Cardiff, the capital and largest city of Wales, is known for its rich history and cultural significance. Beyond its castles, however, the city also boasts beautiful beaches that are definitely worth visiting.
Have you ever wondered where are the best beaches near Cardiff? And how about in the city itself – since the Welsh capital sits right on the south coast of Wales overseeing the Atlantic Ocean – is there a Cardiff beach? Many a vacation-goer has asked these questions, and this guide will set the record straight.
Those itching to get sand between their toes and that cool sea breeze in their hair can enjoy a bustling family day out or a peaceful spot for some R&R on a number of fine beaches in and around Cardiff. In fact, there’s a beach to suit every taste – from smooth, large, golden sand beaches to small, pebbly, rocky shores.
In this article, we will dive into the best beaches near Cardiff that are perfect for soaking up the sun and enjoying the stunning Welsh coastline. From surfing hotspots to secluded coves, we’ve got you covered. So, let’s get sandy and discover what makes these beaches near Cardiff the ultimate seaside escape!
Scroll on to read: 15 Top Beaches Near Cardiff, Wales (+ Best Beach in Cardiff)
Table of Contents
Cardiff tourist information
How to get there
The nearest airport to Cardiff is Cardiff Airport (CWL) 9 miles away. Bristol International (BRS) is the other nearest airport, 21 miles away. Click here for airport transfers to Cardiff.
Getting around Cardiff
Cardiff is a very compact and modernized city with mostly flat surfaces making it very walkable and bike-friendly, with superb public transport options.
Walking: Cardiff is quite a small city with attractions close to each other. Alternatively, I recommend the hop-on hop-off bus to explore all the city’s top sights.
Cycling: Cardiff recently had OVO bikes installed across the city and there are plenty of bike racks and traffic-free cycle paths.
Bus: Buses are easy to use and run regularly from numerous stops. An adult trip costs £2 (cards are accepted). Use Cardiff Bus to plan your route.
Train: The main station is Cardiff Central right in the heart of the city and has great transport links to the rest of the UK. You can get a train from London to Cardiff in just 2 hours!
Car: Cardiff’s roads are very easy and convenient to navigate. You can hire a rental car here.
Best time to visit Cardiff
Early June to late September is considered the best time to visit, with July and August being the warmest months. Rainfall is spread throughout the year, with November being the wettest month and April the driest.
Beaches Near Cardiff Map
Top 15 Beaches Near Cardiff, Wales (+ Best Beach in Cardiff)
Does Cardiff Have a Beach?
Cardiff is not actually located on the coast and therefore does not have a beach of its own. That being said, there is a beach known as Cardiff Bay Beach but it’s only a temporary beach, placed in Cardiff Bay during the summer (from August to September) with sand and fairground rides, though it doesn’t have access to water.
So, does Cardiff have a beach? The answer is YES – there is a Cardiff beach so to speak (although it’s not the best beach), and that beach is known as Splott Beach:
1. Splott Beach
📍 Location: (Google Maps) | 🚗 Distance from Cardiff City Center: 3 miles (10 mins) | 🏖️ Beach type: stone, brick, rubble | 🦮 Dog-friendly: yes
A hidden beach in Cardiff, Splott Beach is teeming with bricks, tiles, and remnants from the former East Moors steelworks.
The beach offers a unique experience for those who enjoy exploring and taking photographs of degraded industrial objects, making it one of the most picturesque beaches near Cardiff for photography.
Despite its reputation, the momentum of Splott’s community continues to thrive.
Parody postcards depicting the beach highlight its cultural significance as an escape from city life and a place of pure enjoyment and relaxation.
Planning a trip to Cardiff? Be sure to read my complete guide to the most memorable things to do in Cardiff
2. Penarth Beach
📍 Location: (Google Maps) | 🚗 Distance from Cardiff City Center: 5.7 miles (20 mins) | 🏖️ Beach type: pebbles, sand | 🦮 Dog-friendly: no
Those seeking quiet beaches near Cardiff for relaxation can look no further than Penarth Beach, where one can enjoy the unique blend of pebbles and sand.
