Ceredigion tourist information & travel guide
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Ceredigion tourist guide
Situated on the Teifi estuary, Cardigan was once the busiest port in Wales (the Heritage Centre, based in an 18th Century warehouse on Teifi Wharf goes into more detail on this fascinating port's history and heritage, and for the small entrance fee is certainly worthy of a visit). The town received its first charter back in the 12th Century and was ruled by one of the last of the Welsh princes, The Lord Rhys, one of a succession of Welsh princes to battle against the Norman invaders from the safety of Cardigan Castle. The castle, originally made from wood but transformed to stone many centuries ago, sees an ongoing restoration programme.
While it is a quite busy town, there is a wonderful and friendly sense of "let's not rush today what we can leave until tomorrow" about it. The town also sees architecture through the ages, from a medieval bridge and wonderful Georgian and Victorian buildings to current styles of today. Many people claim that the site of the castle in Cardigan was the first ever of what have since become wonderful Welsh gatherings - the Eisteddfod - back in the late 12th Century.
There's certainly plenty to see and do to keep you busy in the town and immediate Cardigan area. The Guildhall is a must-visit, with its covered market selling everything from wonderful fresh local and international produce, to arts, crafts and second-hand curios. There is a great selection of shops, both independent family-owned and famous retail chains, as well as cafés, restaurants and pubs to cater for all tastes. The Cardigan Farmers Market held on the second Thursday of every month selling locally grown or created produce.
For those with an interest in the arts, the town has an art gallery, cinema and Theatr Mwldan which is acknowledged as one of the finest venues in Wales for theatres, concerts, ballet, films and special live events. The town and bay area is also host to a number of festivals throughout the year, including food and drink, arts, sports and even Coracle (an old traditional boat) racing. So all in all, Cardigan is a great base for the self-catering holiday maker to explore the surrounding area as well as North Pembrokeshire and the lovely Teifi Valley.
Just over the river from the town is the magnificent with many wonderful cliff-top walks. To the north you will find the Ceredigion Heritage Coast. South of the town are the extremely picturesque remains of the medieval Cilgerran Castle, located on the edge of a steep gorge in the Teifi River Valley. Most striking are the surviving twin towers, as they and the parapet walls peek out of the dense woodland. Like many castles in Wales, it is believed to have originally been a wood and earth structure. There are fabulous walks down to the river.
The lovely Cardigan Bay, stretching for some 40 miles, has not yet been spoilt by being over-commercialised for tourists. The areas in and around the bay area have been designated Special Areas of Conservation, and it is an important area for bottlenose dolphins. There are many places around the bay from where you can take a delightful trip out to see the Bottlenose Dolphins as well as sometimes catch sight of the Atlantic Grey Seals and Harbour Porpoises. The Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre in New Quay organises boat trips to see the dolphins and the vast range of habitats amongst the reefs and caves that contain an incredible rich variety of wildlife and other species that inhabit there. And if you are lucky, you may even catch sight of some of the other visitors to the area, such as sunfish and basking sharks.
The Cardigan area is well-known for its fine food and drink, with local menus heavily featuring local produce such as Welsh beef and lamb, salmon and sea trout - in particular 'sewin' - a world-renown speciality of the River Teifi. There are also plenty of vegetables, cheeses and honey produced locally.
Animal lovers of all ages, from four to ninety four, will be upset if a visit to avoids the Cardigan Island Coastal Farm Park (open annually from beginning of April to end of October). Located on a fabulous headland that overlooks the Cardigan Island nature reserve, it has thousands of seabirds, wild Soay sheep and Atlantic grey seals. You can sometimes see the dolphins off the coast in Cardigan Bay as well. At the Park you'll find a plethora of animals to meet, pet and sometimes even feed by hand - the inquisitive Shetland and Welsh ponies, duck, geese, rare cattle, chickens, pigs and the more exotic, and sometimes extremely nosey llamas, emus, rheas and wallabies. And there's a play area, adventure playground and sand pit.
There is also a great day out at the Welsh Wildlife Centre, with its extraordinary range of habitats and wildlife. As a wetland reserve containing the second-largest reed bed in Wales, it is home to otters, water voles, kingfishers, marsh harriers, red kites and more. The unexpected sight that has visitors rushing for their cameras is the buffalo herd!