The Gower Peninsula has always had a special place in my heart. Offering up fond childhood memories of summers spent walking across Rhossili Bay or relaxing in pub gardens, shovelling down a packet of Walkers, the Gower is certainly no stranger to me.
But would it live up to my childhood nostalgia when I returned as an adult? Spoiler alert: my weekend in the Gower 101% surpassed all expectations. From staying in the most gorgeous hotels and eating the most delicious grub, to exploring all the natural beauty that Swansea Bay has to offer, here is my guide on how to spend an amazing long weekend in the Gower.
Faraway Lucy was welcomed as a guest of Visit Swansea Bay; however, as always, all opinions are my own.
Day One in the Gower
Early Friday afternoon: Go Ape at Margam Park
If you are driving from anywhere in England, the likelihood is that you will have to pass Margam. Margam itself is nothing too special but it is home to the most stunning country park. So what better way to break up your journey than with a cheeky bit of heritage hunting and swinging through the trees? Beats a Welcome Break any day of the week.
Step into Margam’s lush, green forest and get kitted up by one of Go Ape‘s ever-so-friendly instructors, ready to tackle the tree-top obstacles. Oh yeah, if you don’t know what Go Ape is, it’s essentially a high ropes course where you can climb, swing, scramble and zipline to your heart’s content. I am a massive adrenaline junkie so this was so up my street! That’s one way to work up an appetite for dinner anyway, huh?
Late afternoon: Check into Oxwich Bay Hotel
Overlooking the beautiful Oxwich Bay, you will find nowhere more special to stay in the Gower than Oxwich Bay Hotel‘s Secret Garden Pods. Secluded and private, each pod is set in its own little private patio area, so that even though you are physically close to other pods, you feel fully immersed in nature.
It’s the perfect compromise for anyone who wants to try glamping but doesn’t want to get too down and dirty. Yeah, that’s right, you have your own flushing loo and power shower. Oh, and central heating and a smart TV too. Jackpot! I won’t ramble on for too long because I will write a separate review soon. But for now, just know that these pods are a dream come true.
Early evening: Enjoy dinner at the Oxwich Bay Hotel
Described by my boyfriend, Chris, as “one of the top five meals I have ever had” (and I’d have to agree!), Oxwich Bay Hotel’s restaurant did certainly not disappoint. Their award-winning restaurant provides a unique and memorable experience for residents and non-residents alike.
When we arrived, we were taken through to the Chestnut Room, a romantic, intimate setting with exposed wood beams. Time to order some drinks and flick through the menu!
For starters, we asked for a selection of crusty bread with dipping oils and ordered a pork belly black pudding with cider infused apple gel. Both really hit the spot and made us even more excited for what was to come!
For mains, I went for the 8oz rump steak with grilled tomato, proper chips and a green peppercorn and herb butter. I honestly have no words to describe this meal, other than saying that it was easily one of the tastiest steaks I have ever had. Even the chips were up there too! Who knew chips could get this good? Just superb. Chris went for the Welsh rump of lamb with creamy mashed potato, root vegetables, garlic confit, and redcurrant jus. I can solidly say it went down a treat.
By the time the dessert menu reared its head, we were very stuffed to say the least. So rather than ordering a dessert each, we shared a gorgeous chocolate brownie, served with vanilla ice cream. Deeeee-licious!
Day Two in the Gower
Saturday Morning: Enjoy a morning stroll at Rhossili Bay
After devouring a delicious breakfast at Oxwich Bay Hotel, head for an early morning stroll at Rhossili Bay. Voted by Trip Advisor users as one of the top four Britain’s Best Beaches for four years running, it’s hard not to love Rhossili. With gorgeous golden sand stretching an impressive three miles, you could easily spend the whole day at Rhossili alone.
You can take it chill and just wander across the clifftops or head down to the beach below. Or perhaps you fancy walking off your big breakfast by discovering Worm’s Head snaking out to sea? Either way, you will be rewarded with magnificent views that will have you thinking, “Wait, are we really still in Wales?!”.
Before heading off, be sure to pop into Rhossili’s National Trust Shop and Visitor Centre, which is housed in former Coastguard buildings which date back to the 1930s. Offering a wide range of gifts, souvenirs and tasty treats along with a wealth of local information and advice, it really is the place to both start and finish your visit to the area.
Midday: Settle down for lunch at the Bay Bistro & Coffee House
Overlooking Rhossili Bay, Bay Bistro & Coffee House is the perfect laid-back spot for a post-walk bite to eat. Husband and wife duo, Sue and Paul, work with local farms, butchers and coffee roasters, incorporating locally sourced food from around Wales including Salt marsh lamb. It may not look like much from the outside, but inside it is home to a plethora of delicious delicacies.
Despite walking off much of our breakfast, I was still pretty full by the time lunch rolled around so I went for a simple but tasty toastie to tide me over until dinner. Chris opted for a curry, which looked nothing short of delicious.
Early afternoon: Discover the ever-so-beautiful Three Cliffs Bay
By far my favourite place we visited during our weekend in the Gower was Three Cliffs Bay. A spectacular shoreline of sand dunes, salt marsh and limestone cliffs, there is nothing not to love about this beach. A great spot to stop for an afternoon picnic; however, be wary of nature’s wild side. Expect strong tides and currents at any time of year!
Late afternoon: Check into the King Arthur Hotel
Your home for the next two nights, the King Arthur Hotel encapsulates everything there is to love about a British pub and hotel. Boasting a relaxed atmosphere, gorgeous grounds and luxurious hotel rooms, this family-run hotel is the perfect base for your weekend in the Gower. Voted the best wedding venue in Swansea in 2018, the romantic charm of the hotel will lure in even the greatest of cynics.
