South Wales Road Trip – Motorhome Travel Guide

Life's an Adventure Motorhome & Campervan Hire UK

Introduction to The South Wales Road Trip

In many ways, Wales is one of the most underrated road trip locations in the UK. It has beaches to rival the south coast of England, mountains to compete with the Scottish highlands, and medieval history to contest the historic towns of Britain. Yet few would consider a South Wales road trip as their primary destination to travel in a motorhome.

Clearly, many van travellers are missing out. Wales – and the south in particular – is a fantastic place to explore. A journey across South Wales will take you to National Parks and beaches that are far more remote and less crowded than they have any right to be given their beauty. Renting a campervan or motorhome will give you the best springboard to explore this area in detail. Next, to keep you in the loop, here is the best way to plan a South Wales road trip.

Where is South Wales?

South Wales is a relatively undefined region of the UK. Unofficially, it includes Pembrokeshire, Carmarthenshire, and the southern Welsh counties that border England and the Bristol Channel. It is home to the Welsh capital of Cardiff and the country’s second biggest city, Swansea. The Black Mountains, River Wye, and River Severn all form natural borders with England while the rest of the region is surrounded by a marine border.

South Wales Road Trip map

How To Start a South Wales Road Trip?

Wales has only one major motorway linking Bristol with Cardiff and Swansea. Therefore, on your South Wales road trip, it is best to make use of this rapid route rather than taking country lanes through the rest of the country. If you choose to rent a motorhome from Life’s an Adventure, you can hop on the M6 and M5 through Birmingham. You can then join the M50 south before crossing the beautiful Wye Valley to the Welsh border. This puts you in a great location for beginning your South Wales road trip with all major sites accessible from this starting point.

When to Visit?

As with most campervan holidays, it is best to embark on your South Wales road trip in good weather. Hours of daylight are longer, driving conditions are safer, and you will have more freedom to explore in good weather. Naturally, the summer months will be great for beach days but expect more people to be about.

If you want to enjoy the birdlife and nature of southern Wales, spring can be a wonderful time to make a trip. The ever-present sound of bleating lambs in the meadows is also a lovely addition. Autumn will be quieter, but the cooler days and clear skies are excellent for hillwalking. This is also the best time of year to see the Atlantic grey seals that flock to the Pembrokeshire coastline in their hundreds to rear their pups.

Dog admiring the view from a Life's an Adventure campervan

Where to Stay?

The great thing about going on a South Wales road trip is the variety of accommodation options on offer. If you want to visit the bright lights and big city, head to Cardiff for bars and restaurants galore. Swansea and Newport offer similar settings but smaller scale, plus, they will be easier to navigate in a hired motorhome. Pembrokeshire is home to some lovely port towns such as Tenby, Fishguard, and Saundersfoot. You can also stay in St David’s, the UK’s smallest city, or the villages of Brecon and Abergavenny near the Brecon Beacons National Park.

Of course, as you are embarking on a South Wales road trip in a campervan, you should make use of this home on wheels by staying in campsites. The great thing about campgrounds is that they are usually positioned near nature areas, and they offer a much quieter experience than staying in a city.

If you choose to rent a motorhome or campervan through us at Life’s an Adventure, you can benefit from the loyalty scheme we share with the Camping and Caravanning Club. That means you can receive up to 30% discount per booking at their sites near the Brecon Beacons and Pembrokeshire. Otherwise, you can find campsites dotted throughout South Wales if you simply do a quick Google search!

Campsite on a South Wales Road Trip

Top Sites?

The Brecon Beacons is an unmissable site on your South Wales road trip. In many ways, it is considered the little sister of Snowdonia, but its landscape is actually more similar to the Yorkshire Dales or Peak District. If you like hiking, try climbing Pen y Fan, the highest peak in South Wales. If you want something a little more secluded, head to the Black Mountains for a sunrise walk in the hills. For those adventurous folk, try wild swimming in Llyn y Fan Fach! Alternatively, enroute to the Gower, you can stop at the Vale of Neath – South Wales waterfall country!

