Are you looking for a beautiful place to visit with plenty of exciting things to see and do? If so, then Aberystwyth is the perfect destination. Set on the stunning Cardigan Bay coast, this charming Welsh town offers stunning scenery as well as fabulous attractions which never fail to entertain. Read on to discover some of the best things to do in Aberystwyth and why I believe it’s one of the best places in Wales to take a weekend break!
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Aberystwyth or affectionately known as ‘Aber’ by the locals sits smack bang in the middle of the Ceredigion coastline in mid-Wales.
This beautiful town is a bustling seaside resort during the summer months but it’s also a thriving university town giving it a young cosmopolitan feel. It’s the perfect place to enjoy some seaside fun, explore historic sites as well as unwind in the stunning countryside surrounding the town.
Aberystwyth is one of my favourite places to visit in Wales and I visit regularly due to my brother living in the town. No matter how many times I visit, I never get bored! Whatever the season, whether it’s basking in the sunshine, enjoying a delicious ice cream on top of Constitution Hill or taking a chilly autumn walk along the coast, the stunning beauty of the area never fails to deliver!
10 Wonderful Things To Do In Aberystwyth:
1. Take A Trip On The Cliff Railway:
One of the most popular things to do in Aberystwyth is to take a ride to the top of Constitution Hill via the historic Cliff Railway! This unique mode of transport up Constitution Hill dates back to 1896 and is the longest funicular cliff railway in Britain. Originally the railway was operated on a water balance system until electrification in 1921 and offers the most relaxing way to experience the stunning surrounding scenery!
Once at the top you can take in the magnificent views across Aberystwyth, Cardigan bay and on a clear day the 26 mountain peaks spanning much of the length of Wales. You’ll also find a cafe serving meals, snacks and ice cream as well as a licensed bar!
Other things to do on Constitution Hill include a 10 Pin Bowling alley with pool and air hockey tables, perfect for the kids! You will also find the Camera Obscura, originally built in 1880 on the castle grounds, it was later transferred to Constitution Hill for a better viewpoint. Unfortunately, it was taken down in the 1920s due to low demand but it was rebuilt in 1985 as it would have been in its Victorian heyday. The Obscura today holds a massive 14-inch lens making it one of the world’s largest camera obscuras giving viewers a level of precision and clarity that the Victorians could barely dream of!
2. Explore Aberystwyth Castle:
The remains of Aberystwyth Castle sit proudly along the seafront, next to the war memorial. Although there is not much left of the original structure, the area is a lovely place to sit with a coffee and take in some fabulous views!
Completed in 1289, Aberystwyth Castle along with Flint Castle, Rhuddlan Castle and Builth Wells Castle was built by King Edward I to help with his campaign against the Welsh. The castle was finished in 1282, however, the Welsh captured it and burnt it down, it was then recaptured and rebuilt with great expense to the crown!
The castle continued to change hands between the Welsh and the English on many occasions, however by 1404 peacetime had been declared and the castle started to fall into disrepair. In 1637 the castle was designated as a royal mint by Charles I, which later became its downfall. It became a target of Oliver Cromwell who consigned the castle to slighting in 1649.
3. Take The Heritage Steam Railway To Devil’s Bridge:
If you fancy taking a little trip out of town then a trip on the Vale of Rheidol Railway to Devils Bridge is a must! This is no ordinary train trip, it’s a fabulous heritage steam railway taking you through some amazing Welsh scenery before stopping at Devil’s Bridge and waterfalls then taking you back to Aberystwyth.
Once at Devil’s Bridge, you will have around an hour to explore the area. You can either relax at the cafe, pick up some tasty treats at the chocolate shop or check out the stunning waterfalls and unique Devil’s Bridge.
You will have two choices of waterfalls to discover, the short route taking about 10 minutes or the longer more strenuous route which takes around 45 minutes. The latter is more stunning, however, it’s not recommended for train passengers as you will be pretty rushed to get around it in time and could run the risk of missing the train back to Aberystwyth.
I managed to do both waterfalls and still made it back on time for the train, however, I did rush around the route. If you want to get the most out of the area I recommend just doing the short route and taking a drive out if you can to explore the longer route and the rest of the area.
Be warned though, both routes require a certain level of fitness and ability as there are a lot of steps and uneven pathways, especially on the longer route.
4. Take A Walk Along The Lovely Promenade:
On a sunny day, a walk along the promenade is one of the best things to do in Aberystwyth. Dating back to Victorian times, the pomade stretches along the beach from the castle to the cliff railway.
Along the prom, you’ll find several bars, restaurants, shops and hotels as well as separate man-made beach areas for those with young children. On a clear day, it’s worth keeping an eye out for some local wildlife, if ya lucky you may even spot some playing dolphins.
5. Walk Along The Pier:
Towards the start of the promenade near the castle, you will find one of Aberystwyth’s most famous landmarks, the Royal Pier.
