A ‘Cardi’ Welcome
CHOOSE your ideal place to stay for your holiday in Ceredigion – from the valleys of the Cambrian Mountains to the coastal towns and villages of Cardigan Bay. Ewe will find a good choice of accommodation in and around Aberystwyth, Aberaeron, New Quay, Llangrannog and Cardigan and inland towards Tregaron and the Teifi Valley. There are campsites and camping pods to five star guesthouses, restaurants with rooms, country cottages and comfortable hotels. You’ll find good food and drink too – in cafes, restaurants and direct from the producers.
There are all kinds of events to choose from in Ceredigion – family fun, sport, art and music, as well as unique and traditional country events to discover.
Make the most of the great outdoors with a choice of activities for experts and novices. Or enjoy relaxed shopping, including craft, plants and local produce markets – and take the opportunity to meet the producers themselves.
Places to go in Ceredigion
Ceredigion, on the west coast of Wales, is one of Wales’s most popular holiday areas. Named after Prince Ceredig, Ceredigion is sheltered from the east by the Cambrian Mountains and stretches to the shores of Cardigan Bay (Bae Ceredigion).
Just to put things in perspective: Ceredigion’s largest town is Aberystwyth, population 15,000. For this area that’s a big number, swollen by Aberystwyth University students who bring a cosmopolitan buzz to the Victorian holiday resort. A town with more than 5,000,000 books stored at the National Library of Wales, the largest camera obscura in the world and a thriving arts scene focused at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre – not to mention a working harbour, a marina and two beaches.
Most other places are much smaller, including some little gems – Georgian Aberaeron, historic Cardigan, salty New Quay, traditional Tregaron and Lampeter (Llanbedr Pont Steffan) – another historic university town – to name but a few.
Towns and villages
Aberaeron is a picture postcard pretty harbour town, recently voted the ‘Best Place in Wales’ by the Royal Town Planning Institute.
The graceful lines of Regency architecture of the houses and commercial buildings along the harbour are a distinctive feature. The town and harbour were developed in the early 1800s by a local entrepreneur, the Reverend Alban Jones-Gwynne, who obtained an Act of Parliament to develop one of the first ‘planned’ towns in Wales.
Aberaeron, with a population of just 1,500, is a seaside resort town situated between Aberystwyth and Cardigan, and is home to the headquarters of Ceredigion County Council.
The name is Welsh, meaning ‘mouth of the River Aeron’, derived from the Middle Welsh aer, “slaughter”, which gave its name to Aeron, who is believed to have been a Welsh god of war.
An architectural gem
Aberaeron is a rare example of a town in Wales that was planned from the outset. The town centre as we know it today was established in 1807 when the Rev Alban Thomas-Jones Gwynne obtained a private Act of Parliament to rebuild the harbour.
The architecture of Aberaeron is unusual in this part of rural Wales, with the Regency style being constructed around the harbour and grouped around a principal square. This is Alban Square, where a number of the town’s main events are held each year.
The distinctive colours and render pattern on the houses – not unlike the edge of a postage stamp – were, in fact, featured on the one penny postage stamp in series celebrating British rural architecture.
A short walk or cycle ride along the river Aeron takes you to Llanerchaeron a minor gentry estate, now owned by the National Trust. The villa, designed in the 1790s, is the most complete example of the early work of John Nash, the architect of London’s Regent Street and Regent’s Park.
Once a busy fishing port which also saw families emigrate to the New World, Aberaeron today is one of Ceredigion’s best loved holiday resorts with fashionable places to stay and eat. Aberaeron also has a good selection of independent shops selling crafts, clothes, and great local produce, from the freshest of fish to cheeses straight from the dairy.
Aberaeron is a bit of a foodie town with the Cardigan Bay Seafood Festival held in July on the quayside. It’s an unmissable opportunity to taste local seafood and other local produce prepared by local and celebrity chefs along the quayside. For locals and regular visitors, a stroll along the quayside, at any time of the year, is not complete without a portion of fish and chips and some delicious honey ice cream.
August is a great month for events in the town with the annual carnival weekend, a rugby 7s tournament and the annual Welsh Pony and Cob Festival when the best of the breed is celebrated with parades, displays, fun and games. Even the humble mackerel is celebrated with an quirky annual parade and ritual beach ‘funeral’.
Sailing plays a major part in the life of the town and the colourful harbour is awash with boats in summer. A series of regattas are organised by the Aberaeron Yacht Club each summer, as is the town’s beer festival, and it’s not many towns that can boast a tug-of-war competition across the harbour mouth, with the losers inevitably being pulled into the water.
