Bracing walks along a windswept, yet staggeringly beautiful coastline, romantic evening strolls, remote country pubs and the freshest of seafood. A recent trip to Swansea Bay and the Gower Peninsula in South Wales was a wonderful mix of fresh air, stunning vistas and delectable food, not to mention some very good local beer.
I visited Swansea Bay and The Gower Peninsula as a guest of the Visit Swansea Bay. All views and opinions are my own.
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Where to eat and drink in Swansea
From the chic tower-top restaurant rising high above the marina to historic pubs tucked away down cobbled streets, there’s a wonderful range of eateries and watering holes in the city of Swansea.
The weather being, wild, wet and windy didn’t stop us from taking in the sights of this designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty but it did mean we enjoyed all the more snuggling up in some very cosy pubs and restaurants. Having visited before, I already knew that the coast here is spectacular and that local food and drink can be equally as impressive, however, this visit the food scene stepped it up a notch. Here’s my guide to some of the best restaurants and pubs in Swansea, The Mumbles and the Gower Peninsula.
A walk around the marina at dusk is the perfect way to build up an appetite and there are some fabulous bars and restaurants here. For the best view head up to the top of the tallest building in Wales and visit Grape & Olive, a smart, modern bar and restaurant. with stunning views over the marina in one direction and Swansea Bay in the other. Try their Swansea Bay fish n chips or the Welsh coast mussels in ale.
Let El Pescador, looking out over the boats, whisk you away to the Med with their tempting range of authentic Spanish fare. El Pescador means fisherman in Spanish but they offer so much more than simply wonderful, fresh seafood.
For a somewhat more quirky setting check out the Pump House (next door to the marina car park) – the perfect spot to enjoy a drink while watching the boats come and go during the day or to view the marina lit up at night.
Offering some of the finest Chinese cuisine in Wales, Gigi Gaos Favourite Authentic Chinese is an award-winning restaurant with a spacious colourful interior and a lovely waterside terrace lit up by pretty Chinese lanterns.
Another great place for a stroll is along the 5-mile sweeping beach of Swansea Bay. The Secret Bar & Kitchen is right on the seafront and is perfect any time of day but especially at sunset.
For a great selection of pubs take a wander down Wind Street in the town centre. Here sports pubs, and wine bars, jostle with hipster haunts as well traditional taverns. You’ll find a bar to suit your mood. Our favourite had to be the No Sign Bar offering a friendly welcome and fine ale in a cosy setting. Don’t be fooled by its narrow frontage, it actually stretches back for miles. Established in 1690, the wine cellars are even older dating back to the 1400s. Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas, spent many a drunken evening here! As well as the traditional bar at the front, it now also offers a modern restaurant, a first-floor cocktail bar and a live music venue.
The name, however, is said to be older still, originating from legislation passed in 1393 which stated that all public houses have a recognisable sign. Not actually being a public house it didn’t need one and became the ‘No Sign Bar’.
There are no end of great bars to discover down Wind Street – I always enjoy a visit to Brew Dog – but if you are after a cocktail, Prohibition Bar is worth hunting out. You’ll find it tucked away down Green Dragon Lane, a little cobbled alley off Wind Street. However, there is no sign of a sign to show you where this bar is. Look for a double door two doors along from Kon Tiki Bar.
Swansea Market, the largest indoor market in Wales, is a fabulous place to pick up local produce including award-winning cheeses, Gower-reared meats, Penclawdd cockles and laverbread. This traditional local delicacy is from laver seaweed and was once referred to as ‘Welshman’s caviar’ by Richard Burton.
Don’t miss a mixed seafood pot from Carol Watts stall right in the centre of the market – cockles, crab sticks, pinks and prawns smothered in her secret sauce. If you’ve not heard of pinks (or pinx), it’s a kind of fake prawn made from the surimi fish.
If you’re in need of a coffee, head to Storm in a Teacup Coffee House. Their hot chocolate and bakes are reputedly very good too.
Where to eat and drink in The Mumbles and the Gower Peninsula
The Mumbles is a lovely seaside town on the other side of the bay from Swansea and a visit here would not be complete without a walk along the pier. At the base of the pier, you’ll find the charming Beach Hut Cafe with panoramic views out to sea.
Heading back into town, the Italian restaurant and gelateria, Verdi’s also has some pretty spectacular sea views. We had a splendid lunch here and particularly enjoyed the wickedly good ice cream desserts.
If you prefer to sit and eat a takeaway right on the beach, head to the Gower Seafood Hut, just a 5-minute stroll east of Verdi’s in The Mumbles. They serve delectable deep-fried fish from a converted horsebox, Tuesdays to Sundays, from 1 pm to 6 pm.
Further afield, down the winding lanes through the marshlands of the Gower Peninsula, the sleepy little village of Llanmadoc is home to one of my favourite pubs and one of the best meals I’ve ever had in Wales. The 17th century Britannia Gower with whitewashed walls and wooden beams said to be from shipwrecks off the nearby coastline is renowned for the local delicacy salt marsh lamb. It couldn’t be more local. You can see the sheep and marshlands from the pub itself. Lamb is my favourite meat and while I do eat far less meat, in general, these days, I won’t say no to the occasional treat. My expectations were high but they were easily met by this melt in the mouth lamb flavoured by the samphire, sorrel, sea lavender and thrift, that naturally occur in the marshlands where the sheep graze.
Once by a busy little port when the Cheriton Pill was still navigable, The Britannia is the last remaining tavern of the four that existed in the village in the early 1800s. You can still see the original fireplace, bread oven and gas lamps. In warmer weather, there’s a fabulous beer garden with views of the Loughor Estuary.
Despite feeling full, I couldn’t resist the Merlin liqueur and espresso crème brûlée for dessert, made with Merlyn Welsh cream liqueur from the Penderyn distillery. As I broke through the brittle crust a delightfully light and creamy treat awaited me. The staff were equally good as was the beer, in my case, another pint of Gower Gold. The perfect meal to end a fabulous foodie weekend exploring Swansea Bay and the Gower Peninsula.
Where to stay in Swansea
We stayed at The Swansea Marriott Hotel in a great location right by the marina and seafront. It was just a short walk into the town centre so there was plenty to do within walking distance. The hotel restaurant was good, our room comfortable but it was the staff that really shone. They couldn’t have been more welcoming and helpful.
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