seaside and university town and community in Ceredigion, Wales

Aberystwyth (informally: Aber, not to be confused with many other coastal towns in Wales) is in the county of Ceredigion, in Wales.


Understand edit

Aberystwyth, called the true capital of Wales by some, is a smallish town on the Ceredigion coast, just below the Dyfi estuary. Politically, it's in the heart of Nationalist Wales, and is the birthplace of Cymdeithas Yr Iaith Gymraeg, the Welsh Language movement. It is home to one of the oldest parts of the University of Wales, which is attended by some 9,000 students. It is also home to the National Library of Wales, one of the UK's few copyright libraries, meaning it has the right to claim a copy of every book published in Britain, which also means that it has one of the highest figures for books per head of population in the world. Its other notable - and notorious - feature is the remarkable number of pubs in the town.

Generations of first year students have been brought up on the promise of a pub for every week of the year. This is true in that there are over 61 locations with public bars in the small Welsh town. Aberystwyth has a fairly unique student atmosphere - during term-time the vast majority of young adults are undergraduates and the remoteness of the location creates a more vibrant social life than experienced on most campuses.

Get in edit

By train edit

1 Aberystwyth station (or 'Aber') is at the end of the line, in many senses of the phrase. Direct trains run from Birmingham International station (Birmingham Airport and the NEC). 2 hours from Shrewsbury, 3 from Birmingham. A branch line from Machynlleth provides connections to the coastal towns of West Gwynedd.

Services are provided by Transport for Wales.

By car edit

There are two main routes to Aber by road: the A44 comes from the east, and the A487 goes north to south through the town. The best way to get there from any particular point is a subject of much debate. Buy a map and have fun. Minimum 3 hours from Birmingham, 2 hr 40 min from Cardiff, 2 hr 5 min from Swansea - highly dependent on the number of tractors on the roads.There is also a Park and Ride facility.

By bus edit

TrawsCymru's T1 service provides a regular link with Carmarthen and Aberystwyth. The X32 is the northern equivalent, providing a link to such exciting places as Machynlleth, Dolgellau and Bangor at least twice a day. Traveline: 0871 200 22 33

One daily National Express 409 service to/from Birmingham and London Victoria.

By plane edit

Swansea (SWS IATA) is the nearest airport, light aircraft only. Birmingham (BHX IATA) is most useful for Aberystwyth - it's about 3 hr 30 min away by direct train.

Get around edit

Aber is a very compact town; walking is by far the easiest way to get around.

If you require motorised transport, taxis are plentiful and relatively cheap.

Buses also run up Penglais Hill (where the main university campus is) and to Llanbadarn Fawr (the other campus, and the Morrisons supermarket - largest of its ilk locally).

Parking is a problem in the centre of Aber, but a Park and Ride operates from Park Avenue, with a free bus service every 15 minutes M-Sa.

See edit

National Library of Wales
  • The best thing to see in the town is probably the sunset. The view over Cardigan Bay on a summer's evening can be quite stunning. The best places to see the sunset are the long seafront Promenade (see also: Drink), any of the beaches that takes your fancy, the University Plaza and the Arts Centre cafe above.
  • 1 Aberystwyth Arts Centre, +44 1970 623232. The largest and busiest arts centre in Wales, boasting a theatre (312 seats), concert hall (900 seats), cinema (125 seats), studio (80 seats) and three gallery spaces. Has a programme of theatre and dance, live music, comedy, exhibitions and cinema. It also runs visual arts and performing arts courses for children and adults of all ages, as well as a dance school with over 500 students enrolled. Has a craftshop, a bookshop two cafes and a theatre bar.    
  • 2 Ruins of the Castle. Overlooking the bay, is pleasant enough to wander through during the day - there are also picnic tables scattered around the war memorial that shares the space. Don't go venturing there at night, though as the castle is used by less savoury persons after dark.    
  • 3 Constitution Hill. (and another fine vantage point for sunsets) accessible by funicular railway in season, and a brisk 15-minute walk up to the summit all year round. The views are tremendous, and there is a small museum and Camera Obscura, as well as the obligatory tea shop, at the top.    
  • 4 The National Library of Wales (from town, take the Penglais Road [the A487 toward Machynlleth] up Penglais Hill; turn right where signposted (after Bronglais Hospital) (the library is at the end of a 400 metre drive overlooking the town), +44 1970 632800, fax: +44 1970 615709. Reading rooms and Entrance Hall Exhibition Area open M-F 9:30AM-6PM, Sa 9:30AM-5PM; Gregynog Exhibition Gallery, Peniarth Gallery, The World of the Book open M-Sa 10AM-5PM. The National Library of Wales is one of the six legal deposit libraries in the British Isles and has a collection of more than four million printed volumes. In addition, it has collections concentrating in Welsh and other Celtic cultures. The Entrance Hall Exhibition Area and Gregynog Gallery feature regular exhibits, primarily of work by Welsh artists. The Peniarth Gallery and World of the Book feature changing exhibits of items from the library's collections. Free.    
  • 5 Ceredigion Museum, Coliseum, Terrace Road.    

