Arriving by bus, train, or car? Bring your walking shoes, swimsuit, your favourite smart clothes, and get ready for a round-trip that covers all senses, stepping from the natural to the man-made experiences of North Ceredigion in this two-day itinerary.
Day 1 - Aberystwyth to the Cambrian Mountains
A fantastic gateway to the area is the vibrant seaside town, as well as centre of Welsh learning, Aberystwyth. You can begin, first thing, with a refreshing swim at South Beach. Or for more experienced swimmers, enjoy the local waves further north along the coast and try the beaches at Clarach or Borth.
If the arts are more your style, pause for culture and thought at two stops on Penglais Hill. Visit Aberystwyth Arts Centre for contemporary arts and crafts, or make a pilgrimage to the heritage treasure that is the National Library of Wales. This grand destination is home to priceless Welsh collections, including 6.5 million books, manuscripts, and maps, as well as works by the great artists of Wales. Among the library’s treasures is the Black Book of Carmarthen – the earliest manuscript in Welsh, and the White Book of Rhydderch, which contains the earliest version of the Mabinogion – the medieval collection of Welsh myths and legends.
Make the most of your visit to ‘Aber’ by immersing yourself in the town’s cafe culture. For coffee, head to Agnelli’s or Ultracomida – or how about a stroll along the prom with a ‘Ridiculously Rich by Alana’ hot chocolate? To prepare for the day ahead, make time to savour a big breakfast. Try Jonah’s Kitchen – opposite Jonah’s fishmongers - for a true Welsh taste sensation. Order the scallops with black pudding and bacon breakfast roll– a winning collaboration with butcher Rob Rattray, combining the flavours of Welsh land and sea.
Follow the trail of myths and legends, head next to Borth for its legendary connections with the famous Welsh tale of the sunken civilization of ‘Cantre’r Gwaelod’ (The Sunken Hundred). Depending on the time of year and state of the tide, occasionally it’s possible to see the 4500-year-old submerged forest. Bordering Cors Fochno (Borth’s 5500-year-old peat bog) are the sand dunes of Ynyslas - both areas are part of the Dyfi National Nature Reserve. There, you’ll find countless walking and nature trails, along with breathtaking views over the Dyfi estuary and Cardigan Bay.
After a breath of ‘awyr iach’ (fresh air), make your way to Eglwysfach – home to Ynyshir’s two Michelin stars. Chef Gareth Ward’s world-famous restaurant offers more than a ‘country house’ meal. It’s a mind-blowing food experience, with more than a touch of a nightclub feel. Expect 35 courses of the finest local produce and flavours inspired by the Far East. Tables are rare so book in advance. If you haven’t booked, don’t despair; pop in to Legless Fach instead. That’s Ynyshir’s teepee-bar-restaurant that you’ll find in the field outside. Order wines by the glass and a selection of small plates of reasonably priced cool comfort food, Chef Lewis Welburn’s Welsh Rarebit with Black Truffle and A5 Wagyu Ragu are not to be missed.
Following a day of arts, activities, history and natural beauty, grab a pint of the local Mantle brewery ale, or a premium craft gin made in the nearby Dyfi Distillery, and relax on the velvet sofa in front of the fire; this is the perfect location for some serious reflection.
If you are not up for sleep just yet, be sure to experience the local Dark Sky Discovery site of The Arch, perfect for expert star gazers, or new night explorers alike. Not only that, but the 18th century stone structure lends itself as the perfect foreground for a night-time photo session. You can stay as early or as late as you choose, enjoying a moonlight wildlife walk, or watching the sunrise over the Cambrian Mountains.
Day 2 - Devil's Bridge to Aberystwyth
After a good night's sleep, start your day right outside your door. A must-visit attraction only metres away from the Hafod is the world-famous Devil's Bridge Falls. While the waterfalls inspired a poem by English poet William Wordsworth, it’s the bridge that’s the subject of a Welsh legend, said to be built by the Devil himself, who was driven out of Wales after being outwitted by an old lady and a loaf of bread.
While you are there you can choose from a series of dramatic walks that take you past thunderous waterfalls, stunning views, and numerous photo spots including the legendary bridge.
Afterwards, travel south towards Pontarfynach. A few miles uphill from the village of Ffair Rhos, experience the tranquil Teifi Pools. A favourite with local anglers is the furthest lake, Llyn Egnant. Or, closer to Pontarfynach, you’ll find the Pontrhydfendigaid - 'the bridge of the blessed ford' and the Cistercian abbey ruins of Strata Florida. One of the leading poets of Wales and Europe in the middle ages was Dafydd ap Gwilym – and it's said that his grave lies under a yew tree in the churchyard. It’s a stunning location to combine Welsh history and contemplation – no wonder it’s inspired Welsh bards for generations.
Before returning to the hustle and bustle of the city, visit the centre of the Welsh ‘wild west’ - Tregaron, a vibrant market town and a popular cycling route across the mountains in Cors Caron National Nature Reserve, with stunning views across the moors. A little further east, you can find quiet repose in Capel Soar y Mynydd, or picturesque landscapes and driving thrills in the Abergwesyn Pass, home of the Devil's Staircase, a favourite of drivers, cyclists and motorcyclists alike.
Right at Tregaron's heart stands Y Talbot, one of Wales’ best gastro pubs, or head back to Aberystwyth and await your table for lunch or supper at the town's latest star attraction, SY23. Not only did Chef Nathan Davies and the team secure the first ever Michelin star for ‘Aber’ in 2022, but they also won the Michelin award for the best new restaurant opening within the UK and Ireland. If there are no tables available for the Michelin star experience, consider sister restaurant Y Sgwâr outside; the small-plates ‘tapas’ menu shares the same ethos as SY23, offering fabulous grill-fired local flavours.
If you’re tempted at all to extend your visit, you can choose between walking, mountain-biking, and red kite watching at the fantastic visitor centre at Bwlch Nant yr Arian. You can stay at boutique hotel Gwesty Cymru or you can always opt for one of the numerous accommodation options in and around Aber, including plenty of options should your furry companion be with you.
What better way to end your trip to North Ceredigion, like Dafydd ap Gwilym, enjoy a pint of ale at one of Aberystwyth’s many pubs. Yr Hen Lew Du (The Old Black Lion) is a perfect spot. ‘Iechyd da’, indeed!
Be AdventureSmart in Ceredigion
Whatever your adventure ask yourself 3 questions before you head off;
- Am I confident I have the knowledge and skills for the day?
- Do I know what the weather will be like?
- Do I have the right gear?
Visit AdventureSmart.UK for more information on how to stay safe while enjoying your Welsh adventure.
If your day involves enjoying Ceredigion’s rivers, lakes or sea…
- If possible, choose a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags, but lifeguard patrols can’t be on every beach year round so be adventure smart to keep you and your family safe.
- Wear a bright hat (green or orange work well) and use a tow float so that you can be seen by other water users.
- Always swim with other people – the 'buddy system' is best.
- Check the tide times before swimming in the sea or in estuaries.
- Enter the water slowly and allow time for your body to get used to the cold.
- If you are in difficulty in the water don’t panic, stay calm and float on your back until you can control your breathing. Attract attention by raising your hand and shouting for help.
- Know how and when to get help; If you find someone in trouble: don’t put yourself at risk by entering the water, call 999 for help.
- Inland: ask for the police and then the Mountain Rescue.
- Inland waters: ask for Fire & Rescue Service.
- Sea and coastal area: ask for the Coastguard.