Wales is the new Ireland. While Cardiff may currently be winning in the coolness stakes, Swansea is catching up quick. Swansea is built in a smashing location, with a long promenade sweeping around Swansea Bay. The nightlife is concentrated around Wind Street, with a myriad of bars to suit all tastes, from the cheap-and-cheerful to the poncey-as-all-hell. Alternatively try the Mumble Mile, a pub crawl including 11 different haunts.
If you're in Wales, throw yourself, literally, into the outdoor pursuits. Coasteering, climbing, abseiling and gorge scrambling are all superb fun alternatives to the standard stag do karting and clay shooting.
SWANSEA: Your guide to the ultimate stag weekend in this action-packed Welsh city
Down to earth, up for a laugh and good at getting real describes Swansea perfectly. It doesn’t have a pretentious grain on its long, lovely coastline but there’s nothing it loves more than a night out on the town – the wilder, the better.
Swansea at a glance:
• The second biggest city in Wales sits on Swansea Bay with five miles of sandy beaches and watersports galore
• Close to the Gower Peninsula, action packed outdoor pursuits or gentler encounters with nature are right on your doorstep
• Transforms into a true party city at weekends, as visitors flock from surrounding areas and further afield
• Claims Hollywood A-lister Catherine Zeta Jones as one of its own and she’s always quick to sing the city’s praises
• Fresh, local produce is the key ingredient in a flourishing foodie scene
Things not to miss:
One of the best things about Swansea’s fantastic combo of outdoor adventure and brilliant nightlife is how accessible it all is. Wherever you are in the city, you’re never far from a beautiful beach or a forest or a mountain and encouraging you to come and play outside whatever the weather or time of year is what they do round here. And the same can be said of Swansea’s less healthy pursuits. Any day of the week in the city centre somewhere is prepared to party if you are. And at the weekends? Basically all bets are off and Swansea becomes the world’s friendliest free-for-all.
WIND STREET – it’s all about the weekend and being wild
Swansea’s famous party street is closed to cars on Friday and Saturday nights so it’s open season for bar-crawling and offers plenty of places to pick from. Colourful, loud, relentless – watching the crowds work Wind Street at the weekend is a night out in itself.
CASTLE SQUARE – made for lazy summer days and long evenings
The heart of the city’s summer life, Castle Square is the other side of outdoors in Swansea. It’s not beachy or rugged but it’s the place to hire a deckchair and watch big screen movies on summer nights or catch one of the city’s spectacular live music gigs.
SA1 – making the most of the waterfront
Swansea’s once notoriously gritty docks have been transformed over the past decade into a waterfront playground with all the right European elements and still enough of the city to keep it real. Favourite place for afternoon drinks and great views.
MUMBLES – cute, quaint and as cosy as Swansea gets
Chic, elegant and sweetly quaint, Mumbles, which marks the beginning of the Gower Peninsula's coastline, is as idiosyncratic as its odd name. This is the place for specialist shops, interesting galleries, restaurants specialising in fresh, local Welsh ingredients and smart cafés for tea and cakes.
Swansea’s best bars:
Kon-Tiki, The Strand
Tropical themed bar with a hint of Jamaica in there too, always packed and playing loud. Best for local DJs, reggae and R’n’B, out-there interiors and regular party nights with great drink offers.
Prohibition Bar, Green Dragon Lane
Like the names says, it’s the 1930s, so find Prohibition behind the ‘bookcase style’ door on Green Dragon Lane between Wind Street and The Strand. Best for speakeasy attitude and artisan cocktails.
Pitcher & Piano, Wind Street
Big, squashy sofas and opulent décor plus a huge cocktail list to work through, Pitcher & Piano is a Wind Street classic. Best for huge outdoor seating area, expert mixologists (they give lessons) and a fantastic cocktail menu.
No Sign Wine Bar, Wind Street
Wood panelling, open fires and lots of room to spread out, No Sign Wine Bar is a lot less studenty than some of Wind Street. Best for real ales and an excellent wine list, while The Vault downstairs is top notch for live music at the weekends.
Bambu Beach Bar, Wind Street
Ok, not on the beach, but big beach party attitude and has the grass-hut look nailed. Best for karaoke, private parties, a sweet sun terrace and fantastic cocktails.