Aberystwyth’s Royal Pier was the first pleasure pier to open in Wales in 1865, and is jam-packed with modern-day amusements and award-winning hospitality. One of the best ways to enjoy the pier is to enjoy a drink or two while watching the sun go down. It’s the perfect spot! Just watch out for all the starlings that gather at the end of the pier in the autumn and winter months.
6. Check Out The Views From Pen Dinas:
Constitution Hill isn’t the only high point in Aberystwyth, there is also Pen Dinas at the castle end of the town. Unlike Constitution Hill, Pen Dinas isn’t full of tourists and locals, it’s a lot more of a quiet leisurely walk.
For those of you who make the effort you’ll not only be met with more wonderful views of Aberystwyth and the surrounding coastline, but you’ll also find an Iron Age, Celtic hill-fort, upon which the Wellington Monument now sits.
7. Visit The National Library Of Wales:
I wouldn’t normally recommend visiting a library whilst travelling, however, the National Library of Wales is an exception! The building itself is worth a visit as it looks more like a huge stately home than a library! It is the biggest library in Wales, holding over 6.5 million books and periodicals, and the largest collections of archives, portraits, maps and photographic images in Wales.
The library is free to enter and holds weekly guided tours allowing a tour of the building and see some notable treasures.
8. Take A Walk Along The Ceredigion Coastal Path:
The Ceredigion coastal path runs 60km along the mid-Wales coastline, split into smaller walkable sections. One section runs between Ynyslas and Llanrhystud with Aberystwyth in the middle. Of course, you don’t have to walk the whole section but even just a short hourly walk in either direction along the coast will give you wonderful views of the coastline. The path is also rich in wildflowers, seabirds and a wealth of other wildlife.
A good beginner route is to walk north taking the path along the coast starting at the top of Constitution Hill. This short walk takes you downhill to Clarach Beach. Here you’ll find a leisure park and amusements, if you’re feeling brave you could also try dipping your toes in the cold Irish Sea.
9. Indulge In Some Retail Therapy:
If retail therapy is your thing then Aberystwyth has no shortage of shops and markets to keep you entertained! You’ll find all the usual shops found in any other city or town across the UK, with the addition of lots of lovely independent shops selling everything from holiday gifts, homeware, local produce, clothing, antiques and books. Some interesting shops to look out for include:
- Polly Boutique – Ladies’ contemporary fashion and accessories.
- Coastal Vintage – Home, garden and decorative antiques.
- Yetwyth Books – Secondhand book store.
- Siop Y Pethe – Sells a little bit of everything.
- Driftwood Designs – Cards, gifts and homeware.
- Cactus – Mensware and homeware.
10. Try Out Some Local Cuisine:
Aberystwyth is a foodie heaven, with an abundance of options for all tastes and budgets! Some delicious options include:
- Ultracomida – A remarkable Spanish / Welsh deli and tapas bar, that has warmth and atmosphere in spades.
- The Olive Branch – Home to some of the best specialities from Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean.
- Medina – Vegans and veggies are well catered for with Mediterranean-style salads and plates created from local produce.
- Baravin – The best pizza with views in Aberystwyth!
- Pysgoty – Quality fish and seafood served in a harbour-side cafe-bar
- Starling Cloud – Quality home-cooked pub grub.
Where To Stay In Aberystwyth:
Although you can enjoy a visit to Aberystwyth in just a day, it’s well worth spending a few days in this lovely town. Not only is Aberystwyth a little isolated, but it’s also surrounded by the beautiful countryside that is defo worth exploring! Spending a few days gives you a chance to see all that Aberystwyth offers and a chance to visit some of the surrounding attractions such as The Silver Mountain Experience or Borth Wild Animal Kingdom. A few great accommodation options include:
- CWTCH By the Sea – Located 200 yards from Aberystwyth Castle in Aberystwyth, this apartment is set on the seafront and features a terrace with outside furniture.
- Rooms by Maes y mor – Situated in Aberystwyth, Rooms by Maes y mor offers 3-star guest accommodation with free Wi-Fi and free parking. The beach is a 2-minute walk away, and the bus and train stations are also nearby.
- Bodalwyn Guest House – Situated in Aberystwyth, Bodalwyn Guest House is 3.1 miles from Clarach Bay. Among the facilities at this property are room service and luggage storage space, along with free WiFi throughout the property.
For booking accommodation, I recommend using Booking.com. This website offers the best-priced accommodation catering for all budgets and styles. Just pop in your requirements and it will give you a list of available accommodation. Perfect for picking out the best hostels, B&B or even some luxury escapes.Booking.com
Aberystwyth is a charming town with plenty of things to see and do. If you’re looking for a place to visit in North Wales, be sure to add Aberystwyth to your list! There’s something for everyone here, from incredible views and hikes to delicious food and interesting history!
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