This is my guide to the best things to do in the Gower Peninsula, including the beaches, coast and history of this amazingly beautiful part of Wales.
The Gower Peninsula in South Wales was the first part of the UK to be declared an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The many Gower beaches are its main calling card, from breathtaking Rhossili Bay to the hidden wonder world of Three Cliffs Bay to lesser-known gems like Mewslade Bay.
These are among the most beautiful beaches in Europe, indeed the world, but if you really want to delve into the area, there are a whole lot more things to do in the Gower to discover besides
Gower is an amazingly diverse landscape, from limestone cliffs to wooded valleys, gorgeous heathland dotted with ancient burial chambers and lovely rolling green hills. The Gower countryside is watched over by several medieval castles, and there are many fine Gower churches to discover, with several dating from the early Middle Ages.
There are numerous awe-inspiring Gower walks to enjoy too, with some great country pubs where you can sit and reflect on what you’ve seen at the end of the day.
Best Things To Do In The Gower
1. Visit Rhossili Bay
Rhossili Bay is the best-known Gower Peninsula beach, three miles (5 km) of glorious golden sand stretching from the high cliffs of Rhossili village to the tidal islet of Burry Holms.
It has been voted third best beach in the world, best beach in Europe, best beach in the UK, one of the top 10 places in the world to watch a sunset – to name just a few. It’s beyond incredible.
I was lucky enough to discover it when. I was nine years old, and it’s somewhere my soul has loved to drop anchor countless times since. I always remember Faye and I sharing a bus with about ten Chinese students from Swansea University.
When they saw the beach through the window for the first time, they swooned,”Aaaah!” in unison, a moment of collective bliss. That, dear reader, is all you need to know.
Read next: A Guide to Rhossili Beach
2. Worm’s Head Gower Walk
The tidal Worm’s Head walk is one of the best – and most challenging – Gower Peninsula walks. It’s something of a rite of passage for locals, and with the race against time and tide, one of the most challenging things to do in the Gower.
Worm’s Head is a tidal island just over a mile (2 km) from Rhossili beach, one of the most fascinating and beautiful of all Welsh islands. It’s name is derived from the Norse word for dragon, wurm, which it does resemble from certain angles. The rocky causeway is usually passable two-and-a-half hour either side of low tide, and it’s surprisingly tough going with slippery, uneven surfaces underneath.
The walk across to Outer Head is unforgettable, with views over the cliff edges to Atlantic grey seals basking on the pebble coves below.
The Devil’s Bridge near the end isn’t quite as precarious as it looks. Just don’t linger too long, as you’ll need to beat the incoming tide back to shore.
3. Drink At The Worm’s Head Hotel
It’s surprising to newcomers how few Gower hotels there are, especially given the popularity of places like Rhossili, which usually draws 500,000 visitors a year. One of the few hotels in Gower to be found is the Worm’s Head Hotel in Rhossili, which overlooks the awesome beach below.
The bar and restaurant on the ground floor and the tables outside all have a similar view, and they serve a whole range of traditional pub meals if you’re hungry.
There’s no more satisfying a place to enjoy one for the road than the bar on a cosy winter’s evening, the embers of the sunset still glowing in the sky long after it has disappeared over the horizon.
4. Helvetia Shipwreck
When the tide is out at Rhossili, the expanse of sand is enormous, and from the top, one minute feature just stands out from the sand.
Once you’ve made it down to the beach, it’s a five-minute walk to the remnants of the wreck of the Norwegian barque Helvetia, which ran aground on the beach in 1887. One of the most popular things to do in the Gower in winter is to catch the sunset from behind the wreck.
5. Rhossili Down
Rhossili Down is the hill that overlooks Rhossili Bay beach and Worm’s Head. It rises to just 633 feet (200 metres) in height, much of which is steep. It’s one of the most rewarding walks on Gower, offering astounding views over the beach and inland over the rolling hills and fields of central Gower.
If you follow the track parallel to the ridge you’ll see the two separate parts of Sweyne’s Howes, another ancient Gower burial chamber, before the path descends towards Llangennith and the northern end of the beach.
6. Gower Churches
There are also numerous medieval churches in Gower, most of which tend to be open in the main season, some throughout the year. St Mary’s Church Rhossili is probably the best-known Gower church, partly because of its proximity to the beach and village bus stop.
This medieval church with its distinctive saddleback tower dates back to the 12th century, and has a memorial to the village’s most famous resident, Edgar Evans, who perished on Captain Robert Scott’s fateful expedition to the South Pole in 1912.
Just above the other end of Rhossili Bay, St Cenydd’s Church in Llangennith – right opposite the King’s Head pub – is the Gower’s largest church, and possibly its oldest. There was a place of worship on the site as early as the 6th century, founded by the local saint Cenydd, who was buried there.
Also in the remote north Gower, St Madoc’s Church in Llanmadoc was once under the auspices of the Knights Templar. No traces of this association remain, but you’ll still find a picture-perfect little 13th century church with some ancient stones inside, one with an inscription believed to be from the 6th century.
