Looking for free days out, dog-friendly attractions or rainy day activities? We’ve got all of this and more in our guide to things to do in South Wales.
This remarkable region is home to Wales’ capital city, the Gower Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and part of the Brecon Beacons National Park. From imposing castles to tumbling waterfalls, rock climbing to fine dining, it is truly packed with adventure, fun days out and beauty spots waiting for keen explorers to discover.
All this choice can be pretty overwhelming, so where do you begin? If you’re wondering what to do in South Wales then we’ve got you covered with days out for families with children, to grown-up groups planning a trip.
Read on to discover a few of the top attractions in South Wales or head over to our collection of South Wales holiday lets to book a break to remember.
South Wales cottages
Where will you go? Skip to section:
South Wales castles and historic sites
While many of Wales’ castles were built during the Norman invasion of the 11th century, this magnificent keep with fairy-tale turrets is actually an incredible 2,000 years old – dating back to 50 AD. It was first established by the Romans, later rebuilt by the Normans, and enjoyed as a Victorian Place before being used as a shelter during WWII.
Cardiff Castle’s fascinating history and lovely façade have made this fortification a top South Wales tourist attraction and one not to miss during a trip to the capital city.
Location: Castle St, Cardiff CF10 3RB.
Opening times: 10am – 4pm (last entry 3pm).
Price: Adult £12.00, child (ages 5-16, must be with an adult) £9.00.
Dog-friendly: No dogs inside the castle.
More magnificent castles in South Wales to visit:
Big Pit National Coal Museum
Dig up a bit of industrial heritage at this fun family attraction in South Wales in the heart of the Blaenavon World Heritage Site. A real coal mine that closed in 1980, you can enjoy an audio-visual experience in the mining galleries, see some of the immense equipment once used in the mines and hear how the Welsh mining industry evolved at Big Pit National Coal Museum - with lots of under cover attractions, it's a great place to visit in South Wales on a rainy day too!
Visit The Pithead Baths, see The Winding Engine house and take the Underground Tour with a real miner at this South Wales attraction. The tour takes you 300 feet down into the tunnels to find out what life was like working the mines.
Location: Forge Side, Blaenavon, Pontypool NP4 9XP.
Opening times: Open daily 9.30am – 4.30pm (last admission 3.30pm). Bookable underground tours run between 10am and 3.30pm.
Dog-friendly: No dogs on site.
St. Fagans National Museum of History
A wonderful open-air free museum that provides insight into the history of South Wales, with over 40 historical buildings from all over the country that have been rebuilt here - including a Victorian school, a medieval church and a workmen’s institute.
This dog-friendly and free South Wales attraction is ideal for a family day out. St. Fagans National Museum of History stands in the grounds of the 16th-century St Fagans Castle and gardens. Take a wander through the beautiful Italian Garden and the Thyme Garden on your day out to this famous South Wales attraction.
Location: Cardiff CF5 6XB.
Opening times: 10am – 5pm.
Dog-friendly: Well behaved dogs on leads are welcome.
Tredegar House in Newport
An architecturally stunning 17th-century manor set in over 90 acres of beautiful gardens and parkland, this property was home to the influential Morgan family for over 500 years. This dynasty owned 40,000 acres in South Wales at the end of the 18th century and their lives had a huge impact socially, economically and politically in south-east Wales.
Explore the vast and varied parkland at Tredegar House, admire the blooms in the formal gardens and pop into the café for a cuppa – there’s even a lovely second-hand bookshop on site.
Location: Pencarn Way, Newport, NP10 8YW.
Opening times: 10.30am – 5pm.
Price: Adult £5.00, child £2.50.
Dog-friendly: Dogs welcome, with pets allowed to explore the formal gardens, parkland and sit at one of the dog-friendly tables in the café.
Best places to see animals in South Wales
Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo
Youngsters will have a wild time at this farm park complete with its own zoo, vintage fairground, themed adventure play and the barn and farm itself – this is a fantastic family day out in South Wales.
Look giraffes straight in the eye from the Giraffe Heights walkway, zoom about on dodgems, and let kids burn off any leftover energy in the indoor and outdoor play parks. Bursting with fun things to do, you are sure to have a blast at Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo.
Location: Begelly, Kilgetty SA68 0XA.
Opening times: Open daily 10am – 5pm.
Price: Adult (16+ years) £19.95, child (3-15 years) £17.95, toddler (2 years) £12.95, senior citizen (60+ years) £17.95.
Dog-friendly: Dogs aren’t allowed on site.
Manor Wildlife Park
Home to tigers, rhinos and giant rabbits, Manor Wildlife Park has a host of interesting and exotic animals from around the world.
Watch warthogs snuffling about in the mud, see gibbons swinging through treetops, and feed friendly wallabies at this park – you’ll be able to see and get close to a range of animals here. There’s also an indoor play park for youngsters and places to grab food and drink on your way around, making this another top family-friendly attraction in South Wales.
Location: St Florence, Tenby SA70 8RJ.
Opening times: Open daily 10am – 6pm.
Price: Adult £16.95, child (2 to 16 years old) £14.95.
Dog-friendly: No dogs at the park.
For more chances to meet friendly animals during your holiday, why not book an escape to one of our farm cottages? Many of these holiday lets have animals on-site, while others are surrounded by nearby fields of fluffy sheep and curious cows.