During low tide, the beach boasts a wide stretch of exposed sand. However, visitors should be aware of the strong currents and often murky brown water due to the proximity of river estuaries.
Penarth is also considered one of the best places to live in Wales, with its coastal location adding to its allure.
The area also has historical significance, with Penarth Pier being one of the most scenic coastal walks near beaches in Cardiff, and a recognizable landmark that was depicted in impressionist painter Alfred Sisley’s artwork.
Fancy a sightseeing tour of Cardiff? You can explore all the highlights of the city on this 24-hour Hop-on Hop-off bus tour:
3. Swanbridge Beach & Sully Beach
📍 Location: (Google Maps) | 🚗 Distance from Cardiff City Center: 8.6 miles (25 mins) | 🏖️ Beach type: rocks, stone | 🦮 Dog-friendly: yes
Swanbridge Beach (which merges into Sully Beach), is located opposite Sully Island in the Vale of Glamorgan and was once covered with rubble and scrap metal in 1984 in an attempt to strengthen a sea wall.
However, after 29 years, the beach is finally being restored to its former state as a popular holiday destination. Although not the best beach in this guide, it does offer a decent view of Sully Island and makes for a nice spot for children to play by the sea.
4. Barry Island Beach
📍 Location: (Google Maps) | 🚗 Distance from Cardiff City Center: 10 miles (32 mins) | 🏖️ Beach type: sand | 🦮 Dog-friendly: yes
One of the best family-friendly beaches near Cardiff, Barry Island Beach is a popular destination for families to have a nice chill day at the seaside.
With its huge, gently sloping golden sands and bustling promenade, it offers plenty of activities for visitors to enjoy.
Whether building sandcastles, rock-pooling, paddling, splashing in the waves, playing crazy golf, or hiring a beach hut, there is something for everyone.
Barry Island Beach is part of the district, peninsula and seaside resort of Barry Island, which is named after the 6th-century Saint Baruc.
5. Watch House Bay, Barry
📍 Location: (Google Maps) | 🚗 Distance from Cardiff City Center: 10.5 miles (33 mins) | 🏖️ Beach type: sand, pebbles | 🦮 Dog-friendly: yes
Watch House Bay, also known as Watch Tower Bay, is a serene and secluded beach located on Barry Island, on the other side of Cold Knap Point.
With a pebble beach flanked by rocks on one side and low-rise cliffs with dense trees on the other, it’s a peaceful retreat from the busier nearby beaches.
When the tide recedes, a vast expanse of sand is exposed, revealing a tranquil spot for relaxation and exploration, and you can even make it over to Little Island. A slipway and a small jetty leading down to the water add to the charm of this picturesque location.
Watch House Bay Beach is the perfect spot to relax and take in the views of the old harbor on Barry Island.
Fans of the hit TV show Gavin and Stacey can go on a tour of the various show locations like Nessa’s Slots and Stacey’s home, on Barry Island, just 20 mins drive from Cardiff.
6. Jackson’s Bay, Barry
📍 Location: (Google Maps) | 🚗 Distance from Cardiff City Center: 11 miles (33 mins) | 🏖️ Beach type: sand | 🦮 Dog-friendly: yes
Jackson’s Bay, located in Barry, is a beautiful sandy cove that is well worth a visit. The beach, which is about 170 meters long, is gently sloping and backs onto cliffs covered in lush greenery.
It’s described as a hidden gem and is much quieter than other beaches in the area, making it one of the more secluded beaches near Cardiff for privacy.
It’s a short walk from the parking spaces, but up/down a steep hill, so it may be less suitable for those with accessibility issues. There is a small lighthouse at the end of a harbor wall to the east of the beach, although visitors are not able to access the wall.