St Cadoc’s Church Cheriton is also in north Gower, a few miles to the east of Llanmadoc. It’s an exquisite small church, sometimes referred to as the ‘Cathedral of Gower’, built in the 14th century to replace an earlier church that was about to be inundated by the nearby saltmarshes.
You’ll pass St Cattwg’s Church in Port Eynon as you make your way down the hill through the village to the beach. The striking white memorial is to three local lifeboatmen who lost their lives In 1916. The church, open from Easter to October, is well worth a look, especially for its modern stained glass.
7. Port Eynon to Rhossili Coastal Walk
For our money the best of the many walks in the Gower, the Port Eynon to Rhossili walk is a classic for lovers of dramatic coastal scenery. For me, it’s one of the most fulfilling things to do in the Gower, something I’ll never tire of repeating.
It starts out at the family-friendly Port Eynon beach, and runs for five miles (8 km) north-west to Worm’s Head and eventually Rhossili village and beach.
It passes some amazing cliff scenery along the way, not to mention two gorgeous small beaches. You’ll have earned that pint at the Worm’s Head Hotel when you finish.
8. The Knave
The Knave is a striking outcrop of vertical limestone just after halfway point on the Port Eynon to Rhossili hike. If you walk around to the headland above it looks especially dramatic with Horse Cliff in the background. It’s a popular spot for rock climbers, and it’s still possible to make out features of the Iron Age hillfort on the headland overlooking it.
This also happens to be a fantastic spot for a picnic if you’re looking for somewhere to stop.
9. Arthur’s Stone
Arthur’s Stone – Maen Ceti in Welsh – is one of the most impressive ancient burial chambers in Wales. Its location is magnificent, on the ridge of Cefn Bryn, the hill that runs across the centre of Gower, looking out over the saltmarshes of the Loughor estuary and Carmarthenshire to the north.
It’s a Neolithic chambered tomb (also called a cromlech or dolmen in Welsh) believed to be around 4,500 years old. Legends about it abound, including one that it was a pebble that got stuck in King Arthur’s shoe, and he hurled it across the water from Carmarthenshire to where it now rests.
It is also said to take the occasional wander down to the sea for a drink. More prosaically, you’ll (normally) find it off the road from Reynoldston to Cilibion which runs across Cefn Bryn – it’s on your left and visible from the road. It’s a 300-metre walk from there.
See Also: 35 Fun Facts About Wales
10. The Bulwark, Llanmadoc Hill
Llanmadoc Hill dominates the north-west corner of Gower, and is easily accessible by a multitude of footpaths from all sides. It’s a great viewpoint, with panoramas over the fields of central Gower, the northern end of Rhossili Bay, Whiteford Sands and the saltmarshes of north Gower, the Loughor estuary and Carmarthenshire.
Walk along the northern ridge and you’ll find the Bulwark, a series of earthworks believed to date back over 2,000 years to the Iron Age. Afterwards, replenish the calories at the excellent Britannia Inn in Llanmadoc, one of the best pubs Gower has to offer.
11. Surfing at Llangennith
Rhossili Bay faces due west but the southern part of the beach, close to the village of Rhossili, is sheltered by the cliffs of the adjacent headland and Worm’s Head, diminishing the power of the incoming waves.
The northern – Llangennith – end of the beach is a different matter entirely, as this part of the beach is exposed to the winds and waves whipping in off the Bristol Channel and Carmarthen Bay.
You’ll often see surfers carrying their boards through the dunes and then catching the waves out to sea. Llangennith has a very laid-back vibe, and has always been hugely popular with the surfing community. Head here for the best Gower surfing there is.
12. Mumbles Pier
If you want to show your kids what a trip to the British seaside was like in the ‘70s and ‘80s, take them to Mumbles Pier. It’s a gorgeous wrought-iron pier from the end of the 19th century, stretching over 200 metres into Swansea Bay from the coast.
It harks back to the era of saucy postcards with a couple of painted boards where you can pose for photos of yourself in a not-too-flattering granny’s bathing costume, and the amusement arcade is like Barry Island in 1981 all over again.
But it’s great, and we’ll be taking our Little Man there to experience it next time we’re in town. One of the best things to do in the Gower with kids, for sure.
13. Mewslade Bay
It’ll never get the plaudits that Rhossili, Three Cliffs and Oxwich get, but wild, remote Mewslade Bay is up there with the best beaches in the Gower, and, indeed, Wales.
Visiting it is one of the most rewarding things to do on the Gower, but your timing is all-important. At high tide the beach is completely submerged. Head there towards low tide when the golden sands are revealed, along with many rocky outcrops and pools.
The cliffs at Mewslade are spectacular, knife-edge spires soaring skywards, an unforgettable sight.
14. Gower Boat Trips
I’ve always considered Gower my back yard, and always found new things to see over hundreds of visits. Sometimes it helps to see things from a fresh perspective, and a boat trip along the Gower coast a few years ago really opened my eyes.
