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Ooaj Travel Guide, tourism, hotel reservation, residence, plane, cheap pension for you holidays in swansea
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Swansea (Welsh: Abertawe) is a city on South Wales's coast. With a population of 250,000, it is Wales' second largest city and located on the beautiful Gower Peninsula - the United Kingdom's first designated "Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty".
Swansea Bay and Swansea University
During medieval times, Swansea was a prosperous market town, and later it gained 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 affectionately as the Mumbles Train, which bumped and bounced along five miles of Swansea foreshore, linking the city center with the suburb of Mumbles. Much of the city's architectural heritage was lost through wartime bombing. However, the abundance of parks, stunning coastal scenery, the magnificent bayside 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 found to be the most relaxed city 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.
Swansea has a wet and warm climate. Temperatures in the winter are around 8 to 9°C, while the summer average is about 21°C - though often reaching up 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 weather 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 and an umbrella in your luggage.
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 actress Catherine Zeta Jones was also born and raised here, and maintains close links with the city, and the singer Bonnie Tyler is also a Swansea girl and still lives in the city. Sir Harry Secombe, who entertained the country for decades, hails from Swansea's East Side, and also in the entertainment world, the TV film producer Russel T. Davies has his roots in the city, as does actor-turned singer Steve Balsamo. In the upper echelons of religion and politics, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, former deputy-prime minister, Sir Michael Heseltine, and a former leader of the Conservative Party, Michael Howard, were all born in Swansea, while the city's most famous contribution to the sporting world was the soccer legend, John Charles - the gentle giant.
Within a few miles of Swansea is the birthplace of Hollywood legends Richard Burton, Anthony Hopkins and Ray Milland.
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 honour of this little hero on the foreshore near the St. Helen's Stadium.
- 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 center and the tourist areas of the Maritime Quarter, Mumbles, Limeslade, Langland and Caswell.
- Swansea Rural - basically the Gower Peninsular, covering all points west of Bishopston, Pwll Du Bay and Fairwood Common, and also including the highland areas of Pontardulais and Mawr.
This article is about Swansea Urban. For information on Swansea Rural, see article titled Swansea/Gower.
- The M4 motorway links the city to London, with connections to the M6, M5, M32, M42 and M50.
- The National Express company (http://www.nationalexpress.com/) runs frequent bus services to London, the Midlands, Scotland the north of England and Heathrow Airport. All buses depart and arrive at the Quadrant Bus Station. Inquires: 0990 80 80 80. The National Express ticket office is located next to the bus station.
- The First Cymru bus company run a very frequent Shuttle (http://www.firstgroup.com/ukbus/wales/swwales/expressservices/Shuttlefares.pdf) service between Swansea (Quadrant Bus Station) and Cardiff (Railway Station Bus Terminal). Tickets are purchased on boarding the bus. No prior booking required. Discounts available when traveling outside peak times.
- A convenient way to spend the day in Swansea city center is to use one of the two Park and Ride systems. One is based at Landore on the A4067 - leave M4 at junction 45. The other 'Park and Ride' operates off the A483 (Fabian Way), which is the main artery into Swansea when coming off the M4 (junction 42) from the east. Buses on this route follow an express bus lane into the city center. There is a £1.50 charge per car that includes all-day parking and return bus travel for up to 4 passengers, and the system operates from Monday to Saturday from 6:45AM to 7:30PM.
- Swansea is served by its own regional airport, light aircraft only 1 (http://www.swanseaairport.com). Inquires:207550, and Cardiff International Airport 2 (http:cardiffairportonline.com), which is about a fifty minute drive from the city. Inquires:01446 711111.
- Travelers arriving from Heathrow have the option of taking the shuttle bus to Reading and boarding the west bound train there - this saves traveling into London - or taking the Heathrow Express 3 (http://www.heathrowexpress.com/) high speed rail link to London Paddington Station. This service runs every 15 minutes from terminals 1,2,3 or every 23 minutes from terminal 4 and takes 15 minutes: £13 (single); £25 (return).
- Arriva Trains (http://www.arrivatrainswales.co.uk/) run routes west of Swansea. After leaving Swansea, the train follows of the contours of the coast. A left side seat will give you the best view. Inquires:08457 48 49 50
- The famous Heart of Wales Line (http://www.heart-of-wales.co.uk/) 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 9:17AM, 1:22PM and 5:48PM.
- Swansea-Cork Ferries (http://www.swanseacorkferries.com) sails six times a week to Cork in Ireland, with a reduced schedule in autumn and winter. Inquires:456116.
- Buses: The First Bus Company maintains frequent services connecting all suburbs of Swansea and the Gower Peninsula 4 (http://www.firstgroup.com/ukbus/wales/swwales/home/). All buses depart from the Quadrant bus station, and there are connecting links to/from Swansea's High Street train station.
