This prosperous, picturesque, flower-bedecked village on the Abergavenny–Brecon road is named after the distinctive flat-topped Crug Hywel (Hywel's Rock; 451m), better known as Table Mountain, which rises to the north. You can make a steep but satisfying hike to the impressive remains of an Iron Age fort at the top (3 miles round trip); the tourist office, which incorporates the attractive Oriel Gallery, has a leaflet showing the route.
There's not a lot to see in Crickhowell itself, but it's a pleasant place for an overnight stop. Every Friday and Saturday there's an arts and craft market held in the old market hall; the building also houses the high-ceilinged Courtroom Café.
The town grew up around the Norman motte (mound) and bailey castle and the nearby ford on the River Usk. All that remains of the castle is a few tumbledown towers, and the ford was superseded by an elegant 17th-century stone bridge, leading to the neighbouring village of Llangattock; it's famous for having 12 arches on one side, and 13 on the other. Try counting them from the riverside beer garden at the Bridge End Inn. The inn serves a range of real ales, including Hancocks and Speckled Hen, and inside it's all timber beams and angling paraphernalia.
The best of several eateries in the town centre is the Bear Hotel, a fine old coaching inn with low-ceilinged rooms, stone fireplaces, blackened timber beams and antique furniture. The menu (mains £9 to £19) ranges from hearty, meaty country fare (roast venison; slow-roasted pork belly) to more exotic dishes (Moroccan lemon chicken; salmon marinated in chilli, lime and coriander).
One of South Wales' gastronomic pioneers, the 16th-century Nantyffin Cider Mill uses local produce to create simple, unfussy dishes that allow the quality of the ingredients to shine through. The dining room is set around the original 19th-century cider press. The Nantyffin is 1 mile northwest of Crickhowell on the A40, at the turning for Tretower Castle.
Staged in late August in Glanusk Park, 2 miles west of Crickhowell via the B4558, Green Man sits proudly at the forefront of Britain's summer music festival circuit as an event with a strong green ethos that caters well for children and people with disabilities. Yet that would all count for naught if the line-up wasn't any good, and here's where Green Man excels. Despite its relatively small size (around 10,000 people) it consistently attracts the current 'it' bands of the alternative music firmament – acts like Animal Collective, Joanna Newsom, Flaming Lips and Wilco, and dead-set legends such as Jarvis Cocker and Robert Plant. Unsurprisingly, it sells out early. Tickets include the weekend's camping.