Wales farm cottages
Days by the sea in South Wales
For a traditional day beside the sea, head to this vintage pier which originally opened in 1898 and continues to be a fun family place to visit in Swansea Bay.
There are over 100 machines at the amusements, from Mario Kart to 2p Pushers, and a bowling alley too. Pop into the Beach Hut Café when you’re ready for a warming meal or enjoy a stroll along the lovely sandy beach. You’re also welcome to go fishing on the pier with two dedicated fishing platforms for catching your own supper.
Location: Mumbles Rd, The Mumbles SA3 4EN.
Opening times: 10am – 7.30pm .
Price: Free – bring along a few pounds and pennies for the amusements!
Dog-friendly: Dogs are allowed in all the outdoor space of the pier and inside the Beach House Café too.
Prefer to try and catch a wave? If you’re ready to get in the water on your holiday, head to Whitesands Bay, which is one of the top places for surfing in Wales, set right in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.
There are a couple of surf schools that can take you out on the water for your first lesson if you haven’t tried surfing before. TYF and Outer Reef both offer surfing alongside loads of other fun coastal activities including coasteering, kayaking and paddleboarding.
Location: Haverfordwest, SA62 6PT.
Opening times: All day.
Dog-friendly: There are summer restrictions although, in the cooler months, you and your four-pawed friend are welcome.
The wild and beautiful Wales coastline is bursting with glorious sandy beaches and secret coves for you to discover during a coastal holiday. Read through our guide to beaches in Wales or begin browsing our coastal cottages.
Walks and the natural world
On this magical waterfall walk in the Brecon Beacons, take a stroll through tranquil forest, along the riverbank and to the 90ft-high Henrhyd Falls.
Pick up the trail of this beautiful Brecon Beacons walk through National Trust-managed landscape to the tumbling falls – always best seen after heavy rainfall, just be careful of slippery rocks. You’ll pass a disused watermill, the Melin Llech, and get to soak up views of Nant Llech valley along the way.
Location: Dol Henrhyd, Coelbren, Neath SA10 9PH.
Opening times: Always open.
Dog-friendly: Pups are welcome to join you on this perfect dog walk.
Afan Forest Park
The impressive 48-square-mile forest near Neath is a top South Wales attraction for nature lovers and families looking to enjoy the natural surroundings.
You can go mountain biking, enjoy a more sedate cycle ride, or ramble through the woodland and see if you can spot any wildlife through the trees. For something a little different, hop aboard a 4x4 with Afan Forest Safaris or test your combat skills at Battlefield LIVE.
Location: Port Talbot SA13 3HG.
Opening times: 9am – 5pm.
Price: Free – parking cost of £1.00 up to 1 hour, £2.50 up to 4 hours, £3.50 over 4 hours, £52.00 annual season ticket.
Dog-friendly: This is the perfect dog-friendly day out, dogs are welcome and there’s just about endless space for walks, and plenty of sticks for a good game of fetch.
National Botanic Garden of Wales
Green-figured travellers will love a stroll around Wales’ garden paradise. The National Botanic Garden of Wales boasts an incredible 8,000 different plant varieties spread across 560 acres, leaving guests with seemingly endless beautiful spaces to explore on a visit.
Step inside the world’s largest single-spanned glasshouse home to a display of Mediterranean climate zone flora, look out for the stunning sculptures dotted about the park, and perhaps watch one of the flying displays at The British Bird of Prey Centre.
Location: Middleton Hall, Llanarthne SA32 8HN.
Opening times: 10am – 6pm.
Price: Adult £12.50, Children (5-16) £6.
Dog-friendly: Usually dogs are not allowed but every Monday and Friday is a Doggy Day, and one weekend a month when dogs are welcome too.
National Showcaves Centre for Wales
This family-friendly place to visit is three attractions in one, which is why we had to give this destination its own category!
An entertaining and iconic place to go in South Wales for a day out that’s great for visitors big and small, you’re sure to find something for every member of your family at the National Showcaves for Wales. You’ll be wowed by the impressive Dan-yr-Ogof cave, can step back in time at one of the world’s largest award-winning dinosaur parks, and will come face to face with gentle giants at the Shire Horse Centre.
Location: Abercraf, Swansea SA9 1GJ.
Opening times: 10am, with last admission at 3pm.
Price: Adults £15.50, child £12.50 (ages 3-16).
Dog-friendly: Our four-pawed friends are welcome on a lead in the Showcaves, but not in the farm park or Shire Horse Centre.
Map of things to do in South Wales
Don’t forget to check out our interactive map of Wales and get to know this incredible country even better.
There are so many amazing places to go and things to do in South Wales that we couldn’t fit them all into our blog, however, a few others that deserve a mention include Oakwood Theme Park, Blue Lagoon Water Park, Brecon Mountain Railway, Aberglasney Gardens, Worms Head, Skomer Island, and St Davids Cathedral.
To find out even more about this spectacular country, take a look through our guide to the most Instagrammable locations in Wales, or discover more top attractions in our pick of things to do in North Wales.
There’s certainly no shortage of stunning holiday cottages perfect for fun family getaways, big group adventures, or two-person retreats all across the region. Get inspired by browsing our collection of cottages in South Wales.
South Wales cottages
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.