Swansea

For other places with the same name, see Swansea (disambiguation).
This article is about the urban area of Swansea. The Swansea Rural is covered in a separate article.

Swansea (pronounced: Swan-zee; Welsh: Abertawe) 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".

Districts

Understand

History

During medieval times, Swansea was a prosperous market town, later gaining a certain prominence as a spa resort. It was during the industrial revolution, however, that the city flourished and its population grew. The city is home to the world's first passenger railway service known as the Mumbles Train, which bumped and bounced along five miles of Swansea foreshore, linking the city centre with the suburb of Mumbles. Much of the city centre's architectural heritage was lost through wartime bombing. However, the abundance of parks, stunning coastal scenery, lovely water-side suburbs, a magnificent bay-side maritime quarter, varied cultural events, medieval castles and golden sandy beaches have preserved Swansea's place as a major tourist destination. Furthermore, according to a survey conducted by an international health magazine that considered, among other factors, a city's crime rate, life-style, environment etc., Swansea was judged to be the most relaxed city in the UK, while two national surveys have ranked the city as the third friendliest place in the country with regard to customer service and the safest urban area in the UK. Citizens from Wales' second city are known as 'Swansea Jacks,' and the name 'Swansea' is derived from 'Sweyn's-ey,' the Scandinavian name for the original settlement.

Dylan Thomas was passionate about Swansea, and in his early days described it as an "ugly, lovely town, crawling, sprawling, slummed, unplanned, jerry-villa'd, and smug-suburbed by the side of a long and splendid curving shore." Later, he referred to it as "the most romantic town I know," and described it with great gusto as a "marble town, city of laughter, little Dublin" and screamed triumphantly "Never was there such a town!"

Incidentally, the Swansea seaside resort of Mumbles derives its name from the French word mamelles, meaning "breasts"; take a look at the two islets off Mumbles Head from across the bay, and it is easy to see why.

Climate

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) 6 6 9 11 15 17 20 20 16 13 10 10
Nightly lows (°C) 4 4 7 8 12 14 17 17 13 11 8 8
Precipitation (mm) 71 52 45 49 36 42 41 50 55 81 71 71

Met office five day forecast for Swansea:

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.

Famous Faces

Swansea's rich and diverse history has created a city of character, which has proved to be very fertile ground for producing well known personalities. In the literary world, Dylan Thomas is Swansea's most famous son, and inscriptions of his verse can been seen throughout the city. The Oscar award winning actor Catherine Zeta Jones was born and raised here, as were actors Joanna Page and Matt Ryan. The 70s and 80s rock sensation Bonnie Tyler is also from Swansea and still lives in the seaside suburb of Mumbles. Sir Harry Secombe, who entertained the country for decades, hails from Swansea's East Side, and also in the entertainment world, the TV playwright and producer Russell T. Davies (of recent Dr. Who fame) has his roots in the city, as does actor-turned singer Steve Balsamo. In the upper echelons of religion, economics and politics, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, Nobel Prize Winner Professor Clive Granger, former deputy-prime minister, Sir Michael Heseltine, and a former leader of the Conservative Party, Michael Howard, were all born in Swansea, while among the city's most famous contributions to the sporting world were the soccer legend, John Charles, England cricketer Simon Jones and former WBO world cruiser weight champion, Enzo Maccarinelli.

Within a few miles of Swansea is the birthplace of Hollywood legends Richard Burton, Anthony Hopkins and Ray Milland, and opera stars Katherine Jenkins and Paul Potts.

The city's most loved character, however, is undoubtedly Jack the black retriever. During his seven years of life, he rescued no less than twenty-seven people from drowning in the murky waters of Swansea docks, and there is a small memorial in honor of this little hero on the foreshore, near the St. Helen's Stadium.

Tourist information

Talk

Although it definitely has character, Swansea dialect (especially from east-side) can be hard to understand for the uninitiated.

