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Travel Guide Europe United Kingdom Wales Swansea

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Introduction

Swansea is a city on the South Wales coast. With a population approaching 250,000, it is the second largest city in Wales, and located on the beautiful Gower Peninsula - the United Kingdom's first designated "Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty".

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Neighbourhoods

  • Swansea Urban - from north to south covering areas from Morriston and Clydach to St.Thomas and Swansea Bay sea front and from east to west covering areas from Port Tennant to Caswell. Swansea Urban includes the city centre and the tourist areas of the Maritime Quarter, Mumbles, Limeslade, Langland and Caswell.
  • Swansea Rural - basically the Gower Peninsula, covering all points west of Bishopston, Pwll Du Bay, Fairwood Common and Upper Killay, and also including the highland areas of Pontardulais and Mawr.

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Sights and Activities

  • Swansea Castle - The ruins of this 13th century castle are located in the city centre. While the remains are not substantial enough to warrant a special visit, the contrast of the battlements against the more contemporary architecture of its surroundings does provide an interesting backdrop for souvenir photographs of Swansea city centre - the building is floodlit at night.
  • The Guildhall - This elegant building of white Portland stone has graced the city centre's western approach since 1934. The main building only houses administrative offices and is of no interest to the casual visitor. However, Sir Frank Brangwyn's murals (originally intended for the House of Lords, but considered too frivolous) that grace the interior of the Brangwyn Hall are definitely worth viewing. The Brangwyn Hall is on the sea-facing side of the building and functions as the city's main concert and reception hall.
  • Arthur's Stone (Cefn Bryn, Gower) - A neolithic burial chamber or cromlech dating from 2500BCE.
  • Dylan Thomas' Childhood Home, 5 Cwmdonkin Dr. Uplands. Restored to reflect the environment of Dylan's youth, Number Five Cwmdonkin Drive is open as a self-catering guest house - suitable for budding writers.
  • Oystermouth Castle - The original castle was founded in the early 12th century by William de Londres of Ogmore and was constructed of ringwork and bailey. In the 13th century, the castle was the principle residence of the de Braoses, the lords of Gower (their other main residence was Swansea Castle), and most of the structure remaining today originates from this period. King Edward 1 is recorded to have visited the castle in December 1284. The present day remains are well preserved and the battlements offer commanding views over Swansea Bay. There is a small entry fee.
  • Mumbles Pier - Built in the 1880s to encourage more passengers to use the Mumbles Train, the pier is an edifice to the Victorians' love of the ocean. Compared to many piers around the country, Mumbles is quite simple in design, but the 255-metre walk from beginning to end allows for spectacular views over Swansea Bay. In particular, Oystermouth Castle and the high rise buildings of the city centre are in clear view

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Weather

Swansea has a wet and mild climate, with winter temperatures ranging from around 4 to 6 °C, while the summer average high is about 20 °C but often reaching to 26 or 27 °C. Sun lovers should visit Swansea from June to August, which is the period that records the most hours of sunshine and is the main tourist season. However, those who prefer long solitary walks along cliffs paths or contemplative strolls through wooded valleys should consider September and October. During these months, the air is crisp and fresh and the area quiet, with most tourists having already departed. However, as Wales is one of the wettest areas in the UK, you should always prepare for rain when visiting the region. Even in the summer, pack some rain gear and an umbrella in your luggage.

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Getting There

By Plane

  • Heathrow Airport has daily arrivals from the widest number of places around the world to the UK. By rail, take the RailAir coach service from Heathrow Central Bus station and change at Reading Railway Station for trains direct to Swansea. By Coach, National Express provide a coach service from Heathrow Central Bus station to Swansea.
  • Cardiff Airport (IATA: CWL), approximately fifty minutes drive to Swanesa. There are arrivals from various places in Europe. By rail, take the train from Rhoose Cardiff International Airport Railway station and change at Bridgend.
  • Swansea Airport (IATA: SWS) (located in the Gower Peninsula), ☎ +44 1792 20755. handles private aircraft only Swansea Airport on Wikipedia Q3544962 on Wikidata edit
  • Pembrey Airport, 17 miles to the west near Burry Port, handles private aircraft and offers charter flights from destinations in UK and Europe.

By Train

First Great Western Trains offer a very frequent express service from London Paddington Station to Swansea Station, stopping at Reading, Swindon, Bristol Parkway, Newport, Cardiff Central, Bridgend, Port Talbot Parkway and Neath.
Arriva Trains Wales runs local trains throughout Wales. After leaving Swansea, the train follows of the contours of the coast. A left side seat will give you the best view.
The famous Heart of Wales Line runs between the medieval town of Shrewsbury and Swansea, passing through some of Wales' most spectacular scenery and picturesque towns during its three-hour and forty minute journey. Trains depart Swansea at 04:36, 09:15, 13:17 and 18:21.
There are direct trains from Manchester Piccadilly to Swansea operating hourly during the daytime Mon-Sat, and every two hours during the daytime on Sundays. The journey time is about 4 hours 20 minutes. This service calls at Crewe, Shrewsbury, Hereford, Newport and Cardiff.

By Car

The M4 motorway links the city to Cardiff and London, with connections to the M6, M5, M32, M42 and M50. The main junction for Swansea is 42, but 43,44,45,46 and 47 also lead off into Swansea

By Bus

National Express runs frequent bus services from Cardiff, London, the Midlands, and Heathrow Airport. All buses depart and arrive at the city's Bus Station. The National Express ticket office is located next to the bus station. Megabus is a cheaper option. Greyhound operate a frequent and efficient bus service from Cardiff (Central Station) to Swansea (Quadrant Shopping Centre). Tickets are purchased on boarding the bus. No prior booking required. Discounts available when traveling outside peak times.