Aberaeron has two beaches – Aberaeron North and Aberaeron South. The Ceredigion section of the Wales Coast Path runs along North beach, leading on to the harbour and, just a short walk though town, you’ll find Aberaeron’s Seaside Award and Green Coast Award winning beach, rewarded for amongst other things, its cleanliness. From here you can follow the coast path south towards New Quay.
Aberaeron’s Tourist Information Centre is located at the far end of the harbour and is open throughout the year and on Sundays too during the summer months and holiday weekends. Drop in for a chat with the staff for ideas and browse the local crafts for sale, and pick up a copy of the free town trail which explains the stories behind the distinctive heritage plaques found on many of the town’s buildings.
Stay in Aberaeron
Aberaeron and the surrounding area has a great choice of places to stay, including hotels, B&Bs, self-catering cottages and caravan accommodation. You can stay in a classical Regency villa typical of Aberaeron, a coaching inn or a country cottage.
History and design
In 1800, there was no significant coastal settlement. The present town was planned and developed from 1805 by the Rev. Alban Thomas Jones Gwynne.
The harbour he built operated as a port and supported a shipbuilding industry in the 19th Century. A group of workmen’s houses and a school were built on the harbour’s north side, but these were reclaimed by the sea.
Steam ships continued to visit the harbour until the 1920s but, in later years, it evolved into a small half-tide harbour for recreational craft. The estuary is also crossed by a wooden pedestrian bridge.
Crafts were an important part of village life. Information recorded in trade directories shows that in 1830, although it was not yet fully developed as a port, there were in Aberaeron one woollen manufacturer, one bootmaker, one baker, one corn miller, one blacksmith, one blacksmith and shovel maker, two shipwrights, one carpenter and one hat maker.
In the late 1890s, a hand-powered cable car, the Aeron Express, was built to ferry workers across the harbour when the bridge was demolished by floods. The structure was recreated in 1988 as a tourist attraction that ran until the end of summer 1994, when it was closed under health and safety regulations.
The architecture of Aberaeron is unusual in this part of rural Wales, being constructed around a principal square of elegant Regency-style buildings grouped around the harbour. This was the work of Edward Haycock, an architect from Shrewsbury. Some of the architecture was of sufficient interest to feature on British postage stamps.
Aberaeron Golf Club (now defunct) was founded in 1923. It continued until WW2 when the course was turned over to agriculture to aid the war effort. Attempts to reinstate the club following the war failed.
Castell Cadwgan, a 12th Century ringwork fortification around a probable wooden structure, was located by the shore at Aberaeron, but has long since been claimed by the sea. Few traces remain today apart from some mounds of earth, the remains of the enclosure bank, most of the site having been eroded.
In Wales Illustrated in a Series of Views by Henry Gastineau, published in 1810, it states: “Near the town are some remains of an ancient fortress called Castell Cadwgan, thought to have been erected by king Cadwgan, about the year 1148.”
In A Topographical Dictionary of Wales, published in 1833, Samuel Lewis similarly wrote : “On the sea-shore, near the village, is a circular encampment, designated Castell Cadwgan, and supposed to have been constructed by Cadwgan ab Bleddyn, about 1148.” However, Cadwgan is recorded as having been killed in 1111.
Welsh Minstrelsy: Containing the Land beneath the Sea, published in 1824, states: “Just where [Sarn Ddewi] juts out from the shore is an old fort, called Castell Cadwgan.”
Aberaeron is a relatively new settlement and lacked borough status like other towns in the county. In 1894, however, the town achieved the status of an urban district, which it retained until local government re-organisation in 1974.
The first representative on the Cardiganshire County Council from 1889 was John Morgan Howell, who became a prominent figure in the political life of the county. Following his election in January 1889, bonfires were lit to celebrate his victory.
Location and features
Aberaeron is located between Cardigan and Aberystwyth on the A487, at a junction with the A482 leading south-east to the university town of Lampeter. It lies on the Ceredigion Coast Path, part of the Wales Coast Path.
The shoreline consists of generally steep storm beaches of pebbles, although fine sand is visible at low tide levels. Aberaeron south beach was awarded the Blue Flag rural beach award in 2005. It contains the Harbourmaster Hotel.
The climate is mild and temperate, largely conditioned by the proximity of the relatively shallow sea. However, Aberaeron can suffer from occasional winter frosts when cold air descends the Aeron valley from the upland parts of Ceredigion.
