Less than an hour away: the best beaches near Cardiff

By Dacia Thai,

There’s no better place to make the most of the sunshine than on one of the many beautiful beaches in and around Cardiff.

The west coast of Wales may be famous for its award-winning beaches, but there’s also plenty to be seen on the Vale of Glamorgan coastline. With beautiful beaches within an hour’s drive of the Welsh capital, it’s easy to combine a city break with the natural beauty of the rugged coastline.

Penarth Beaches

Penarth Beach

Distance from Cardiff: 4.6 miles (21 mins)
Good for: fishing, fossil hunting
One of the best beaches near Cardiff great for fossil hunting - Penarth Beach.Photo by Kate Armstrong Hawkins

Just a short drive from the city, Penarth Beach is easily accessible and great for a spontaneous beach trip. There, kids and adults alike will be in fossil hunting heaven – but if that doesn’t tickle your fancy, it’s also great for a Sunday afternoon stroll, with the coast being walkable from Penarth Pier up to Cardiff Barrage.

Services: parking and toilets available at Cliff Parade.

Lavernock Point, Penarth

Distance from Cardiff: 6.9 miles (25 mins)
Good for: fossil hunting, walking
Stunning views from one of the best beaches near Cardiff - Lavernock Point.
Photo by Nath Manning

Not only does Lavernock Point offer stunning views to accompany your walk, but its high cliffs and rocky terrain are perfect for geology lovers. Once on the beach, there’s the option to go left for the Triassic b

eds or right for the Jurassic – it’s a minefield for fossils.

Services: parking is available at the beach.

Staycation in Penarth at the St David’s Hotel & Spa



The St. David’s Hotel and Spa is an iconic building in Cardiff Bay. The hotel offers luxuries such as a swimming pool and spa, plush rooms with sweeping views over Cardiff’s skyline and an exquisite restaurant serving up elegant but homely favourites – including a traditional roast followed by sticky toffee pudding.

As the only AA-rated 5 star hotel in Wales, and being so close to the city centre and BBC Wales, the hotel welcomes many a celebrity amongst its guests.

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Barry Beaches

Barry Beach (Whitmore Bay)

Distance from Cardiff: 10.6 miles (34 mins)
Good for: sunbathing, swimming

Funfairs provide entertainment at Barry Beach.Photo by Emma Preece

Made famous by the popular Gavin & Stacey, Barry Island is great for a day at the beach. Tourists frequent Barry Beach for its crescent of soft golden sand and lively summer entertainment, including street theatres, fun fairs and live music. There are even amusement arcades and funfairs nearby – perfect for a day out with the kids!

Services: lifeguards on duty. Cafes, restaurants and toilets nearby as well as disabled facilities.

Font-y-Gary Bay, Barry

Distance from Cardiff: 13.6 miles (36 mins)
Good for: swimming, walking

Font-y-Gary Bay is a sheltered beach ideal for the family; not only can you explore the rock pools, salt marsh and sand dunes, but the nearby Font-y-Gary Leisure Park ensures families have a place to relax afterwards. Complete with a bar, café and beer garden, as well as childrens’ areas, the facilities offer panoramic views of the Bristol Channel – the perfect finish to your busy day.

Services: lifeguards on duty.

Staycation in Barry at the Mount Sorrel Hotel



The Mount Sorrel hotel is a hidden gem. Fluffy cream carpets, white marble bathrooms, plush bedding, chandeliers and soft lighting all give a grown-up sophistication to this hotel, located just a few minutes from the centre of Barry.

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 Llantwit Major 

Nash Point Beach, Llanwit Major

Distance from Cardiff: 21.2 miles (47 mins)
Good for: Nash Point Lighthouse, hiking


Nash Point is a headland and beach offering hikers stunning views of the rocky inlet between rugged cliffs. This is a great point to begin your walk to Llantwit Major, or alternatively, visitors are welcome to take a tour of Nash Point Lighthouse.

Services: Refreshments are available at Nash Point car park.