The following usages are to be heard in Swansea:

The Swansea accent is more noticeable in blue collar areas of the city, whereas in more affluent areas people speak with a more refined Welsh accent. However, even in these areas Wenglish phrases like "Uch a fi!" (dirty) can still be heard.

About 16% of Swansea's population can speak and read Welsh in addition to English, though the majority of these are residents of the northern suburbs (i.e. those closest to the counties of Powys and Carmarthenshire). People from the original town of Swansea, east-side, Mumbles and South Gower were not traditionally Welsh speaking, and so there are far fewer Welsh speakers in these areas.

Get in

By car

By bus

By plane

By train

By boat


By bicycle

Get around

Buses

Bus companies First Cymru and Veolia 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.

Taxis

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.

See

Landmarks

Oystermouth Castle, Mumbles, Swansea
Swansea Guildhall

Museums and Galleries

Parks and scenic sites

Three Cliffs Bay, Swansea

Do

Bowls

Children's activities

Swansea Marina

Cruises

Cycling

Swansea is connected to the National Celtic Cycling Trail, and there are four main routes in city.

Bikes can be rented at the following city center stores:

Driving

There are some wonderfully picturesque drives in Swansea. Below are a couple of popular ones:

To start this drive, take the A4067 Mumbles Road from the city center and turn right onto B4436 Mayals Road. Follow road over Fairwood Common and take a left at Bishopston Village. From there, follow signs for the above places.

This drive takes in some beautiful coastal scenery. Recommended stops: Verdis cafe (Mumbles, Swansea Bay sea front), Castellamare cafe (Bracelet Bay sea front), and Mumbles Village (see listing under 'See').

To start this drive, take A4118 through the bed-sit suburb of Uplands and then Killay. Finally, after leaving Upper Killay, the road passes through the heart of the Gower Peninsular. Follow signs for the above places.

This drive passes through some quintessential British countryside and culminates at stunning Rhossili Bay. Recommended stops: Parkmill is the location of the Gower Heritage Centre, with its working water wheel, and Shepards' village store and cafe is a good place to take refreshment. Near the village of Reynolston, you can take a short detour onto Cefn Bryn to see Arthur's Stone (see listing under 'See'). Also, in Reynolston is the beautifully renovated country inn, 'the King Arthur's Hotel', which is an excellent place for lunch. At Rhossili, there are tea houses, but the attraction here is definitely the stunning views.

As you drive along the beautiful country lanes with the smell of freshly cut grass pervading the air and the vista of a wide blue bay opening before you, the words of a famous Buddhist master - 'the journey is the goal' - will never ring truer!

Festivals

Spring/Summer

Autumn/Winter

Flights

Golf

Swansea has a number of excellent golf courses, many with spectacular sea views:

Karting

Live music

Bars and cafes that provide life music:

Living in nature

Movie Theaters

Paintball

Puzzle Solving

Rock Climbing

Spectator sport

Swimming

Tenpin Bowling

Theatres

Volunteer

Walking

Swansea is a great place if you are into walking. Here are a few easily accessible routes:

Water sports

Tor Bay and Three Cliffs Bay, Swansea

The calm waters of Swansea Bay and Oxwich Bay are ideal for watersports such as skiing, wakeboarding, kayaking, dinghy sailing and Power boat training - Contact:

Some of the best surfing spots in the UK are in Swansea, with Llangenith, Caswell and Langland bays being the most popular - contact:

Yoga

Learn

Universities

Colleges

English (as a second language)

Sailing

Sailing lessons are available at several training schools in the Swansea area:

Buy

What

Where

Handicrafts

Swansea City Centre from Kilvey Hill

General

The Quadrant Centre and Oxford Street are the main shopping centres, and host all the usual department and chain stores. Between these two areas lies the much more interesting city market. Although housed in a modern building, Swansea Market can trace its history back to medieval times, and is the largest market in Wales. It is also a good place to purchase the local delicacy of laverbread (though note that laverbread requires refrigeration to keep fresh. If traveling, request vacuum packed or canned).

