Insider's Guide to Cowbridge

Resting between the sea, the country and the city, the market town of Cowbridge in the Vale of Glamorgan is a lovely place to visit. In 2017, The Sunday Times crowned it the 'Best Place to Live in Wales'. As someone who grew up there, I can vouch for its award-winning potential.

I'm Amy Pay, a freelance journalist and content creator now living in Cardiff. I often go back to Cowbridge to visit my family and enjoy its bars, eateries and the natural beauty on its doorstep. It's a stunning place to call 'home'. Let me share its highlights with you.

It has plenty of independent shops

Cowbridge high street and shops

Cowbridge High Street, Vale of Glamorgan
Most of Cowbridge High Street and the roads off it are lined with little independent shops. Dig into the fashion and furniture archives at Happy Days vintage homestore, pick out speciality ingredients at the Elephant & Bun Deli or put together a souvenir bouquet at Gail Armitage florists.

If you'd rather go to well-known high street stores, a few of them have cropped up including WH Smith, Costa and Rohan. However, I'd recommend seeking out something special from one of the local traders first.

It's very, very pretty all year round

During spring and summer, you can expect to see overflowing flower pots brightening the pavements and smiling dogs meandering the streets with their owners. Come autumn and winter, the shops decorate their windows with cold weather scenes. At Christmas time, mini trees illuminate the buildings on the High Street and fairy lights hang from the roofs. It even looks good in the rain, and that's saying something.

It has lots of options for foodies

Exterior of Elephant and Bun.

Elephant and Bun, Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan by Amy Pay
You won't go hungry in Cowbridge, even if you're a fussy eater (I'm a vegan and even I don't struggle there). Whatever the time of day, there's somewhere to refuel. For a morning coffee and light breakfast, there's The Penny Farthing Café. For lunch, go to the Elephant & Bun Kitchen, the sister to the deli over the road. People rave about the squished avocado served with Wye Valley smoked salmon, but I love the spicy chickpea shakshuka with homemade tomato and harissa sauce.

In the evening, I'd opt for Bar 44. It's a tapas and cocktail bar with dishes that never fail to be delicious, plus they're all for people to share plates and have fun while dining. For a pint, you can't beat The Bear in my opinion. It has the charm of an old country pub, with open fires and a beer garden plus a decent range of drinks on the bar. 

It's less than 10 miles from the sea, and 20 miles from Cardiff

Traeth Mawr in Southerndown, Glamorgan Heritage Coast

Traeth Mawr, Southerndown, Glamorgan Heritage Coast
Not to take you away from the place, but Cowbridge is well-located for lots of other places to visit. Just a short drive will take you to the vast golden beaches of Ogmore By Sea and Southerndown, the lighthouse at Nash Point or the cliffs of Llantwit Major. 

Within 15 minutes you can be sampling wine at Llanerch Vineyard in Hensol or cycling through forests. Half an hour will see you in Penarth, Cardiff or well on the way to Swansea. I love how even if you feel like you've exhausted the town, there's so much more to discover around the corner.

Need I say any more? If you want extra ideas before you check out Cowbridge and the surrounding area for yourself, read up on the other things to do and the nearby attractions. Maybe I'll see you there!