Glamorgan (Welsh: Morgannwg, historically known as Glamorganshire / Sir Forgannwg) is a traditional county in Wales and also its most densely populated region. Wales' two largest cities, Cardiff and Swansea, were part of Glamorgan (they are now counties in their own right) and so the area is somewhat more cosmopolitan than other regions, and offers the greatest variety of shopping, entertainment and cultural events. However, for those less interested in the hustle and bustle of city life, the county also has an array of other attractions, such as the sea-side resort towns of Barry and Porthcawl, the spectacular coast and sandy beaches of the Gower Peninsula and the hilly areas to the north. The former industrial heartland of Wales, simply referred to as the Valleys, is in the central part of the county. Vale of Glamorgan is at the coastal belt of Glamorgan in. "The Vale" is bounded generally by Cardiff to the East, Bridgend to the West, the M4 to the North and the Bristol Channel to the South. The rolling green countryside on the South Wales coast between the capital city of Cardiff and Bridgend is the beautiful Vale of Glamorgan. It is served by four towns, the seaside resort of Barry, fashionable Cowbridge with sophisticated shops, restaurants and cafes, historic Llantwit Major and elegant Victorian and Edwardian Penarth which has a pier and a handful of pretty villages including Gileston all crowned by 14 miles of glorious Glamorgan Heritage Coast. Fresh green countryside with rural and coastal beauty spots, endless breathtaking vistas, joyous walking, excellent local produce and country pubs as well as the excitement and facilities of Cardiff, a thriving waterside city.
Cities, towns and villages
- 1 Cardiff (Welsh: Caerdydd) – The capital and largest city in Wales
- 2 Swansea (Abertawe) - Wales' second city - famed for beaches and coastal walks
- 3 Aberdare (Aberdâr)
- 4 Barry (Y Barri) – Home of award-winning TV comedy Gavin & Stacey, as well as popular resort, Barry Island
- 5 Bridgend (Pen-y-bont ar Ogwr) – Just along the A48, Bridgend is home to many shops & two castles
- 6 Caerphilly (Caerffili) – Home to a magnificent castle
- 7 Cowbridge (Y Bont-faen) – A quiet market town
- 8 Llantrisant – Home of the Royal Mint.
- 9 Llantwit Major (Llanilltud Fawr)
- 10 Maesteg
- 11 Maerdy
- 12 Merthyr Tydfil (Merthyr Tudful)
- 13 Neath (Castell-nedd)
- 14 Penarth – A pier and marina, along with a busy town centre
- 15 Pontypridd
- 16 Porthcawl – On the Glamorgan Heritage Coast is Porthcawl.
- 17 Port Talbot
- 18 Cilybebyll
- 19 Llangynwyd
- 20 Pontardawe
- 21 Rhoose (Y Rhws)
- 22 Southerndown and Ogmore-by-Sea
- 23 Sully (Sili)
- 1 Flat Holm (Ynys Echni) is an island nature reserve, the most southerly part of Wales. Boat trips visit from the Cardiff area.
- 2 Gower Peninsula (Penrhyn Gŵyr) is the headland west of Swansea, an AONB - Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
- 3 Afan Forest Park (Afan Argoed) is a steep-sided valley with hiking and mountain-biking trails.
- Heritage Coast - The coastline in the Western Vale is considered a "Heritage Coast", protected for its natural beauty and historical importance to the area. The Heritage Coast Centre can be found at Southerndown.
The historical county of Glamorgan no longer exists as an administrative area. However, some county level sports teams, for example Glamorgan County Cricket, still use the title. The county has been divided into eight administrative districts, with the largest and most important being Cardiff and Swansea. The others are as follows: Bridgend, Caerphilly, Merthyr Tydfil, Neath Port Talbot, Rhondda Cynon Taff and Vale of Glamorgan.
Glamorganshire is well served by the motorway system and can easily be accessed by junctions 29 to 47 of the M4. The A465 trunk road from Hereford passes east-west through the county, joining the M4 at junction 43. The A470 trunk road passes north-south linking Cardiff, Pontypridd and Merthyr Tydfil to mid and north Wales.
The Great Western main railway line passes through the county affording easy access to Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire in the west and Newport, Bristol and London in the east. The county contains an extensive local rail service centred on Cardiff.
Cardiff Airport is west of Cardiff in the Vale of Glamorgan.
- The M4 Motorway links the region with Cardiff, Bristol and London with connections to the M6, M5, M32, M42 and M50.
- The A465, with its mountain scenery links Swansea Bay with Birmingham and the midlands avoiding the Severn toll bridges.
- The A483 links Swansea Bay with north Wales and Chester.
- There are park and ride services serving Swansea at Fabian way (off M4 Junction 42), Landore (off M4 Junction 45) and Fforestfach (off M4 Junction 47).
- National Express operates a regular coach service from Swansea to London, Cardiff, Bristol and Birmingham. Coach services also operate directly from Carmarthen, Llanelli, Neath and Port Talbot to Cardiff and London.
- First Cymru operates a frequent Shuttle coach service to Swansea from Cardiff. Tickets can be bought on the bus.
- Cardiff Airport (CWL IATA), which is about a 50-minute drive from the city and offers scheduled domestic and international flights to Europe, Africa and North America.
- Swansea Airport (SWS IATA). Swansea is served by its own regional airport, light aircraft only.
