There are so many amazing places to visit in South Wales! From the cosmopolitan city of Cardiff with shopping, culture, and nightlife, to the Brecon Beacons National Park which is full of walking paths and waterfalls, Pembrokeshire which is home to the best beaches in Wales, and so many places in between!
After spending most of my life visiting family between England and South Wales and then living in Cardiff for a while, I have put together this ultimate list of the best places to visit in South Wales which I’ll keep updating as I see more of the South Wales tourist attractions myself and more beautiful spots in South Wales because there are so many of them!
Places To Visit in South Wales
How to get to South Wales
Before we go into places to go in South Wales, I want to quickly tell you why South Wales is a great destination within the UK in case you are still in the research stage of a trip to South Wales.
If you live in Southern England or in the Midlands, South Wales is really easy to get to! The M4 runs into South Wales and it connects well to many motorways in England like the M5, M40 and M3.
If you live in London, I was so surprised to recently realise that the train from London to Cardiff is less than 2 hours! That’s why I wrote this post on a Cardiff day trip from London because it’s totally possible!
How to get around South Wales
Driving is definitely the best way to get around South Wales and if you have a car, you’re all good!
There are plenty of places to hire a car in Cardiff if you decide to get public transport to Cardiff from where you live if you don’t own a car.
If you don’t drive or you are visiting overseas and don’t want to drive, the public transport in South Wales is very good, especially the trains which will take you longer distances along the coast.
If you are relying on public transport, I would fully recommend South Wales over North Wales for ease of getting around.
I recommend looking at Transport for Wales to see the train and bus connections which will help you work out where to go in South Wales.
As for the roads in South Wales, the M4 connects a lot of the South Coast making it easy and quick to get from Cardiff to further places in South West Wales, and there are many good A roads.
There are a lot of country lanes in South Wales to navigate, however, I think the roads in South Wales are easier to navigate than North Wales if that is a concern of yours.
South Wales Attractions
South Wales really has something for everyone which you’ll soon see in this list of best places to visit in South Wales.
If you want a trip into nature with lots of long walks and barely any phone signal you can do that!
If you want a trip where you can keep the kids busy, there are lots of things to do in South Wales with kids so you can do that!
If you want a city break in Cardiff but also want to see some beaches and go hiking, but don’t want to go too far, you can do that!
South Wales Itinerary
Maybe you want to visit South Wales for 1 week and stay in 1 places, maybe you are visiting for 4 days and want to do a Wales road trip visiting many different places.
This list of South Wales places to visit will help you work out where to visit in South Wales with the time you have and depending on how fast you want to travel,
However, I also recommend checking out my South Wales itinerary posts below to give you a better idea of how much of South Wales you can see in 1 trip.
Best Places To Visit in South Wales
Now let’s go into my complete list of the best places to visit in South Wales to help you plan your South Wales trip or holiday!
Places To Go in South Wales
1. England Wales Border – Wye Valley
On the very edge of Wales is the Wye Valley so if you’re driving from Southern England to Wales, you should pass through the Wye Valley on the way.
One of the main places to visit in the Wye Valley is Tintern Abbey. The historic Abbey ruins of Tintern Abbey and the village of Tintern are a good place to stretch your legs at the start or end of your Wales road trip.
If you want a bit of a hike you can hike up to Devils Pulpit which is nearby and a great introduction to South Wales hikes!
2. Cardiff City
Cardiff is the capital city of Wales and it is a great city to visit and perfect for a city break with some added extras.
Cardiff is well known for its nightlife and things to do in Cardiff during the day include Cardiff Castle and walking around Cardiff Bay.
Cardiff is a good base to see more of South Wales from, you can do day trips from Cardiff to visit many places on this list of places to go in South Wales like the Brecon Beacons and Swansea Gower.
3. Cardiff – Caerphilly Castle
Caerphilly is just a 20-minute drive from Cardiff City Centre so it’s a good place to stop when you are entering or leaving Cardiff.
The top attraction is Caerphilly Castle which when constructed in the 13th Century was the biggest castle in Wales easily making it one of the top South Wales attractions!
If you want to stretch your legs, be sure to climb Caerphilly Mountain which is more of a hill than a mountain so it doesn’t take long and it’s pretty easy, but it gives amazing countryside views!
4. Cardiff – Castle Coch
Another great stop on your way into or out of Cardiff is Castle Coch.
Castle Coch is a really impressive castle and as you drive towards it, it looks like a fairytale castle sticking out of the woods! It’s a 19th-century Gothic Revival castle built to protect Cardiff.