Staycation at the The Vale Resort



The Vale Resort is a beautiful old castle hotel, featuring  a deluxe spa, two championship golf courses, plus tennis and squash courts. The spa has the distinction of being the largest spa in Wales. Enjoy dinner at The Vale Grill and wash it down with a glass of bubbly in the Salamanza Champagne Bar.

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Beaches near Bridgend

Dunraven Bay (Southerndown Beach), Bridgend

Distance from Cardiff: 24.7 miles (46 mins)
Good for: hiking, watersports, rock pooling


If the unspoilt surrounds of Dunraven Bay look familiar, it may be because you’ve seen it on Doctor Who or Merlin. A holder of the Green Coast Award, the beach is a favourite for lovers of water sports, with surfing and kayaking popular activities.

Services: parking, toilets and refreshments are available, with lifeguards on duty in the summer months.

Ogmore-by-Sea, Bridgend

Distance from Cardiff: 24.3 miles (43 mins)
Good for: the Merthyr Mawr sand dunes, water sports, walking

Explore sand dunes at Ogmore-By-Sea.
Photo by inowgointothewild

The fascinating geography of Ogmore-by-Sea is itself worth a visit – the wide expanse of sand and pebble beach is broken only by the River Ogmore estuary, with beach on one side and the Merthyr Mawr sand dunes on the other. The beach is popular for various water sports, but if you prefer to stay dry, the Glamorgan Coastal Path is a great alternative.

Services: parking, toilets and refreshments available.

Staycation at Court Colman Manor



Court Colman Manor hotel is a beautiful Gerogian mansion nestled in the valley of Gawr in Bridgend. The interiors feature a wood paneled lobby, opulent bedrooms, and Bokhara Brasserie – three time winner of the ‘Best Indian Restaurant in Wales’ at the British Curry Awards.

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Porthcawl Beaches

Trecco Bay, Porthcawl

Distance from Cardiff: 28.9 miles (51 mins)
Good for: swimming, golf
The sandy beach at Trecco Bay is perfect for sunbathing.
Photo by kaseykostromin

Trecco Bay is a Blue Flag beach, boasting excellent water quality and top-notch services, with disabled access, onsite toilets as well as recreational activities onsite (crazy golf, anyone?). The sandy beach is ideal for those wanting a bit of sun, and there’s even a dedicated dog exercise area for man’s best friend.

Services: lifeguards are on patrol during the summer months. Toilets and disabled access available on-site.

Rest Bay, Porthcawl

Distance from Cardiff: 29.4 miles (51 mins)
Good for: surfing, wind surfing, kayaking
rest-bay Cardiff Bay

Photo by Visit Wales

Another of Porthcawl’s Blue Flag treasures, Rest Bay is a popular surfing haunt – on good days, more than 100 surfers can be seen in the water. But if watersports aren’t your thing, it’s also an ideal spot for swimming, sunbathing or fishing.

Services: disabled facilities, cafes and restaurants within reach and lifeguards on duty.

Staycation in Porthcawl at the Fairways Hotel


Situated on the heritage coast with one of the best views in Porthcawl, Fairways hotel is a beautiful seaside hotel which has recently undergone extensive renovation, including a brand new Orangery. Perfect for a weekend by the sea, it’s also worth sampling the hotel restaurant’s delicious Carvery lunch with a side order of panoramic sea views.

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Aberavon Beach

Distance from Cardiff: 36.5 miles (52 mins)
Good for: water sports, cycling, jogging

Sunset at Averavon Beach.

Photo by rach_satch

Spanning three miles, the award-winning Aberavon Beach is the perfect day out for a spot of exercise or for some classic fun in the sun. It’s popular for all sorts of water sports, attracting surfers, jetskiiers and windsurfers as well as kayakers. The two-mile-long promenade adjacent to the beach boasts picturesque views across Swansea Bay and is popular year-round with cyclists and joggers.

Services: childrens’ play areas with plenty of cafes and restuarants nearby.

Staycation in Swansea at Culver House



An idyllic, seaside country hotel, Culver House contains 8 self-sufficient apartment style suites, perfect for a family getaway directly on the beach. The suites follow a Scandinavian style of minimalist wooden furniture, whilst providing all the essentials such as WiFi and plasma screen televisions.

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Lead image by Stewart Black