If you want to explore the coast on your South Wales road trip, check out the Gower Peninsula. This spot is an AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), but the diversity of landscapes on offer really should earn it a National Park badge in our opinion! Check out surfing on Rhossili Bay Beach or get an aerial view from Rhossili Down. Go coasteering around the Worm’s Head, or cruise along the country and coastal lanes enjoying the sheep grazing in the fields.

Does the Pembrokeshire Coast have some of the most stunning beaches in the United Kingdom? Quite possibly. They are wilder than Cornwall or Devon and the weather is generally better than up in Scotland. You could easily spend your whole South Wales road trip driving between seaside towns, eating fish and chips, walking along the beaches, swimming, surfing, and wildlife watching! Don’t miss Barafundle, Freshwater West, Marloes Sands, or Whitesands.

If history and urban culture are more your cup of tea, venture into the cities of Swansea or Cardiff. In Swansea, you can watch a football match and stroll along the pleasant beach promenade. In Cardiff, you should visit the Principality Stadium or at least be in the city for an international rugby game. Cardiff Castle and the St. Fagans National Museum of History are also well worth visiting, alongside Caerphilly Castle to round off your medieval history fix.

Road trip across the Brecon Beacons, South Wales

What to Pack for a South Wales Road Trip?

Rugby is something of a religion in Wales. Even tiny towns in the valleys will have a rugby pitch somewhere in the vicinity. In South Wales, there are four club rugby sides alongside the international stadium. With so much sport going on, why not pack a rugby ball on your South Wales road trip? Have a kick around on the beach or practice passing on a grass pitch. Who knows? Before long, you might attract enough locals for a game of touch!

Wales, like much of the UK, is prone to some poor weather. South Wales receives much of the brunt of the Gulf Stream. That means warmer summers, but it also means higher precipitation and gusts of wind whipping off the Atlantic. To make sure you enjoy your South Wales road trip, pack with this in mind. A windbreaker rain jacket will put you in good stead for countryside and coastal walks. A warm hat, pair of woolly socks, and a cosy fleece will ensure you stay toasty on those particularly chilly days.

Food & Drink

South Wales is great for both surf and turf. Along the coastal plains, you will see fields filled with sheep. This salt marsh lamb is particularly revered and van travellers should make sure to try a dish at least once. If you time your visit over the Easter holidays, you will likely find it on offer in most pubs and restaurants.

Seafood is delicious in South Wales. Cockles, seaweed, mussels, and line-caught fish are all mouth-watering dinner options. If you are particularly confident in your wildlife knowledge, you can try seashore foraging and fishing to prepare your dinner. Otherwise, check out some of these eateries to enjoy a hearty seafood meal: The Shed Bistro in Porthgain, The Langland Brasserie in the Gower, Tŷ Madeira Restaurant in Cardiff.

If pubs are your thing, you’re in the right place with nearly 40,000 of them spread across England and Wales. For a post-hike pint, head to the Three Horses Inn or the Brecon Tap in Brecon town. Alternatively, for a cask ale at a seaside tavern, check out the King’s Head Inn, Llangennith, the 18th-century Britannic Gower Inn, or the numerous other pubs you’ll find dotted around the ports of the Pembrokeshire Coast.

Al fresco dining outside a VW California on hire from Life's an Adventure

Bonus Tips

Going on a South Wales road trip should not be rushed. You could easily spend a week in Pembrokeshire alone. If you give yourself 10 days or two weeks for your holiday, you will get the most out of the area. Even though it’s tempting to speed around in your campervan, try to focus on a few key areas to enjoy them in greater depth.

Lastly, before you embark on your adventure, make sure you choose the right vehicle for your trip. At Life’s an Adventure, you can rent a motorhome that fits your style and budget. Whether your trip is a short vacation or a longer travel experience, we can set you up with a fully-equipped campervan ready for you to embark on the perfect South Wales road trip. If you are looking for some advice, do not hesitate to contact us, and one of our friendly team will be happy to help!