7. Cold Knap Beach (aka Pebble Beach), Barry
📍 Location: (Google Maps) | 🚗 Distance from Cardiff City Center: 11 miles (33 mins) | 🏖️ Beach type: pebbles | 🦮 Dog-friendly: no
Cold Knap Beach is situated about a mile away from the main resort beach in Barry. It’s mostly pebble-surfaced, hence it’s more common name Pebble Beach, and has a steeply shelving shoreline, which reveals some sand during low tide.
Despite its proximity to the busier beach, Pebble Beach is a quieter option, although it can still get busy during the summer months.
The beach is located near Cold Knap Point, which houses a sewage pumping station serving Barry. In addition, there is evidence of a Roman building located beneath the area, discovered during construction work for the Water’s Edge Hotel in 1960.
8. Llantwit Major Beach
📍 Location: (Google Maps) | 🚗 Distance from Cardiff City Center: 20 miles (40 mins) | 🏖️ Beach type: pebbles, rock pools | 🦮 Dog-friendly: yes
Llantwit Major Beach, as with several other beaches along the Glamorgan Heritage Coast, boasts some of the best tidal pools and rock formations near Cardiff beaches.
The beach offers a rocky terrain that is perfect for exploring and searching for marine wildlife such as crabs in the rock pools. It’s also a popular spot for dog walkers and families, with some patches of sand and cliffs backing it up.
What’s more, the Wales Coast Path connects with Llantwit Major Beach, making it a great spot for year-round surfing and coastal walks with incredible views.
The town of Llantwit Major, also known as Llanilltud Fawr, has a historic urban center and was first recorded in Welsh literature as Caer-Worgorn, indicating a fortified post-Roman settlement.
9. Nash Point Beach
📍 Location: (Google Maps) | 🚗 Distance from Cardiff City Center: 21 miles (42 mins) | 🏖️ Beach type: rocks, pebbles | 🦮 Dog-friendly: yes
Nash Point Beach, also known as Trwyn yr As in Welsh, is a beautiful headland and beach located on the Monknash Coast of the Vale of Glamorgan in South Wales, about a mile from Marcross.
It is a popular location for hiking along the cliffs to Llantwit Major Beach and offers great opportunities for spotting a variety of wildlife species, including the endangered Tuberous Thistles, wild carrot, cabbage, and graceful fulmers flying overhead.
The beach is also home to Nash Point Lighthouse, which was built in 1832 by Trinity House to successfully assist mariners clear of the Nash Sands. Although the lighthouse is no longer manned, visitors can still enjoy its historic presence and learn about its fascinating history.
10. Ogmore-By-Sea Beach
📍 Location: (Google Maps) | 🚗 Distance from Cardiff City Center: 24 miles (38 mins) | 🏖️ Beach type: sand | 🦮 Dog-friendly: yes
Ogmore-by-Sea is a picturesque coastal village situated about three miles south of Bridgend and twenty miles west of Cardiff.
The area is known for its beautiful sandy shingle beaches, including Ogmore Beach with its expansive golden sands and fertile rock pools.
The beaches offer stunning views of Tusker Rock and the River Ogmore estuary, with sand at low tide and sharp rocks at high tide.
The area is a popular destination for visitors to the Glamorgan Heritage Coast, and is perfect for a day out or a relaxing beach holiday.
Tip: Be sure to take a visit to the stunning Ogmore Castle on the river, with its famous stepping stones that will make for an enjoyable trip.
11. Dunraven Bay Beach
📍 Location: (Google Maps) | 🚗 Distance from Cardiff City Center: 25 miles (42 mins) | 🏖️ Beach type: sand, rocks, pebbles | 🦮 Dog-friendly: yes
Also known as Southerndown Beach, Dunraven Bay Beach is situated in the nearby village of Southerndown and is a hugely popular spot for beachgoers and surfers in particular.
Known for its stunning natural beauty and historical ruins, visitors can explore the nearby walled gardens and the ruins of Dunraven Castle, which are set back from the beach.
