If you've seen the BBC's award-winning TV series Gavin & Stacey, you will be familiar with the tidy seaside vibes of Barry. Backdrop to many of the iconic scenes, Barry plays almost as big a role as the main characters. But you don't need to be a fan to enjoy the town's attractions.

Lots of them are found on a small peninsula known as Barry Island. In the past it really was an island, but during the Victorian era the docks were built in between, connecting it back to the mainland.

These days Barry is rather up and coming - a favourite for Cardiff locals to pop over to for its sandy beach, leafy parks and great independent shopping and dining.

Beaches in Barry

Whitmore Bay

Right at the front of Barry Island, Whitmore Bay is a huge crescent of golden sand. It's ideal for families to have fun in the sun, with its wide, gently shelving sands. The promenade with its columned colonnade is full of busy cafés, fish and chip shops, amusement arcades - basically all the things you need for a great seaside day out. If you're a little less mobile, there are free all-terrain wheelchairs for hire. And you can even hire one of the iconic traditional beach huts too. Ice cream anyone?

Three females pushing all-terrain beach wheelchairs down slope towards sandy beach.
View of promenade, beach and headland in the distance. Barry Island, South Wales

There's plenty of room for everyone on the golden sands of Whitmore Bay

Jackson's Bay

A smaller crescent of sand, Jackson's Bay gets far fewer visitors. Locals like to keep it to themselves! It's tucked around the headland towards Cardiff. There are no facilities in winter months, but if you want a little more peace and quiet, it's ideal. The current can be strong and be aware that there are no lifeguards on duty. It's easy to walk here along Clement Colley Walk from Whitmore Bay around Nell's Point at the end of the headland. Unlike Whitmore Bay, dogs are allowed here all year round too.

Cold Knap Bay

On the other side of Barry, you find the small pebbly cove of Watch Tower Bay followed by the long stretch of pebble beach at Cold Knap. (You do see some sand here when the tide is out.) There's plenty of space and it's quiet and relaxed. Fishing and windsurfing are popular and there's a pleasant stroll along the promenade, ideal for wheelchairs, buggies and scooters. At low tide there are lots of rockpools to explore too.

Read more: Must visit beaches in South Wales

Attractions in Barry

Barry Island Pleasure Park

Perfect for teens and grown ups who like a little action and excitement, Barry Island Pleasure Park will definitely get your pulse racing. There's a rollercoaster, log flume, dodgems and a waltzer. Younger kids will find plenty to keep them amused too, with trampolines, pedal boats and traditional fairground attractions.

Supersized tea cups on a children's merry go round ride at Barry Island Pleasure Park.
Looking up at the ferris wheel at Barry Island Pleasure park on a sunny day.
A small red dragon shaped rollercoaster ride at Barry Island Pleasure Park

Kids of all ages will love the amusements at Barry Island Pleasure Park

Barry Tourist Railway

Barry Tourist Railway runs regular heritage train rides on a short section of track departing from Barry Island Station throughout summer months. The trains are historic diesel locomotives, but they often have steam engines visiting in peak season. You can enjoy a coffee and a cake at the friendly station café whilst you wait for your departure.

Barry War Museum

Run by a team of enthusiastic volunteers, Barry War Museum is located at Barry Island Station too, so it's easy to combine with the railway. It offers a unique insight into what life was like here during both world wars. There's lots to explore including a First World War replica trench and an Anderson shelter from the Second World War.

St Baruc's Church

It's believed Barry gets its name from 6th century Celtic Saint Baruc. You can visit the remains of the chapel dedicated to him which date back to the 8th century. There's not a great deal to see, but four pilgrimages to St Baruc’s church on Barry Island were once considered equivalent to one to Rome. A special service is held here each year on St Baruc's Day - 27 September.

Parks and gardens in Barry

Knap Lake and Gardens is an ideal spot for a leafy stroll in the sunshine or a picnic on the grass. Swans and ducks bob on the lake at its centre which is also a favourite spot for model boat enthusiasts. Somehow they all keep out of each other's way! The gardens back on to a wide flat promenade which leads on to the pebbly beach at Cold Knap Bay.

Within sight, further west around the headland is Porthkerry Country Park. Here you'll find 220 acres of peaceful wood and meadowland in a sheltered grassy valley, crossed by a mighty Victorian-era viaduct. There's also a children’s play area and woodland walks, a friendly café and picnic tables. You can walk right down to the sea here too.

Just north of Knap Gardens, Romilly Park is a quintessential Victorian era park. It was built on land belonging to the wealthy Romilly family and the original rock garden is still here. There's lots of space for kids to run around, leafy walks between ancient trees, a children's play area, loos and tennis courts.

Read more: Things to do in the Vale of Glamorgan

The arches of the Victorian viaduct crossing the valley at Porthkerry Country Park

The imposing Victorian viaduct at Porthkerry country park

Shopping in Barry

You'll find the best of both worlds when it comes to shopping in Barry. Barry High Street still has a lovely traditional high street feel. A stroll down it is like stepping back to a bygone world of family-owned shops and friendly service. The retailers have renamed the area the High Street Shopping Quarter and you'll find cafés, a butcher, pharmacy, gift shops and flower sellers.

Then, just a short walk away is a funky new urban development on an old dockyard called Goodsheds. A gaggle of independent shops are in repurposed shipping containers in an area called the Shipyard. Craft beers, records, home furnishings and fashion - there are a boutiques selling all sorts of interesting stuff. Don't miss The Tracks, where repurposed railway carriages house more artisanal traders and even a cinema!

Bars and Restaurants in Barry

The Goodsheds project is also home to several tasty cafés and diners. You can munch Tex Mex, Pizza, Greek and Indian food at the Shipyard. Seating is shared across the cafés, so you can all choose whatever you fancy. There are several great bars for drinks after too.

For something more refined, Michelin-starred chef James Somerin has his restaurant The Shed here, serving up traditional classics with modern flourishes, using the best local ingredients.

Close by you'll find local legends Samantha Evans and Shauna Guinn dishing up huge steaks, ribs, slow-cooked brisket and burgers at their award-winning Hangfire Southern Kitchen. The girls now have their own cookbook and TV show, but it's still all about the quality of the meat and the heat of the fire.

Read more: 10 best Welsh dishes to eat now

Walks around Barry

The Wales Coast Path runs right around the coastline at Barry. It's about 4 miles (6 km) along the coastline to Rhoose Point, the most southerly spot in Wales. The views out across the sparkling water are splendid. There's also a nice 3.5 mile (5.5 km) circular walk around the back of tranquil Porthkerry Country Park, taking in Knap Gardens and Romilly Park as well as the remains of Barry Castle. Both walks are described in Visit The Vale's Vale Trail number 4.

Read More: Baby-friendly walks around Cardiff and the Vale

Search for things to do and places to stay in Barry

Sparkling views of the sea from between two trees close to Barry, South Wales.

Views across the sparking sea close to Barry

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