There are so many amazing things to do in Aberystwyth. Located on the west coast of Wales, this picturesque beach town is packed with activities to keep you busy regardless of what the weather brings.
There’s no denying this is one of the absolute best places to explore in Wales and should be on your list. Here’s why.
About Aberystwyth Wales
The university town of Aberystwyth in Ceredigion, Wales is a fantastic place for visitors to explore. The town is packed with historic buildings from its Norman Castle to medieval churches and a large Victorian promenade.
Don’t be concerned if you can’t understand people talking in the streets, as Welsh is spoken widely in the town, though of course everyone also speaks English.
The town has two beaches, North Beach and South Beach, a modern marina, a beautiful harbour, plenty of parks and green spaces and a host of artisan shops, restaurants and pubs.
Aberystwyth, Wales, makes the perfect holiday destination as it is packed with so many great things to see and do.
So, let’s get stuck in and discover the very best things to do Aberystwyth!
Getting to Aberystwyth
By Car: Aberystwyth lies 244 miles (392 km) northwest of London and takes between four and five hours to drive. Take the M4 to Bristol before crossing the Severn Bridge into Wales. From Liverpool, Aberystwyth is a three-hour drive.
By Train: There are daily trains that depart from London Euston via Birmingham and take 4h38m. Tickets cost £60.00 in advance. Book train tickets at the best price on Trainline here.
By Bus: There are direct buses from London Victoria Coach Station to Aberystwyth. The journey time is from 7h10m and tickets cost from £28.50 if booked in advance via the National Express website. Check bus timetables and book tickets on Omio here.
By Plane: Birmingham International is the closest major airport to Aberystwyth. There are direct daily buses and trains between Birmingham and Aberystwyth. Check flight prices on Kiwi here.
Places to Stay in Aberystwyth
Budget: The best budget hotel options in Aberystwyth are actually studio apartments. You can snag this gorgeous room for as little as £55 per night. It has a plush double bed which sleeps two and some of the studios also offer an option for two single beds. You can book an apartment here.
Mid-range: Aberystwyth is packed with fantastic mid-range hotels to choose from. A few of our favourites include Gwesty’r Marine Hotel & Spa which starts as low as £90 per night, Castle Hotel which is a two-minute walk to the beach and starts at £130 per night, and the stunning Helmsman Guesthouse which offers a wonderful breakfast and views of the sea for as little as £90 per night.
Luxury: Gwesty Cymru Hotel and Restaurant is definitely the most luxurious hotel located in Aberystwyth. There are rooms that look right out at the sea and you are only a few minutes walk from all of the best things to do in Aberystwyth. There is a fantastic hotel on site and rooms include a wonderful breakfast. Rooms start at £220 per night. Book a stay at Gwesty Cymru Hotel and Restaurant here.
For true luxury, though, you’ll want to search what’s available in Aberystwyth on Plum Guide here.
Top Things to do in Aberystwyth
Whether you want to enjoy the seaside or explore some of Aberystwyth’s history, there is plenty of attractions to keep you busy in this gorgeous Welsh town.
1. Walk Along the Seafront Promenade
Aberystwyth’s mile-long Victorian promenade is one of the most striking areas of the town. Here you will find brightly coloured townhouses lining the waterfront.
One of the best places to view the promenade is from Constitution Hill by North Beach (see below for details on how best to get there).
The promenade is the perfect place for a stroll and to take in the fresh sea air as visitors to the town have been doing since Victorian times.
Be sure to dive into one of the seafront cafes or grab an ice cream for that ultimate seaside experience.
2. Explore the Town Centre
The town centre is packed with narrow streets and interesting architecture dating back centuries. You will find plenty of independent artisan shops selling everything from locally made arts and crafts to local produce.
The town is home to a number of churches dating back to the Middle Ages, such as Saint Michael’s and St Paul’s churches. Aberystwyth also boasts a prestigious university, the National Library of Wales, an arts centre and many cafes, restaurants, bars and pubs.
Get lost in the narrow streets as you explore this beautiful Welsh town full of charm and character. You won’t fail to find a great place to stop for lunch as the town has a large selection of cafes, restaurants and pubs serving cuisines from around the globe.
3. Have a Day at North Beach
The sand at Aberystwyth’s beaches is a lot darker than the golden sands of Devon or Cornwall. But don’t let this put you off, as the town’s beaches are holders of the prestigious Blue Flag award for cleanliness.