- Taxis: There are two main taxi ranks in the city center - one outside High Street Station and the other next to St.Mary's church.
Oystermouth Castle interior
- Swansea Castle5 (http://www.castlewales.com/swansea.html)- the ruins of this 13th century castle are located in the city center. 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 center - the building is flood lit at night.
- The Guildhall - This elegant building of white Portland stone has graced the city center'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 located on the sea-facing side of the building and functions as the city's main concert and reception hall.
- Dylan Thomas' Childhood Home (http://www.5cwmdonkindrive.com/), 5 Cwmdonkin Drive, Uplands - currently under renovation.
- Oystermouth Castle 6 (http://castlewales.com/oyster.html), located in Mumbles, the battlements of this castle offer commanding views over Swansea Bay, and it is one of Swansea's finest and best preserved fortresses. There is a small entry fee.
Museums and Galleries
- the National Waterfront Museum 7 (http://www.nmgw.ac.uk/nwms/dynamic/home_eng.php), Maritime Quarter - Housed in an iconic building clad in Welsh slate, the National Waterfront Museum represents an exciting and innovative way to explore the development of the industrial revolution - through the eyes of the people whose lives it touched and transformed. The toil, the achievements, the defeats and the joys are revealed through the museum's creative exhibitions. Children will particularly enjoy the working machinery. There are also cafes and gift shops overlooking the marina. This is one of the UK's most imaginative exhibition spaces and must-see destinations. Tel:638950 Open daily 10AM-5PM. Admission is free.
- the Dylan Thomas Centre 8 (http://www.dylanthomas.org/), Somerset Place, Marina - This spendid example of early 19th century architecture served as Swansea Guildhall for over 100 years. It became the Dylan Thomas Center in 1995 when it was refurbished in commemoration of Swansea hosting the 1995 UK Year of Literature and Writing, and was opened by former US President Jimmy Carter. The center is dedicated to the works of Swansea's greatest literary son, and in addition to a theater, exhibition and events hall, the center also has a second hand book store and gift shop. The local cuisine served in the second floor restaurant is highly recommended. Tel:463980 Open Tues-Sun, 9AM-10PM. Admission free.
- the Glyn Vivian Art Gallery 9 (http://www.swanseaheritage.net/), Mansel street. The gallery has permanent exhibits of paintings by local artists and a good collection of Swansea china. In addition, it frequently hosts exhibitions of national and international works of art. Tel:655006 Open: Tues-Sun 9AM-5PM. Admission free.
- Swansea Museum 10 (http://www.swanseaheritage.net), Victoria Road, Maritime Quarter. This grade two, neo classic building was Wales' first museum, and displays artifacts as diverse as Swansea china and an Egyptian mummy. The museum gift shop sells good quality souvenirs. Tel:653763 Open: Tues-Sun 9AM-5PM. Admission free.
- Gower Heritage Centre 11 (http://www.gowerheritagecentre.co.uk/), Parkmill, Gower, Swansea. Tel:371206 - a rural life museum based around a working water mill - gift shop and cafe on site.
- the Egypt Centre 12 (http://www.swan.ac.uk/egypt/), near Taliesin Art Centre, Swansea University campus. Open Tues-Sat, 10AM-4PM, entry free. Tel:295 960 - one of the UK's best collections of ancient Egyptian artifacts outside London.
- Attic Gallery 13 (http://www.atticgallery.co.uk/), 140 Cambrian Place, Marina. Tel:653387. Wales' oldest independent gallery - specializing in grass roots Welsh art. Open: Fri 10AM-5:30PM, Sat 10AM-4:30PM. Admission free
- Mission Gallery, Gloucester Place, Marina. Tel:652016. A small independent gallery located in a converted sea-man's chapel. Open: Mon-Sun 11AM-5PM. Entrance - free.
- Exposure Art Gallery 14 (http://www.exposureart.co.uk/), 9 College Street. Tel:641313. A city center gallery established by the Swansea Guild of Artists and sponsored by Air Wales. Open: Mon-Thurs 10AM?5PM, Fri & Sat 11AM?4PM. Admission free.
- 1940s Swansea Bay 15 (http://www.1940sswanseabay.co.uk/), Elba Crescent, Crymlyn Burrows (off Fabian Way - the main road linking the city center and M4 motorway) Tel:458864, E-mail <email@example.com> This small museum invites visitors to experience life in Swansea during the second world war and through the blitz that devastated the city center. Open: March?Oct: 10AM?5PM, Nov?Feb:10AM?4PM (Closed 24-26 December, 1st January and Mondays Oct-March). The museum offers free parking and has a gift shop and cafe.
