Aberdovey, Wales: guide to the best places to stay, eat and local walks
The small seaside village of Aberdovey, or Aberdyfi in Welsh, on the Dyfi estuary in Mid Wales is the perfect spot for a weekend of coastal walks, cosy pubs and wildlife watching. Here is our weekend guide to Aberdovey, including local history, best walks and places to visit.
The Welsh seaside village of Aberdovey sits on the northern edge of the Dyfi estuary where the mountains meet the sea on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park in Wales. With a thriving harbour and spectacular scenery, it is a popular seaside location for those looking for a traditional beach holiday while also being a handy jumping off point for Snowdonia's mountain trails. Easily accessibly by road and rail, thanks to a direct link with Birmingham, Aberdovey has two railway stations. So why not leave the car at home and take the Cambrian Coast Railway, considered one of the most scenic train rides in the UK.
Here is our weekend guide to Aberdovey, including a brief look at the local history, best walks and places to visit.
Why visit Aberdovey?
Aberdovey has panoramic views of the Dovey estuary, hills, mountains, and Cardigan Bay beyond. Aberdovey also benefits from a special microclimate; as a result a patch of blue sky can often be found over its wide estuary, leaving it bathed in sunshine, while the clouds are drawn to the Cambrian mountains to the South and the Cadair Idris range of mountains to the North of Southern Snowdonia. Check out the Aberdovey Webcam, which pans 24/7 from the east through south to the west and back again. The double dose of sunlight direct and reflected off the water makes a big difference to temperatures from October through to March.
Things to do in Aberdovey
Most people come to Aberdovey for the shoreline. With miles of wild sandy dunes to explore and countryside walks on hills by your doorstep there’s plenty to entertain young children and avid walkers alike, particularly those with dogs. Grab a tourist map from Aberdovey information and spend 30-minutes following the historic walking route around the village.
The seaside resort is also a popular sailing destination with the Aberdovey Yacht Club and is also a great spot for windsurfing, kitesurfing and paddle boarding, with lessons offered any time of the year by Let's Sup. Aberdovey also has a thriving rowing club.
After a day on the beach or walking in the hills, why not spend time ambling the local galleries and shops, before stopping for an ice cream or cream tea at one of Aberdovey's lovely cafes.
See Aberdovey Tourist Information Centre, or Visit Wales for more local information.
Aberdovey's local history
Aberdovey became famous in 1785 when Charles Dibden wrote the song The Bells of Aberdovey for the opera Liberty Hall. The words refer to the church bells of the legendary Cantre`r Gwaelod in Cardigan Bay. This is a legendary city, said to have been drowned by the sea when the drunken Seithennin neglected the valley’s dykes. It is said that the chimes of the bells can still be heard on windless nights. To commemorate this the Aberdovey Time and Tide Bell was unveiled by King Charles in 2011 and hangs beneath the jetty.
There is also another legend that has Aberdovey at its centre. This is the childhood place of the great sixth century Welsh bard Taliesin. According to Hanes Taliesin, Taliesin was the foster-son of Elffin ap Gwyddno, who gave him the name Taliesin, meaning "radiant brow", and who later became a king in Ceredigion, Wales. The legend states that he was then raised at his court in Aberdovey and that at age 13, he visited King Maelgwn Gwynedd, Elffin's uncle, and correctly prophesied the manner and imminence of Maelgwn's death. A sand bank in the Dovey Estuary is call Traeth (beach) Maelgwn.
Bedd Taliesin (the supposed burial chamber of Taliesin) located in a position where he can look across the estuary at his childhood home of Aberdovey and where he could have been found by Prince Elffin where the river Clewter joins the Dovey (it seems the chamber maybe over twice as old…)
Also the Outward Bound Trust had its first centre in Aberdovey and has just celebrated its 80th Anniversary The second WW movie The Blue Peter film (1955) starring Kieron Moore and Greta Gynt was filmed on location in Aberdovey, about war hero becoming a physical instructor at the Outward Bound.