By Boat

Swansea Marina offers 750 berths for private boat mooring, and is a five gold anchor rated marina with Blue Flag status offering comprehensive facilities for both short and long term stays.

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Getting Around

By Car

There are several taxi ranks in the city centre. One is located at High Street Station for rail connections and one is located at Swansea Bus Station for bus/coach connections. A taxi rank beside St. Mary's church serves city centre shoppers. The taxi rank on Caer Street next to Castle Square is the most convenient for people returning home after a night out on Wind Street.

By Public Transport

Bus company First South West Wales maintain frequent services connecting all suburbs of Swansea and the Gower Peninsula. All buses depart from the Bus Station, and there are connecting links to/from Swansea's railway station. Visitors travelling to the Mumbles have the option of taking buses heading to these final destinations: Oystermouth (synonymous with Mumbles and the final stop is in the village), Limeslade (includes stops at Mumbles Square, Verdi's Cafe and Mumbles Pier), Langland, Newton and Caswell. All buses on these routes also make stops at St. Helen's Stadium, Swansea University/Singleton Park and Blackpill Lido.

First Cymru offer a one-day "FirstDay" bus pass for the Swansea urban area. It costs £4.00 per adult before 9:30am and £3.50 after 9:30am.

By Foot

Much of Swansea can be explored on foot.

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Eat

Swansea is teaming with quality restaurants - over one hundred in the city center alone. Wind Street for theme bars and quality international cuisine. Quality Chinese food on High Street and Princess Way. St.Helen's Road for take away and sit down Indian (also quality restaurants on Walter Road and off the Mumbles Road at Blackpill), Italian, Turkish and Indonesian. Cheap and excellent vegetarian at 8 Cradock Street, off Kingsway. The Environment Centre, Pier street, Marina offers cheap and excellent fair trade coffee and snacks.

Grape and Olive at the top of the Meridian Tower in the Marina has incredible views over Swansea Bay

Mumbles Road in Mumbles has a wide range of restaurants. Check out Verdi's on Mumbles sea front for great views over a cappuccino.

Joe's Ice-cream parlors are located on St. Helen's Road, near the Guildhall, and near the post office on Mumbles Road in Mumbles.

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Drink

Swansea's busiest and liveliest watering hole is on historic Wind Street (appropriately pronounced Wined) and surrounding area, which is also the home to many of Swansea's best restaurants.

Wind Street marks the centre of the city's night club and bar area, and on a Friday or Saturday night the words of Dylan Thomas, although originally referring to death, seem somehow appropriate in describing the mood of the revelers: "Do not go gentle into that good night, .... burn and rave at close of day; rage, rage against the dying of the light."

Another popular watering hole is the Brynymor Road area. This area has a more laid-back atmosphere than Wind Street and is popular with the many university students who live nearby.

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Sleep

There is a whole row of B&Bs on the sea-facing Oystermouth Road and also many in the spacious suburb of Uplands. Both locations are near the city center, though lodgings in the Uplands area tend to be of better quality. Mumbles Road in Mumbles also has a wide selection of B&Bs with sea views.

Budget

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
Glevdon Park Hotel362 Oystermouth Road SwanseaHotel-
Southmead Guesthouse72 Queen Victoria Road Llanelli,Guesthouse-
Express by Holiday InnLlandarcy, NeathHotel-

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafés can be found in many cities and towns. All UK public libraries provide access, often branded as "People's Network", usually at no or little charge, though there is usually a time limit. Some hotels/hostels also offer internet access, including wifi, but most times at a cost. Using the internet on your personal phone can become expensive very quickly, with carriers charging 100's of times the local rate for data. To avoid these expensive roaming charges, you can hunt for wifi at a local cafe or hotel, or rent a mobile hotspot via several providers including DATAPiXY, and XCOM Global.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to the United Kingdom is: 44. To make an international call from the United Kingdom, the code is: 00

In case of emergency, call 999 or 112 from any phone. Such calls are free and will be answered by an emergency services operator who will ask you for your location, and the service(s) you need (police, fire, ambulance, coastguard or mountain rescue). You can call this number from any mobile telephone as well, even if you do not have roaming.

Although the number is declining, you can still find payphones in many public areas, especially stations, airports etc. You can usually pay with cash and sometimes by creditcard or, for international calls, special phonecards are still available.

Mobile phones are heavily used. The main networks are T-Mobile, Vodafone, Orange and O2. 3G data services are available, usually priced per megabyte and coverage is usually very good in the UK, however it may lack in rural areas. Roaming on your personal phone plan can be expensive. To manage costs, consider purchasing a local UK SIM card for your phone. Several companies offer local SIM cards including Telestial, and CellularAbroad.

Post

The Royal Mail provides postal services in the United Kingdom. The Royal Mail's store fronts are called Post Office and offer services ranging from sending letters and packages to foreign currency exchange. Use the branch locator to find the nearest Post Office branch. There will be at least one post office in any town/city and there are quite often post offices in larger villages. It's common for a post office to be incorporated into a grocery store, where there will be a small counter located at the back of the store for dealing with post related matters. All post offices are marked with signs that say 'post office' in red lettering. Post boxes can be found at any post office and standalone large red post boxes on the streets or red boxes in the sides of public buildings.
For sending packages overseas, it might be a good idea to check prices and services with international companies like TNT, UPS or DHL.

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Accommodation in Swansea

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Swansea searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Swansea and areas nearby.

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This is version 5. Last edited at 8:57 on Jun 28, 17 by Utrecht. 2 articles link to this page.

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