Things To Do In New Quay Wales
Discover one of the most beautiful seaside resorts in Wales as we explore the best 20 things to do in New Quay Wales in our guide below.
Rows of pastel-painted houses line the hills, and three gorgeous sandy beaches command wonderful views up the Mid Wales coast. It’s one of the smaller Welsh coastal towns, but there are more than enough things to do in New Quay Wales to lure you in and leave you truly enchanted with the place.
The timeless pleasures of the Welsh seaside are here in abundance. They all come together – beaches, coastal walks, boat trips, dolphin spotting – in one of the most appealing packages anywhere on the 870 miles (1400 km) of Welsh coastline. New Quay draws many visitors back again and again, and that includes us, going back almost 30 years.
Our New Quay guide shows you around the charming seaside town and its beaches, and we also suggest trips up the coast towards Aberystwyth and beyond, south-west towards Cardigan and Pembrokeshire, and inland towards the wild scenery of the remote Cambrian Mountains.
Things to Do In New Quay Wales – An Introduction
New Quay Wales – Cei Newydd in Welsh – is a small seaside town on the West Wales coast, halfway between Aberystwyth and Cardigan
It’s home to four Cardigan Bay beaches, two of which are next to the town centre
New Quay is incredibly picturesque, with its terraces of brightly-painted houses stretching along the hills above the beaches
It is the departure point for spotting dolphins in Wales, with regular New Quay boat trips taking visitors south-west along the coast
New Quay is also believed to be the inspiration for Dylan Thomas’ play for voices, Under Milk Wood, with the fictional village of Llareggub partly based on New Quay
It’s very popular with visitors from Wales and the English Midlands, and caravan parks account for a large portion of New Quay accommodation
Don’t confuse New Quay Wales with Newquay Cornwall – the Welsh New Quay is a lot smaller, so are its beaches, it’s written as two words rather than one
New Quay in Wales is (dare I say it) a little more picturesque than its Cornish namesake, but Newquay in Cornwall is more of a surfing destination – and it has its own airport
Things To Do in New Quay Wales
New Quay Harbour
One of the first things to do in New Quay Wales is to head for the harbour, the heart and hub of this small town.
Walk along the harbour wall, with views north up Cardigan Bay in one direction and back to Harbour Beach in the other. In season (late April to September) the harbour is a wonderful sight, full of small pleasure boats, with the long streets of colourful painted houses on the steep hillside behind.
The harbour is often busy with fishing boats, and you’ll usually see stacks of crab and lobster pots piled up against the sheds on the harbour wall. New Quay harbour is also the departure point for most boat trips to see the famous New Quay dolphins, who frequent the nearby Ceredigion coastline.
Harbour Beach New Quay
Spending an hour or two relaxing on Harbour Beach is another of our favourite things to do in New Quay Wales. It’s a gorgeous beach with soft golden sand, best appreciated in the warmer months when you can expect boats in the harbour. It’s also sheltered from the prevailing south-westerlies, so the water is mostly calm, ideal for kids to have a paddle.
It’s a gorgeous place to linger for a while, and the view from it is as fine as the view of it from the harbour wall. It’s also very close to all amenities, and you can enjoy fish and chips on the beach. And there’s no better way to spend a British summer day.
Dolau Beach is the smaller, quieter New Quay beach, just the other side of the harbour, no more than two minutes’ walk away. This lovely curve of fine sand is no more than 50 metres end to end but in several visits, mostly on busy summer weekends, it always seems to have plenty of space. Unlike at Harbour beach, dogs are allowed.
Traeth Gwyn Beach
Traeth Gwyn – whose name means ‘white beach’ is where you should head if you’re looking for things to do in New Quay Wales with dogs. This long curve of sand stretches over a mile from the edge of town to the tiny church at Llanina, just across the bay, and at low tide there’s lots of space for dogs to frolic and run for hours. The vast Haven Quay West Holiday Park sits just above the beach, along whose length you can amble at low tide.
Fish and Chips at The Lime Crab
From Barmouth to Barry Island, Tenby to Tywyn and indeed Llandudno to Llangrannog, fish and chips by the beach is an essential part of the Welsh seaside experience. And New Quay has several options, only one of which I can personally vouch for – the Lime Crab.
It’s a small take-away with the giveaway long line of customers outside. And with good reason – they serve some of the best fish and chips (pysgod a sglodion) we’ve encountered anywhere in the UK. The batter on the fish is exactly as it should be, crisp and light, and the chips are cooked just a little longer than at many chippies, veering towards golden brown. Perfection.
They also serve a seafood platter and a great range of other seafood treats including calamari, which you don’t always see on the menu. The food is so worth the wait – then walk 50 metres or so in either direction to one of the beaches,and enjoy. One of the best things to do in Wales.
