North Wales offers so much for visitors that sometimes it’s hard to know where to start, so to help you here are our Seven Wonders of North Wales that are worth a visit:
Whether you’re a walker or not, a trip up Snowdon is a right of passage. Wales’ largest mountain stands at 3,560ft and the journey through the winding roads immerses you in the heart of the breathtaking mountainous terrain. To scale the summit you have a choice of going by foot on the many routes or taking the Snowdon Mountain Railway, which is Britain’s highest Rack Railway. Either way the views from the summit are worth it as on a clear day you can see as far as the Wicklow Mountains in Ireland and the Isle of Man.
Conwy is a World Heritage Site and as well as having a medieval Castle, the town is full of things and places to discover. Conwy Castle was built by Edward I in the 1280s and is often described as one of the finest surviving castles in the UK. It has two imposing gatehouses, soaring curtain walls and eight enormous round towers as well as plenty to uncover once you’re inside. The castle is part of the fortified walls around town which at three-quarters of a mile long and with 22 towers are worth walking. Step down from the walls and you’re in the heart of the town with cobbled streets and plenty of nooks and crannies, as well as a revolutionary Suspension Bridge built by Thomas Telford in 1826 with supporting towers to match the castle’s turrets; the finest Edwardian townhouse of Plas Mawr, and Britain’s Smallest House which measures just 72 inches across, 122 inches high and 120 inches deep and yet has a bedroom and a living area!
3. Bodnant Garden
Whether the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the 7 ancient wonders of the world existed or not, Bodnant Garden is most definitely a fine competitor and a truly spectacular place to visit. The world famous garden is on an 80 acre site and boasts sweeping lawns, grand flower-filled terraces, verdant woodland and awe-inspiring dells of water gardens. You’ll also find its infamous Laburnum Arch, Blue Poppies from the Himalayas, the Fire Bush of the Andes and Wales’ largest collection of UK Champion Trees. Whatever time of year you visit, Bodnant Garden is a spectacle to behold.
4. Great Orme
Llandudno’s Great Orme is a spectacular limestone promontory which rises 679 feet above sea level. It’s a nature reserve and Country Park and because of its fascinating geology, archaeology, wildlife and history it also has a number of protective designations including Special Area of Conservation, Heritage Coast and Site of Special Scientific Interest. It’s also home to one of the most astounding archaeological discoveries of recent times Llandudno’s Great Orme Bronze Age Copper Mines which are thought to be the largest prehistoric mine discovered in the world. Enjoy a trip on the Llandudno Cable Car, Britain’s longest cable car lift or the Great Orme Tramway, Britain’s only cable-hauled street Tramway to the summit.
5. Whistler Painting
The National Trust property, Plas Newydd on Anglesey is home to one of the most famous and largest landscape murals in Britain painted by the renowned artist Rex Whistler. This incredible work of art measures 58 feet long and as it’s a fantasy landscape we highly recommend joining one of the guides to learn more about the many fascinating and well-hidden elements and the tricks of perspective. These include the similarity of Snowdonia in the mountains but look back when you reach the end of the mural and the mountains have changed to those of the Italian coast, and the fact that Whistler painted a part-smoked cigarette on the stone steps that he said he would finish smoking when he returned from the war but sadly he never made it back. There is plenty more to see and do at Plas Newydd, and no visit would be complete without taking a very small detour (5 minutes) to the station of Llanfair PG or to give it it’s full name Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch which means St Mary’s Church in the hollow of white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the church of Saint Tysilio near the red cave - the longest name of any town in Europe.
As you drive on and off the island of Anglesey, you’ll also be going over one of two feats of engineering. If you approach from the A55 you’ll go over Britannia Bridge which was designed and built by Robert Stephenson in 1850, and we recommend after visiting Plas Newydd you head into Menai Bridge and take the Menai Suspension Bridge over to the mainland. This bridge was designed by Thomas Telford and completed in 1826 and it links back up to the A55.
6. Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is a Grade I Listed Building and World Heritage Site is not only the oldest navigable aqueduct in Britain but it’s also the highest in the world, and the 18-arched stone and cast iron structure took 10 years to design and build and was completed in 1805, and is recognised as one of the first major feats of civil engineering undertaken by Thomas Telford. The aqueduct carries the Llangollen Canal across the River Dee in North East Wales and the best way to experience it is to hire a self-steer narrow boat for the day which is a perfect day out for a family or group of friends up to a max of 10 people, or if you’d prefer for someone else to be captain then you can enjoy a horse-drawn boat trip.
The picturesque Italian coastal village of Portmeirion was designed by Sir Clough William-Ellis. Oozing with Mediterranean atmosphere, it’s a pleasurable day out wandering through the town or enjoying one of the many woodland and coastal walks around the 70 acre site. The village is famous for being the location of the film The Prisoner starring Patrick McGoohan, and also the place Noel Coward wrote Blithe Spirit, but it also inspired Jools Holland to have his studio and other buildings at his home built to a design heavily following Portmeirion, and is now well known for its Festival Number 6, a boutique event with performers, writers and musicians held every September.
As well as these seven wonders there are many others – whether natural or manmade – that are worth exploring, so why not take advantage of one of our special offers – giving you the time to roam the region and have a voyage of discovery.