Do edit

A good place to start is the Tourist Information Centre at the seafront end of Terrace Road.

  • The main pastime in Aber, at least for its student population, is drinking (i.e. 'the lash'). There are many fine public houses in the town, and many grotty ones, too. See 'Drink' for more details.
  • If walking's your thing, then the countryside around Aber is beautiful. A popular walk is to Borth, about 5 miles up a hilly coastal path, which blessed with wonderful beaches. At the northern tip of Borth is Ynyslas, home to a nature reserve of sand dunes and a submerged forest. A short trip out of town by car or bus is Cadair Idris a popular hiking spot with spectacular view (if the weather is good).
  • Watersports are another popular activity, but it's probably advisable to take part in organised outings as far as these go. The Irish Sea is famous for its undertow, and most years at least one foolhardy person gets sucked out to sea - usually after a drinking session.
  • There are also boat trips out into Cardigan Bay, where dolphins can be seen in the waters, and seals on the islands. These are seasonal, so check at the tourist information centre for latest times and prices. Sea Fishing excursions can also be arranged in the harbour, a great day out with all equipment included in the charter.
  • Football: Aberystwyth Town ("The Seasiders") play soccer in the Cymru Premier League. That's the top tier within Wales, but mostly amateur and on a par with England's fifth tier National League. They play at Park Avenue (capacity 5000) next to the mainline railway station.
  • 1 Aberystwyth Cliff Railway (Rheilffordd Y Graig Aberystwyth), Cliff Terrace, +44 1970 617642, .    
  • 2 Vale of Rheidol Railway (Rheilffordd Dyffryn Rheidol), Park Avenue, SY21 1PG, +44 1970 625819, fax: +44 1970 623769, . This was the last steam line owned by British Rail until privatisation in 1989. It's now run by a charitable trust. The line climbs up the beautiful Rheidol Valley to Devils Bridge (Pontarfynach), taking about an hour in each direction. Devils Bridge is a major tourist attraction, the site of 3 bridges, each above the other, crossing the deep ravine of the Mynach river where it drops 300 feet to flow into the river Rheidol. Legend has it that the original bridge was built by the Devil as it was too difficult for mortal people to build. The Devil built the bridge in return for the soul of the first life to cross the bridge, but the Devil was tricked by an old woman who threw bread onto the bridge and her dog followed, thus becoming the first life to cross the new bridge. The railway is the best way to visit Devils Bridge as the roads are narrow and winding and parking at Devils Bridge can be a nightmare in peak season. If you're planning on spending a bit of time looking around in Devils Bridge (as well as the bridges and waterfalls there are a couple of pubs and some gift shops, and several waymarked walking trails) be sure to check the times of later trains with the guard when you get off.    

Aberystwyth, and the region east to the Cambrian Mountains, provides and excellent base for cycling. The range of terrain ensures that there is something for any level of ability or appetite. The Ystwyth Trail follows a disused railway track and is easy going. The Rheidol Cycleway takes you along country lanes from Aberystwyth to Devil's Bridge, with an optional strenuous climb at the end for those who like a challenge. For adrenaline junkies, there is mountain biking in Nant yr Arian Forest.

Buy edit

  • Farmers Market is nowadays held in the former bus depot on Park Ave. first and third Saturday of the month.