Discover 18 more Welsh dishes in our Welsh Food guide
Dylan Thomas Trail
The Dylan Thomas New Quay connection is very strong, with the poet and writer having lived there for around six months between 1944 and 1945.
He lived in a bungalow called Majoda – which he described as a ‘wood and asbestos pagoda’, albeit one with magnificent views of Cardigan Bay. The original bungalow has been replaced by a more modern one, though in 2007 a replica of the original was built on adjacent land as part of the set of The Edge of Love, part of which was set and filmed in New Quay. this film slightly embellishes Thomas’ relationship entanglements, with focus on his wife Caitlin and first lover, Vera.
The Dylan Thomas trail around New Quay takes you around some of his old haunts, including the Blue Bell pub. It’s likely that New Quay was at least partly the inspiration for Llareggub, the village where his play for voices Under Milk Wood was set. The village’s name may look Welsh with its characteristic double-l, however written backwards it reads ‘bugger all’. A house in the town – pictured above – is named after it.
Black Lion Pub
The Black Lion Hotel is a grand Georgian building at the top of the hill, and it’s one of the best places to stay in New Quay Wales. It has some superb spacious rooms, some overlooking Cardigan Bay. The terraced beer garden is another great place to while away a few hours on a summer evening, with those awesome views up the coast, where you can sometimes make out some of the greatest landmarks in Wales – the peaks of Snowdonia – in clear weather. Very good bar meals too.
Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Centre
Before venturing out dolphin watching in Cardigan Bay, it’s well worth a brief visit to the small Marine Wildlife Centre just above the Harbour Beach.
There is a small aquarium of smaller sea creatures you wouldn’t get to see on a Cardigan Bay boat trip, and also lots of information about the bottlenose dolphins and also porpoises and Atlantic grey seals which have also made these waters and coastline their home, and which are regularly spotted on dolphin watching Cardigan Bay trips.
Dolphin Watching Boat Trips
Dolphin watching in Cardigan Bay is one of the main things to do near New Quay Wales. Bottlenose dolphins can frequently be seen in the waters of Cardigan Bay, usually a few miles around the headland to the west of New Quay.
New Quay is the best place for dolphin watching in Wales, with a resident population of over 200 dolphins usually in the area between Cardigan Island to the south and New Quay to the north. Summer is the optimum time for seeing them, usually in the waters around New Quay.
Several operators run dolphin watching Cardigan Bay boat trips along the coast. The longer you spend aboard, the greater your chances of seeing dolphins – so the one-hour trips have a 50% success rate for seeing them, while the 2-hour dolphins New Quay cruises give you an 80-90% chance of seeing them.
The New Quay dolphin boat trips cost in the region of 25 GBP per person per hour, so the 2-hour trip usually works out at around 50 GBP per head.
Things to do in New Quay Wales – Around the Town
Cwmtydu and Ceredigion Coast Path
New Quay is the starting point for possibly the best walk on the Wales Coast Path in Ceredigion.
The first part of the walk takes in dramatic folded cliffs, eventually reaching tiny Cwmtydu, a remote cove believed to have been used many times by smugglers. It then passes Llangrannog (see below), before continuing past several superb beaches, eventually taking you to the quiet coastal village of Aberporth.
The New Quay to Aberporth walk is 13 miles – 22 km – long, and is packed with climbs and descents. The T5 bus helpfully links Aberporth and New Quay, so you can walk one way and bus it back to base.
The coastline around the village of Llangrannog offers one of the best family days out in Wales with two sublime beaches – one of which is accessible at high tide – and some outstanding coastal walking, either north towards Ynys Lochtyn headland and south towards Tresaith and Aberporth.
Many Welsh people know the area well as it’s the long-term home of the Urdd, a Welsh-language youth organization, who hold seasonal camps there.
Aberaeron is only four miles up the coast and shares New Quay’s penchant for pastel shades and vivid colours, but they are quite different in feel.
Aberaeron is Wales’ first planned town, built as a small port and shipbuilding hub, and with it came wealth, reflected in the many Georgian houses around Alban Square and the Harbour, one of the most picturesque in Wales.
The town has two pebble beaches, one either side of the estuary. The Harbour or beaches are great places to sit with an ice cream on a summer’s evening, and the Harbourmaster Hotel has also served consistently excellent food for over twenty years.
The chances are you’ll pass through part of the Cambrian Mountains en route to New Quay, and seeking out some of their wilder parts is a wonderful way to spend some of your days out in Mid Wales.
