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The vibrant market in Abergavenny, Wales
Photograph: Ceri Davies/ShutterstockThe vibrant market in Abergavenny, Wales

17 really good things to do in Abergavenny

Mountains, small-town charm and one of the best food festivals around: these are the best things to do in Abergavenny

Written by
Kate Lloyd
&
John Bills
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The foodie capital of Wales? This charmer makes a compelling argument, and it is no great surprise that many of the best things to do in Abergavenny revolve around eating. We aren’t complaining, grub here is delicious, and visitors routinely find themselves making excuses for extra servings. Don’t fight it, just loosen the belt and get to eating.

Known as the Gateway to Wales, Abergavenny is perfect for hiking, cycling and climbing, brilliant ways to work off the calories. The market is tremendous, and the castle isn’t far behind, making Abergavenny the sort of town that showcases everything that makes wonderful Wales so, erm, wonderful.

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Best things to do in Abergavenny

First up
Photograph: John Bills

First up

Abergavenny isn’t short on quaint café options to kick things off the right way. The secret garden feel of Fig Tree Espresso adds a fairytale element to some of the best brews in town, while the stylish Portico Lounge offers a great range of breakfasts to fuel up ahead of the day. Both are in the heart of Abergavenny, where a thriving high street buzzes with activity from the early hours. This is a market town and mighty proud of it, with Tuesday the big day for traders and producers to bring commerce and conversation to the town’s charming market hall.

Stop for lunch

Abergavenny has cultivated a reputation as one of the best foodie destinations in Wales, thanks largely to its fantastic food festival. That celebration of culinary champions takes place every September, but the town has no shortage of quality eating options year-round. The Hardwick is a fantastic restaurant that is never far from Michelin Guide discussion, while Casa Bianca’s combination of service and location (not to mention excellent Italian dishes) ensures a revolving door all day long. Those looking for something a little lighter can do worse than visit Cwtch, where the cakes come in share sizes.

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Soak up the vibes
Photograph: John Bills

Soak up the vibes

One of the largest parish churches in Wales, St Mary’s Priory is a beacon of serenity in an otherwise bustling market town. The abbey houses an impressive collection of tombs and effigies, while the neighbouring Tithe Barn is a sixteenth-century marvel that offers great insight into the history and culture of the town. Broadleaf Books is across the road from the abbey: it’s a delightful secondhand bookshop that covers a huge range of genres and ticks all the boxes that bookshops should.

Get a culture fix
John Bills

Get a culture fix

Smack bang in the centre of town, Abergavenny Castle is a little different to the roster of imposing castles found around Wales. It is ruined, for a start, but those ruins tell tales of revolution and treason in equal measure. Abergavenny’s town museum is found on the castle grounds and tells the story of Y Fenni from the Bronze Age through to the current day, with a traditional Welsh kitchen and a World War II bomb shelter lurking in the basement. While you’re there, be sure to ask about the chicken that haunts the place…

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Drink like a local
Facebook/The Bridge Inn

Drink like a local

Abergavenny has several decent pubs, but the idyllic location of The Bridge wins out. The clue is in the name; The Bridge is right next to a gorgeous stone bridge over the River Usk, with a spacious beer garden and plenty of pub grub options to fill the stomach. Those looking for a pint in the heart of town can do worse than The King’s Head: an old-fashioned pub and hotel found next door to the market building.

In you only do one thing

Abergavenny is surrounded by lush hills, simply begging to be explored through vigorous hiking or relaxed ambling. Sugar Loaf mountain takes roughly four hours to walk up from the centre of town – via a path that takes you past trickling creeks, forested areas, grassy plains and rocky peaks. The views from the top are rewarding enough, but the route down also takes you past Sugar Loaf Vineyards. Wales isn’t renowned for its wines, but the good folk at Sugar Loaf are doing all they can to change that.

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Wake up here

Guesthouses don’t come much more personable than Deri-Down, found on the outskirts of the town. An old family home converted into a charming little B&B, Deri-Down is the sort of place that welcomes guests into the family from the get-go, combining a ‘can’t do enough for you’ vibe with comfortable beds and faultless facilities. There are only three rooms too, adding to the special aura of the place. 

Hereford Road, Mardy, Abergavenny. From £85 per night

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