Just 22 miles from the Welsh capital, Bridgend is a Cardiff suburb that takes its name from the end of a bridge over the River Ogmore. With its excellent travel links, itâ€™s a popular settlement for tourists and city workers.
As itâ€™s such an unspoilt, natural area, where can you explore? Bryngawr Country Park is 113 acres of walking, running and cycling space. Thereâ€™s also a childrenâ€™s play area, barbecue and picnic areas to relax in. You should also check out the Oriental Garden within the park, which features oriental plants, pagoda and lanterns. Nature lovers will also like Kenfig National Nature Reserve. Glamorganâ€™s largest natural lake, Kenfig Pool, is set on the edge of this beautiful area. One of the finest Wildlife habitats in Wales and one of the last remnants of a huge sand dune system that once stretched along the coast of Southern Wales from the River Ogmore to the Gower peninsula. The reserve is home to unique wild orchids, as well as insects and wildlife. Kenfig is one of the most important sites in Britain for nature conservation.
For walking opportunities, try the Bridgend Circular Route, a flat route through the footpaths and woodlands, or for a bit of a challenge, take the Ogwr Ridgeway Walk which takes you over rockier, more hilly terrain. Prefer to pedal rather than walk? The Celtic Trail cycle route passes through the north of Bridgend.
Sports fans will know that rugby is a massive part of Welsh culture, so itâ€™s worth trying to go and see a rugby game while youâ€™re here. Bridgend is home to a number of rugby teams, so there should be plenty of opportunity to find a match.
Bridgend is also the birthplace of alternative rock bands Funeral for a Friend and Bullet for my Valentine, both of which have had massive international success. The music scene reflects this, with lots of punk, indie and heavy metal music acts playing the clubs of the area, making it a prominent part of the South Wales music scene.
Bridgendâ€™s main nightclub is Sax, which offers cocktails from just Â£5, and there are plenty of pubs that double up as nightclubs, including The Roof on Market Street and Phoenix on Wyndham Street. So youâ€™re guaranteed to find a great party somewhere in town!
If you like adventure, Go 4 It Activities Wales have a site in Bridgend. They specialise in gorge-walking and coasteering and offer a number of packages for team-building weekends and stag/hen parties. From raft-building to rock climbing, theyâ€™ve got everything you could possibly want to throw yourself into in either a rural or coastal location.
For something a little less active, there are a number of amusement arcades in Bridgend which are great places to take children on a rainy day. If itâ€™s sunny take a trip to Lakeside Farm Park, where thereâ€™s a petting zoo with goats, ducks, lambs, micro pigs, Shetland ponies, chickens, rabbits and guinea pigs. Youâ€™ll also find a fishing lake and cafÃ© on site.
Check out Bridgendâ€™s shopping facilities at The Rhiw Centre, which is a great mixture of small businesses and high street chains. The north bank of the River Ogmore is the townâ€™s main shopping district, youâ€™ll find all the familiar well-known brands as well as unusual family-run shops and cafÃ©s. Bargain hunters should take a look at Bridgend Designer Outlet. A plethora of designer labels including Calvin Klein, Lacoste and Timberland offer discounts of up to 60% on a whole range of their products, so itâ€™s worth a look!
Bridgend is the perfect place to relax, shop and party and you can see a lot of it in just a couple of days. Cardiff is only a short distance away, where there are plenty of other places to go and things to see, but Bridgend town itself is an exciting, bustling place to be.