The country town of Tregaron is a great place to start, partly as it’s the end point of the Abergwesyn Pass, a slow, steep, narrow, winding 20-mile scenic epic drive best done without your caravan in tow,
Another short drive from New Quay takes you to the ruins of serene Strata Florida Abbey and on to the Teifi Pools, remote series of lakes in the wild uplands of what is often called the ‘Green Desert of Wales’.
Love Welsh landscapes? Check out our guide to 22 of the most beautiful landscapes in Wales
The university town of Aberystwyth is one of the best places to visit in Wales, an unexpected mecca of minority cultures with two beaches sandwiched between two steep headlands.
The wide promenade of North Beach is lined with flags of regions and nationalities from Sardinia to the Basque Country and more, and you can explore the beaches and Pier and admire the stunning Gothic Revival Old College, or the view across Cardigan Bay which occasionally reveals Bardsey Island on the horizon.
Aber is a metropolis in comparison with anywhere else within 50 miles or more, and there are more places to eat (try the Ultracomida delicatessen) to choose from than anywhere else on the Mid Wales coast. It’s a place that can really get under your skin, as evidenced by the many students who stay on there for good.
Mwnt is one of the most popular beaches in Cardigan Bay, a small sandy cove backed by a cliff with a simple, beautiful whitewashed stone church just above. It’s in isolated countryside around 5 miles (8 km) north of Cardigan. Driving is the easiest way to get there, but the 552 coastal bus also goes there twice a day from New Quay.
Aberporth, 15 miles (25 km) down the coast towards Cardigan and Pembrokeshire, is a wonderful seaside village with headlands either side of a broad golden estuary beach. It’s much smaller and more low-key than New Quay, but with a couple of cafes and beach bars catering for visitors.
Combine a couple of hours or soon the beach with a walk along the Ceredigion Coast Path to nearby Tresaith beach for one of the most enjoyable days out in West Wales you could find.
Welsh Wildlife Centre, Cilgerran
This small wildlife centre in the Teifi Marshes near Cardigan is one of the best places to visit near New Quay with kids. The wetland area is ideal for birdwatching, with otters, kingfishers and tawny owls among many resident species. The largest creatures you’ll see are the water buffalo.
There is also a willow maze and adventure playground, and a fine glasshouse visitor centre with a café. If you’re visiting from New Quay, you could easily fit in Cilgerran Castle, Cardigan or Mwnt Beach on the same day.
Cardigan Castle dates back around 900 years, but is the newest castle in Wales in one sense – it’s only been possible to visit it over the last five years or so. Prior to that it was in private ownership for many years, its medieval outer walls propped up by buttresses for decades.
The Castle – the birthplace of Wales’ most important cultural festival, the Eisteddfod – has since been restored and re-opened. It’s not the most compelling fortress you’ll ever see, but the grounds are a delight, with a Georgian mansion (where you can stay) and Regency-era gardens.
If you want your castles a bit more military in appearance, head a few miles up the River Teifi – one of the loveliest rivers in Wales, to stout and sturdy Cilgerran, one of several highly impressive Pembrokeshire Castles.
St Dogmaels Abbey
St Dogmaels – Llandudoch in Welsh – is one of the hidden gems of Wales. Just across the river from Cardigan (Aberteifi), it’s a beautiful small village centred around the 12th century and later ruins of an abbey church and complex.
The Abbey probably dates back to the 6th century, the Golden Age of Celtic Christianity, and was likely founded by St Dogmael himself. The Abbey was home to members of the Norman Tironensian Order, and remained in operation until Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536.
Follow further in the footsteps of the Welsh saints in our guide to Things To Do In St Davids Wales
Getting to New Quay Wales
New Quay isn’t the easiest place in Wales to reach by public transport, though it’s straightforward by car. It’s around a 2-hour drive from Cardiff via Carmarthen and Lampeter, or an hour and 20 minutes from Swansea, joining the same route.
The Ceredigion coast bus service, the T5, is very good, with hourly services between Aberystwyth and Cardigan and services from Aberystwyth to Haverfordwest run every two hours, Mondays to Saturdays. If you’re not driving, the main challenge is getting to the Cardigan Bay coastline in the first place.
The train network in Wales is limited, and the nearest it gets to New Quay is Aberystwyth, 20 miles (32 km) up the coast. If you’re travelling from the Midlands in England, you can catch the train from Shrewsbury to Aberystwyth (every two hours except Sundays), then take the scenic T5 bus down the coast to New Quay. The Transport for Wales website has up-to-date timetable and fare information.
A lifeline exists in the form of the once-daily Cardiff to Aberaeron bus, which takes you within five miles 8km of New Quay, Ceredigion. Change there for the short ride on the T5 along the coast to New Quay.