The town is notable for the sale of honey, honey ice-cream and, more recently, honey mustard.
70% of Aberaeron’s inhabitants are able to speak Welsh according to the 2001 census.
Dylan Thomas’s links with Aberaeron, New Quay and Talsarn have been documented by local author David N Thomas. The Dylan Thomas Trail runs through Ceredigion, passing through Aberaeron and ending in New Quay.
An annual Festival of Welsh Ponies and Cobs is held on Square Field every August. A life-sized statue of a Welsh cob stallion was donated to the town in 2005 by the Festival to denote the area as Welsh Cob country. It was created by sculptor David Mayer.
An annual carnival takes place on the Monday Bank Holiday in August. A colourful procession of floats and a carnival queen moves from the Quay to Alban Square.
A regular bus service links the town with Aberystwyth, Lampeter and Carmarthen, with several daily through services to Swansea, Bridgend and Cardiff. Another service connects with New Quay, Aberporth and Cardigan from Monday to Saturday.
The railway service from the former Aberayron railway station (the terminus of the Lampeter, Aberayron and New Quay Light Railway, a branch of the Carmarthen to Aberystwyth Line) was closed to passengers in 1951 and to freight in 1965.
Ron Davies, photographer
Sir Geraint Evans, opera singer, had a home in Aberaeron for more than 30 years
Eleri Siôn, BBC Radio Wales presenter
History and old photographs: http://www.aberaeron-westwales.co.uk/history.htm
Aberaeron Festival of Welsh Ponies and Cobs: http://aberaeronfestival.co.uk/
Aberaeron Carnival on film: https://www.aberaeron.info/en/events/carnival
Tom Dyckhoff (The Guardian): Let’s move to Aberaeron, Ceredigion: ‘It’s dolled up like an ad for Dulux’… It’s a pretty former fishing town where every house is painted a jaunty hue. Read more
Aberaeron Trip Advisor reviews
Aberaeron voted Wales’s best place: Read more
Famous honey ice cream at The Hive
New Quay was once a thriving port, shipbuilding and fishing centre. Today it is a popular seaside holiday destination well known for dolphin spotting boat trips, as well as its Blue Flag and Seaside Award winning beaches and watersports. New Quay has a heritage centre and marine wildlife centre, as well as shops and restaurants. Nearby New Quay Honey Farm is the largest bee farm in Wales with a live bee exhibition and shop for honey, mead and bees wax.
New Quay’s harbour is a sheltered, safe haven for pleasure craft and fishing boats. The annual Cardigan Bay Regatta takes place usually in August, and dates back to the 1870s with sailing and dinghy competitions as well as inshore swimming and rowing events. The area is also renowned for frequent sightings of bottlenose dolphins and boat trips sail from the little harbour to explore the Ceredigion Marine Heritage Coast.
New Quay has a strong link with writer Dylan Thomas, who wintered in the area in 1944-5 when he composed ‘Quite Early One Morning’. Thomas had several relatives living in the area and New Quay is often cited as inspiration for the fictitious village of Llareggub (try reading it backwards!), the fictional small Welsh fishing village setting in his most famous work Under Milk Wood. The feature film The Edge of Love (2008) about Dylan Thomas’s life, was filmed locally and included stars Keira Knightley, Sienna Miller and Matthew Rhys as Dylan Thomas.
New Quay’s Tourist Information Centre is open Monday to Saturday during the summer.
Llangrannog’s lovely sandy beach nestles below the cliffs and the Ceredigion section of the Wales Coast Path. Originally a hidden village above the old port, Llangrannog is now one of Ceredigion’s most popular beach destinations for a bucket and spade day out or seaside holiday.
In the 18th century, salt smuggling was rife in Ceredigion where it was used to preserve bacon and herring. Costing half the price in Ireland, there was a busy illegal trade, evidenced in places such as Ogof yr Halen (meaning Salt Cave) at Llangrannog. Similarly, wines and spirits were smuggled, stored and traded in local caves.
In the village, Llangrannog’s church is dedicated to Carantoc, the son of a 6th century saint and founder of numerous churches in Wales.
The Urdd is the Welsh youth movement and it is the biggest of its kind in Europe. Each year its centre at Llangrannog provides activities for some 20,000 youngsters and features a heritage centre, dry ski-slope, equine centre and climbing wall all open to the public.
