10 of the Most Vibrant Market Towns in Wales
Wales is famous for a number of things: its rolling green hills and valleys, dramatic castles, Dylan Thomas and of course the Bala Lake Monster. It’s also known for its market towns. No trip to Wales is complete without a visit to at least one of these. Here’s a list of ten of our favourite quintessentially Welsh market towns:
Aberaeron is a coastal town famous for its multicoloured houses. There’s a beautiful harbour to take a stroll around, complete with its own pod of bottlenose dolphins. There are plenty of independent shops and boutiques, and great eateries with some truly delicious seafood.
Laugharne sits on the estuary of the river Taf. It’s famous for many things, most notably, a fairly-intact 12th-century castle and as the home of Dylan Thomas for the final years of his life. It’s possible to visit the house he lived in, which also has a tearoom, and pay your respects at his grave in Laugharne cemetery. Laugharne is thought to be the inspiration for the fictional town of Llareggub, the setting for Thomas’s famous play Under Milkwood.
With its own castle and a great little museum, Narbeth is certainly steeped in history. Also close by, you can find the lovely Llwyngarreg Garden: a three-and-a-half-acre garden filled with a rich array of plant life. Narbeth itself is just a stone’s throw from the picturesque Canaston Wood.
Home to not one but two castles (do you notice a theme?), Chepstow was a major medieval stronghold. The castles are well worth a visit as is the mysterious, ruined Tintern Abbery, famously the inspiration for Wordsworth’s poem of the same name. Situated on the banks of the River Wye, Chepstow is on of the most aesthetically pleasing corners of Wales.
Lying at the meeting point of the rivers Wye and Irfon, this tiny town has a population of only 2,568. The majestic Llewelyn Monument marks the sight on which LLewelyn fell to the Saxons in 1282. It’s also a beautiful spot for a picnic.
Hay-on-Wye, small though it may be, is home to more twenty bookshops. It’s often described as Wales’s town of books. It’s home to the yearly Hay Book Festival, and also a food festival. A must for any book lover.
Lying on the River Wnion, Dolgellau is the traditional county town of Merionethshire. It’s home the ruined Cymer Abbey and as it’s close to the mountains and hiking of Cadair Idris, Coed-y-Brenin and Tal-y-llyn Lake, there’s plenty to do for anyone who loves the outdoors.
Home to one of the most impressive castles in Wales (quite a feat indeed), Caernarfen is dripping with history in every narrow, winding street. Only a short drive from Bangor, Anglesey and Mount Snowden, Caernarfen comes highly recommended.
Overlooking the breath-taking Vale of Clwyd, Denbigh is a historic walled town. The castle is not much more than ruins, but you can walk around them and survey the amazing scenery. There’s also a flourishing art scene, and some fantastic independent shops.
Another historic market town in North East Wales, Llangollen is home to a ruined 12th-century castle and an abbey. There’s also the historic train station — that’s a must for anyone interested in locomotive history — and the fascinating Plas Newyyd House Museum.