A bit about "An ugly, lovely town…"
Swansea is one of many places in Wales with a proud sporting history. It has produced champions, Olympic athletes and countless rugby stars. Swansea City FC is in the Championship League, attracting sell-out crowds of over 20,000 people for every home game.
The Liberty Stadium is a modern arena on the outskirts of Swansea. It’s an atmospheric cauldron fit to host the giants of British and European football – clubs such as Manchester United, Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool and Arsenal. To start and end your visit to Swansea at the Liberty Stadium would be to turn your back on some unforgettable experiences. This is a great time to visit Swansea and the surrounding area.
The literary figure Dylan Thomas is one of Swansea’s most famous sons. You can find out more at the Dylan Thomas Centre, follow the Dylan Thomas Trail (.pdf) around Swansea Bay or visit his childhood home in Cwmdonkin Drive. He called Swansea “An ugly, lovely town…” There’s more pride and affection in those four words than you might imagine. It’s typical of the understated humour of the people who live here.
Get active on the coast
Swansea is a coastal gateway to an unspoilt area of wild coastal countryside to rival any other. The Gower Peninsula was among the first places in Britain designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1949. While the football season may not seem to be the ideal time for water-based activities, this is peak season for local surfers, who depend on those powerful winter waves to warm the blood.
Combining a weekend visit to Gower with the match will give you an unusual combination of town and country activities. Blow away the cobwebs after a 3-0 defeat with a bracing walk along Three Cliffs Bay or the wide sandy expanse of Rhossili Bay? Both are regular fixtures in lists of the most scenic sights in Britain.
If the wilderness of Gower seems a little too much of a culture shock, then the old fishing village of Mumbles may be just right. Three quarters of Swansea is bordered by water, and perched on the far edge of the sprawling Swansea Bay, Mumbles is a hive of intimate pubs, coffee shops and ice cream parlours, where life carries on at a relatively subdued pace.
Take in some shopping
Just three miles down the road is Swansea City Centre. You’ll find a host of bars and clubs along Wind Street and the Kingsway – the major chains occupy the prime locations, but there are smaller pubs and bars within easy walking distance. Swansea Indoor Market is a must-visit - it's got over 100 stalls selling everything from local food such as laverbread and fresh cockles to bespoke jewellery.
Head towards the sail masts and the sea and you’ll find two striking pedestrian bridges linking the new SA1 waterfront development and the existing Maritime Quarter. Before you leave, grab a Mediterranean brunch or a drink in the Skybar at the Grape & Olive restaurant on the top floor of Swansea’s tallest building. Like those midfield generals of yesteryear you’ll be the master of all you survey…