Rhossili Bay, Gower, third best in Europe says TripAdvisor survey

image captionRhossili Bay is a three-mile (4km) stretch of sandy beach on the Gower peninsula

It may not have quite as much sun, but a south Wales beach is rivalling those in Spain, Italy, Turkey and Greece to be named among the best in Europe.

Rhossili Bay on the Gower peninsula is third in a list of best European beaches in a survey of worldwide tourists by the TripAdvisor website.

It was beaten only by Rabbit Beach at Lampedusa, Sicily, and Playa de las Catedrales in Ribadeo, Galicia, Spain.

Swansea council pronounced itself "delighted but not surprised".

Council leader David Phillips said: "We hope that many more visitors continue to enjoy its outstanding natural beauty."

Rhossili Bay is a three-mile (4km) stretch of white sand within an area designated as the first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the UK.

It has Worm's Head at one end - a small tidal island and the most westerly tip of Gower - and on the other there is the other small tidal island of Burry Holms.

Along the beach is a sole building - the Old Rectory, an old house dating to the 1850s which is now owned by the National Trust - and a ship wreck can be seen on the sand at low tide.

Rhossili Bay was one of three UK beaches that made the top 10 European list, joining Woolacombe Beach in Devon in fifth, with Porthminster Beach at St Ives in ninth.

Other beaches in the list included Playa de ses Illetes, on the Spanish island of Formentera, which was fourth, Elafonissi Beach on the Greek island of Crete, which was sixth and Iztuzu Beach in Dalyan, Turkey, which was seventh.

Rhossili also beat La Pelosa Beach in Stintino, Sardinia and and St Pauls Bay, in Lindos, on the Greek island of Rhodes, which were eighth and tenth respectively.

The TripAdvisor website carries reviews of places, hotels and restaurants posted by travellers and holiday makers.

image captionThe Old Rectory is a sole building above the beach, dating back to the 1850s

Emma Shaw, spokeswoman for TripAdvisor, said the awards recognised the best beaches according to travellers who had visited them and given them "the highest levels of praise".

"Huge congratulations to Swansea's Rhossili Bay for beating many of the most exotic beaches across the globe," she added.

'Views are stunning'

Barbara Powell, who runs West Pilton House B&B in Rhossilli, said her guests were often astonished that an area of south Wales is so beautiful.

"I hope more people come and share it with us," she said. "I think the main appeal of Rhossili is that it's unspoilt - that's probably the most important thing.

"The views are stunning - Three Cliffs Bay, Worms Head, across to Llangennith... you can walk here, you can go paragliding, horse riding and fishing and surfing, of course."

Adrian Short, who was born and brought up on Gower and has owned the Worm's Head Hotel in Rhossili for over a decade, said the beach was perfect.

"It has that perfect arched bay and it's very natural," he said.

"It can also look very dramatic. You have Worm's Head on one side and Burry Holms on the other side.

"Of course, it's the double edged sword. On one hand, we want to keep the beach unspoilt but on the other hand we need to attract visitors to the area as that's what drives the economy."

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