Aberaeron is a picture postcard pretty harbour town, recently voted the 'Best Place in Wales' by the Royal Town Planning Institute.
The graceful lines of Regency architecture of the houses and commercial buildings along the harbour are a distinctive feature. The town and harbour were developed in the early 1800s by a local entrepreneur, the Reverend Alban Jones-Gwynne, who obtained an Act of Parliament to develop one of the first ‘planned’ towns in Wales.
Aberaeron - an architectural gem
Aberaeron is a rare example of a town in Wales that was planned from the outset. The town centre as we know it today was established in 1807 when the Rev Alban Thomas-Jones Gwynne obtained a private Act of Parliament to rebuild the harbour.
The architecture of Aberaeron is unusual in this part of rural Wales, with the Regency style being constructed around the harbour and grouped around a principal square. This is Alban Square, where a number of the town's main events are held each year.
The distinctive colours and render pattern on the houses - not unlike the edge of a postage stamp - were, in fact, featured on the one penny postage stamp in series celebrating British rural architecture.
A short walk or cycle ride along the river Aeron takes you to Llanerchaeron a minor gentry estate, now owned by the National Trust. The villa, designed in the 1790s, is the most complete example of the early work of John Nash, the architect of London's Regent Street and Regent's Park.
Once a busy fishing port which also saw families emigrate to the New World, Aberaeron today is one of Ceredigion's best loved holiday resorts with fashionable places to stay and eat. Aberaeron also has a good selection of independent shops selling crafts, clothes, and great local produce, from the freshest of fish to cheeses straight from the dairy.
Aberaeron is a bit of a foodie town with the Cardigan Bay Seafood Festival held in July on the quayside. It's an unmissable opportunity to taste local seafood and other local produce prepared by local and celebrity chefs along the quayside. For locals and regular visitors, a stroll along the quayside, at any time of the year, is not complete without a portion of fish and chips and some delicious honey ice cream.
August is a great month for events in the town with the annual carnival weekend, a rugby 7s tournament and theannual Welsh Pony and Cob Festival when the best of the breed is celebrated with parades, displays, fun and games. Even the humble mackerel is celebrated with an quirky annual parade and ritual beach 'funeral'.
Sailing plays a major part in the life of the town and the colourful harbour is awash with boats in summer. A series of regattas are organised by the Aberaeron Yacht Club each summer, as is the town's beer festival, and it's not many towns that can boast a tug-of-war competition across the harbour mouth, with the losers inevitably being pulled into the water.
Aberaeron has two beaches - Aberaeron North and Aberaeron South. The Ceredigion section of the Wales Coast Path runs along North beach, leading on to the harbour and, just a short walk though town, you'll find Aberaeron's Seaside Award and Green Coast Award winning beach, rewarded for amongst other things, its cleanliness. From here you can follow the coast path south towards New Quay.
Aberaeron's Tourist Information Centre is located at the far end of the harbour and is open throughout the year and on Sundays too during the summer months and holiday weekends. Drop in for a chat with the staff for ideas and browse the local crafts for sale, and pick up a copy of the free town trail which explains the stories behind the distinctive heritage plaques found on many of the town's buildings.