Parks and scenic sites
Swansea Bay and Mumbles Head
- The former fishing village of Mumbles (http://www.mumbles.co.uk/), at the western end of Swansea Bay - The quaint streets, a 12th century castle 16 (http://www.castlewales.com/oyster.html), fashionable boutiques and excellent restaurants make this suburb of Swansea a must-see destination. The promenade at Mumbles gives a great view over Swansea Bay.
- The entire Gower Peninsula, which was the first area in Britain to be designated an "area of outstanding natural beauty". The scenery is stunning, and extends from sandy beaches, hidden coves and lush country-side. In addition, (including the ruins of Swansea castle) there are seven medieval castles to explore.
- The Maritime Quarter- an international award winning bayside development. The swinging masts and sails of the three marinas offer a great backdrop to the theaters, museums, hotels, cafes, bars and restaurants that jostle for positions in this tight little corner off the city center. The south-side faces the sea, where there are great views over Swansea Bay and the Mumbles Head.
- Plantasia, Parc Tawe. Tel:474555 - hot house in the city center, complete with three different climate zones and exotic butterflies.
- Singleton Park - This is Swansea's largest park, which meanders over several acres of gentle undulating hills and leads down to Swansea Bay. There are botanical gardens near the Sketty end of the park, while Swansea University occupies land at the lower end, near the sea front. The main entrance to the park is on Mumbles Road, just past the St. Helen's Stadium.
- Clyne Gardens and Country Park - this is no doubt the gem in the crown of Swansea parks. Originally a private garden, Clyne is bursting with flora and fauna meticulously collected from across the world. It is has an internationally recognised collection of rhododendrons and azaleas which are at their spectacular best in May. The Chinese style pond, complete with willow trees and oriental bridge is a great place to relax and watch the clouds sail by. Entrance behind the Woodman pub on Mumbles Road at Blackpill.
- Cwmdonkin Park, located in the Uplands, this classic Victorian park was a favorite with Dylan Thomas, and several of his works were inspired here.
- Brynmill Park, Swansea's oldest park, is also located in Dylan's Uplands and is famous for its large swan lake.
- One of the best views over the city and Swansea Bay is from Pant-y-Celyn Road in Townhill (near the Townhill Campus of Swansea Institute). There are bay-facing parking areas along the road that allow the stunning views to be enjoyed from the comfort of your car. The scene is especially spectacular at dusk with the sun setting over Mumbles Head. For the adventurous and those possessing cars with strong brakes, return to the city center via the 1 in 3 incline of the cobbled street of Constitution Hill.
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:
- Watersports 4 All (http://www.watersports4all.com/) ,Bishopston. Tel:234502. or E-main firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mumbles Yacht Club (http://www.mumblesyachtclub.co.uk//), Southend, Mumbles. Tel:369321.
- Mumbles Motor Boat Club, 642 Mumbles Road, Southend, Mumbles. Tel:369646.
- Swansea Yacht and Sub Aqua Club (http://www.sysac.org.uk/), South dock, Pumphouse, East Burrows Road, Marina. Tel:469096.
Sailing lessons are available at several training schools in the Swansea area:
- Mumbles Sailing Club (http://users.aol.com/sailgower/), Mumbles. Tel:864499.
- Rainbow Sailing (http://www.rainbowsailingschool.com/), 14 Cambrian Place, Marina. Tel:467813.
- Euphoria Sailing (http://www.euphoriasailing.com/), 34 Eastlands Park, Bishopston. Tel:234502.
Swansea offers some of the premier surfing spots in the U.K. - contact:
- Gower Bays Surf Club (http://homepage.ntlworld.com/claire.jones4/gowerbays/), Mumbles. Tel:362192.
- Langland Board Riders, 19 Croftfield Crescent, Newton. Tel:386104.
- The paddle steamer Balmoral runs day trips to Ilfracombe in North Devon, summer only. Tel:01412 218152
- Motor boat and yacht cruises around the beautiful Gower coast are available from Swansea marina or Oxwich Bay with Euphoria Sailing Ltd. (http://www.euphoriasailing.com/) Contact:Tel:234502. E-mail: email@example.com .
- Private cruises can be arranged through the Swansea based South Wales Cruising Company (http://www.southwalescruising.com/). Contact:Tel:07850 681003. E-mail:Mike@SouthWalesCruising.com
- Gower Coast Adventures (http://www.gowercoastadventures.co.uk/index.php/) offers trips around the Gower coast for up to twelve people on their ten meter sea serpent cruise boat. Inquires:540386
- Many of the bays on the Gower Peninsular are great for swimming. However, the most popular are the sandy bays of Langland and Caswell. Both these beaches are under seasonal lifeguard supervision, offer changing and toilet facilities and are in easy reach of the city center.
