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Reasons to visit South Wales

South Wales is home to the capital city of Wales: Cardiff. Therefore it's not just the seat of the Welsh Assembly but a centre of culture, sport and entertainment. The BBC has one of it's biggest studios there.

It's also home to some of the most fantastic countryside in Britain, from the wild hills of the Brecon Beacons to lush wooded valleys of the Usk and the Wye. As well as the natural scenery, the Usk and Wye valleys claim the largest number of castles per square mile in Great Britain (though I think the fewest square miles per castle would be more accurate). No matter whether you're looking for castles or scenery though, the whole area is full of opportunities for pleasant exercise; walking, cycling, horse-riding, canoeing and more.

Then for visitors who like to keep within sight of the sea, all those same pleasures can be found on the Gower peninsula and in Pembrokeshire. In between Carmarthen Bay is filled with vast expanses of sandy beaches and very few people. It's perfect for getting-away-from-it-all. There are more great beaches in Swansea Bay too, as well as Swansea itself, the Mumbles and Portcawl.

Not so long ago, South Wales was the biggest producer of coal in the world. At the time, that didn't always make for the prettiest of places but now that has changed. The old industrial areas have been re-purposed. Old docks in Milford Haven, Swansea and Cardiff have become marinas full of yachts, bars, shops and restaurants. The Cardiff barrage has turned Cardiff Bay from tidal mud to a water-sports paradise, and the Cardiff waterfront is a magnet for just about everyone. The famous "Valleys" have lost their slag-heaps and now there are numerous monuments to the industrial past. Museums and attractions of all sorts even include the opportunity to go down inside a coal mine.

Eating out in South Wales is always a pleasure. Every international cuisine imaginable is on offer in the towns and cities, but the best dining experiences are those that showcase Welsh produce. There's Welsh lamb of course, and the clean waters of the Bristol Channel furnish seafood and fish in abundance. Plus, there is South Wales' unique contribution to gastronomy: laverbread.

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