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Reviewed on 12 Sep 2021
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Reviewed on 12 Oct 2021
Swansea, strung out along a beautiful bay of daffodil-tinted sand, was eulogised by its greatest poet, Dylan Thomas, as "an ugly, lovely town". It's a moniker that suits, as the city now fuses post-industrial copper smelting works with stunning coastline along the Gower Peninsula – the UK's first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In fact, it's down there, with the jaw-dropping beaches and surf-washed coves, that you'll find some of the most enticing hostels in Swansea. They have bunks that let you wake to the sound of roaring waves and outdoor seating areas where you can share a Welsh ale while watching the sun set across the Celtic Sea. The upshot is that hostels in Swansea offer a unique and interesting base from which to explore this poetic and proud seaside city.
Swansea is certainly not on the main UK backpacker route, which might be why you don't find an overload of low-cost accommodation in these parts. That said, the establishments that are available really do try to make the most of the city's setting by the Bristol Channel. Cue cosy Welsh cottages that have been converted into dormitory stays, spilling out from whitewashed walls onto salt-washed patios right by the sea. You can look forward to window views of rolling waves and rock-ribbed headlands, along with enchanting interior lounges warmed by wood-fired stoves for when the weather gets a little wilder.
When it comes to picking rooms in hostels in Swansea, you can choose from four-bed family units and larger mixed dorms to keep prices low, along with some ensuite spaces if you're keen for extra privacy. On top of that, hostels in Swansea often have staff on hand to help you plan your South Wales adventure. Maps and pamphlets related to the Gower's walking routes, history sites and various outdoorsy opportunities should be on offer at reception, while in-the-know local suggestions can reveal the top Welsh taverns and the best eateries the city has up its sleeve.
The most enticing area on the menu when seeking out hostels in Swansea is surely the Gower. A peninsula that juts into the Celtic Sea on the west side of the city, it's laced with stunning beaches and wild surf spots. It's perhaps the perfect backdrop for low-cost backpacker stays, what with countless little fishing villages and their hearty pubs thrown in for good measure. Highlights, down there, include the vast sweep of sand that is Llangennith Bay – a surfer's hotspot – and the dune-backed wetland walks around Oxwich. Tempted? The YHA Port Eynon is a prime option right in the middle of the Gower Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It's got four-bed dorms and larger rooms, along with a lovely patio space overlooking the swells. Closer to the city centre, the buzzing neighbourhood of Uplands comes with historic pubs and student bars, while the Mumbles is all about boutique shopping and the haunting outline of Oystermouth Castle – a top day out with the kids in tow.