Dunraven Bay Beach is the perfect spot for wildlife watching opportunities near Cardiff beaches as it’s a great place to spot some local wildlife, including the rare Chough bird, and to take a walk along the Wales Coast Path. The beach is backed by towering cliffs and offers breathtaking views of the Bristol Channel.
A highly recommended visit, the little shop on the beach is also a great place to grab an ice cream or a coffee.
12. Merthyr Mawr Beach
📍 Location: (Google Maps) | 🚗 Distance from Cardiff City Center: 24 miles (38 mins) | 🏖️ Beach type: sand | 🦮 Dog-friendly: yes
Merthyr Mawr Beach is a wide sandy beach located just 12 minutes drive from Bridgend. The beach is surrounded by a vast dune system known as the Merthyr Mawr Warren National Nature Reserve, home to the highest dune in Wales, called the Big Dipper.
The beach runs along the Ogmore River estuary on the east and extends to Porthcawl in the west. It is a popular destination for visitors looking for a day out with plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding dunes. The Merthyr Mawr Sand Dunes, part of the reserve, is an excellent attraction for nature lovers and is home to various animals.
The reserve can be found in Bridgend and is open to visitors all year round.
13. Newton Beach, Porthcawl
📍 Location: (Google Maps) | 🚗 Distance from Cardiff City Center: 26 miles (40 mins) | 🏖️ Beach type: sand, pebbles | 🦮 Dog-friendly: yes
Newton Beach is one of the most beautiful of Porthcawl’s several beaches, located in the easternmost part of the town.
It is a long, sandy beach, stretching approximately 3 miles from Newton Point in the west to the mouth of the River Ogmore in the east.
The beach is surrounded by the stunning Newton Burrows and Merthyr Mawr sand dunes, which are designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
Newton Beach is both sandy and rocky, making it a popular destination for windsurfers, jet skiers, and powerboat users. There is a slipway at the beach that is frequently used by the local boat club.
Newton Beach is perfect for scenic coastal walks near beaches in Cardiff, as you can take a stroll along the miles of sand on the beach, although it can be rocky in some areas.
This beach is also a great spot for open-water swimming and offers beautiful views of the surrounding dunes and coastline.
14. Coney Beach, Porthcawl
📍 Location: (Google Maps) | 🚗 Distance from Cardiff City Center: 30 miles (41 mins) | 🏖️ Beach type: sand | 🦮 Dog-friendly: yes
Coney Beach in Porthcawl is a picturesque seaside destination that’s similar to Barry in that it’s a seaside town on the south Wales coast, and is well worth a visit for any beach lover or outdoor enthusiast.
Coney Beach is one of many beaches near Cardiff that offers plenty of natural beauty, with its sandy shores and stunning coastal views.
It’s a great spot for a family day out, as there are plenty of activities to enjoy, including not only swimming, surfing, and sunbathing, but also arcades and funfair rides at Coney Beach Pleasure Park.
What’s more, the beach is easily accessible by car or public transport, and there are plenty of amenities nearby, such as shops, cafes, and restaurants.
15. Rest Bay Beach, Porthcawl
📍 Location: (Google Maps) | 🚗 Distance from Cardiff City Center: 30 miles (40 mins) | 🏖️ Beach type: sand | 🦮 Dog-friendly: yes
If you’re looking for surfing beaches near Cardiff for water sports, look no further than Rest Bay Beach. Another popular destination in Porthcawl, Rest Bay Beach offers miles of fine quality golden sand and some rock pools backed by low cliffs.
The west-facing sandy beach is particularly popular with surfers, and since it’s one of the best spots for surfing in Wales, it’s a great place to take surfing lessons.
Moreover, Rest Bay Beach has the advantage of being much quieter and less commercialized than Coney Beach. The beach also boasts a beautiful coastal path, which offers stunning views of the surrounding area.
Visitors should be aware of the tides, as the beach disappears at high tide and it can come in quickly.