- Serious swimmers will enjoy the waters of the olympic size Welsh National Pool (http://www.walesnationalpoolswansea.co.uk/) located on Sketty Lane, near the university. Tel:513513.
- With its wave making machine, hydro-slide, artificial beach, children's paddling area, Europe's only indoor surfing centre and the world's first uphill water slide, the water arena at Swansea Leisure Center, located in the Marina area, offers a good rainy-day alternative to having fun at the beach. NB: the leisure center is closed until 2007 for refurbishing.
Swansea is a great place if you are into walking. Here are a few easily accessible routes:
- Swansea Marina to Mumbles Pier - about five miles of flat walking - great views over Swansea Bay.
- Limeslade Bay to Caswell Bay - about three miles of cliff path walking - stunning scenery.
- Bishopston Valley - about three miles of riverside walking, starting just below Bishopston church - a peaceful and lush valley that spills out onto a storm beach. The return journey can be made over the cliff path to the left of the beach when facing the sea.
Swansea is connected to the National Celtic Cycling Trail, and there are four main routes in city.
- The Jersey Marine and Fabian Way Trail traces the main road into the city center from the East - no special sites of interest.
- The River Tawe Trail runs along the banks of the river Tawe - it passes through a former industrial area that has been reforested and skirts the city's new state-of-the-art stadium and business district.
- The Promenade Trail runs along Swansea Bay foreshore to the sea-side suburb of Mumbles - it passes through the Marina and offers stunning views over Swansea Bay. On a sunny day, with the blue water lapping at the side of the promenade, cycling along this trail must be the nearest thing to poetry in motion.
- The Clyne Valley Trail runs through Clyne Country Park to the North Gower coast, where it rejoins the National Celtic Cycle Trail - the first part of the trail passes through a forested area, then it meanders through a sprawling suburb before reaching the Loughor Estuary near Gowerton. This trail leads from the Promenade Trail at Blackpill (a child's paddling area marks the site)
Bikes can be rented at the following city center stores:
- Cycle Centre, 10 Wyndham Street. Tel:410710 (closed Sunday)
- Action Bike, St. David's Square. Tel:464640 (open seven days and will deliver bike to hotel free of charge)
There are some wonderfully picturesque drives in Swansea. Below are a couple of popular ones:
- City center - Mayals - Bishopston - Caswell Bay - Langland Bay - Bracelet Bay - Limeslade Bay- Mumbles - city center.
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').
- City center - Uplands - Killay - Parkmill - Reynolston - Rhossili - Llangeneth - Oldwalls - Killay - Uplands - city center.
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 Penisular. 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!
- If you are interested in meeting local people and injecting more purpose into your stay in Swansea, join some of the local environmental projects that are arranged through the city's environment center. Check the center's web site (http://www.environmentcentre.org.uk/) or call round (Pier Street, Marina - behind the 5 star Morgan's Hotel on Adelaide Street) for information on activities.
- The Swansea Bay Rider is a colorful children's land train that runs throughout the summer along the promenade from Blackpill Lido to Southend Gardens, Mumbles.
- Enter the world of Willy Wonka at Swansea's own chocolate factory. There are organized tours, during which the process of turning cocoa into everyone's favorite snack is explained, and samples are available to try. In addition, there is a cafe and a factory shop where souvenirs can be purchased. Reservations are necesssary to guarantee admission: The Chocolate Factory, The Kingsway, Swansea West Industrial Park, Swansea, SA5 4NN. Tel:561617, Fax:561619, E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org, Website: http://www.michton.com
- There is a small boating lake and crazy golf course between the junction of Sketty Lane and Mumbles Road and the entrance to Swansea University.
- The Grand Theatre (http://www.swansea.gov.uk/grandtheatre/default.asp/), Singleton Street - Swansea's largest theater, with everything from pantomime to opera. Tel:475715.
- The Brangwyn Hall (http://www.swanseafestival.co.uk/), Guildhall complex, Victoria Park - with it's stunning British Empire Panels, originally commissioned for the British House of Lords, this grandious concert hall is the focus for the annual Swansea Festival of Music and The Arts - the second largest such festival in the UK.
- The Taliesin Arts Centre (http://www.taliesinartscentre.co.uk/), University Campus, Singleton Park - experimental. Tel:296883.
- The Dylan Thomas Theatre (http://www.dylanthomastheatre.org.uk/home/), Maritime Quarter - home to the Swansea Little Theater group. Tel:473238.
- The Dylan Thomas Centre, Maritime Quarter - specializing in plays produced by the bard himself. Tel:463980.
