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The South Wales coastal city of Swansea is rich in both culture and natural beauty. Its 800 years of history is balanced by an engaging modern face. But it is really the surrounding beauty of the Gower Peninsula that makes Swansea such a great travel destination. With a rental car, there is no end of the driving possibility, both along the coast and into the heart of the Welsh countryside.
Who to Book With
Enterprise, National and Avis are just some of the international rental firms operating in Swansea. Most companies have an office near the train station, along Orchard Street or around the Quadrant Bus Station. To get the best possible rates and your preferred car, it’s always recommended to book online as early as possible.
Best Time to go
Wales in one of the UK’s wettest areas, so to maximise your chances of seeing the sun, come between June and August. This is also the peak travel season, with higher car rental rates and fewer vehicle choices. Try the months of May and September for less crowds and decent driving weather.
Need to Know Essentials
You must provide these documents when you collect your rental in Swansea:
- A valid UK or EU driving license or International Driving Permit
- Another form of photo ID, such as passport
- The credit card used with the original booking
- A confirmation print-out (if possible)
Swansea is one of the easiest big cities in the UK to drive around. Parking on the street in the core can be tricky during business hours, but there are ample city-operated and private car parks on hand for peace of mind. The city car parks charge between £1.20 and £2 per hour, with daily rates at around £6. There are also three park and ride lots at Landore, Fforestfach and Fabian Way that cost just £2.50 per day. Park and then take the shuttle into the city centre between 07:00 and 19:00.
Swansea lies just west of the M4 motorway, offering quick and easy connections to Cardiff, London and several other major UK motorways, including the M6 and M5. There are no toll roads in the area, so driving around southern Wales is as cheap as it gets. The A483 and A465 run straight to the massive Brecon Beacons National Park, while the A4118 meanders along the coast of the Gower Peninsula.
Surprisingly, Swansea has no inner-city bus network. The buses operated by First Cymru are more long-distance types, with frequent service to the train station and outlying suburbs. Taxis provide most of the transport around the compact city centre for those who don’t have their vehicle. Swansea is one destination where a car proves very useful, both in and around town.
The buses managed by First Cymru offer a useful FirstDay ticket pass that allows unlimited travel on all of its routes. Prices are £4.20 for adults, £3.10 for children under 12 and £10 for a family pass. FirstDay passes and single-trip tickets can be bought at the kiosks inside the Quadrant Bus Station or directly from the bus drivers.
There is no train service within Swansea, but the city is connected to the UK rail network by First Great Western and Arriva. First Great Western has regular services to London’s Paddington Station with stops at Cardiff, Reading, Swindon and other towns along the way. Arriva trains cover the rural areas of Wales with some scenic routes along the coast as well as a direct route to Manchester. The Heart of Wales line to Shrewsbury is particularly pretty. Swansea’s train station is located right on High Street.
Taxis are the preferred means of transport around the centre of Swansea, since most destinations are very close. Taxi ranks can be found around the city centre at busy spots like St Mary’s, Caer Street, the Quadrant Bus Station and the train station. Data Cabs is just one of the established taxi companies in the city.
Nearly all of Swansea’s historic and natural attractions are situated outside of the city centre, making a car rental very useful to get around. There are beautiful castles, charming fishing villages and some of the prettiest coastal scenery in Great Britain along the Gower Peninsula. This is one part of the UK that can only be truly appreciated by driving.
Oystermouth Castle - This is a real charmer, dating back to the 12th century. It’s easily the finest castle on the Gower Peninsula and the perfect distance from Swansea for a casual day outing. This perfectly ruined castle boasts sweeping views of Mumbles and Swansea Bay.
The Gower Peninsula - This starts at the edge of Swansea, and offers some of the UK’s prettiest white sand beaches, medieval castles and dramatic coastal scenery along its slow but scenic road. Head for the beach town of Llangennith to visit one of the UK’s top surfing spots.
Pembrokeshire Coast National Park - This is the only coastal park in the UK. The drive through this amazing part of Wales can take as little as 90 minutes if you don’t stop to stretch out the viewpoint and enjoy little walks.
Brecon Beacons National Park - This is just a short drive north of Swansea, opening up a vast land of Celtic mystery, shining lakes and diverse terrain. A scenic road runs around the park boundary, offering many places to stop and hike to natural attractions.