Between the city and the Gower seaboard nearby, excellent camping awaits.
Wales’ second-biggest city boasts a buoyant cultural scene fuelled by excellent restaurants and museums and its many literary connections with Dylan Thomas, the best-known Welsh writer, who grew up here. It’s also positioned on a stretch of sandy coast that ruptures into the Gower Peninsula right outside town. The Gower shorelines are enchanting—think dinky seaside villages, divine sandy beaches, and a montage of elemental clifftops, coastal heath, marsh, and dunes that make a Mecca for a range of wildlife. In central Swansea, Swansea Marina has a touring park for caravans but most campers hereabouts base themselves out on the Gower’s beguiling seaboard within easy reach of the city.
The AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) that is the Gower Peninsula begins right on the edge of Swansea—few other big UK cities have such pristine, protected countryside so close. It’s a mix of big sand beaches, rugged cliffs and bewitching little coastal villages with a drum-roll of dramatic moorland in the middle. It’s a well-established pitcher’s paradise, with lots of mainly small-scale farm campsites alongside a few mid-size campsites.
No outdoor-lover should stop by the Gower without visiting this famously, fabulously fetching 2 mile-long sandy beach at the peninsula’s western edge. There’s camping just back from the southern end, at Pitton Cross, and on a larger site at Llangennith, one of Wales’ top surfing spots. The tidal island of Worm’s Head to the south makes for some compelling exploring, and the sand dunes and marshes back from the seafront secrete wonderful birdlife.
If you can tear yourself away from Swansea’s interesting heritage and the Gower’s wild beauty, then on the other side of Carmarthen Bay you will find the biggest sandy beaches in Wales teasing out in a dazzling golden line across South Carmarthenshire. Huge inlets isolate much of this coast, which reaches its prettiest around the epic Pembrey and Pendine sands. Coast-loving campers should come here to enjoy the region while evading Gower crowds.
Sunny weather makes Swansea and the Gower more appealing: plump for a time between April and September outside of school holidays to enjoy the most clement weather without the masses present. Swansea itself is an all-year destination, but if you’re sleeping under canvas you’ll likely be based on the Gower, where most campsites are open April-September. July’s Gower Festival, with music performances held in churches across the Gower, and September’s arts-and-culture-based Swansea International Festival are especially lively times.