- Swansea Institute Theatre, Swansea Institute Campus, Townhill Road. This theater is home to Swansea based and internationally acclaimed Volcano Theater Company (http://www.volcanotheatre.co.uk/) Tel:281280
- Swansea Festival of Music and the Arts (http://www.swanseafestival.co.uk/), an annual (October) three week bash of culture at various locations in Swansea, and the second largest such festival in the UK. 2005: 30th September to 22 October.
- Escape into the Park (http://efestivals.co.uk/festivals/escape/), an annual pop and dance extravaganza held late summer at Singleton Park. 2005: 11th June.
- The annual Swansea Mas carnival is a colorful celebration of the city's ethnic diversity. Usually the event is held in July, but dates vary (check Swansea tourist office - listing below - for up-to date information ). 2005: 27th August.
- The Dylan Thomas Festival is held annually between October 27 and November 9 (the dates of his birth and death). During these two weeks, the Dylan Thomas Centre reverberates to the sound of Thomas' words in the form of poetry readings, performances of his plays and films portraying his life and work. This is a must see event for fans of the bard. In addition, the festival hosts the awards' ceremony for the winner of the the Dylan Thomas Prize (http://www.thedylanthomasprize.com/), a biannual writing competition for most outstanding literary talent in English, aged under 30.
- Swansea Fringe (http://www.swanseafringe.com/) runs from October 1 to 9 and is held at various venues throughout the city.
Swansea is home to two universities: University of Wales, Swansea (http://www.swan.ac.uk/), (which has over 10,000 students) and Swansea Institute (http://www.sihe.ac.uk/), which incorporates the city's famous center for stained glass design (http://www.agc.org.uk/) and School of Digital Media (http://www.sihe.ac.uk/sihe/digitalmedia/sch_home.htm).
English (as a second language)
- English Study Centre, 19-21 Uplands Crescent, Uplands,Swansea SA2 0NX. Tel:464103
- Oaklands Educational Travel Services Ltd, 30 Oakland Road, Mumbles, Swansea SA3 4AH.
Tel:539184 Email: Abacusaupairs@aol.com
- Welsh Love Spoons are carved in wood and traditionally given as gifts between lovers.
- Woven cloth in traditional Welsh designs. Sold as shawls, skirts and purses, this souvenir is available at most craft shops.
- Monopoly One of the series of this famous game is based on the streets and landmarks of Swansea.
- The Sheep Shop, 38-39 Castle Street. Tel:645718. This shop sells stuffed toy sheep of all shapes and sizes, including rubbish bins with sheep faces and large fluffy sheep puppets. The mad looking sheep are a surprisingly irresistible souvenir. The shop also sells stuffed dragons and many other Welsh souvenirs, including love spoons and Welsh woven cloth.
- Love Spoon Gallery (http://www.lovespoons.co.uk/) 492 Mumbles Road (near junction with Newton Road), Mumbles. As the name implies, this store specializes in love spoons and offers the largest range in the city.
- The Quadrant Centre and Oxford Street are the main shopping centers, 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. On the edge of the city center is an array of large, utilitarian shopping centers 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 center that houses several huge retail stores, a Borders book shop and a large Starbucks cafe. 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.
- High Street (near the junction with College Street) has several stores specializing in backpack and hiking equipment. So, if your tent is springing a leak or your hiking shoes wearing thin, this is the best place to replemish your equipment before heading into the wild Welsh country-side.
New - Waterstones, Oxford Street & University; Borders, Parc Fforestfach.
Second Hand - Dylan's (http://www.dylans.com/), King Edward Road; Dylan Thomas Centre, Marina - good selections of local poetry and history.
- Try the Swansea speciality breakfast, lavabread - a purée made from seaweed. It is delicious rolled in oatmeal and lightly fried. Request your hotel serve it for breakfast or pick up a can or vacuum pack from Swansea market.
- Swansea is a good place to sample the Welsh speciality of Welsh Rarebit - a dish of melted cheese spiced with ale and herbs and served on toasted bread.
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 (http://www.environmentcentre.org.uk/), Pier street, Marina offers cheap and excellent fair trade coffee and snacks.
Mumbles Road in Mumbles has a wide range of restaurants. Check out Verdi's on Mumbles sea front for great views over a cappuccino. A visit to Swansea, however, is never complete without a Joe's (http://joes-icecream.co.uk/parlours.html/) Italian, award-winning ice-cream - parlours on St. Helen's Road, near the Guildhall, and Mumbles Road, Mumbles. Below is a a very brief list of popular restaurants in the city center and marina area.
V = vegetarians catered for.