However, what made our stay here extra special was the staff. They were by far the most friendly of all those we encountered during our weekend in the Gower. Everyone had that bubbly Welsh charm that you just can’t help loving! It brought a little sunshine into our otherwise pretty rainy weekend.
Early evening: Enjoy dinner at the King Arthur hotel
After a long day walking, it’s time to finally relax with a pint or glass of wine in tow. Not only is the King Arthur Hotel a delightful place to stay but its pub is equally as charming. With its original stonework, reclaimed timbers and open log fires in the winter, you’d have a hard time finding a pub as cosy as this one. Renowned for their traditional ales and delicious home-cooked food, the hotel offers all you’d ever want from a traditional British pub.
King Arthur Hotel boasts an array of dishes on both the main menu and “specials” board including seasonal game and locally caught fish. For starters, we opted for halloumi fries, served with sweet chilli dip, and mushroom pate, served with a yummy toasted ciabatta. Both were absolutely gorgeous and exactly what the doctor ordered!
For mains, I tucked into a hearty portion of the chef’s own chicken curry, served with poppadoms. The type of pub grub that you can never go wrong with – it always tastes amazing! Chris ordered the lamb yet again, which was served with vegetables, mash and a huge smile on his face.
Day Three in the Gower
Sunday morning: Explore Mumbles
It’s the final day of your weekend in the Gower and what better way to finish it off than by exploring the cosy but cosmopolitan seaside village of Mumbles! Full of local character and charm, Mumbles is home to a plethora of handmade crafts and luxury boutiques. If you are a fan of pottering around cute little seaside towns then Mumbles will be your new best friend.
Top tips: Don’t miss the Lovespoon Gallery (the original specialists offering the largest collection of lovespoon designs from Wales’ best carvers) and the Gower Gallery, which boasts a continually changing selection of paintings, ceramics, sculptures, and limited edition Giclee prints. We got lost in the latter, especially, for a good half hour, admiring paintings of the beautiful coastline of Gower. I may have also picked up a couple of gifts to take home with me. Oops!
Midday: Settle down for lunch at Verdi’s
For lunch, there is no better place to settle down for a bite to eat than Verdi’s. This family-run café, ice cream parlour and restaurant will transport you from the rainy coastline of Swansea Bay to the sunny beaches of Italy in a blink of an eye.
With a reputation for authentic Italian flavour and quality, Verdi’s do food properly. Boasting indoor and outdoor seating for up to 400 people, every seat enjoys spectacular panoramic views across Swansea Bay. There is truly no better setting in Wales to chow down on some unbeatable Italian cuisine!
Heading straight to mains for lunch, I treated myself to a meal off the specials menu. Presented before me was a hearty, flavourful bowl of pasta with chicken, chorizo, chillies and garlic in a creamy red pepper and sun-dried tomato pesto sauce. I never wanted my meal to end, it was that good. Chris opted for a classic but scrumptious lasagna, and we shared a side of garlic bread. Now that always goes down a treat!
For dessert, we couldn’t leave Verdi’s without trying some of their famous ice cream. They have up to 30 different flavours of their award-winning fresh cream Italian ice cream on offer, all of which are produced each day using the finest quality milk and cream from local dairies.
Chris went for a mammoth Toffee Chip Crunch sundae which was made up of vanilla and toffee ice cream, Devon toffee chunks, caramelised hazelnut crunch, hot caramel fudge sauce and whipped cream. Now that’s a mouthful! I was a little more full so I opted for a smaller cookies and cream ice cream instead. This was easily one of my favourite things I ate during my weekend in the Gower.
Afternoon: Embrace your inner child at Mumbles Pier
Rainy afternoons call for beautifully tacky arcades! First built in 1898 to become one of Swansea Bay’s most defining features from the Victorian era, Mumbles Pier includes an amusements arcade, a Beach Hut Café and a number of other attractions including a mini bowling alley and a Pirate Boating Lake. We personally embraced our inner child in the amusements arcade for the bulk of the afternoon, coming home with our new baby ‘Mumbles’ the Sloth.
If you are feeling a little more cultural, the end of the Pier houses a state of the art RNLI station. Definitely worth a visit! And if the weather is on your side, take a walk to Langland Bay from Bracelet Bay along the Gower Coast Path. Amazing views guaranteed (just not when it’s pissing it down).
Early evening: Enjoy dinner at The Beaufort Arms
In case you thought you hadn’t already had enough good food on this trip, it’s time to end your weekend in the Gower on a high with some cheap and cheerful pub grub at the Beaufort Arms. Reputedly the oldest pub in the Gower dating back to 1460 at the height of the Wars of the Roses, this pub attracts food and history lovers alike.
In the evening you can get 2 courses for £9.99 or 3 courses for £12.50 so it’s a no-brainer really! We opted for the two courses. For starters, we ordered tandoori chicken skewers, served with a minted soured cream dip and dressed salad leaves, and Cajun-spiced calamari chunks, served with a fresh lemon wedge, dressed salad leaves and a sweet chilli dip. Both equally as tasty!
For mains, I opted for a 8oz sirloin steak, served with chips, flat mushroom, roasted tomato and dressed salad leaves. Chris went for the full rack of slow-cooked pork ribs coated with a caramelised bourbon glaze, served with chips, creamy slaw and dressed salad leaves. He gulped them up far too quickly so it’s safe to say he loved them.
However, while we loved our meaty meals, perhaps my favourite thing about the Beaufort Arms was that it had a whole separate menu for vegetarian and vegan dishes. Surprisingly progressive for a pub, huh?
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