Top 10 Easy To Reach Beauty Spots

Looking to get away from university to explore some of the beautiful scenery Wales has to offer? There’s plenty to see in this magical land, from ancient woodland to golden beaches, waterfalls, mountains, and stone castles. 

Whichever campus you live on or near, there are plenty of stunning places you can visit using public transport and without spending days travelling. Here are ten of our favourite beauty spots in South Wales which are all relatively easy to reach on public transport:

1. Dyffryn Gardens & Tinkinswood Burial Chamber

St Nicholas is home to a couple of unique beauty spots, both of which sit just on Cardiff’s doorstep. Only a short walk from this pretty Vale of Glamorgan village is Dyffryn Gardens as well as Tinkinswood Burial Chamber. 

Dyffryn Gardens is a beautiful restoration Edwardian Garden which surrounds its very own manor house. It’s hard not to be blown away by the impressive National Trust gardens which include sweeping vistas, garden rooms, a unique arboretum, and a glass house, as well as a variety of smaller gardens such as the Mediterranean Garden and Pompeiian Garden. 

As you walk to Dyffryn Gardens, the prehistoric burial site Tinkinswood Burial Chamber lies directly on the route from St Nicholas. The site, which is thought to pre-date Stone Henge, is home to an ancient chamber that sits against the beautiful green backdrop of the Vale of Glamorgan. 

Dyffryn Gardens - kitz-travellers on Getty

Tinkinswood Burial Chamber – also known as Castell Carreg, Llech-y-Filiast, and Maes-y-Filiast - was built during what is known as the Neolithic Period in the Vale of Glamorgan around 6,000 years ago and features one of the largest capstones in Britain. The tomb measures approximately 24X15 feet and weighs around 40 tonnes.

2. Garth Hill

If you’re looking for fresh air and adventure, another great place on the university’s doorstep is Garth Hill. Based on the border between Rhondda Cynon Taff and Cardiff, Garth Hill offers unique contrasting views of the rolling Welsh countryside and Cardiff’s skyline. 

The walk up the hill isn’t too difficult, and it is easily reached on public transport via either Cardiff outskirt villages Pentyrch and Taffs Well, or RCT’s Llantwit Fadre. Enjoy the top of the crag, the beautiful woodland, and looking into the Taff valley as you spend a few hours exploring with friends.

Friends hiking -  monkeybusinessimages on Getty

3. Brecon Beacons

An adventure into the beautiful Welsh countryside would not be complete without a visit to the Brecon Beacons. With mountains, wild ponies, and red kites, the Brecon Beacons National Park is only a bus ride away from Cardiff and Pontypridd. 

The national park is home to South Wales’s largest peak Pen y Fan, which can be easily reached on the T4 bus which stops at the Storey Arms next to the mountain, as well as Brecon town. 

Also included in the Powys national park, which is a great place to see the stars due to its dark sky status, is Hay-on-Wye. Known as the Kingdom of Books, Hay is a pretty town filled with independent places to eat, grab a coffee, and enjoy local music and theatrical talent, as well as countless unique and quirky book shops – all against the stunning backdrop of the mountains. 

Brecon Beacons -  WLDavies

The T4 bus travels from Cardiff and Pontypridd up to Newtown at the top of Mid Wales with stops at Libanus, Brecon, Talgarth, Builth Wells, and Llandrindod Wells. The bus ride alone is worth it – be prepared for jaw-dropping views once you’ve entered the national park as you see mountains, valleys, and waterfalls from your seat.

4. Monknash

Fancy a day at the beach? We have no shortage of beautiful coastlines in South Wales, and one of the easiest locations to reach is Monknash. A beautiful sandy beach with dramatic cliffs and rocks, it is a beautiful part of the Vale of Glamorgan to spend a sunny day. 

Also known as a Cwm Nash, the beach is easy to get to from the nearby village of Monknash which can be easily reached on the bus. If you’re lucky, you might see one of the peregrine falcons at the beach as they nest in the above cliffs. Alternatively, you can allegedly see bones poking out from the cliff tops as they were once home to a burial site for the local community as well as shipwreck victims in the 1500s and 1600s. 

Of course, there are other great beaches you can visit including in the Vale of Glamorgan’s Llantwit Major and Barry, as well as at Porthcawl and the iconic golden cliffs of Southerndown’s Dunraven Bay near Bridgend. Both Barry Island and Porthcawl feature traditional seaside facilities like a fun fair and ice cream as well as lovely sandy beaches.