The beach is predominantly dark sand and shingle (small pebbles) so flip-flops or other footwear is recommended for walking and swimming.
Picturesque North Beach is one of the most popular Aberystwyth attractions and is backed by the Georgian and Victorian townhouses than make up the promenade.
You will find everything you need for a day at the beach from public toilets to donkey rides, ice cream vans and cafes.
The beach is patrolled by lifeguards from June to September between 10:00 am and 6:00 pm.
4. Take a Trip up Constitution Hill
Constitution Hill lies at the north end of North beach and rises up almost 100 metres (328 feet) above the town. From here you have stunning views out across Aberystwyth, Cardigan Bay and the mountains of Snowdonia National Park.
The peak is home to a Camera Obscura (see below), points of historical interest and a gift shop, café and children’s play area. The incredible views make Constitution Hill one of the best places to visit in Aberystwyth!
You can walk up to the summit following the Ceredigion Coast Path, which takes around 25 minutes.
For those looking for an easier way to reach the summit, you can take Britain’s longest funicular, the Aberystwyth Cliff Railway to the top of the peak. Another option is to take the tram up and walk down.
5. Enjoy Peaceful South Beach
The South Beach is similarly made up of dark sand and shingle but is a lot quieter than its northern counterpart.
This section of coast stretches from the town harbour to Aberystwyth Castle and is popular with surfers thanks to the bigger waves that hit the southern end.
South Beach is also patrolled by lifeguards making it a good option for families looking for a quitter stretch of sand.
South Beach has a native population of porpoises and if you are lucky you might even get to see some of these magnificent creatures in the surf!
6. Take a Ride on the Aberystwyth Cliff Railway
Aberystwyth Cliff Railway has been ferrying people up Constitution Hill for over one hundred and twenty years.
The funicular railway was opened in 1896 and was electrified in 1921. It was refurbished in 2014 and now carries pleasure-seekers on a 778-foot (237 metre) track up above the town at a comfortable 4 miles per hour.
An adult ticket costs £5.50 one way or £6.50 return. Trains run from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm every day.
7. Marvel at the Views from the Camera Obscura
A camera obscura is a darkened room with a small hole or lens which projects an inverse image onto a wall or other display and dates back to the seventeenth century.
You can find camera obscuras across many towns and cities, usually placed in an elevated position to give panoramic views. And Aberystwyth’s very own camera obscura is no exception.
The town first had a camera obscura, popular with the Victorians, in 1880. It was relocated from the castle to Constitution Hill for better views, but by 1920 has fallen into disrepair.
Thankfully the camera was restored to its full glory in 1985 and now uses one of the largest lenses in any camera obscura in the world.
Located at the top of constitution hill, the camera offers magnificent views of Aberystwyth, Cardigan Bay and much of the Welsh coastline and mountains, making it one of the best Aberystwyth things to do!
Entrance costs just £1 and it is open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
8. Explore the Ruins of Aberystwyth Castle
Aberystwyth Castle was first constructed in 1277 under English King Edward I when he was warring against the Welsh (though a castle has stood in the town since Norman times).
The castle passed back and forth between the Welsh and English for hundreds of years. Once England and Wales were on peaceful terms from around 1408 the castle began to fall into disrepair.
All that is left today is the ruins of what was once Wales’s mightiest castle. However, these ruins on the edge of Cardigan Bay are a brooding echo of history and a fantastic place to explore.
Parts of the old towers remain standing, and you can explore different parts of the structure from the ancient moat to staircases and tunnels.
Entrance is free and the grounds are open 24 hours a day.
9. Amgueddfa Ceredigion Museum
This museum dedicated to Ceredigion’s history, culture and landscapes is housed in an old Edwardian theatre.
The Amgueddfa Ceredigion Museum houses different exhibitions detailing Wales’s important history, from photography displays to over 60,000 objects from neolithic times to the modern day.
The museum holds regular workshops, yoga classes, exhibitions and more so be sure to check the website to see what’s on.
Opening hours are 10:00am to 5:00pm daily. No entrance fee makes the Amgueddfa Ceredigion Museum one of the best free things to do in Aberystwyth (though consider leaving a donation)!
10. Visit the National Library of Wales
The National Library of Wales in Aberystwyth is housed in a large Georgian building on the seafront and has a collection over 6,500,000 books.
