’ history at the National Museum of Cardiff, and explore fanciful Cardiff Castle. Alternatively, you may want to tour the iconic Millennium Stadium and admire the modernist slate and steel architecture of the Wales Millennium Centre.
Elsewhere, explorers will love the Wye Valley, with its ancient and medieval landmarks, including the stunning Roman baths at Caerleon, Chepstow Castle and Tintern Abbey.
Or you can delve into Wales’ recent industrial past at the Blaenavon Ironworks and The Big Pit: National Coal Museum in the South Wales Valleys.
Your options for historical sightseeing don’t stop there: you could also venture into the beautiful Vale of Glamorgan to see its fine Ogmore Castle and wander round the gorgeous Dyffryn Gardens, laid out in Edwardian times.
Shopping in South WalesWhen it comes to shopping in South Wales, Cardiff tops the list. The city bursts with places selling everything from designer clothes to books, jewellery and local crafts. You can browse flagship stores at the St David’s Shopping Centre, stroll the High Street, or scour the independent shops and gift emporiums stuffed into the city’s Edwardian and Victorian arcades. Other shopping haunts include Abergavenny with its buzzing Victorian market hall, and Hay on Wye’s endlessly enticing bookshops.
Food, Restaurants and Nightlife in South WalesSouth Wales’ culinary scene is focused on Welsh produce and comes to life in countless restaurants, cafes, markets and foodie events. Cardiff offers artisan coffee spots, modern Welsh eateries and international restaurants, while elsewhere, you’ll find stylish bistros, tearooms, ancient inns, farm shops and gastro pubs perfect for lunches and evenings out. Food lovers especially will rave about Abergavenny’s popular Food Festival every September.
Outdoor fun in South WalesSouth Wales has outdoor pursuits in spades, and not just on its beaches. Families will adore the sandy beaches, seaside towns and adventure centres of Glamorgan, not to mention the walking trails, cycle paths and industrial heritage sites of the South Wales Valleys. Other draw cards include the bracing Brecon Beacons National Park with its Brecon Mountain Railway, fishing on the River Wye, and the almost endless opportunities for sports like mountain biking, kayaking, horse riding and golf right across the region.