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Holidays in Hay-on-Wye

Hay-on-Wye holidays: a book-lover's paradise in the Brecon Beacons

UK | Wales | Brecon Beacons | Hay-on-Wye
Hay-on-Wye castle

This pretty market town on the banks of the River Wye is home to a world-famous literary festival.

Just inside the Welsh border, surrounded by pleasant countryside, is Hay-on-Wye. During the 1960s, the town became the second-hand book capital of the UK and eventually, the Hay Festival was launched. The annual event draws writers and literary fans from across the globe, and was described by ex-U.S president Bill Clinton as “Woodstock for the mind” during his visit. There’s plenty to do if you’re not a fan of books, though. The narrow streets are full of interesting independent shops, cafes and restaurants and the town is a stone’s throw from some of the region’s most scenic countryside where you can hike, cycle and swim.

Shopping is best taken slowly in Hay-on-Wye, especially if you’re looking for a specific book. There are around 40 bookshops and many of them are second-hand, so you’re bound to find what you’re looking for with enough time and patience. There are also a number of excellent antique shops and galleries to browse on your Hay-on-Wye holiday. One of the best is The End, which is full of unique artworks and antiques.

Every May, the town is transformed for ten days for the world-famous Hay Festival, when thousands of writers, politicians and comedians tell stories and share ideas. The festival is held in a tented village which is free to enter. The price for events within the festival range from £5 to £20.

Memorable countryside

Hay-on-Wye is an excellent base from which to explore the beautiful Brecon Beacons National Park. The Offa’s Dyke Path is a long-distance walking route which roughly follows the Welsh-English border for 177 miles. The path can be easily accessed from Hay-on-Wye, whether you want to take on the whole 12-day trek or just sample a short stretch.

At 2,907 ft, nearby Pen y Fan is South Wales’ highest peak and rewards hikers with some of the region’s most breath-taking views. There’s no better way to explore the River Wye than by drifting on its gentle currents, and a number of companies rent out canoes close to the town centre.

“This pretty market town on the banks of the River Wye is home to a world-famous literary festival.”

There’s no shortage of good places to eat and drink in Hay-on-Wye, whether you’re looking for a cosy pub or a fine dining restaurant. The Three Tuns is a rustic, welcoming pub which dates back to the 16th century. Here you’ll find a roaring fire, well-stocked bar and critically acclaimed food. The Blue Boar is a favourite with locals and a great place to watch the world go by with a pint of local ale. For delicious, fresh dishes in a unique setting, try St. John’s Place.

If you've been inspired to visit this wonderful part of Wales and find a place to stay in Hay, take a look at our Hay-on-Wye cottages for even more great holiday ideas.

While you’re there

Hay-on-Wye Market

Local produce awaits you at this market set amongst the independent shops.

Hay-on-Wye Castle

Take a wander around on Hay-on-Wye's most historic buidling.

Hay Literature Festival

Celebrate some of the world's best writers and the power of ideas at the Hay Literature Festival.

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