Embarking on a North Wales road trip is an adventure like no other. As you venture into this region, you’ll discover the majestic Snowdonia National Park, where the best hikes in Snowdonia await. Continuing your journey, Llandudno beckons with its charming attractions like the Great Orme and Llandudno Pier, not to mention the inviting Llandudno beach that invites relaxation. Further east, Llangollen boasts its own set of attractions, including the iconic Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and the quaint Froncysyllte village. Along the way, you’ll encounter numerous family-friendly activities, making it an ideal destination for all ages.
Don’t forget to savor the scenic drives through the picturesque Welsh countryside. To make the most of your North Wales adventure, we’ve gathered essential travel tips to ensure your trip is unforgettable. So, pack your bags, hit the road, and immerse yourself in the wonders of North Wales, where every corner promises a new adventure and memories to treasure.
North Wales: Land of Legends and Landscapes
North Wales has been on my travel radar for some time mainly because of Snowdonia. I didn’t just want to visit the place for the sake of it but rather drive through and explore the area. This delayed my plan for several months until I found a long weekend which provided me an opportunity to have a break with my family from my job in London.
Eryri National Park (Snowdonia)
Our journey began with a visit to Snowdonia, known for its rugged terrain and towering peaks. Snowdonia, situated in northwest Wales, centers around the mountains and glacial formations within the vast Snowdonia National Park. With over 100 lakes and craggy peaks such as Cader Idris and Tryfan, the park boasts an extensive network of trails making it a paradise for hiking enthusiasts of all levels.
The region is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts, offering activities like hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, and mountain biking.
This picturesque region of the United Kingdom is a treasure trove of natural beauty, history, and culture and is famous for its breathtaking landscape, mountains, and wildlife. Situated on the West Coast of Britain, Snowdonia or Eryri National Park is the largest National Park in Wales, covering 823 square miles of beautiful landscape.
Snowdonia National Park: A Natural Wonder in Wales
While Snowdonia enjoys global recognition, the indigenous population has a preference for using its Welsh name, Eryri, which translates to ‘home of the eagle.’
Welsh, one of the oldest languages in Europe, is widely spoken in Snowdonia, and the area has a strong cultural identity, preserving Welsh traditions. The name “Snowdon” however comes from Old English “snāw” (snow) and “dūn” (hill), meaning “snow hill”. The name “Snowdonia” is derived from the mountain’s name.
After exploring Lake Llyn Ogwen and taking numerous walks in the surrounding area, we spent the night at a local B&B before driving to our next seaside destination.
Our next stop was the charming coastal town of Llandudno. Nestled between the Great Orme and Little Orme headlands, it boasts a unique charm with its two waterfronts, the North Shore and the West Shore, flanked by the Irish Sea and the River Conwy estuary.
Llandudno is known for its Victorian architecture, almost two miles long promenade, 19th-century pier, and the Great Orme limestone headland.
We spent the morning exploring the town, strolling along the promenade, enjoying the beach, and spending some time on the pier. In the afternoon, we hopped on a tram to the Great Orme summit complex. The Great Orme Tramway, in operation since 1902, stands as Great Britain‘s sole cable-operated street tramway and one of the few still in existence in the world.
The Great Orme Tramway in Llandudno is an impressive historical relic, standing as one of just three remaining cable-hauled street tramways worldwide.
The other two can be found in San Francisco, USA, and Lisbon, Portugal.
Upon reaching the summit, you can engage in various activities while relishing the stunning 360-degree views of the surrounding area. On clear days, you can even spot Winter Hill, the Isle of Man, and the Lake District from the top.
Llandudno Travel Guide: Exploring the Gem of North Wales
As a family of four with two kids, we found that the most enjoyable activity besides exploring the summit was taking a ride on the Llandudno Cable Car. Spanning just over a mile with a total height of 679 feet, it runs along the Great Orme. Gliding silently from the top to the Happy Valley, we were able to take in the breathtaking panoramic views of the Llandudno Bay, the Little Orme (a nature reserve to the east), the Conwy Estuary, and the Irish Sea. It was so much fun that I’d recommend getting a return ticket.
The Great Orme cable cars are the UK’s longest, covering a one-mile route from the Great Orme summit to Happy Valley.
Built-in 1878, Llandudno Pier stretches 2,295 feet into the sea, making it Wales’ longest pier.
Historically, Llandudno has had 3 piers. The first pier, constructed in 1858 farther down the North Shore, lasted just 19 years before the current one replaced it. Similarly, the third pier on West Shore was briefly operational before abandonment and eventual submersion in the sea.
Llandudno Bay is known for hosting over 30 shipwrecks due to its challenging location, among other attractions.
Things don’t always go as planned!
We planned to visit the summit of Mount Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa), Wales’s highest mountain, after exploring Llandudno. Unfortunately, heavy rain and summit weather conditions led to the cancellation of the train service when we arrived at Llanberis the next day. Rain is a constant in the UK, and it often dictates daily life. Typically, trains depart regularly from Llanberis Station for the summit, offering one of the most scenic railway journeys in the world.
As we left Llanberis and headed towards Holyhead, the weather had other plans for us. It was extremely windy and rainy and the whole town appeared deserted. Holyhead otherwise a lovely town was painting a perfect picture of the quintessential UK weather which resulted in an immediate detour.
On our way back home to Langley, we made a brief stop at the charming town of Llangollen. Nestled along the River Dee, it is a town steeped in history and culture. Just a stone’s throw from Llangollen lies the village of Froncysyllte. It boasts one of the world’s highest and longest Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
While standing on the aqueduct, I marveled at engineering elevating canal boats above the river. Constructed over two centuries ago, this remarkable structure is a true testament to engineering prowess. Visitors can take a canal boat ride across the aqueduct or enjoy the breathtaking view from the high vantage point.
North Wales Adventures: Discovering the Best of this Scenic Region
Embarking on a North Wales road trip is an adventure like no other. During our three-day trip exploring North Wales, I couldn’t help but marvel at the region’s natural beauty. From the rugged peaks of Snowdonia to the picturesque coastline along the Irish Sea, and from Great Orme to the serene waters of the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, this region offers an array of experiences for travelers of all interests. Our road trip through North Wales was nothing short of spectacular, providing a chance to fully immerse ourselves in nature, and create unforgettable memories. If you’re in the UK and seeking a family adventure that combines breathtaking landscapes with cultural exploration, North Wales should be at the top of your list.
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