Idols, Wind Street
Open from 5pm until late every night, with different daily drink offers and DJs Wednesday to Sunday. Best for party atmosphere, good prices and deals, lively crowd and late, late nights.
Walkabout, Castle Square
Live sports on lots of screen, loads of beer and a laid-back beachy attitude straight from Australia to the centre of Swansea. Best for cheap eats, cool beers, drinks deals and big, big, big TVs. Sporty stags will be in their element.
Yates, Caer Street
Deals on everything from ‘vodkabombs’ to food, 10 plasma TVs and a giant screen for live sport, Saturday night specials for stags and more karaoke than you’ll ever need or want. Best for blow-out party, great prices and straight-up pub food.
The Pumphouse, Pumphouse Quay
Right next to the Marina’s lock gates in the Maritime Quarter, The Pumphouse is the place for Wales’ national beer, Brains. Best for sitting outside and watching the water, Brains’ Welsh beer and good, sturdy pub grub. sabrain.com/pumphouse/
Swansea’s best nightclubs:
Monkey Bar, Castle Street
Famous for burgers with weirdly wonderful toppings by day and monkeying about with the sounds at night. Best for funk, hip hop and R’n’B, resident and guest DJs and a lively, local crowd.
Popworld, Wind Street
Famously fabulous right down to the flashing dance floor, Popworld plays cheesy tunes from the early 90s to right now and doesn’t care about cool. Best for non-cool and amazing clubbing, a cheesy soundtrack and getting the party started with their ‘Poptail’ drinks’ menu.
Revolution, Wind Street
Sleek, stylish vodka bar with minimalist bench seating for groups, beer keg tables, big leather sofas and choice of two dance floors. Best for groups, vodka and lounging about in between dancing.
Coco Bar, Salubrious Place
Open until 3am, with local DJs, club anthems and classics, ridiculously cheap drink deals and really young, lively crowd. Best for £1 shorts, 2-4-1 cocktail offers and a big sound mix.
Sin City, Dillwyn Street
Live music venue with legendary club nights and lots of treats for people organising parties. Best for it great sound mix, new bands, different club nights and Sin City party treats.
Food: eat like a local:
Local, fresh and organic are big in Wales and if you want to see amazing home-produced ingredients at their best, you want Swansea Market. With over 100 stalls, it’s the biggest indoor market in the country and sells everything from delicious Gower Saltmarsh Lamb to laverbread, Penclawdd cockles and Welsh Black Beef.
A firm favourite with local lass Catherine Zeta Jones, Patrick’s (Mumbles Road) uses only fresh, local produce on an innovative and contemporary menu. Not a cheap place to eat but the food is fantastic.
Fans of the eat-all-you-can buffet should book ahead for Swansea legend Cosmo (Castle Street). Pan Asian and world cooking styles, live sushi, noodle and pizza stations and brilliant prices mean it is always busy. Choice of steaks cooked to perfection is Chaplin Steakhouse’s (Wind Street) signature. Named after the movie star and decorated with dozens of black and white photos in his honour.
Truffle (Brynymor Road) is one of Swansea’s best loved local restaurants and keeps the menu simple and delicious with a fixed price for three courses. It’s BYOB and they don’t charge corkage, so book a party and bring a case.
The city’s best breakfast is served at Uplands Diner (Uplands Crescent) and no competition. It’s also home to heart-attack special ‘Mega Beast’ – 10 rashers of bacon, 5 eggs, 8 sausages, 2 hash browns, 2 black pudding, 4 slices of toast...you get the idea. Eat an entire Mega Beast and you get it free with a t-shirt.
Swansea centre is easy to walk around and even going down to the waterfront at SA1 isn’t much more than a stroll. If you need a taxi there are several city centre ranks and the one on Castle Street and on the end of Wind Street are best for party people when it’s time to call it a night. One day ‘First Day’ bus passes are good value for getting around the city and to Mumbles – a cycle along the prom to Swansea’s cute little suburb is also good fun.
Did you know?
Swansea FC fans are known as Jacks after the dog who saved 27 people from drowning in the city’s docks.