You can go inside the castle by purchasing a ticket however it is impressive to see from the outside and you can also go for a walk around the woods of Fforest Fawr where it’s located.
5. Brecon Beacons National Park – Pen Y Fan
The Brecon Beacons National Park is definitely one of the top places to visit in South Wales because of its stunning countryside, its activities and hikes!
The Brecon Beacons is the best place for hiking in South Wales, it has the second-highest peak in Wales called Pen Y Fan (the highest peak is Snowdon in North Wales).
Hiking Pen Y Fan makes for a brilliant day out in South Wales and I really recommend taking on the challenge to tick this well known peak off and see South Wales from above!
Related Post: How To Do Pen Y Fan Walk in The Brecon Beacons!
6. Brecon Beacons – Hay on Wye
You’ll find the pretty market town of Hay on Wye in the Brecon Beacons National Park to the North on the edge of England and Wales.
Hay on Wye is a really unique place making it one of the places of interest in South Wales because it is famous for its literature and books!
The town is full of book shops old and new along with other independent shops and lots of nice cafes. It’s a real gem in South Wales!
7. Brecon Beacons – Waterfalls
The Brecon Beacons National Park is full of waterfalls and if you’re looking for where to visit in South Wales, I recommend going to see some waterfalls in the National Park.
There is a 4 waterfall walk which is a popular walk and relatively easy walk to do taking just a few hours.
There are places to go wild swimming in the Brecon Beacons on the walk as well as walking behind a waterfall and seeing more of the beautiful landscape of the National Park in South Wales.
8. Brecon Beacons National Showcaves
A really great South Wales attraction for families is the National Showcaves Centre of Wales located in the south of the Brecon Beacons National Park!
It is a cave exploration attraction with a dinosaur park, museum, Iron Age farm and kids’ play area so it’s the perfect stop on your Wales road trip or South Wales holiday for children to enjoy!
9. Barry Island
If you know of Gavin and Stacey, you’ll know Barry Island, and for some seaside fun and for one of the popular days out in South Wales you can head to Barry Island for the day!
Barry Island is full of candy floss, fish & chips, arcade games, and rides, some people think it’s a bit tacky but if you go for the fun of it, you’ll have a good time!
Plus, there are a few different beaches in Barry Island and some are much quieter and relaxed than others so it’s still worth checking out, even if you are dubious!
10. Glamorgan Heritage Coast – Nash Point
A hugely underrated part of Wales is the Glamorgan Heritage Coast! This part of the Wales Coastal Path between Cardiff and Swansea is full of amazing beaches and South Wales beauty spots.
Nash Point is my favourite area on the Glamorgan Heritage Coast in South Wales.
It has a towering cliff edge and the rocks down at the beach are one of the best places in ways for fossil hunting in South Wales! If you have children who are into dinosaurs, this is a great stop in South Wales!
11. Glamorgan – Cowbridge
Cowbridge is a lovely market town between Cardiff and Bridgend so if you’re driving from Cardiff to the Glamorgan Heritage Coast I suggest you take the scenic route rather than the M4 and drive through Cowbridge.
It’s full of independent shops in colourful buildings. There’s a pretty garden called the Physic Garden you can stretch your legs in and I recommend getting ice cream from Fablas Ice Cream Parlour.
It’s a hidden gem in South Wales for sure!
12. Swansea City
South Wales doesn’t have many cities but if you’re looking for a city break in South Wales which isn’t Cardiff, Swansea is your next best option!
Swansea City is only small but it benefits from being right on the water with Swansea Bay and Swansea Gower attached to it.
Swansea is known for its fun university nightlife and is also close to many of the best places to visit in South Wales on this list making it a good city base and location to be in in South Wales.
13. Swansea Gower – Rhossili Bay
The Swansea Gower feels like an Island off of the coast of Swansea and South Wales but it is actually joined to the mainland making it easy to visit from the M4.
Rhossili Bay is the most famous place to visit on the Gower because this beach has been voted as one of the best beaches in Wales (and maybe the world?). It’s not hard to see why so it should be on your list of places to visit in South Wales!
The beach is huge and you get an amazing view of it whilst taking a coastal walk down Worms Head.
14. Swansea Gower – Three Cliffs Bay
Another one of the best beaches in Swansea Gower is the Three Cliffs Bay which offers you a wild beach experience with sand dunes, a salt marsh and limestone cliffs, plus an amazing sand beach.
