The county of Ceredigion is arguably the least spoilt of our holiday regions. It’s big, beautiful and sparsely populated. The countryside is all about traditional family farms, and lonely mountain lanes. The coast doesn’t do funfairs, but it does excel in perfect coves. It’s one of the great cheese-producing regions of Europe (seriously). So for a truly authentic Welsh family holiday experience, Ceredigion’s your place, and here are just a few reasons why:
The Teifi Valley has some classic rural market towns – Tregaron, Lampeter, Llandysul, Cenarth – which are where the Welsh farming community comes to do its shopping, but they also support thriving galleries for local artists. On the coast, there are lovely fishing towns and villages like Cardigan, New Quay and Aberaeron, and of course West Wales’ cultural capital, Aberystwyth.
Did we mention the perfect coves? The southern stretch of coast has some absolute gems – places like Mwnt, Aberporth, Lochtyn, Cwmtydu, Penbryn, Tresaith – which look like idealised illustrations from some childhood book about pirates. Further north around Aberystwyth and Borth, there are huge stretches of sand. And they’re all lapped by Cardigan Bay, home to big populations of dolphins and porpoises which, if you spend any length of time here, you’re almost guaranteed to see.
Aberystwyth Arts Centre
This seaside university town has one of the busiest and most vibrant arts centres in the UK, hosting cinema screenings, dance, comedy and theatrical events, as well as all kinds of exhibitions. Keep an eye out for the Wales One World Festival in February and March and the International Ceramics Festival in July.
The National Library of Wales
There’s something awe-inspiring about The National Library of Wales - it's an institution that aims to create an archive of every book, photograph, film and piece of music made in a country, - even somewhere as small as Wales. Best of all, this material is accessible to all visitors, who are also drawn by the regular exhibitions and lectures that take place at the library.
Cardigan (Aberteifi) is the second-largest town in Ceredigion, nestled on the shores of the Teifi estuary. It's home to the recently-restored Cardigan Castle, the wonderful Guildhall market building, and you can get your arts fix at Theatr Mwldan. It's also a good starting point for walks along the Wales Coast Path.
Respected broadcaster (and Welshman) Huw Edwards rates Aberaeron as the prettiest town on the coast of Wales. It was established early in the 19th century and the colourful Regency style buildings around the harbour are quaint and unusual. The much loved Harbourmaster is well worth a visit for good food using local produce and great local ales.
Llanerchaeron is an elegant, almost understated, Georgian mansion beside the River Aeron in Ceredigion. Llanerchaeron was built in 1790 by John Nash, who included Buckingham Palace and Brighton Pavilion on his impressive CV. The National Trust managed house now functions as a working organic farm, with Welsh black cattle, rare Welsh pigs and Llanwenog sheep.
Cardigan Bay is home to the sociable bottlenose dolphin, the comparatively shy harbour porpoise and over 5000 Atlantic grey seals. The Dolphin Survey Boat Trip from New Quay will give you the opportunity to learn from expert volunteers about the work that goes into maintaining this Special Area of Conservation (SAC). You can also spot dolphins swimming and playing closer to shore from cliff tops and beaches - a really magical sight.
RSPB Ynys-hir Nature Reserve
The BBC’s much-loved Springwatch programme set up home amidst the woodland, wet grassland and saltmarshes of Ynys-hir in 2011. Ducks and geese reside here in winter, while the summer brings lapwings and redshanks. There are seven hides at RSPB Ynys-hir Nature Reserve for you to fully experience the wild wonder of this special corner of Ceredigion.
Bwlch Nant Yr Arian
The Cambrian Mountains offer an ideal playground for mountain bikers who enjoy a wild and rugged experience. There are three biking trails, three walking trails and a variety of other attractions in the area, including two childrens’ play areas and a café at Bwlch Nant Yr Arian where you can watch red kites feeding over the nearby lake.
The Vale of Rheidol Railway
Catch a steam train on the Vale of Rheidol Railway from Aberystwyth to Devil’s Bridge and you seem to travel back in time along the 11 mile (17 km) narrow gauge railway track to Devil’s Bridge. This line opened in 1902 to serve local lead ore and timber industries since when it has only temporarily halted its service during times of war.
Devil's Bridge Falls
Devil's Bridge Falls is a remarkable site of not one, not two, but three bridges built where the River Mynach cascades 300 feet (90 metres) to the River Rheidol below. According to folklore the first bridge was constructed by the Devil himself, who was obviously a dab hand at this kind of thing having been credited with at least another 20 structures of a similar kind across Europe.
Award winning cheese
The Teifi Valley produces cheeses that have been voted the best in the world, beating all their fancy French and Italian competitors. It’s part of a huge food revival in this area, so you’ll find lots of traditional family favourites on the local menu, and of course some spectacularly good seafood from the coast.
Whatever kind of accommodation you are after, there's something for you in Ceredigion.