Tywyn is a small town on the Cardigan Bay coast. Located at the southern tip of North Wales near the Dyfi Estuary, it is a popular seaside resort for visitors from all over the UK and abroad thanks to its beautiful stretch of golden beach and close proximity to Snowdonia National Park.
Despite being just outside the borders of the park itself, Tywyn has much to offer to visitors of all stripes – from families seeking an escape from the big city to avid backpackers in search of unspoilt landscapes to explore. It is also easily accessible by train, bus or car – if you don’t mind driving the windy Welsh roads, that is!
Here we’ve listed the top ten things we feel are worth seeing and doing in Tywyn. Because we actually live here, these are all things we tend to do on a regular basis. If you think we’ve missed something, don’t hesitate to let us know in the comment section below!
1. Take a trip on the Talyllyn Railway
An experience no visitor to Tywyn should miss is a trip on the Talyllyn Railway, one of the most popular narrow gauge lines in the UK and also the first preserved railway in the world.
From 1865 until 1946, the railway was used to transport slate from the Bryn Eglwys slate quarry to Tywyn. Today it thrives as a volunteer-run attraction, designed to ferry tourists through the stunning countryside that links the coast with the inland town of Abergynolwyn.
Stops along the way include Dolgoch Falls and Nant Gwernol, a pair of rocky river gorges with some of the most beautiful ancient woodland, waterfalls and hiking trails we’ve ever come across.
There’s no shortage of events at the Talyllyn Railway either. You can try your hand at racing the train in August or sing carols on the Santa Special in December. There’s even a Fish and Chip train for the moderately peckish!
Did you know that…?
The Talyllyn Railway inspired The Railway Series of books written by the Wilbert Awdry and his son Christopher, which in turn become the inspiration for the popular children’s television series, Thomas the Tank Engine.
2. Walk along Tywyn Beach
Tywyn is home to a long stretch of beach that links Tonfanau to the north with Aberdovey around four miles to the south. One of our favourite things to do is walk along this glorious expanse of golden sand, not only because it clears the cobwebs but also because there is plenty to see along the way.
You can explore the large sand dunes, paddle in the sea, take your dog for a walk, do a beach clean, or watch the golfers on Aberdovey Golf Course. (But do watch out for rogue balls flying your way!)
Take a walk at low tide and you might even stumble across the remnants of Tywyn’s own submerged forest and ancient peat bed, which is thought to have been cut into distinct rectangular pits by peat miners in the 18th century.
And let’s not forget the wildlife. Dolphins, porpoise and seabirds are a common sight, especially in the summer, but a good pair of eyes might spot a seal too.
3. See a film at the Magic Lantern Cinema
Miserable outdoors? Well, that means you’ve got a great excuse to visit one of the oldest cinemas in the UK, the Magic Lantern (or Y Llusern Hud in Welsh)!
Built in 1983, the cinema has been showing films since 1900. Though definitely Victorian in appearance, it boasts a state-of-the-art Sony 4K digital projection system with Dolby 7.1 surround sound. That’s the same equipment that even the largest cinemas use!
In addition to films, the Lantern also broadcasts live stage performances from the National Theatre in London and hosts monthly events such as open mic nights, themed parties and Welsh language sessions.
4. Explore St. Cadfan’s Church
Eglwys Sant Cadfan, as it is known in Welsh, is home to the Cadfan Stone, a stone cross which dates back to the ninth century. It features the earliest known inscriptions of written Welsh (Old Welsh), making it a site of historical significance and a popular tourist attraction.
The earliest parts of the church itself date back to the 11th century. Two 14th century effigies are housed inside: one of an unnamed priest and the other an unnamed knight thought to be Gruffydd ab Adda of Dolgoch.
In 2016, the church celebrated 1500 years since St. Cadfan arrived at Tywyn and established his hermitage. It is definitely worth a visit, especially when they hold their Charitable Strawberry tea parties!
5. Walk along the Dysynni River to Ynysymaengwyn
Follow the road behind St. Cadfan’s Church and you’ll soon come across a beautiful expanse of open field that leads toward the Dysynni River and Broadwater (Aber Dysynni), a large salt water lagoon. It was used by shipbuilders in the 18th and 19th centuries to transport peat from the local bogs.
Today it is a sanctuary for breeding birds and fauna, and an excellent spot for hikers and photographers in search of beautiful scenery.
If you walk a couple of miles along the path, you’ll end up at Ynysymaengwyn, a woodland area that was once a fine country estate owned by the noble Corbet family (no relation to John Corbett who later moved there). Today part of the land is used as a caravan park but many of the ruins, including a dovecote built in 1760, still survive. It also has its fair share of bluebells during the months of April and May!
6. Enjoy a honey ice cream at Holgates
Walking back from Ynysymaengwyn towards Tywyn, it is almost impossible to resist a honey ice cream from Holgates (formerly Halo) Ice Cream Shop. I usually choose the plain honey ice cream with a Cadbury’s flake on top but more adventurous folk might enjoy one of the many flavours on offer including banana, passion fruit, or coffee.
Amazingly I know quite a few people in the Birmingham area who make a day trip to Tywyn just for the honey ice cream!
7. Walk across the new Tonfanau Bridge
The Tonfanau Bridge was built in 2013 beside the old railway bridge.
Although the bridge isn’t really an attraction in and of itself, it serves an important purpose in that it joins Tywyn to Tonfanau as part of the Wales Coastal Path. As a result, walkers and cyclists no longer have to take a detour inland to follow the path.
8. Attend a gig at the Salt Marsh Cafe Bar
The Salt Marsh Cafe Bar has only been open for a few years but it has already established itself as one of the go-to places here in Tywyn for food, drinks and entertainment. Located inside the Old Market Hall, it is a fantastic venue for parties, outings with friends, and date nights, especially during the summer months when they are open until late. They even offer a fantastic two-for-one pizza deal during the off-season!
But if there is one reason to check out the Salt Marsh, it is for the live music events. Our local artists and bands really know how to put on a show!
9. Listen to a Welsh male voice choir
Did you know that Tywyn has its very own Welsh male voice choir?
The Côr Meibion Bro Dysynni was established in 1967 and sings a mix of traditional Welsh songs and tunes from contemporary musicals. They perform an average of ten concerts a year in addition to smaller performances at the Trefeddian Hotel near Aberdyfi.
The choir also took part in the Festival of Massed Male Voices at the Royal Albert Hall in May 2018 where they were met with a standing ovation!
10. Enjoy a pint with a view at the Victorian Slipway
There is but one pub along the Tywyn promenade and that’s the Victorian Slipway. Like the Salt Marsh, it opened just a few years ago and has gone from strength to strength, offering a wide variety of drinks and food, a cosy atmosphere and fun events such as a weekly quiz night.
If it’s a warm sunny day and you’re lucky, you might be able to grab a seat on the top-floor balcony overlooking the sea. There is nothing quite like sitting there with a cool drink in hand, listening to the call of the birds and the rolling waves.
What is your favourite thing to do in Tywyn?