Aberystwyth might be best known by many for its university, but it is also a stunning town with thousands of years of history to explore. Located in the West of Wales Ceredigion, the town boasts amazing views, great places to eat, and more. We wanted to highlight some of the best things to see and do in the town for 2023, but first let's have an overview of the town:
Where is Aberystwyth?
Aberystwyth is located in Ceredigion, the Welsh county in the West of the country. The name of the town means "the mouth of the Ystwyth", which is exactly where the town is located - at the mouth of The River Ystwyth.
Bwlch Nant yr Arian Forest
We've already published an entire guide about this forest (which was featured on the official Devil's Bridge Falls website), so we won't spend too much time on it in this guide, but it is still absolutely worthy of a mention. It's technically situated 9 miles east of Aberystwyth, so although it's a little bit away we think you should still pay a visit. The walk around the lake is a particular highlight, but even if you don't fancy a big walk during your visit then you can still enjoy things like the excellent food and coffee at the cafe, as well as the Red Kites feeding sessions. Read our guide about the forest here.
Vale of Rheidol Railway
This 12-mile railway runs from Aberystwyth to Devil's Bridge, and is definitely the best way to see the amazing Rheidol Valley. It's also an amazing way to see birds of prey such as Red Kite and Buzzards as they are often seen hovering over the valley. The railway has been open since the very start of the 20th century and still uses restored Edwardian steam trains which have been lovingly restored and are very enjoyable to ride on. The only element to consider to would be the price - at £30 per person for a return journey it is a little on the pricey side, but this does include a 1 hour journey each way and about an hour in Devil's bridge. Devil's Bridge Falls near the last station is definitely worth a visit also. Learn more and book your tickets here - rheidolrailway.co.uk
Aberystwyth Cliff Railway (& Constitution Hill)
We think Aberystwyth Cliff Railway is as much worth a visit as the Vale of Rheidol Railway (plus it's much cheaper!). A trip on this railway is an excellent way to see Aberystwyth as you travel up the side of Constitution Hill. Opened in the late 19th century, this railway is a Grade II listed structure and is almost 800 feet long. It is the longest funicular electric cliff railway in Britain, and at the top of the cliff you'll find one of the world’s largest camera obscuras from which you enjoy stunning views across the water and town. Trains run every day between 10am and 5pm and will cost you £6 for a return journey. Your only way to contact them at the moment is to call via this number - 01970 617642
Silver Mountain Experience
Set against the dramatic Cambrian Mountains you'll find the Silver Mountain Experience, definitely one of the best attractions to see in the Aberystwyth area. You can enjoy guided tours of the Silver-Lead Mine, and you can enjoy actor-led shows who help to bring the history and myths of the site to life. If you're feeling extra adventurous you'll also find 2 escape rooms here, including a Jack The Ripper one. The Dragon Hunt is especially good for kids and involves a full hour of clue finding. You might not have this at the top of your list to visit in Aberystwyth, but trust us when we say that it is definitely worth it! Learn more here - silvermountainexperience.co.uk
Amgueddfa Ceredigion Museum
After all of the adrenaline of the railways and the silver mines, a trip to a museum might be a welcome break! The Amgueddfa Ceredigion Museum might not be as exciting as a tour of a mine but is still a fascinating (and beautiful) place to visit. Housed within an Edwardian theatre, the museum boasts a collection of more than 60,000 objects ranging from items dating back to the Neolithic period, all the way up to items from the 1970s. It's in the centre of the town and is well worth an hour or so of your time, learn more here - ceredigionmuseum.wales
Similar to the castle in Builth Wells, Aberystwyth Castle was built by King Edward I in the 13th century. Despite being a free attraction, the castle is an excellent place to visit. Even if you're not interested in castles, the views from the site across the beach and town are well worth the trip. There is also a war memorial here which is quite a touching thing to see. A great idea is to bring a picnic with you as there is plenty of space to sit down. Despite being in ruins, there is still lots to explore and the castle is well kept with no litter or graffiti. Definitely visit!
Visit the dark sand of North Beach & walk along the promenade
A trip to Aberystwyth wouldn't be complete without a visit to North Beach, the focal point of the town. The beach has a distinctive look with dark sand and shingle covering much of the area, and it is excellent for a stroll before or after a visit into town. If you're looking to do a bit more than just relax then you can enjoy one of the traditional beachside attractions including donkey walks and a bouncy castle. A look at the 19th-century Victorian pier is also a must, and probably the main focus of the promenade and seafront is Marine Terrace which is well known for its Victorian and Edwardian-style architecture and hotels.
The beach has been awarded both Blue Flag and Seaside Awards, and the beach is patrolled by RNLI lifeguards during the summer months.
Walk the Ceredigion Coast Path
If walking is your thing then we recommend you head on the Ceredigion Coast Path - this 65-mile route takes you from Cardigan to Ynyslas, but one of the best stretches (certainly the most isolated) is the 10 miles from Aberystwyth to Llanryhstud. Be warned though, most of the walk is pretty strenuous and involves walking up steep cliffs. But if you're up for the challenge, you'll be rewarded with incredible views. We certainly recommend it!
Places to eat and shops to visit in Aberystwyth
You're spoilt for choice when it comes to great places to eat and shops to visit in Aberystwyth - the influx of students and tourists means there is a nice mix of locations to try. Favourite places to eat include Little Italy on North Parade, Baravin on Marine Terrace, and Medina on Market Street. Some of the great independent shops include Polly for ladies' clothing, Coastal Vintage, and Ystwyth Books for a great choice of second-hand books.