- Indian Scooner, 18 Anchor Court, Victoria Quay, Marina. Tel:649301 - V
- Nawab Tandoori, 12 Christina Street. Tel:470770 - V
- Anarkali Tandoori, 79-80 St. Helens Road. Tel:650549 - V
- Gulshan, 74 St. Helens Road. Tel:456390 - V
Indonesian: Garuda, 18 St. Helens Road. Tel:653388 - V
International: Cafe Continental, 37 Castle Street. Tel:654663
- Govinda's (http://www.govindasvegetarianrestaurant.org/), 8 Cradock Street (off Kingsway). Tel:46869 - V - cheap and delicious food - Indian snacks are specialities, but the desserts alone are worth the visit.
- Retreat, 2 Humphrey Street (off Walter Road). Tel:457880 - Vegan - small, backstreet cafe.
- Khusi Khana, 36 St Helens Road. Tel:411076, 07711 502146. - V
- Chicago Rock, 2-3 St. Mary's Street. Tel:455345 - trendy and stylish restaurant.
- Frankie and Benny's, Salubrious Place, Wind Street. Tel:461774 - V
- Evergreen Cantonese, 9 St Helens Road. Tel:466787 - V
- Opium Den, 20 Castle St. Tel:01792 456160 - V
- Rendevous, St. Davids Square, Princess Way. Tel:467113 - V - great food, great service.
- Slow Boat, 12 High Street. Tel:645253 - V
Caribbean: Cafe Mambo (cafe and restaurant), 46 Kingsway. Tel:456620 - defining decor and layed back atmosphere.
- Cafe Saffron, 1 Wind Street. Tel:477771 - V
- The Seaview Tandoori, 728 Mumbles Road, Mumbles Tel:361991 - v
- Chelsea Cafe, 17 St. Marys Street (off Wind Street). Tel:464068 - popular with young up-and-comings.
- Ice, 64 Wind Street. Tel:646111
- Ask, 6 Wind Street. Tel:477070 - V
- Bella Napoli, 66 Wind St. Tel:644611
- Black Cat, 29 Singleton Street. Tel:456780
- La Bussola, 217 Oxford Street. Tel:655780 - V
- Topo Gigio, 55 St. Helens Road. Tel:467888 - V
- Castellamare (cafe and restaurant), Bracelet Bay, Mumbles Tel:369408 - V - built on the edge of cliff, this restaurant offers unrivalled sea views as a backdrop to your pizza and latte.
- Verdi's (http://verdis-cafe.co.uk/) (cafe and restaurant), Knab Rock, Southend, Mumbles. Tel:369135 - V - probably the nearest thing the UK has to an authentic Italian sea-front restaurant. The huge windows offer spectacular views over Swansea Bay.
Thai: Cinnanmon, 21 High Street. Tel:642880
Vegetarian: Bizzy Lizzies Bistro, 55 Walter Road, Uplands. Tel:473379 - V
- Dylan Thomas Center. Tel:463980 - V
- Beaumont Hotel, 73 Walter Road. Tel:643956 - V
- Atrium Restaurant, Morgan's Hotel, Adelaide Street. Tel:484848 - V - top-notch restaurant.
- Sketty Hall, Sketty Lane, Sketty. Tel:284011 - located in a beautiful white Georgian Mansion within the spacious grounds of Singleton Park, this restaurant offers an especially peaceful and relaxing atmosphere.
Austrian: Mozart's, 766 Walter Road. Tel:649984 - V
French: L'amuse, 93 Newton Road, Mumbles. Tel:366006
Italian: The New Capriccio, 89 St. Helens Road. Tel:648804- V
- La Braseria, 28 Wind Street. Tel:469683 - a favorite with Catherine Zeta-Jones
- Paco's, 22A St. Helens Road. Tel:301522
- Abernethy's, Marriott Hotel, Marina. Tel:642020 - V
- Norton House, Norton Road, Mumbles. Tel:403210
- Patrick's, 638 Mumbles Road, Mumbles. Tel: 360199
- The city's main watering hole is on historic Wind Street (appropriately pronounced Wine), which is also the home to many of the city's best restaurants.
- The Kingsway is the night club 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 revellers: "Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light."
Below is a list of popular cafes
- Eleos Brasserie, 33 The Kingsway, Swansea. Tel:648609
- Gershwins Coffee House, 14 Nelson Street. Tel:474000
- Java Tading Company, 10 Picton Archade. Tel:458141
- Kardomah, 11 Portland Street. Tel:652336 - Dylan Thomas' old haunt
- Srudles Coffee Shop, Whitewalls. Tel:650011
- Starbucks, Oxford Street, near Market entrance.
- The Sub-Cafe, 6 Shoppers Walk Archade. Tel:476334
- Also Cafe Mambo - see 'eat' listing, and Morgan's Hotel - see 'sleep' listing.