Gower Coast Adventures have been taking groups on Gower boat tours for nearly 20 years, and give you such a great insight into the marine life along the Gower.
Our group’s first glimpse of Gower wildlife was a seal pup basking in a hidden cove, and we saw some distant dolphins’ fins as well. The boat also takes you to places you would never otherwise see. Wholeheartedly recommended.
15. Bishopston Valley Walk
This is one of the loveliest Gower walks, through peaceful, unspoilt centuries-old woodland. Descend into the valley from one of the paths in Bishopston village, a few miles west of Swansea, then it’s a slow two-mile amble – mainly close to the gurgling river – to the pebbly beach at Pwlldu Bay.
It’s especially beautiful in spring, when the woodland floor is carpeted with wild garlic, and in autumn. One of the most enjoyable places to visit in Gower.
16. Three Cliffs Bay
As you travel along the main A4118 road through Gower, you get a momentary glimpse of Three Cliffs Bay, an outcrop of three jagged cliffs surrounded by sand, at the mouth of a broad valley with the Bristol Channel behind.
It’s not the easiest place to access, and there are no facilities on the beach itself, which keeps the footfall down. But go out of your way to see this captivating, enchanting place, one of the best beaches in Europe.
Just be sure to read out Three Cliffs Bay guide before you visit, as there’s plenty you need to know before you go.
17. Pennard Castle
The picturesque ruin of Pennard Castle overlooks the Pennard Pill Valley and Three Cliffs Bay below and it’s a wonder it’s still there. It was originally founded in the 12th century, and what remains is from the 13th century rebuild.
At one time it was under the ownership of local Lord William de Braose (also see below) but it was damaged after being engulfed by a huge sandstorm, possibly in the 14th century.
It has gradually disintegrated over the centuries, and much of what remains is patched up, but you’ll be hard pushed to find a more amazing location for a castle.
18. Weobley Castle
Weobley Castle – Castell Weble – is one of the more secluded Gower attractions, hidden among the narrow lanes of north Gower, overlooking the vast expanse of saltmarsh below.
This fortified manor house dates back to the early 14th century by the powerful de la Bere family, stewards to the Lord of Gower, William de Braose. It’s one of the lesser-known castles in South Wales, well worth seeing if you can pull yourself away from the beaches to the south.
19. Oystermouth Castle
Oystermouth Castle overlooks the Swansea suburb of the same name, which is better known to most visitors as Mumbles. Originally founded in the 12th century, it was rebuilt in the early 13th century by John de Braose, who also reconstructed nearby Swansea Castle.
The de Braose family were Lords of Gower, and Oystermouth became their favoured residence, so it was part fortress, part luxury seaside pad. Visit to see the remains of the chapel, and also climb the gatehouse tower for a superb view of Mumbles.
20.Wales Coast Path – Mumbles to Caswell Bay
I’ve always had more of a fondness for the wilder Gower Peninsula beaches further west, but some of the Swansea beaches are also terrific, especially if you’re travelling with kids.
This Gower coast path walk takes two to three hours, taking in the Swansea Gower beaches from Bracelet Bay – on the ‘corner’ of the Mumbles headland – past tiny Limeslade and Rotherslade to lovely Langland and Caswell.
It’s a great scenic route, popular with walkers and runners, and an excellent introduction to this end of Gower.
21. Paviland Cave
Paviland Cave – also known as Goat’s Hole Cave – is a famous but difficult to access archaeological site on the south Gower coast halfway between Port Eynon and Rhossili.
In 1823 an ancient ceremonial burial was discovered there by William Buckland, Professor of Geology at Oxford University. The buried skeleton became known as the Red Lady of Paviland, but it turns out ‘she’ wasn’t a lady after all.
The cave entrance – in the image above – is some way up a cliff, and only accessible to skilled, well-equipped climbers. However you can see the entrance on some Gower boat trips, which stop right below.
22. Whiteford Lighthouse
Whiteford lighthouse is one of the least-visited places in Gower, as it’s very remote and can only be reached at low tide. Friends who have done the walk speak about it in hushed reverence, almost in terms of a pilgrimage, the holy grail being the rusted, disused and incredibly evocative 19th century cast-iron lighthouse which has been out of commission since 1926.
It can be reached via Whiteford Sands, itself one of the most atmospheric. windswept beaches Gower has, a total of around 4 miles (6 km) from the nearest village, Llanmadoc. I’m told it’s one of the most rewarding things to do in the Gower, but be sure to hurry back to beat the tide.
Things to do in the Gower Map
I created this map for you showing the locations of all the best things to do in the Gower. Just click on the map and it will take you to google maps where you can get directions and download the map.
David Angel is a Welsh, photographer, writer and historian who has been travelling and photographing Europe for over 30 years. His work is regularly featured in worldwide media including the BBC, Condé Nast Traveller, the Guardian, the Times and the Sunday Times.
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