Best beaches for sunset views
Here’s a list of the best spots for sunset views from beaches near Cardiff city centre:
If you’re looking for the best beaches near Cardiff to catch a stunning sunset, there are a few options worth considering:
➤ Pebble Beach (also known as Cold Knap Beach), located just 9 miles southwest of Cardiff, is a stoney beach flanked by hilly walks, and there are a number of cafes where you can enjoy fresh fish and chips as the sun sets over the harp-shaped lake.
➤ Dunraven Nay Beach (also known as Southerndown Beach) offers some of the most breathtaking sunset views on the South Wales coast.
➤ Merthyr Mawr Beach on the Vale of Glamorgan coastline allows you to enjoy incredible sunset views amongst the surrounding dunes.
➤ The Glamorgan Heritage Coastline offers breathtaking views of the sun setting over the sea.
Historic landmarks and attractions near Cardiff beaches
➤ Dunraven Castle (near Dunraven Bay Beach) was a historic 12th-century castle that was rebuilt as a castellated hunting lodge in the early 19th century. During WW2 it was used as a military hospital and is currently a Grade II-listed building.
➤ Pierhead Building: Located in Cardiff Bay, this stunning architectural masterpiece is steeped in history and features a beautiful interior. The building served as the headquarters of the Port of Cardiff for over 50 years and is now a popular tourist attraction.
➤ Boverton Promontory Fort (near Llantwit Major Beach), is a Grade II-listed monument built in 1730 within an iron-age settlement. Such promontory forts may have represented symbols of power within the landscape and been associated with coastal trade.
➤ Dimlands Castle (near Llantwit Major Beach), is a Tudor-style castellated mansion, originally built between 1790-1793 by the Nicholl Carne family.
➤ Nash Point Lighthouse (near Nash Point Beach), was one of two lighthouses built by Trinity House in 1832 to successfully assist mariners clear of the Nash sands on entry to the Bristol Channel
➤ Porthcawl Lighthouse (near Porthcawl Rest Bay Beach) is a cast-iron lighthouse standing 30 ft high at the end of Porthcawl Point. Built in 1860, the lighthouse has kept shipping safe in and out of the Bristol Channel throughout both World Wars.
Accessible beaches near Cardiff for disabled visitors
The following beaches provide good accessibility and facilities for disabled visitors, including accessible toilets and options for beach wheelchairs:
➤ Rest Bay Beach in Porthcawl offers beach wheelchairs.
➤ Dunraven Bay Beach also has some accessibility features.
➤ Swansea Beach, Caswell Bay, Oxwich Bay, Horton Bay, and Port Eynon on the Gower Peninsula all have good access, disabled parking, and accessible toilets, though these are all a bit further away from Cardiff City Centre.
What are the best dog friendly beaches near Cardiff?
Here are some of the best dog-friendly beaches near Cardiff:
- Splott Beach in Cardiff is an excellent beach for walking dogs.
- Penarth Beach – located just 5 miles south of Cardiff, is a popular spot for dog walkers.
- Swanbridge Beach & Sully Beach – both located in the Vale of Glamorgan, these beaches allow dogs all year round.
- Jacksons Bay – situated on Barry Island, this is another popular spot for dog walkers.
- Watch House Bay – also located in Barry, this beach is another great place for walking dogs.
- Pebble Beach, Barry – located just 9 miles southwest of Cardiff, this beach also allows dogs year-round.
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Cardiff Beaches FAQs:
What is the closest beach to Cardiff?
The closest beaches to Cardiff are Whitmore Bay Beach at Barry Island, located just 10 miles away, and Penarth Beach. Both beaches offer sandy shores, clear waters, and various facilities such as shops, cafes, and restaurants.
Are there beaches near Cardiff?
Yes, there are several beaches near Cardiff, UK. Some of the most popular ones include:
Barry Island Beach
Llantwit Major Beach
Cold Knap Beach
Dunraven Bay Beach
Rest Bay Beach
These beaches offer a range of activities, from swimming and sunbathing to surfing and coastal walks. Many of them are within an hour’s drive of Cardiff, making them easily accessible for a day trip or weekend getaway.