Best places to visit near Aberdovey
The Cambrian Coast Railway is a great way to visit places along the coast, Harlech Castle and Portmerion are particularly good days out.
Cambrian Coast Railway as it arrives in Aberdovey – Harlech Castle - Portmerion
Road and Mountain biking are popular past times for those visiting the area, there is an annual Aberdovey Bike Ride from Wolverhampton. The 600 acre Dyfi Bike Park is a great venue for the mountain biking enthusiast, about an hours drive from Aberdovey is Coed y Brenin Mountain Bike Centre which is somewhat a mecca of mountain biking, it has a purpose built visitor centre and offers a range of trails including for mobility scooters and hiking.
Hike in Snowdonia National Park
There are plenty of spectacular hiking options just a short drive from Aberdovey with Snowdonia National Park an easy drive away. See our round-up of the best walking routes in Snowdonia National Park for inspiration.
Walk: Glyder Fach, Snowdonia
This strenuous walk climbs from Llyn Ogwen to the summit of Glyder Fach and Castell y Gwynt before returning along the rambling Y Gribin ridgeline.
Walk: Miners' Track and Pyg Track, Snowdon
Take on the peaks and crags of Snowdon and immerse yourself in what is one of the wildest places in Wales with this seven-mile mountain walk.
Walk: Nant Gwernol, Gwynedd
After the thrill of the Talyllyn Railway (Rheilffordd Talyllyn), walk among the umbrellaed tree canopies and gurgling cascades of an enchanted oak woodland in southern Snowdonia.
Dyfi Bike Park – Coed y Brenin Visitor Centre
The Talyllyn Narrow Gauge Steam Railway – is a great family day, it has a railway station in Tywyn close the Tywyn Mainline Railway station, so it could be a train day out from Aberdovey, there is also a narrow-gauge railway along the beach at Fairbourne that would provide a similar opportunity.
Talyllyn Narrow Gauge Railway – RSPB Yns-Hir – Centre for Alternative Technology
On the other side of the estuary from Aberdovey are two wildlife centres RSPB Yny-Hir from one of their hides you can see Aberdovey in the distance see photo above, BBC Spring Autumn and Winter Watch were based here for several years, they comeback from time to time. The other is the Dyfi Wildlife Centre and Osprey Project, pretty well next door, both are worthy of a visit.
The Centre for Alternative Technology “At CAT we believe in a positive future where we have learnt to live harmoniously with nature and tread lightly on the planet while enjoying the highest quality of life. Our Visitor Centre helps you explore that vision for the future and learn about ways to help achieve it.”
Explore Corris, Wales
The historic slate mining village of Corris, is a great family day out, has a range of activities to be enjoyed. The attractive Corris village built of slate has conserved its character, enjoy exploring the village and taking walking trails around the valley. The Corris Narrow Gauge Railway is found within the village, the Corris Craft Centre, Corris mining explorers and King Arthur’s Labyrinth are on the main road (A487) just above the village centre where there is plenty of parking.
Visit the market town of Machynlleth, Powys
The historic market town of Machynlleth is just 11 miles from Aberdovey and has an array of art shops, galleries and pubs and cafes. Wednesday is market day. It also provides a good base for exploring the Dyfi Valley, with hiking and mountain biking routes nearby.
Its claim to fame is that the first Welsh Parliament took place in 1404 and you can visit the Parliament House where it took place.
How to travel to Aberdovey
Arriving at Aberdovey by car or train is a treat, as the views from the road or Cambrian Coast line are spectacular.
By car travel time to Aberdovey
· London 4h 45 min
· Birmingham 2h 35 min
· Manchester 2h 50 min
· Chester 2h 10 min
· Bristol 3h 15 min
By train The journey time to Shrewsbury for onward connections is around 1h 40mins. There are direct connection to Birmingham New Street (2.45 hrs) and International. London Euston travel time to Aberdovey is about 4hrs 40mins with just one change of trains.
Subscribe to BBC Countryfile
Get 6 issues for just £9.99 when you subscribe to BBC Countryfile Magazine | SAVE 70% today
Risk free, introductory offer