- The Coffee Den, 34/36 Newton Road. Tel:360044 - simple, but excellent value meals
- Ocean, 61 Newton Road. Tel:363462
- Pavilion Bistro @ Mumbles Pier. Tel:365225
- Also Verdis and Castellamare - see 'eat' listing.
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. The area's only youth hostel is located near the beach in Port Eyon, Gower 17 (http://www.yha.org.uk/hostel/hostelpages/235.html) Tel:391623.
There are far too many B&Bs to list all, but here is random selection:
1) Leonardo's Guest House, 380 Oystermouth Road Tel:470163, 2) The Oyster Hotel, 262 Oystermouth Road Tel:654345, 3) Devon View, 394-396 Oystermouth Road Tel:462008, 4) The White House Hotel, 4 Nyanza Terrace, Uplands Tel:473856, 5) Cefn-Bryn Guest House, 6 Uplands Crescent, Uplands Tel:466687, 6) Carlton Hotel, 654-656 Mumbles Road, Mumbles Tel:360450, 7) Shoreline Hotel, 648 Mumbles Road, Mumbles Tel:366233, 8) The Coast House, 708 Mumbles Road, Mumbles Tel:368702, 9) Glenview House, 140 Langland Road, Mumbles Tel:367933, 10) Langland Cove Guest House, 4 Rotherslade Road, Langland, Mumbles Tel:366003.
- Dolphin, Whitewalls, near Quadrant Shopping Mall. Tel:650011 - city center hotel.
- Premier Lodge Hotel, Salubrious Place. (off Wind Street). Tel:0870 990 6562 - convenient for city center, marina and for 'Swansea-Cork Ferry.'
- Beaumont Hotel, 72 Walter Road. Tel:643956 - small hotel, near city center
- Ramada Encore, Fabian Way. Tel:870 4422825 - located off motorway connecting road - car essential. Not convenient for tourists.
- The Grand (http://www.thegrandhotelswansea.co.uk/), High Street, (across from Swansea Railway Station entrance). Tel:645898 - beautifully renovated classic hotel. Convenient for city center and rail travel.
- Dragon Hotel, 39 Kingsway Circle. Tel:0845 4566399 - city center hotel
- Marriot, Marina. Tel:0870 4007282 - convenient for city center. Views over Swansea Bay and marina.
- Norton House (http://www.nortonhousehotel.co.uk/), Norton Road, Mumbles. Tel:404891 - a converted Georgian manor house.
- Ramada Jarvis, Phoenix way, Enterprise Zone. Tel:310330 - located in business district. Not suitable for tourists.
- Winston Hotel (http://www.winstonhotel.com/), Church Lane, Bishopston. Tel 01792 232074. E-Mail: email@example.com - small family run hotel in quiet location over looking the Bishopston Valley and close to sandy beaches.
- Morgan's (http://www.morganshotel.co.uk/), Adelaide Street, Marina. Tel:484848 - five star luxury in listed building. Convenient for city center and marina.
- Patrick's with Rooms, 638 Mumbles Road, Mumbles. Tel:360199 - an eight room hotel overlooking Swansea Bay.
Other places of interest in the Swansea area
- Dan-yr-Ogof Caves (http://dan-yr-ogof-showcaves.co.uk/) are located in the Swansea Valley (on the A4067 - main Swansea to Brecon Road). Voted Britain's "favourite natural wonder" in a nation-wide competition organized by T.V. Channel 5, these show caves comprise the largest complex of caves in Western Europe. There is also a craft shop and restaurant.
- Middleton, the National Botanic Garden of Wales (http://gardenofwales.org.uk/), off A48, between Swansea and Carmarthen. For public transport information, call 0870 608 2608.
- Brecon Beacons National Park (http://www.breconbeacons.org/) - a short drive from Swansea will take you into this land of lakes, mountain peaks and Celtic mystery.
- Half day drive from Swansea: Join M4 at Swansea and take until the end. Follow A483 and then A40 through Llandeilo and the market town of Llandovery. Both towns are very picturesque, though Llandovery is larger and has more places to relax and visit. While in the area, take a detour to the village of Trapp and the spectaular Carreg Cennen Castle 18 (http://www.castlewales.com/carreg.html). Both Trapp and the the castle have handicraft gift shops and cafes. From there, head for Sennybridge - either through the lanes from the castle or return to Llandovery and rejoin the A40. Just past Sennybridge, take a right onto the A4067. This road leads to the Dan-yr-Ogaf show caves and on to Swansea. During this half day journey, you will pass through some of Wales' most breathtaking pastoral scenes, and along the way take in quaint villages and towns, mountains, caves, lakes and waterfalls.
Although it definitely has character, Swansea dialect (especially from east-side) can be hard to understand for the uninitiated.
