When I was planning my trip to Wales, I found myself sorting through a lot of forum posts and other random comments to figure out where the best places to visit were. Though my trip wasn’t long enough to create an extensive list of destinations in North Wales, here are the stops I think it’s most important to hit.
A tiny, charming tourist town nestled in the hills of northeast Wales on the banks of the River Dee, Llangollen is full of things to see and do.
After perusing the gift shops, cafes, and the Llangollen Museum at the town centre, cross the bridge to the Llangollen Railway Station, where you can ride a heritage steam train through the Dee Valley. The train seems to be open February through October, with a few events here and there during the off-season.
Nearby is the Llangollen Wharf, where you can visit the tea room or ride in a horse-drawn riverboat. The two-hour boat trip option brings you to the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, a towering iron structure built during the British Industrial Revolution in the early nineteenth century.
If you prefer to walk, it’s a five-mile hike along the hilly Panorama Walk path to get from Llangollen to the aqueduct.
Below the Panorama Walk in the other direction are the ruins of Castell Dinas Brân, which is a beautiful country walk from the town centre and then up a very steep hill. The views, especially at sunset, are stunning.
How to get there: Take a train to Ruabon, and then catch the bus to Llangollen.
This cozy town is the quintessential North Wales stop because of its easy access to Mount Snowdon, the tallest mountain in Wales and the jewel of Snowdonia National Park.
If you plan to climb Mount Snowdon, be prepared for a three-hour hike each way. Start on the Llanberis Path, which winds slowly up around the mountain. There are some steep areas, but for the most part it is very manageable. I had the company of a number of other hikers when I went on a very blustery Christmas Eve. I’ve heard the views from the top of the mountain are incredible; the ones I saw from farther down were very beautiful, but the higher I went, the foggier it got.
Don’t feel like hiking? If you visit between March and October, you can take the Snowdon Railway up the mountain. The website recommends prebooking as tickets sell quickly.
Back in town, wander along the lake shore or take a train journey on the Llanberis Lake Railway. Walk along the colorful High Street. Stop in for a sample at the Snowdon Honey Farm and Winery, visit the Mountain Art shop, and grab a slice of carrot cake at Pete’s Eats. Other sights to see in Llanberis include the Dolbadarn fort ruins, the National Slate Museum, and the child-friendly Electric Mountain visitor centre.
How to get there: Take the train or bus to Bangor, then bus to Llanberis.
Conwy, which sits right where River Conwy meets the sea, is one of the more well-known cities in North Wales. This quaint city houses a lively High Street and picturesque castle walls. You can see a few historic homes, such as the Aberconwy House (and its very nice National Trust gift shop) and the Plas Mawr Town House, as well as the city’s guildhall and St. Mary and All Saint’s church.
Down at the quay, visit the “Smallest House in Great Britain.”
Conwy is also situated near a lot of green, beautiful countryside, perfect for long walks, and it’s a short train ride from other pretty seaside towns like Llandudno and Colwyn Bay.
How to get there: It is easy to get to Conwy by train.
Pronunciation: something like BET-oos-ee-CO-ed; just give it your best shot
I didn’t make it here during my trip, but it was on my original list of places I wanted to see. Known as the “Gateway to Snowdonia” for its location at the edge of Snowdonia National Park, Betws-y-Coed is also near Gwydir Forest Park. The pictures I’ve seen of the town are reminiscent to me of Llanberis, with its river views and plentiful scenic hiking.
How to get there: By train.
I loved North Wales so much. The mountains and countryside are beautiful, and the towns are more low-key/less touristy than a lot of the places I visited in England. I cannot wait to return and explore more of Wales.
What are your favorite destinations in Wales, or where would you most like to visit there?
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