If you fancy grandiose historical architecture, picturesque views of valleys with forests and meadows and quirky little eating places, Aberystwyth is just the ideal escape for you. Also, here’s a little fun fact: if you’ve watched the Netflix series Hinterland, you will be surprised to know that the gorgeous setting is actually in and around Aberystwyth. Intrigued yet? Here’s a curated list of some of the best things to do Aberystwyth, the unofficial capital of Mid Wales and a land so beautiful in it's own way it will leave you baffled.
Chill at the seafront
Relax by the seaside or stroll around the graceful Aberystwyth seafront. In addition to popular sights and landmarks from the main beach and the Constitution Hill in the north to the harbour and marina in the south, you will find the Promenade alive with several walkers, joggers and people on roller-blades, skates and bikes.
The panoramic Constitution Hill
Forget all your woes and hop onto the Aberystwyth train, the second longest funicular electric railway in the entirety of British Isles, which will take through gardens and pleasure grounds to the top of the Constitution Hill. Make sure your cameras are ready, for murmurations on this trip to the top are a common occurrence.
There are arcades and restaurants at the foot of the hill, but the charm outside of this train ride doesn't end here. Once you reach the top of the hill, you will find a park and one of the world's largest camera obscuras that will either give you and your family an exciting learning experience or just be an amusing discovery you can later tell your friends about. It is actually possible to get a bird's eye view of 1000 square miles of land and sea with great precision and clarity!
After a long day of sightseeing at this place, you might find yourself seeking comfort in feasting on the home-cooked meals at reasonable prices at the popular Y Consti restaurant at the railway. Who knows, you might even get to witness a special ceremony like a wedding while you're at the Aberystwyth Cliff Railway! Also, make sure you do not miss on the spectacular view of the sun setting over the sea from the top of the hill. The entire town seems to glow and the view is simply breathtaking to behold.
A mesmerising journey through the Cambrian Coast
The Cambrian Coast Railway Line takes you on a cheap and interesting day out through various junctions across the coastline on it’s branches from Machynlleth to Aberystwyth and Pwllheli. For those interested in outdoor activities and watersports, there’s a lot to do besides the train ride. Witness the sun rise with birds chirping in the foreground. Look below you to find dolphins, porpoises and a number of wild birds of prey. As you cross the dramatic railway line clinging to cliffs and burrow through tunnels and channels, you are sure to find some spectacular treat to the eyes.
Across the Ceredigion Coastal Path
This place is really all about leisurely walking and simultaneous exploration. Find bottle-nosed dolphins and grey seals as you walk across the Ceredigion Coastal Path that connects several villages and towns and be witness to the breathtaking scenery.
Climb atop Pen Dinas
On the southern edge of town on the coast of Ceredigion, is a large hill called Pen Dinas. A climb to the top of this hill on a fine day is absolutely worth the effort. A chimney-like mountain was constructed on this hill recently. From the top of the hill, you will witness miles of land along the river valleys of both the Ystwyth and Rheidol along with stunning stretches of the sea. This place makes for one of the best picnic spots in all of Aberystwyth.
Feel the wind in your hair as you cross the Devil’s Bridge
Don’t be misled by the rather ominous-sounding name- this is actually a very pretty place to be in. Step aboard the Vale of Rheidol Railway as it takes you on a picturesque trip through mountains and meadows to Devil’s Bridge spectacular waterfalls. You will find yourself thoroughly enjoying the couple of hours you spend here.
A walk to remember at Hafod Uchtryd
Near the Devil’s Bridge, find the Hafod Uchtryd- one of the finest examples of a European picturesque landscape. Every mile on this 9-mile wooded estate in Ceredigion is sure to present to you what wilderness in Aberystwyth is all about. To have a walk in the woods and witness waterfalls alongside eye-catching scenery is an absolute delight.
A tour of the School of Art Museum and Galleries
For more than anything, Aberystwyth is a university town, your tour around this place will never be complete without a visit to the School of Art department of Aberystwyth University. This Edwardian Grade II listed building is home to public galleries that house artwork and craft collections, including those that are the University's own. The department also holds exhibitions of fine art collections by invited artists and touring shows.
Discover the charm of the National Library of Wales
Did you know that Aberystwyth is also home to the smallest book in the world? The National Library of Wales houses more than 6.5 million books and periodicals, and is the biggest library in Wales. This library is entitled to receive a copy of every single book that is published in the United Kingdom. What’s more, it has the largest collection of archives, portraits, maps and photographic images in all of Wales. The library also holds educational programmes wherein it holds film and painting exhibitions that reflect the cultural history of Wales for large audiences.