The library is free to enter and has a reading room (ticket needed), exhibits, a shop and café. The library was set up to make learning about Welsh culture and history accessible to all.
Exploring the library is a great option if you are looking for things to do in Aberystwyth in the rain. You can search the online database for books, publications, newspapers, maps, photographs and more.
The library is open Monday to Friday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm and Saturday from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.
11. Visit the Aberystwyth Lifeboat Station
Aberystwyth has had a lifeboat since at least 1861 when the first lifeboat station was built. It was the first such station to house an inshore (meaning coastal) lifeboat and the brave crews of Aberystwyth have received 13 awards for gallantry!
It’s possible to visit the lifeboat station, but you must book online in advance and can’t just drop in (though you can go and have a look at the building, and potentially witness a launch if you a re lucky).
12. Explore Aberystwyth Harbour and Marina
The town has had a thriving harbour and fishing industry since the 18th Century and now sports a modern marina.
The Harbour sits at the mouth of the Rheidol and Ystwyth rivers as they spill out into Cardigan Bay. The harbour is a pleasant place for a stroll to take in the many fishing boats and pleasure craft busily coming and going from the port.
13. See “The Book”
The Book is a large, slate sculpture of an open book situated in the centre of the town. The slate and marble sculpture is engraved with images and there are letters on the ground beneath it which represent the words from the pages.
The sculpture was created by the Welsh sculptor Peter Nicholas. He chose a book to represent Aberystwyth’s connection to learning with the University and National Library of Wales.
14. Take the Vale of Rheidol Railway
The Vale of Rheidol Railway is a track that follows the beautiful Rheidol valley from Aberystwyth to Devil’s Bridge 12 miles to the east.
The railway line opened in 1902 and you can still travel on a restored Edwardian steam train along the valley.
The journey takes you through woodlands, fields and into the rugged Welsh mountains. You can usually spot rare birds of prey such as red kites and buzzards circling on thermals high above the valley.
Adult tickets for the ride cost £30.00 and £2.50 for children, which is a round trip starting and finishing in Aberystwyth. See the website for the current timetable.
15. Hike Part of the Ceredigion Coast Path
The Ceredigion Coast Path consists of 60 miles (94 km) of wild and rugged coastline from Cardigan in the south to Aberdovy in the north. The trail is split into seven sections, two of which can be started in Aberystwyth.
The views from the Ceredigion Postcard are beyond spectacular. You can see all the way to the beautiful Pembrokeshire coastline in the south, and to Snowdonia National Park in the North (home of Wales’s tallest peak).
Things to do Near Aberystwyth
If you are spending several days in Aberystwyth, you’ll have plenty of time to explore further afield. These are some of our favourite things to do near Aberystwyth.
16. Visit the Magic of Life Butterfly House
This indoor tropical house is home to a collection of rare butterflies, insects, fish, frogs and corals. This living natural history museum is one of the great places to visit in Aberystwyth for all the family, and especially those interested in the natural world.
The Magic of Life Trust is a registered charity and they aim to bring people closer to the natural world. The trust invests money in rural communities in Costa Rica and the Philippines where they source the butterfly larvae.
If you’ve ever wanted see a poison dart from or a glow-in-the-dark-scorpion, this is the place to do in (outside of the rainforest of course).
Magic of Life Butterfly House is located in the Rheidol Valley 10 miles east of Aberystwyth. Tickets cost £8.00 for adults and £6.00 for under 16s. The Butterfly House is open every day from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm in summer and until 4:00 pm in winter.
17. Visit the Devil’s Bridge Waterfall
The Devil’s Bridge Falls (also known as Mynach Waterfall) is one of Wales’s most famous attractions. The falls cascade over a precipice and drop a staggering 300 foot (91 metres) into a clear pool below.
The English writer and poet William Wordsworth famously wrote about “the torrent at Devil’s Bridge” and the site has attracted millions of visitors worldwide.
There are different hiking paths at the falls ranging in difficulty from a short 10-minute walk to a tougher 45-minute trek.
The Devil’s Falls are located 12 miles from Aberystwyth and one of the best ways to get there is via the Vale of Rheidol Railway (see above).
Is Aberystwyth Worth Visiting?
Thanks to its long history, interesting Welsh culture, many attractions and beautiful coastal landscapes, Aberystwyth is definitely worth visiting. The only question now should be, which one of these things to do in Aberystwyth should I do first?