- Pembrey Airport (ICAO:EGFP) offers charter flights to destinations in UK and Europe.
- Heathrow|(LHR IATA) and Gatwick (LGW IATA) airports. There are frequent National Express coach services to Swansea from Heathrow Airport, offering the widest choice of international flights.
- First Great Western Trains, ☏ 08457 48 49 50 (high cost). offer a very frequent service from London Paddington Station to Swansea Station, stopping at Reading, Swindon, Bristol Parkway, Newport, Cardiff Central, Bridgend, Port Talbot Parkway and Neath. During the summer months, First Great Western trains also call at Llanelli and Carmarthen
- Travellers arriving from Heathrow have the option of taking the shuttle bus to Reading and boarding the west bound train there - this saves travelling into London - or taking the Heathrow Express high speed rail link to London Paddington Station. This service runs every 15 minutes from terminals 1,2,3 or every 23 minutes from terminal 4 and takes 15 minutes: £13 (single); £25 (return).
- Travellers arriving from Cardiff International Airport can take a train to Swansea, however this requires a change at Bridgend. Services are provided by Arriva Trains
- Arriva Trains, ☏ 08457 48 49 50 (high cost). Runs routes west of Swansea. After leaving Swansea, the train follows of the contours of the coast. A left side seat will give you the best view.
- The famous Heart of Wales Line runs between the medieval town of Shrewsbury and Swansea, passing through some of Wales' most spectacular scenery and picturesque towns during its 3 hr 40 min journey. Trains depart Swansea at 04:36, 09:15, 13:17 and 18:21.
- Swansea Marina offers 750 berths for private boat mooring, offering comprehensive facilities for short and long term stays.
- Burry Port Marina just west of Llanelli offers 243 berths for private boat mooring.
- Cork-Swansea ferry (provided by Fastnet Line) In Swansea the ferry operates from the ferry terminal in Swansea Docks off the A483 Fabian Way, close to the city centre and SA1. In County Cork, the ferry sails from the port of Ringaskiddy about 7 miles southeast of the city of Cork. There are 4 return voyages a week during the high season and 3 return voyages a week during the low season. Fastnet Line's ferry, the MS Julia can accommodate cars and trucks. Prices start from £18/€20 for foot passengers.
- Rosslare - Fishguard ferries Stenna Line[dead link] operate ferries to Fishguard in West Wales which is about 1.5 hours drive to Swansea Bay.
- Rosslare - Pembroke Dock[dead link] Irish Ferries operate a ferry service from Rosslare to Pembroke Dock in West Wales. Pembroke Dock is about 1 hour 20 minutes drive to Swansea Bay.
The best means of transport for exploring the region is by private car.
Buses depart from Swansea Bus Station to most of the suburbs and rural areas of Swansea, and to other towns in the region. Towns with central bus stations to their suburbs include Neath, Port Talbot, Llanelli and Carmarthen. Most services are operated by First Cymru[dead link].
Arriva trains operate suburban and rural train services from Swansea station to Llansamlet, Skewen, Baglan, Briton Ferry, Gowerton, Bynea, Llangennech, Pontarddulais, Pantyfynnon and Ammanford.
- Avis, Orchard St, Swansea, SA1 5AS, ☏ +44 844 581-0014.
- Europcar, 187-189 Oxford St, Swansea, SA1 3JA, ☏ +44 1792 650526.
- St Fagans National History Museum near Cardiff
- Caerphilly castle
- Heritage Coast near Southerndown
- Mountain biking in Afan Forest Park.
- Hiking part of the Wales Coast Path.
- Cricket: Glamorgan CCC play at Sophia Park in Cardiff.
There are some good walks in the Vale, many from the Valeways Scheme. As a county on the coast, the Wales Coast Path runs the full length of the Glamorgan Coast, from Cardiff to Bridgend. The route then continues around Wales as a long-distance path. There is another long-distance trail in the Vale of Glamorgan, the 69 mile long Valeways Millennium Heritage Trail. This path goes to many destinations in the Vale, including Southerndown, Cowbridge, Rhoose, Barry, Cardiff, Llanharry and Colwinston. The trail runs in a circle, and is made up of mainly Bridleways. Most of its destinations are covered in this Wikivoyage article! It takes you from the sea, to near-sky heights, with some fabulous views across the Vale
Although not the most popular surfing resort in Wales, the Vale of Glamorgan hosts some great waves.
Situated on the Bristol Channel, Southerndown becomes very popular in the height of summer when the sun is out. Even when it's raining, it's still pretty busy. A sandy, RNLI Lifeguarded beach with loads of space, makes Southerndown a great place to spend time on the beach and surf on the waves on the flooding tides. Southerndown is situated on the Glamorgan Heritage Coast. Other facilities on or near the beach also include public toilets and a shop.
Further West than Southerndown, is Ogmore-By-Sea, also known simply as Ogmore. Although not as popular as Southerndown, and with fewer facilities, Ogmore does sometimes have surfers, especially East of the Beach. The mouth of the river Ogmore is on this beach, although entering the water is not advised at this point
The town of Llantwit Major has an RNLI Lifeguarded beach. Sometimes popular with surfers
- Bristol - Just over an hour away is Bristol, the bustling port on the River Avon
- Swansea - Another city renowned for its spectacular Waterfront