Beach friends -  Johnnyhetfield on Getty

5. Allt-Yr-Yn Nature Reserve

One of the easiest-to-reach beauty spots in Newport is the Allt-Yr-Yn Nature Reserve. Designated in 1994, the stunning 32-acre site lies between the Monmouthshire-Brecon Canal and Allt-Yr-Yn View and occupies a former lido and house with the same name. 

Within walking distance from our Newport campus and easily reachable via public transport from our other campuses, the nature reserve is home to beautiful woodland and grassland, as well as various ponds which are connected by streams and home to Kingfishers. 

Home to around 50 different species of birds along with mammals, frogs, newts, and grass snakes, it is a fantastic place to feel in touch with nature. You can also expect a variety of trees and fungi as well as wildflowers and butterflies. The Allt-Yr-Yn Nature Reserve really should be on your list of places to visit on a sunny day.

Kingfisher -  Jrleyland on Getty

6. Smaelog Woods

Another natural beauty spot that is easy to reach from USW is Smaelog Woods near Pontyclun. Joining onto Llantrisant Forest, the Ynysmaerdy woodland is filled with walking and mountain biking trails over the hills and amongst the large trees. 

You can expect chunks of ancient woodland, pinecones, fresh air, and wildlife as you enjoy the peace and quiet. Easy to reach on public transport, it’s hard not to feel like you’re in an enchanted woods as the forest helps you to forget how close you are to main roads and buildings.

Forest exploring -  hobo_018 on Getty

7. National Show Caves of Wales

Looking for something a bit more unusual? Visit Wales’s very own cave system in Mid Wales. The National Show Caves Centre for Wales is home to incredible natural chambers which have formed over thousands of years. Also referred to locally as Dan yr Ogof, the centre is home to three impressive caves including Dan yr Ogof, the Cathedral Cave, and the Bone Cave inside the Brecon Beacons National Park. 

Whilst the caves are the main attraction, the site is also home to more than 200 life-size dinosaurs, a farm, a shire horse centre, and a variety of other activities. This unique mid-Wales attraction can be reached on public transport via train and bus with a journey time of between an hour and a half to two and a half hours.

Welsh caves -  drshaheerkodur on Getty

8. The Gower & Swansea Bay

If you’re looking to get in the beautiful scenery of Wales, your list of places to visit would not be complete without the idyllic beaches of the Gower Peninsula and Swansea Bay. 

Also known simply as The Gower, it’s not hard to see why it was designated the UK’s first area of outstanding natural beauty in the 1950s when you see the iconic sandy beaches and beautiful limestone cliffs. This ecologically diverse area also includes wild moors and forestry making it a dream for adventurers. 

This area, which can be reached on public transport via the bus or the train, features iconic beaches such as the Mumbles, Llangennith, Pwll Du, and Rhossili Bay which has been voted one of the best in the world.

Three Cliffs Bay at Gower -  acceleratorhams on Getty

9. Caerphilly Castle

Of course, any sightseeing in Wales would not be complete without at least one castle. With more castles per square mile than in any other country, there’s a lot to pick from and one of the most impressive is Caerphilly Castle. 

The biggest castle in Wales, it sits in Caerphilly town which is only a 20-minute train ride from Cardiff. Surrounded by beautiful hills and near the beautiful Caerphilly Mountain, this medieval castle promises a brilliant day out to learn about its history in the area. 

It is not the only easy-to-reach castle from our campuses as you could also visit Cardiff Castle, Newport Castle, the ruins of Llantrisant Castle near Pontyclun, or even the magical Castell Coch which looks like it comes from the books of a fairy tale on the Cardiff outskirts.

Caerphilly Castle -  jvoisey on Getty

10. Waterfall Country

Looking for a day walking around magical waterfalls? Take a trip to Wales’s very own Waterfall Country. The famous Four Waterfalls Walk is long, however, it allows you to walk beside and behind giant falls which look straight out of a movie. 

Based between the small Powys villages of Ystradfellte and Pontneddfechan in the Brecon Beacons, you can expect woodland and toadstools to add to the magic of the area. It takes a couple of hours on public transport, via a mix of the train and the bus, to reach Pontneddfechan which is home to a handful of different trails and around nine waterfalls. If you do decide to visit this natural wonderland, make sure you wear sensible footwear as getting up close to the waterfalls can be slippery.

Waterfall Country -  AlbertPego on Getty

Of course, there is so much more to see in Wales – both locally and further afield – especially if you’re willing to travel or if you have a car as you can experience the impressive mountains of Snowdonia or the incredible Isle of Anglesey. From the coast to the hills and the woodland, it’s worth taking the time to explore this tiny country to see what beautiful places you might discover.