The town's historic centre lies about a kilometre from the beach, around the church of St Cadfan's.In the second half of the 19th century the town expanded considerably, mainly towards the sea.The place-name element tywyn is found in many other parts of Wales, most notably Towyn near Abergele.
In 1921 the Tywyn and Waunfawr stations initiated a transatlantic wireless telegraph service with a similar RCA wireless transmitting station in New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA and RCA's receiver station in Belmar, New Jersey.
Improved transport links during the 19th century increased Tywyn's appeal as a tourist destination.
During the early decades of the century, a creek of the river Dysynni allowed ships to approach the town's northern fringes, where a shipbuilding yard was to be found.
The draining of the salt marsh and the channeling of the river brought this industry to an end but during the early part of the century the town was made more accessible by building new roads along the coast to Aberdyfi and Llwyngwril.
The railway arrived in the mid-1860s (firstly as the Aberystwith and Welsh Coast Railway, then as Cambrian Railways), and had a significant effect on the town. The station is still open, and is served by the Cambrian Line.