You can base yourself here for a few days on your South Wales trip, the Three Cliffs Bay Holiday Park is a well known and popular place to stay in South Wales or you can stop by whilst visiting the other places to go in South Wales on this list.
Related Post: How To Visit Three Cliffs Bay & Three Cliffs Bay Walks!
15. Carmarthenshire – National Botanic Gardens of Wales
When planning your South Wales trip, the National Botanic Gardens of Wales outside Carmarthen is a good place to stop all year round and definitely one of the good things to do in Wales when it rains because much of it is inside!
At this South Wales tourist attraction you can visit the Great Glasshouse and Tropical House indoors and get a ticket for the British Bird of Prey Centre!
If the weather is good you can stretch your legs in the 400 acre Waun Las National Nature Reserve which is an enchanting mosaic of flower-rich meadows, evocative woodlands, waterfalls and cascades.
16. Carmarthenshire – Pembrey Country Park and Beach
If you’re doing this Wales trip with kids and want to wear them out, or you want a really good walk yourself, Pembrey Country Park is where you need to visit.
With an 8 mile long beach and a huge woodland area there is plenty of space to walk! You can also do activities here like horse riding, Wales longest toboggan run, dry ski slopes, crazy golf and more!
If you are looking for caravan sites and camping in South Wales sites, I really recommend Pembrey Campsite because of how many facilities are within the County Park.
17. Pembrokeshire – Tenby
Now we are onto Pembrokeshire and South West Wales on this list of best places to visit in South Wales!
Pembrokeshire is the top holiday destination in South Wales and Wales overall, and Tenby is the most popular beach and seaside town in Pembrokeshire.
This extremely colourful town has everything you need for a Welsh seaside holiday includes Tenby holiday cottages, 3 sand beaches, coastal walks, shops, restaurants and boat tours.
I really recommend visiting Tenby on your Wales holiday because it is such a popular place and so many people love it as one of the best places to visit in Wales.
Another reason Tenby and the places near Tenby are so good is because you can base yourself here to see more of Pembrokeshire from in an easy way.
18. Pembrokeshire – Saundersfoot
Saundersfoot has a beautiful, big, sandy beach with a pretty seaside village and it’s really close to Tenby. In fact, one of my favourite South Wales walks is walking from Saundersfoot to Tenby!
Saundersfoot is home to some amazing food and restaurants you should visit here when in South Wales if you want a less touristic beach but still one with good holiday facilities around you.
19. Pembrokeshire – Manor Wildlife Park
Manor House Wildlife Park is a 52-acre zoo with large animal enclosures which you can walk through and see a close-up view of the animals.
A great stop for families to visit in South Wales and in Pembrokeshire to keep the kids entertained. It’s also a great childrens attraction in South Wales if the weather isn’t that great and you don’t want to be on the beach!
20. Pembrokeshire – Manorbier
Manorbier Beach is one of the beaches near Tenby and the best beaches in South Wales. It’s popular with locals and holidaymakers from nearby accommodation and holiday parks!
It’s a great beach for beginner surfing, and surfing for children because of its small waves. It has a rock and sand beach and is surrounded by a beautiful coastal path.
Whilst stopping in Manorbier on your South Wales trip, you can also visit Manorbier Castle and get some cake at Beach Break Tearooms!
21. Pembrokeshire – Barafundle Bay
Voted one of the beaches in the world, Barafundle Bay is a must-visit for beautiful places in South Wales.
The reason why this beach and bay is so nice is because you need to walk 10-15 minutes over a field and cliff top to get there and once you are there there are no beach facilities.
Related Post: How to Get to Barafundle Bay.
22. Pembrokeshire – Bosherston Lilly Ponds
This is a lovely and surprising walking loop from the very small village of Bosherston. From the car park, you are a minute from a beautiful pond and footpath that takes between 1-2 hours to walk around.
Not many people know about the Bosherston Lilly Ponds because they are hidden, so they are definitely a hidden gem in Wales that you need to keep in mind when planning where to go in South Wales!
23. Pembrokeshire – St Govan’s Chapel
If you want to visit more hidden gems in South Wales, St Govan’s Chapel is another place to visit!
This is a chapel hidden down a set of steps that leads out onto a hidden bay!
It’s really close to Bosherston Lilly Ponds so you should plan to visit both at one time on your South Wales itinerary.
24. Pembrokeshire – Freshwater West Beach
If you’re a Harry Potter fan you may know of this beach because it is where Dobby the house-elf is laid to rest after his battle!
