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Five great things to do in Hay-on-Wye

Whether you’re heading to Hay Festival in May, or simply fancy a trip to this beautiful part of the world, there are loads of things to do in this picturesque market town.

Books, books and more books

Known as the Town of Books, Hay-on-Wye is a paradise for literary enthusiasts. Over 30 specialist bookshops can be found in Hay (that’s one for every 30 inhabitants) so make sure to explore them all. Some of our favourites include Murder and Mayhem which, as its name suggests sells crime, horror and detective fiction. Its shop front is wonderfully – if not a little spookily – decorated and makes for a perfect insta-pic. We also love Hay on Wye Booksellers with its iconic black and white shop in the heart of the historic town, which stocks everything from the latest bestsellers to rare second hand literature.

Bag a vintage bargain

As well as bookshops, there are plenty of boutiques in Hay selling vintage clothes, furniture and other bits ‘n’ bobs. If a day of antique hunting sounds up your street, then make sure to pay a visit to The End (20 Castle Street), which is bursting with 1950s textiles and plenty of other curiosities. The Old Electric Shop on Broad Street is also brimming with marvellous little things as well as bigger pieces of furniture and lighting. Their café serves local seasonal food and tea and coffee, making it the perfect place to take a rest if you’ve worked up an appetite while splashing your cash.

Canoe to your heart’s content

Never been canoeing or kayaking before? Now’s your chance to give it a go. The Wye Valley Canoe centre has a fleet of canoes, kayaks and double kayaks available to rent for a fun day paddling down the river. Whether you’re planning a trip on the water that will last a few hours or a few days, you’ll be sure to enjoy the tranquillity and peace of the countryside surroundings while gliding along the beautiful River Wye with friends and family. Find out more about costs and routes on The Wye Valley Canoe Centre website.

Go for a ramble

Twmpa is a mountain in south-east Wales that lies just over four miles south of Hay-on-Wye. The mountain is also known as Lord Hereford’s knob – oo-er! The best thing about it (other than its bawdy moniker, obvs) – like most mountains and hills – is that it’s free to walk on and there aren’t many things left in life that are free to enjoy, so grab your boots and head outdoors for some fresh air and enjoy the incredible views over the Brecon Beacons National Park and Herefordshire countryside. You can download some walking and cycling routes from here.

Take a horse riding holiday

If the closest you’ve ever come to a horse is at a racecourse with a pint in one hand and a betting slip in the other, know that it’s never too late to learn to ride one yourself. Should you have some money saved aside and you’re keen to extend your stay in Hay-on-Wye by doing something adventurous, check out some of the horse riding holidays available with Freerein Riding Holidays. All riders, old and new, can explore the wilds of Wales and learn how to prepare their horse for the trail – catch, feed, groom and tack up – you’ll be a horse riding pro in no time.

Hereford train station