Sweeping around the curve of Cardigan Bay, the lively university town of Aberystwyth (aber-ist-with) has a stunning location but a bit of an identity crisis. Student bars and cheap restaurants line the streets, and the flashing lights of traditional amusements twinkle from the pier, but tucked away in the side streets is a handful of chichi boutiques and organic, wholefood cafes. During term time the bars are buzzing and students play football on the promenade, while in summer the bucket-and-spade brigade enjoys the beach. Meanwhile, the vestiges of a stately seaside resort can be glimpsed in the terrace of grand Georgian houses painted in subtle pastel hues that line the promenade.
Welsh is widely spoken here and the locals are proud of their heritage. Catching a show at the Arts Centre, hearing the male voice choir perform or simply soaking up the sunset over Cardigan Bay are quintessential experiences.