The nearest Tourist Information Centre is in Cardigan. If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Llangrannog, take a look at our accommodation pages.
Cardigan (in Welsh: Aberteifi – mouth of the Teifi) is a historic market town with a castle at a strategic point on the river Teifi. Cardigan has a vibrant contemporary arts scene with galleries and markets, a lively shopping centre with independent shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants, a host of colourful events, and a spectacular coast nearby to explore.
Cardigan Castle occupies a strategic position on the northern bank of the River Teifi. Fought over and captured many times over by Welsh Princes, Norman knights and English kings, Cardigan castle was first built in stone in the 12th Century by the Lord Rhys, ruler of the Deheubarth region. In celebration of the castle’s completion, The Lord Rhys hosted the first Eisteddfod at the castle, a festival tradition which can be found thriving locally and around the world.
Cardigan Castle reopend in 2015 after undergoing extensive restoration and now has an exhibition covering the castle’s 900 years of history, gardens to explore, a children’s adventure play area, giftshop, restaurant and accommodation, and a host of events and activities, including harp and Welsh lessons!
An historic market town and port
Henry VIII granted Cardigan its charter in 1543 and by the 18th century Cardigan was the most important seaport in southern Wales. It had a thriving herring and shipbuilding industry and its merchant fleet carried fish, slate, bricks, bark for tanning, corn and ale. The Guildhall and its Market were opened in 1860.
Cardigan was also a major embarkation point for migrants to the New World.
One of town’s ‘must see’ events is Barley Saturday, held in Cardigan on the last Saturday of April every year, celebrating traditional rural life with a parade of the area’s finest horses and agricultural vehicles. Also look out for when the Cardigan ‘Cardigan’ is on display – a giant knitted cardigan depicting the town’s history in wool.
Busy arts scene
Culturally vibrant, Cardigan has a busy arts scene. Theatr Mwldan arts centre includes a cinema, gallery and café and presents a wide range of professional entertainment and arts events throughout the year. Nearby is the Small World Theatre, housed in a modern eco-building, where performances, puppet theatre, dances and events focused on sustainability are held.
The Cardigan Guildhall hosts regular dances, live music and concerts. The Corn Exchange galley features a different artist or craft group each week from March to September. Cardigan Guildhall Market has a number of art and craft stalls and there are several galleries selling paintings, sculpture, textiles and jewellery in and around Cardigan town.
Shopping, food and drink
Cardigan’s indoor market is in the historic Guildhall building in the centre of town. The market hall, which is on two levels, was originally the town meat and dairy marketplace. Today, the market is a busy shopping area with over 50 stalls run by independent local traders. The Guildhall Market is open Monday to Saturday.
Cardigan’s independent shops take pride in sourcing quality goods, interesting local crafts, inspired art and the freshest local food – bread, meat, fruit and vegetables as well as locally brewed beer and homemade cakes and sweets. Find clothes, shoes, books and traditional hardware too.
Cardigan has a good choice of places to eat, from traditional cafe to pizza or barbecue, and an opportunity to dine like a prince at Cardigan Castle restaurant overlooking the river.
Every August, the Cardigan River and Food Festival celebrates the quality and diversity of local independent food producers from award winning cheese makers to butchers and bakers – over 70 food stalls with cookery demonstrations and entertainment for all.
The Tourist Information Centre is located at Theatr Mwldan and friendly knowledgeable staff can help with enquiries about Cardigan, Ceredigion and neighbouring areas.
A lively university town and Victorian seaside resort complete with promenade and pier, Aberystwyth is an ideal place to stay to explore the Wales Coast Path along Cardigan Bay.
Aberystwyth town and its surrounding countryside has a wide selection of accommodation and Aberystwyth has an annual programme of international and community cultural and sporting events. Enjoy the natural spectacles of Aberystwyth’s stunning sunsets, dramatic seascapes and famous winter starling murmurations. Spot people ‘kicking the bar’ – a quirky tradition exercised at the end of the Promenade at the foot of Constitution Hill.
Aberystwyth is the main location of the atmospheric television detective series Hinterland/ Y Gwyll.
Georgian seaside charm
The Aberystwyth seafront still retains much of its Georgian-Victorian character, as do many building around the town, particularly the imposing chapels, whilst there are street names that suggest that the town is even older, which indeed it is. Walk around town to discover more.
The Aberystwyth Cliff Railway opened in 1896 and at 778 feet (237 metres) is the longest funicular railway in the UK, and the Vale of Rheidol Railway opened in 1901, taking visitors to Devil’s Bridge and its famous waterfalls.
