Take a short drive
west of the hustle and bustle of central Cardiff and you’ll
feel like you’ve entered a whole new world, as you
stumble across the beautiful Vale of Glamorgan.
Here you can stroll along the beach,
go rambling in the hills, do a spot of shopping, take a boat trip or visit a
trendy art gallery.
For starters why not visit the coastal town of Penarth,
a picturesque Victorian resort, with gift shops, restaurants
and an old-fashioned pier.
A walk up to the cliff top takes you alongside landscaped
gardens dating back to the last century, and
there are plenty of benches for those who prefer to just
sit and watch the sea.
Alternatively you can take in the sights on the promenade,
a 250-metre-long pier that prides itself
on being one of the best remaining Victorian piers in
Britain. Here you’ll find magnificent views, plenty
of seating, a refreshments area and amusements for the
Penarth is also home to the 19th century Turner House
Gallery, which is part of the National Museums
& Galleries of Wales. The gallery currently plays
host to the Ffotogallery, which offers visitors
temporary art exhibitions as well as an educational programme
where you learn the ins and outs of photography.
If it’s a picnic by the lake you want then head
to the Cosmeston Country Park [map],
which, believe it or not, was once a limestone quarry.
Parts of the area were flooded when quarrying ceased,
forming an extensive area of lakes and wetlands, which
combined with the landscaped countryside around, form
the main attractions of the park.
This site is also home to the Cosmeston Medieval
Village, where visitors can see a fully working
village, with actors in costume playing out life as it
was 600 years ago.
If you enjoy the odd glass of wine then you’ll feel
right at home in the Vale of Glamorgan, because it is
also home to the Llanerch Vineyard [map],
Wales' biggest vineyard. Here you’ll find over six
acres of vineyard where Cariad Wines are produced,
and a ten acre country park with woodlands and lakes to
explore. Guided tours for groups of 25 or over include
wine tasting and lunch, while the visitors’ centre
has a coffee shop and wine bar.
If you’re looking for a fun day out with the kids
then get along to Barry Island [map],
an old-fashioned seaside resort with a beach, Pleasure
Park theme park and a wealth of amusement arcades, shops
and cafes on the sea front.
For those who fancy a boat trip along the Severn Estuary then head for the Steam Cruisers, which depart Barry Docks [map] on a daily basis. You can enjoy a day trip or an evening
cruise aboard the pleasure steamers Balmoral and Waverley,
which operate right through the summer until the end of
October and take you along the rivers Wye and Severn.