The television programme Gavin & Stacey brought a new spotlight to South Wales. Suddenly people were visiting from all over the UK, just to see Barry Island with their own eyes. This kind of advertising is excellent for the region, but I’d urge you to explore the wider expanse of South Wales too. There is so much to see from natural wonders to historic attractions; there is something for every member of your family to enjoy.

I thought it might be helpful if I told you about a few of the best picks of South Wales as I have been countless times over the years. Here’s what you should do on your next trip to the area:

See Barry Island

Barry IslandI certainly wouldn’t stop you from visiting Barry Island if you’re a fan of the popular TV show it became synonymous with. It’s a place your kids will love too as there is a beach and a pleasure park to keep them amused. It’s a good location to take lots of photographs (many of these will be “Liked” by your friends on Facebook) and have some old-fashioned entertainment with your family. You’ll want some chips and an ice cream cone so have some change handy.

Stretch your muscles

Get involved in the great outdoors to really make the most of South Wales. I adore the trails at Afan Forest Park and we also make an effort to spend at least a full day hiking. If you’re more into cycling, this area offers some excellent mountain biking too so make sure to pack some suitable clothes for your adventure. Another good place to stretch your legs is the Black Mountain, where you’ll find some gentle strolls and more challenging walks; just pick something to suit your ability and fitness level.

Count the waterfalls

South Wales valleysDrive further west into the South Wales valleys and you’ll be able to get back to nature. The Vale of Neath in particular is a great place to see some waterfalls; if you’ve been living in a city with kids they may have never seen one with their own eyes before! My personal recommendations are Sgwd-yr-Eira and Sgwd Clun Gwyn but you could make a game of it and see how many more you can find during your travels. This is another place that you’ll want to bring your camera.

Learn some history

There is plenty of history to absorb in South Wales from ancient caves to old mines. If caves are more your thing then head to the National Showcaves Centre for Wales. There are two main showcaves; the longest you’ll walk inside is 800m. It is so interesting to learn about how they came to be, but I won’t give it away as you’ll want to discover it for yourself. The Rhondda Heritage Park will offer you underground experience tours where you can see what the day-to-day life was like for miners who used to work in the area.