There is a little memorial for Dobby with rocks and stones behind the dunes that you can visit which is a must-visit for Harry Potter fans in South Wales!
You should still visit this beach in Pembrokeshire even if you are not a Harry Potter fan because it is another one of Pembrokeshire’s best beaches. I visited at sunset and it was such an amazing sunset spot so try to include this on your itinerary for South Wales too!
25. Pembrokeshire – Pembroke Castle
Pembroke town is not somewhere you need too spend much time but whilst travelling through Pembrokeshire in South Wales, you may find yourself passing through Pembroke and Pembroke Castle is a nice place to stop.
There are so many castles in Wales and Pembroke Castle is one of the big castles that you can fully walk around so it’s one of the great things to do in Pembrokeshire with kids.
When in Pembroke town you can also take a walk along the river and get lunch or a drink in one of the many pubs close to the castle.
26. Pembrokeshire – Oakwood Theme Park
This is Wales biggest theme park and therefore the biggest of the South Wales tourist attractions. From my many experiences there as a teenager, a really good theme park too!
If you want to do something a bit different or it is not beach weather, you can have fun at Oakwood theme park!
27. Pembrokeshire – Ramsey Island
Ramsey Island is one of the beauty spots in South Wales. You can see and visit Ramsey Island on a boat trip. I booked this whilst in St David’s which is the small city nearby.
In the right season you can spot whales and dolphins from the boat and I believe all year round you’ll get to see seals which is what I saw. It’s a great day out in South Wales and Pembrokeshire for children and adults!
28. Pembrokeshire – Blue Lagoon
If you want somewhere cool to swim in South Wales, especially in the summer, you have to add the Blue Lagoon to your list of top places to visit in South Wales!
It’s a former slate quarry and now features a big, and deep, lagoon that is popular for coasteering, kayaking and swimming!
The Blue Lagoon is now one of the South Wales Instagram spots you see a lot of online!
For places to visit in South West Wales, Cardigan has to be on the list! Despite Cardigan’s small size, this ancient market town is a great place to base yourself in South West Wales because there are plenty of things to do in Cardigan and Cardigan Bay.
The Cardigan Bay coastline is by far the top attraction, it’s actually where the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path starts so if you enjoy hiking, this is a great place to go.
Cardigan is surrounded by amazing beaches which are much less touristy than many of those further South in Pembrokeshire and you’re bound to see more of Welsh local life in this part of South Wales.
30. Powys – Elan Valley Dams
The Powys region is technically in Mid-Wales but when looking at a map of Wales, it is closer to the South and easier to reach from South Wales, that’s why this impressive place area is ending my list of places to visit in South Wales!
Elan Valley and the Elan Valley Dams and Reservoirs are one of the top places to visit in Powys. They were built a hundred years ago to supply desperately needed clean water to Birmingham. Today, they are perfect for walking around and they are impressive to see with gushing water travelling from one dam to another!
If you are coming from the Midlands into South Wales, going via the Elan Valley is a good way to enter or exit Wales and see this stunning beauty spot in Wales!
Best Time to Visit South Wales
You’re definitely going to enjoy South Wales more if the weather is good.
Just like the rest of the UK, the weather in Wales is quite unpredictable, however, the sun definitely does shine in Wales and when it does, it’s absolutely… lush! (As the Welsh say.)
I say that late Spring and early Autumn are good times to visit South Wales for better weather, but also because in the summer school holidays South Wales does get busy with tourists.
So if you are flexible with when to visit South Wales, I recommend keeping that in mind.
For more information, I wrote this full blog post on the best time to visit Wales.
South Wales FAQ
What can you do in South Wales for free?
There are many things to do in South Wales for free. The main free activities in South Wales including going on hikes and visiting beaches in South Wales.
How many days do you need in South Wales?
As little as 2 days is a good amount of time for a city break in Cardiff and with 3 days in South Wales you can see a bit more. However, to see a good amount of South Wales, 5 to 7 days is recommended! 1 week in South Wales will enable you to see a lot!
I hope this has helped you work out the best places to visit in South Wales!
- For more of my Wales posts to help you plan your trip see:
- How To Spend 3 Days in Wales! Perfect 3 Day Wales Itinerary!
- 16 Beautiful Staycations in Wales To Feel Like You’re Abroad!
- Best Time To Visit Wales By Weather & Things To Do!
- TOP 20 Things To Do In Cardiff, Cardiff Bay & Near Cardiff!
- 15 BEST Beaches in Pembrokeshire To Visit & A Map!