Explore Aberystwyth Castle
Explore supposedly one of the oldest architectural structures in town- the Aberystwyth Castle. You will find this fortress right at the seafront, rather in ruins by the ravages of time, yet exciting enough to be explored.
Find peace at St. Michael’s Church
To extend your visit to the castle, you might want to stop by and take a look at one of the most spectacular Anglican churches in all of Wales, located right behind the castle- St. Michael’s Church. The beautiful architecture, stained-glass windows, and ceilings make it worth the visit.
Lose yourself in the Ceredigion museum
The Ceredigion Museum is another space that actively aims at reflecting the culture, art and history of the country by means of presentation of tangible evidence. Spread across 3 floors in the beautiful old theatre building, the museum has a wide range of hundreds of years old local artefacts. It even conducts several workshops, performances and film nights. Their cafe, serving appetizing local produce and the museum shop are also sure to interest you.
Spend an evening at the pier
Take a stroll around the calm pier that spans the Cardigan Bay. During the night, the lampposts glow under the moonlight and add to the scenic beauty. Find a restaurant, an arcade, a snooker club, a nightclub, a pub, pizza and ice-cream parlours and a video shop at the pavilion. Adjacent to the pier along the Aberystwyth seafront, find the 1.5 miles long Aberystwyth promenade- one of the longest in all of Britain.
Walk through a fairytale at the Magic of Life Butterfly House
Run by biologists, this butterfly houses hundreds of butterflies, giant caterpillars, leaf insects and beetles. The place has a station which lets you dip your fingers in nectar to attract the butterflies. Make sure you keep the cameras ready for some spectacular shots. You will even find an outdoor garden that sells plants and a gift shop selling sweet little butterfly souvenirs!
Let the Silver Mountain Experience thrill you
Set against rumbling streams and mystifying mountains, accommodating long-abandoned mines, you will find the Silver Mountain Experience, where myth and history collide. Select from a range of guided tours of the authentic Victorian Silver-Lead Mine or indulge in some theatrical experience for the daring with A Dragon’s Tale and the Black Chasm. This award-winning underground site is the scariest in all of Wales. Remember, it is not for the weak-hearted! For the more curious, there is a Heritage Underground tour. Visit the Mining Museum or dig for fossils yourself! You can also go gem painting and explore the magic of the Woo Hoo Woods.
Spend some time at the Dyfi Furnace
This old industrial relic and the waterfall a little up from the water mill make this place an amazing picnic spot and a site reflective of some unique industrial heritage. The information panels will provide you with an idea of the history of the mill.
Through Penglais Nature Park
This is a hilltop nature reserve with a vibrant range of wildlife, especially during spring. Enjoy some beautiful views of the town as you walk through criss-crossing footpaths among the sweet-smelling woods.
Walks in the wild
After all, the countryside around Aberystwyth is all about mixed spaces- working woods, meadows, mountains and recreational lands. The list of activities to do here never ends. These include walks, cycle trails and red kite feeding at the Bwlch Nant-yr-Arian Forest Centre, sight-seeing at the Black Covert and Coed Alltfedw, a walk across Tynybedw or to the hillside site Coed Maenarthur and so on.
Indulge in some local retail therapy
You are likely to find sweet little independent shops as you wander around Aberystwyth. A shop named Siop y Pethe sells a little bit of all sorts of things. Coastal Vintage is another shop that sells an eclectic mix of items that are either decorative or unusual, or both. You will also find intriguing shops that sell second hand books that will find you lost in their endless racks. One such shop is Ystwyth Books. If you're looking for a nice traditional shopping experience in Aberystwyth, the stalls at Market Hall are the answer. You will find the Market Hall at the top of the Great Darkgate. As you look through the stalls and have little conversations with the traders, you might just end up finding something unusual that you may not find in other richer, more pompous shops.
A little something for your grumbling tummy
If you’re looking for some typical Welsh cuisine, especially seafood, Pysgoty is the place you’re looking for. For a slightly different cuisine, there is Casablanca- the best Moroccan restaurant in Aberystwyth. Just in case you’re craving some Italian food, Agnelli’s Trattoria & Deli and Little Italy have both got it covered for you. You will even find vegan and gluten free options in these places. Have a full British meal at Y Ffarmers or if you don’t feel very hungry, you might even just want to order some lovely Welsh tea or an appetizing dessert at the Pennau Crafts and Coffee Shop.