Machynlleth is truly a gem - a rural market town with a quirky, eco-friendly vibe nestled within the beautiful UNESCO Dyfi Biosphere. There's loads to do and see just wandering around. There are plenty of antique stores, alternative lifestyle shops and galleries featuring local artists and craftspeople. There's a bustling market on Wednesdays and even an annual world famous comedy festival.
Owain Glyndŵr Centre
Crowned by a splendid Victorian clock tower, Heol Maengwyn is Machynlleth’s high street. It’s sprinkled with useful shops, galleries, cosy cafés and, on Wednesdays, market stalls, a tradition launched by royal charter in 1291. It was also the site of national hero Owain Glyndŵr’s 1404 parliament - the original Senedd. The Owain Glyndŵr Centre is the local history museum that tells his story.
MOMA Machynlleth is an intimate museum of modern art in a Victorian town house and a former Wesleyan chapel, The Tabernacle, has a hefty collection of local treasures. Its white-walled exhibition spaces show contemporary Welsh paintings, prints, sculpture and photography. Arty types refuel over top notch coffee and cake at Y Tabernacl Coffee Shop.
Machynlleth Comedy Festival
If you're looking for laughs you probably wouldn't think of heading to a comedy festival in the ancient capital of Wales. But we'd absolutely recommend that you do. Over the May bank holiday every year, the cream of comedy talent - rising and established - descend on Mach to try out new material, experiment with new formats, and generally have a fine old time. Look out for shows in usual places, like on the Corris Steam Railway, or in local gin distilleries. Book your tickets now: Machynlleth Comedy Festival.
The Centre for Alternative Technology
In 1974, long before green principles became mainstream, a small group of eco-enthusiasts created the Centre for Alternative Technology (or CAT, as it's affectionately known) in an old slate quarry, three miles north of Machynlleth. It was unique, and inspired a generation. Today, the centre’s beautiful School of the Environment runs excellent day courses, postgraduate courses and distance learning on practical topics such as earth ovens, composting toilets, raw food, upcycling, traditional crafts and harnessing renewable energy.
Food that puts Mach on the map
The most famous restaurant in the area is undoubtedly the two Michelin star restaurant, Ynyshir. The 30-course feast combines produce from the shores of Dyfi with the intense flavours of the Far East. In the words of food blogger Lowri Haf Cooke, who visited all nine of Wales' Michelin star resturants,'expect the unexpected and enjoy a transcendental trip to remember'.
Ynyshir's sister restaurant Gwen, has also opened on the high street of Machynlleth. The ten course menu of meat, fish and local produce is cooked over a fire in an open kitchen in front of just eight diners. The cosy bar serves smaller meals and a good selection of wine.
Also in the centre of Mach is The Wynnstay, a traditional pub that serves a delicious Sunday lunch; Tŷ Medi, a vegetarian and vegan cafe that creates tapas and Mexican dishes; and Popty Clai (Clay Bakery), a bakery that bakes fresh bread and cakes.
If you are travelling from Mach in the direction of Talybont it is worth popping into the community hub and cafe, Cletwr - an enterprise owned and run by the community. The shop there sells Welsh products including Teifi Coffee, Ty'n y Gors meats and Purple Moose Brewery beer.
RSPB Ynys-hir Nature Reserve
If you’re a fan of BBC Springwatch, you’re sure to enjoy the Welsh woodland and wetland reserve where it was filmed several times. At Ynys-hir you might even make some seasonal discoveries of your own. Spring brings carpets of bluebells and trilling wood warblers, autumn brings ducks and other water birds can be seen from the hides all year round. Follow the trails to explore the lowland wet grasslands, reedbed, and saltmarsh habitats.
Falconry Experience Wales
In the wilds of the Dyfi Valley UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, the Falconry Experience Wales is one of several sites in mid Wales where you can learn about birds of prey. Run by experienced falconers, it’s a place to get close – very close – to captive-bred owls, falcons, hawks, eagles and red kites, discovering how to handle them and taking them out to fly over the hills.
Mountain biking in the Dyfi Valley
Machynlleth is the perfect launch pad for an adventure on two wheels, thanks to Dyfi Mountain Biking, an enthusiastic group of local volunteers. They’ve waymarked three routes called Mach 1, 2 and 3 along roads, lanes and bridleways, and created CliMachX, an exhilarating off-road forest trail with rocky jumps and a massive final descent.
Dyfi Osprey Project
The Dyfi Osprey Project, a love-nest for ospreys, is the work of dedicated conservationists, whose first big success – three healthy chicks – featured on BBC Springwatch. While the migrants are in residence (roughly April to September), you can view them through scopes, binoculars or live on screen. A two-storey observatory with views over bird, mammal and insect habitats is also open for visitors.
Corris Mine Explorers
There’s plenty to keep the whole family entertained at Corris Mine Explorers, based at Corris Craft Centre. Kit up in a hard hat for a fascinating tour of an abandoned slate mine, take a boat trip through an underground maze while listening to tales from long ago in King Arthur's Labyrinth, or get messy at a hands-on craft session making pottery, candles, chocolate or wooden furniture.
The Corris Railway is a narrow-gauge railway, lovingly restored by local railway enthusiasts. They have one of the prettiest steam locomotives in Wales, specially built in 2005 to a classic Kerr, Stuart and Company design. On a 50-minute round trip, it puffs through the former slate-mining region between Corris and Maespoeth, stopping for a tour of the engine shed and workshops.