On the edge of the city centre is an array of large, utilitarian shopping centres collectively known as Parc Tawe. Within the complex there is also a UCI multiscreen cinema and bowling alley. Parc Fforestfach is an out-of-town shopping centre that houses several huge retail stores. And, for night owls, the huge Tesco supermarkets located between the Quadrant Centre and Oystermouth Road in the city centre, Parc Fforestfach and Llansamlet are all open 24 hours.

Books

Eat

What

Laverbread for sale in Swansea Market

Where

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.

Below is a very brief list of popular restaurants in the city center and marina area.

V = vegetarians catered for.

Budget

American

Cafes (English Breakfast)

Cafes (Fish and Chips)

Chinese:

Indian:.

Indonesian:

International:

Thai:

Vegetarian:

Welsh/British

Mid-range

American:

Chinese (Cantonese):

French:

Indian:

International:

Italian:

Mediterranean :

Japanese:

Lebanese/Persian:

Mexican:

Pan Asian

Thai

Turkish:

Vegetarian:

Vietnamese:

Welsh/British:

Splurge

Austrian:

French:

Indian

Italian:

International

Mediterranean/Spanish:

Welsh/British:

Drink

Cafes/Tea Rooms

Swansea enjoys a wonderful cafe culture, originally sparked by an influx of Italian families to the city in the early 20th century and later expanded with the establishment of local independents.

City Centre

Mumbles

Swansea Beach

Uplands

Bars and pubs

City centre: Wind Street vicinity

City centre: Kingsway vicinity

City centre: Bryn-y-Mor Road vicinity

Uplands

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.

Youth Hostels

Swansea has four youth hostels - three in rural setting (See Gower Peninsula) and one in the city area:

Camping/Caravans

Bed & breakfast

Self catering

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget below £60
Mid-range £60-100
Splurge £100+

Self Catering Accommodation Agencies

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge

Morgan's Hotel

Cope

Media

Keep fit

Religious Services

There are many religious and spiritual groups meeting in Swansea. Below is just a representative of the most common.

Stay safe

Beaches and Coast

As a coastal city, visitors inevitably come into contact with the sea. Be aware of local conditions before swimming or undertaking boating activities.

Among the popular beaches, Three Cliffs is dangerous for swimming due to the strong under currents caused by a tidal lagoon. Worm's Head off the tip of Rhossili Bay has also claimed many lives. Ensure that you know the times of the tides before venturing out the island. Many people have been swept away trying to return through a fast rising tide. The cliffs between the Rhosilli village and Worms Head have also claimed lives, some of the grass and earth on the cliff edge is eroding and walkers should heed local warnings and stick to the path. Indeed, care should always be taken while taking clifftop walks in the Gower.

From the beginning of May, Caswell, Langland, Bracelet and Port Eynon beaches are all patrolled by professional lifeguards during the weekends. From June until September the beaches are patrolled 7 days a week

Advice for safe swimming:

Crime

Crime occurs in Swansea as in most other cities, and sensible precautions should be taken. As elsewhere in the UK, there can be drink related problems in those areas with high concentrations of pubs and clubs, such as Wind Street. In general, however, Swansea is a very safe city and violent crime is rare.

Hospitals and clinics

In an emergency, dial 999 and request ambulance service.

Connect

Internet

The city centre is a Wi-Fi hotspot zone, with a charge of £10 for 2 hours to access the system. There is also a Wi-Fi hotspot at Crossfire, on the Kezone/BT Openzone network, with single-hour access available for £6 or four hours for £10.

Internet Cafes

City Centre:

Mumbles:

Post office

Many other smaller sub-post offices can be found throughout the City and County of Swansea, including in many Gower villages.

Go next

Other places of interest in the Swansea area:

Carreg Cennen Castle
This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, January 29, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.