Celtic capital of culture
Aberystwyth is a convenient meeting point between North and South Wales, and is the destination for a day’s shopping or a good night out for a wide area
Aberystwyth Arts Centre hosts world class performers and artists in its theatres, galleries and studios. The Centre includes exhibition spaces, a theatre, cinema and concert hall as well as artists’ studios, book and gift shops. The University School of Art, close to the centre of Aberystwyth town, has a collection of fine and decorative art from the 15th century to the contemporary.
Overlooking Aberystwyth town is the imposing National Library of Wales, which is much more than a library with over five million books. Its galleries feature major exhibitions about Wales, its people and culture, interpreted with items from its vast collections of photographs, recordings, paintings, drawings, artefacts as well as maps, books, manuscripts and digital archives. Take a tour to discover more.
Aberystwyth is also home of the Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies and the base of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales. It was to Aberystwyth University that HRH Prince Charles came to learn Welsh prior to his investiture as Prince of Wales. Aberystwyth has strong links with its Celtic and other twin towns: St Brieuc in Brittany, Esquel in Patagonia and Kronberg in Germany. Take a walk along the promenade and see how many flags of minority European nations you can identify.
Gateway to Ceredigion heritage
Ceredigion has a rich cultural and folkloric heritage.Ceredigion Museum is a great place to start on your discovery of Ceredigion as well as a great collection of art and lively programme of exhibitions and events.
Aberystwyth Castle may stand in ruin but this is testament to a long and turbulent history. Fortified by Edward I in the late 13th century after the defeat of Prince Llywelyn ap Gruffydd; beseiged and occupied by Owain Glyndwr; designated a Royal Mint in 1637 by Charles I to make shillings from silver from mines in the nearby Cambrian Mountains, and bombed during the Civil War.
A town of learning
Aberystwyth University was established with public subscriptions in 1872 in a seafront building now known affectionately as the ‘Old College’.
The University became one of the first institutions to admit female students, provided the first home for what became the National Library of Wales, and established pioneering courses Agriculture, Geography, International Politics, Law and Welsh History. Aberystwyth University continues to attract students from all over the world, and this, in turn, gives Aberystwyth town a truly cosmopolitan feel.
Aberystwyth is television economics commentator Robert Peston’s favourite town: “It’s an incredibly beautiful area. It’s amazingly unspoilt and I find all the people warm, incredibly charming and friendly and welcoming. I also like the fact that because of the university there’s a very mixed population, there are lots of international people, good places to eat as well, but the landscape is what I love above everything else, it’s an absolute joy”.
Shopping and eating out
Aberystwyth Farmers Market has been recognised as one of the best in the UK, and the town has interesting independent shops as well as high street outlets.
Aberystwyth has an excellent choice of cafes, pubs and restaurants for lunchtime snacks and meals or to pick up picnic treats. Treat yourself to an evening meal in one (or more) of Aberystwyth’s restaurants – everything from fish and chips to Spanish tapas, Italian, Greek, Middle Eastern, Asian and Chinese or explore the menus of our seafront hotels and bars for modern Welsh cuisine.
Only a short drive out of town extends the choice even further – cream teas in elegant country hotel surroundings, or good beer and food in a friendly country pub.
National and international festivals held in Aberystwyth include the Welsh Festival of Architecture, LENS International Festival of Photography, Opening Doors International Festival of Performing Arts for Young Audiences and the biannual International Ceramics Festival.
Aberystwyth is a great place to enjoy music – from the classically oriented Musicfest each July to the Big Tribute Festival in August, big name rock and pop concerts, brass bands on the promenade and choirs – over a dozen – each with its own style.
Aberystwyth Cycle Fest attracts international cyclists to compete in the criterion races around town and the sportive challenge of the Ceredigion hills.
Aberystwyth is a focus also for Celtic longboat racing, harness racing, sea angling, golf, rugby and soccer, not to mention orienteering, surfing and triathalons.
Aberystwyth is a great place to stay, for a weekend away, a short break midweek, or as a base to explore Ceredigion, the Wales Coast Path and the Cambrian Mountains.
There is a choice of places to stay within a pebble-throw of the sea, including chic town house style ‘restaurant with rooms’, traditional coaching hotels, comfortable guesthouses and value for money hostels.
There is also a great choice of places to stay either on the edge of town, or in the glorious countryside around Aberystwyth – from farm cottages to country house hotels.