What is the nearest seaside resort to Cardiff?
The nearest seaside resort to Cardiff is Barry Island, located approximately 10 miles away from the city. It offers Whitmore Bay Beach and is a popular destination with sandy shores and various amenities.
Does Cardiff have nice beaches?
Cardiff has several nice beaches in its vicinity. Caswell Bay Beach, located on the east side of the Gower Peninsula, offers a wide sandy arch and is suitable for activities like surfing, swimming, and sunbathing . Penarth Beach, Swanbridge Beach, Sully Beach, and Jacksons Bay on Barry Island are also popular spots near Cardiff.
What are the closest sandy beaches to Cardiff?
The closest sandy beaches to Cardiff are Whitmore Bay Beach at Barry Island, which is just 10 miles away and a popular option for families, and Caswell Bay Beach, located on the east side of the Gower Peninsula, which offers a wide sandy arch and is suitable for various beach activities.
Is there a hidden beach near Cardiff?
There are several beautiful beaches near Cardiff, but one hidden gem is Ogmore-By-Sea. Located about 24 miles from Cardiff, it offers sandy and shingle shores, making it popular among families. With its picturesque setting and proximity to Bridgend, Ogmore-By-Sea is a delightful hidden beach worth exploring.
Is Cardiff a seaside town?
Cardiff is not considered a seaside town. While it is located on the Bristol Channel at the mouth of the River Taff, it is primarily known as the capital and largest city of Wales. Although it has proximity to the coast, it is not classified as a seaside town.
What is the posh part of Cardiff?
The posh part of Cardiff is often associated with Cardiff Castle. With its rich history, fairy-tale towers, and ornate interior, it is considered a prestigious and extravagant location. However, it’s worth noting that the concept of poshness can vary, and Cardiff has other affluent areas as well.
Is Cardiff Wales worth visiting?
Cardiff, the capital city of Wales, is definitely worth visiting. It offers a unique blend of old and new culture, a vibrant food scene, and beautiful attractions such as Cardiff Castle. It has been recognized as one of Europe’s best capital cities to live in and has plenty to see and do for visitors.
What is the prettiest coastal town in Wales?
One of the prettiest coastal towns in Wales is Newquay. Located on the Cardigan Bay coast of West Wales, it boasts a picturesque harbour, three beautiful beaches, and is known for its resident pod of bottlenose dolphins. Another notable mention is Beaumaris, a beautiful seaside town with a famous castle, located along the Menai Strait.
Cardiff and Glamorgan Day Trips and Activities:
A guided tour and sightseeing events are some of the best ways to experience Cardiff. Here’s some excellent deals for the most popular trips and activities around the Glamorgan region. (Remember, you can cancel your bookings at anytime!)
Book Your Trip: Top Tips
🏨 Accommodation: I recommend booking.com
✈️ Flights: for the cheapest flights, I use Skyscanner
🚗 Rental Car: I always rely on Discover Cars
🛡️ Travel Insurance: for reliable and trusted cover, I use SafetyWing
🗺️ For all my best travel tips & advice, head over to my Travel Tools
Conclusion: 15 Top Beaches Near Cardiff, Wales (+ Best Beach in Cardiff)
Well folks, we’ve reached the end of our sandy adventure through the best beaches near Cardiff, UK. We’ve seen everything from bustling boardwalks to quiet coves, and I hope you’ve found a spot that tickles your fancy.
Cardiff may be known for its castles and historic landmarks, but its stunning beaches are just as impressive. Whether you’re looking for a quiet day at the beach or an action-packed adventure, there’s a beach near Cardiff that’s perfect for you.
So, the next time you’re in the area, be sure to check out one of these beautiful beaches and make the most of the Welsh sunshine!
Further Reading: Wales posts
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