Eat edit

  • 1 Slater's bakery, 9 North parade Street, +44 1970 612658. Long established bakery. The great tasking pasties, pies and rolls make a perfect take-away snack.
  • 2 Little Italy, 51 North Parade, +44 1970 625707. An excellent if rather oppressively cosy Italian restaurant. The steak is particularly fine.
  • 3 Ultracomida Delicatessen, 31 Pier Street, +44 1970 630686. Regularly changing menu that includes panini to dine in (two large tables and a bar with stools in the back room) or take away for lunch. Also a delicatessen featuring local and imported foods.
  • 4 Piazza Cafe, Aberystwyth Arts Centre. M-Sa. Fantastic range of home-made meals and cakes. With a fantastic seated terrace that overlooks Cardigan bay.
  • 5 The Pier Brasserie, The Royal Pier, Marine Terrace, +44 1970 636123. A mid-priced restaurant at the end of the Royal Pier. Serves decent food and has good views of the ocean and the Aber seafront. Has a deal where you can get two good-sized pizzas and a bottle of wine for £20.

Drink edit

  • 1 Rummers, Bridge Street, +44 1970 625177. Rowdy traditional pub with nice walls and slate floors. It opens late at the weekends. Live music of varying quality on Friday and Saturday. Tuesday is cheep vodka night, this is the most important event of the Aber week. Good place to finish a night out if you don't fancy dancing to cheesy music on a sticky dance floor
  • 2 Glengower Hotel, 3 Victoria Terrace, The Promenade, SY23 2DH, +44 1970 626191, . A nice bar on the sea front. Quiet in the evenings but gets busy on nice days. The beer garden offers stunning views of the sunset and perhaps a couple of dolphins too but, beware, the sea is a cruel mistress. It is rumoured that the late Liz Taylor's grandaughter worked behind the bar.
  • 3 The Angel, 57-59 Great Darkgate Street, +44 1970 617878. This dank and grimy dive is ideal if you're looking to indulge your dark side. With warm pints and the worst toilets you've ever dreamed of, it's not one to take your granny to. The rock and fetish nights held in the back room are popular. Probably the cheapest pub in the town.
  • 4 Y Cwps (The Coopers Arms), Northgate Street, +44 1970 624050. The Cwps - as it's generally known - has a long relationship with Welsh language campaigns and music.
  • 5 The Inn on the Pier, Royal Pier, Marine Terrace, SY23 2AZ, +44 1970 636101. Although 'The Pinn' isn't the nicest place for a drink - and certainly won't be somewhere you'll find a real ale - it is on the Pier jutting out into the bay and offers a truly unique experience, especially in a storm!
  • 6 The Ship and Castle, 1 High Street. The Campaign for Real Ale pub of the year in 2011, this bar features a rotating set of ales, well-informed staff and a cozy atmosphere. Is very popular so can get packed on weekends, but definitely worth checking out if you're visiting.
  • 7 Y Ffarmers, Llanfihangel-y-Creuddyn SY23 4LA, +44 1974 261275. W-F 17:00-23:00, Sa 12:00-15:00, 17:00-23:00, Su 12:00-15:00. This country pub gets great reviews for its Sunday lunch.

Sleep edit

Budget edit

Mid-range edit

Splurge edit

  • 7 Nanteos Mansion Country House Hotel (Nanteos Hotel), Nanteos, SY23 4LU (2 miles outside Aberystwyth; the nearest train station to Nanteos is Aberystwyth.), +44 1970 600522, . £75 per person.
  • 8 Brynhyfryd, Clarach Road (Aberystwyth centre is approx 1.2 miles.). £159-350.
  • 9 Gwesty Cymru, 19 Marine Terrace (Right on the prom), +44 1970 612252, . Great Welsh Hotel £60-72 (single).

Stay safe edit

Aberystwyth offers a very safe environment and is probably one of the few places remaining in Britain where an unlocked door doesn't guarantee burglary.

Friday and Saturday nights can be a bit boisterous during the summer, though incidences of drink related violence are still far less than in large cities.

Also, the sea can be a cruel mistress (see above: Glengower Hotel).

Go next edit

Routes through Aberystwyth
END  W   E  PonterwydNewtown/Rhayader

This city travel guide to Aberystwyth is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.