The following useages are peculiar to Swansea:
- bye-ya = here (example: "Put it bye-ya" means "Put it here.")
- ewe = you (example: "Alright, arr ewe?" means "Are you OK?")
- now = often used as an affirmative, not be taken literally (example: "I'll come over now later" just means "I'll come over later.")
- fair dues = to give someone cr (example: "He is not rich, but fair dues he's always happy to lend money to his friends." means "He is not rich, but give him cr. He's always happy to lend money to his friends.")
- there's = that's, how or what (example: "There's lovely" means "That's beautiful" or "How nice", whereas "There's a mess!" would in more standard English be expressed as "What a mess!"
- In addition, there is a tendency for those with a strong accent to speak in the third person. So if someone walks up to you and says, "eye nose ewe", don't be surprised. They are merely expressing the fact that they recognize you (i.e. "I know you")!
However, many people who talk in this way do so half jokingly and in a self-mocking manner.
About 16% of Swansea's population can speak and read Welsh in addition to English, though the majority of these are residents of the 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 less Welsh speakers in these areas.
As a coastal city, visitors inevitable 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. 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 there. Many people have been swept away trying to return through a fast rising tide.
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
Advise for safe swimming:
- A red flag means danger. Do not enter the water if the red flag is flying
- Consider bathing at a beach that's under lifeguard protection
- Don't swim alone at a deserted beach
- Don't use inflatables. They are easily swept away by strong currents
- If you see someone in trouble, call 999 and ask for Coastguard
- Inquire about swimming conditions at local tourist offices prior to venturing to a beach without lifeguard cover
- Read warning notices posted near beach access sites
- The area between the red and yellow flags marks the area patrolled by lifeguards. Don't swim outside this area
There are several hospitals in Swansea. These are the largest. For more detailed information, check the following web site: 19 (http://www.swansea-tr.wales.nhs.uk/)
- Morriston Hospital out near the M4 motorway is the largest hospital in the city, and among it services are a specialist burns center and an accident and emergency unit. Address: Heol Maes Eglwys, Morrison. Tel:702222
- Singleton Hospital, located in the west of city is also a large hospital, but does not offer accident and emergency facilities. Address: Sketty Lane, Sketty. Tel:205666
- Sancta Maria (http://www.hmt-uk.org/sancta-maria/) is a private hospital located in the Uplands area. Address: Ffynone Road, Uplands. Tel: 479040
Swansea's area dialling code is 01792. To call from overseas dial: +44 1792 XXXXXX
- City Center: 1 Kingsway (corner of Kingsway and Princess Way) and Swansea Central Library, Alexandra Road.
- Uplands: 50 Uplands Crescent.
- The local evening newspaper, The South Wales Evening Post (http://www.thisissouthwales.co.uk/) is available from Monday to Saturday at news stands throughout the city, and is the best publication for finding out about job openings, events or just for keeping up to date on developments in the city.
- 1170 Swansea Sound (http://www.swanseasound.co.uk/) The Heart of South West Wales was one of the first local radio stations to take to the air in the UK. Popular music is a regular feature as well as news, current affairs and discussion programs. Welsh language programming is broadcast daily when the station is known as Sain Abertawe. Swansea Sound broadcasts at 1170MW and DAB digital radio.
- 96.4fm The Wave (http://www.thewave.co.uk/) South West Wales' Number One Hit Music Station covers similar ground as their sister station, Swansea Sound, but is aimed at a younger audience and can be picked up at 96.4FM and DAB digital radio.
- What's On is monthly information booklet published by the city council listing up-coming events and movie information. The booklet is available free from the main tourist office or from cafes, restaurants and hotels in tourist areas.
- Compass offers insight into the mystical and spiritual aspect of Swansea. The bi-monthly booklet is issued free and lists, among other things, local Buddhist groups, tai'chi and yoga classes and reiki and shiatsu practitioners. Compass is available from the main tourist office and from cafes and restaurants, particularly those in the Mumbles and bed-sit area of Uplands.
- City center (http://www.visitswanseabay.com/useful_information/article.asp?articleid=5377/): Plymouth Street (Opposite Quadrant Bus Station). Tel:468321 - Winter opening hours: Mon to Sat: 9:30AM-5:30PM. Summer opening hours (Easter - end of September): Mon to Sat: 9:30AM- 5:30PM, Sun:10:00AM-4:00PM. - offers free maps, information on tourist sites and hotel room reservation service.
- Mumbles (http://www.mumblestic.co.uk/): The Methodist Church, Mumbles Road. Tel:361302 - Opening hours (year-round):Mon to Sat: 10AM-5PM, Sunday (+ school vacations): 12noon-5PM - offers same services as the main city center office.