Carmarthen is Wales’ oldest town, where ancient, cobbled streets are lined with independent businesses and spectacular countryside is a stone’s throw away.
Carmarthen is the county town of Carmarthenshire. This attractive community nestles on the banks of the River Towy, eight miles away from its mouth, at Carmarthen Bay. The town centre is a wonderful mix of old and new, where you’ll discover ancient Welsh buildings alongside modern, independent shops and eateries.
The countryside surrounding Carmarthen is beautiful. You don’t have to go far from the town centre to discover remote and unspoilt hills, valleys and beaches, where hiking, wildlife-watching and surfing is popular. Don’t miss Llyn y Fan Fach, a dramatic damned lake, surrounded by the towering escarpments of the Carmarthen Fans. If you fancy a day on the beach, head to Pendine Sands, a windswept stretch of sand where four land speed records were set in the 1920s.
Llyn y Fan Fach
Carmarthen is packed with remarkable architecture and historical sites. Look out for the Roman fort and remains of an amphitheatre. Also worth a visit is the mass graveyard at the back of St Catherine Street, where the victims of the Black Death are said to have been buried in the 1300s. The town’s origins can be traced all the way back to pre-Roman times, when its name was Moridumum, meaning ‘Sea Fort’. Today, Carmarthen is an enjoyable and atmospheric place for a wander. Its narrow, cobbled streets are lined with a mix of high street and independent businesses, including some of Carmarthenshire’s best cafes and restaurants.
“Carmarthen is Wales’ oldest town, where ancient, cobbled streets are lined with independent businesses and spectacular countryside is a stone’s throw away.”
For a bite to eat in Carmarthen, try Café at No. 4, a stylish establishment with a reputation for serving tasty dishes, prepared with the region’s finest ingredients. Mains include slow-braised black shin of Welsh beef with caramelised onion, parsnip puree and red wine jus, and grilled fillet of halibut with creamed cauliflower, pine nut and raisin and coriander dressing. Just outside Carmarthen, hidden away in the Towy Valley, you’ll find Y Polyn, a renowned pub and restaurant, specialising in local meat dishes, such as char-grilled Carmarthenshire steak with crispy ox tongue and béarnaise sauce.
The imposing ruins of Carmarthen Castle loom over the town centre. Built by Henry I in the 1100s, the castle was one of the largest and most important in the country, used by English monarchs to control the Welsh. Take a stroll from Nott Square, through the gatehouse to Castle House, from which excellent views of the river can be enjoyed, over the castle walls.