History and heritage
Standing on a site that has been used for Christian worship since the 6th century, Bangor Cathedral is a feast of gothic columns and stained glass windows. Inside look out for a rare 15th century oak carving known as the Mostyn Christ and also five tiny carved mice – the signature of famous furniture maker Robert Thompson.
With the mountains rising behind it, Penrhyn Castle is a 19th century fantasy pile built for a wealthy industrialist who owned a vast slate quarry here. Inside you’ll find ornate decoration, opulent furnishings and a fine art collection. The extensive gardens are ideal for kids to have adventures - or for just relaxing in the sun.
Read more: National Trust properties in Wales
Bangor Garth Pier
Locals will tell you Garth Pier is the finest surviving Victorian pier in Wales and who’d disagree? A perfect wooden promenade stretching nearly half a kilometre out to sea, it provides spectacular views up and down the strait and across to Anglesey. Pointy roofed kiosks along its length offer refreshments and arts and crafts to browse and buy.
1971 Eisteddfod Gorsedd Stones
Held annually around Wales, the National Eisteddfod is a music and arts festival celebrating all things Welsh. A ring of standing stones which form part of the ceremonies is created at each location. Bangor hosted the Eisteddodd in 1971 and you can walk up to see the stones on the grassy hillside with lovely views across the Menai Strait. It’s a perfect picnic spot and it’s accessible for wheelchair users.
Read more: Discover historic North Wales
Storiel art gallery and museum
The collection at Storiel covers all periods of history from the surrounding area. Furniture, textiles, paintings and quirky curiosities will keep curious kids (and adults too) amused. Look out for the King of Bardsey's crown and a Roman Segontium sword. The art gallery is home to contemporary works by local artists and there’s a café and a shop too.
Pontio performing arts centre
A spectacular art and innovation centre connected with Bangor University, Pontio is home to a cinema, and two theatre spaces. You’ll find plenty happening here – drama, dance, films, music and more – all of it in a sleek, bright, airy new building. There’s a café and bar as well.
Aber Falls Distillery
The passionate team at the Aber Falls distillery create uniquely unusual whiskies, gins and liquors using the crystal waters that feed the famous falls. You can do tours of the distillery, spend time in the visitor centre and even try making your own gin.
Read more: Join the Welsh gin revolution!
SAORImôr weaving and craft centre
Fancy learning to weave? Saori is a uniquely satisfying form of freestyle weaving. There are six looms at SAORImôr and children as well as adults are welcome to come and try. From your two hour taster session, you’ll go home with a colourful, tactile woven piece all of your own. The shop sells yarns, looms and colourful gifts.
Stroll around Roman Camp
Just to make things interesting there is nothing Roman about this site! No one knows quite how it got its name. Bangor Circular Walk is a relatively short walk through leafy woods and across wild scrubland around the area with great views back towards the city and over the Menai Strait with the two famous bridges to Anglesey easy to spot.
Zoom at Zip World Penrhyn Quarry
A short drive from Bangor in a vast old slate quarry you’ll find bucketloads of adrenaline at Zip World Penrhyn Quarry. You’re suspended like Superman on Velocity 2 – zooming above the quarry and lake at speeds of over 100mph. If that sounds a bit full-on, there’s a smaller seated zipline, quarry karting and quarry tours on offer. Blondin restaurant here is also well worth a visit for the food and views alone.
Read more: Zip World's North Wales adventures
Wander in Treborth Botanic Garden
Treborth Botanic Garden is part of the grounds of Bangor University, but anyone can visit. You’ll find peaceful native woodland and meadow, a mature orchard and six different hothouses full of cacti, succulents and orchids. The gardens are open daily, but hothouses only on certain days, so check before you go.
Walk the Snowdonia Slate Trail
Bangor is located within The Slate Landscape of North West Wales UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Snowdonia Slate Trail starts in Bangor. The first section from Bangor to Bethesda is a great introduction to the area’s slate heritage. It’s around 6 miles (10 km) and takes 4 hours. En route you pass Penrhyn Castle, ancient churches, gurgling mill streams and the vast Penrhyn Quarry.
Read more: Inspirational things to do in Bethesda
Spot birds at Spinnies Aberogwen Nature Reserve
A secret spot, Spinnies Aberogwen is a fantastic place for bird watching. A series of tranquil lagoons, clumps of reeds and woodland next to the river estuary and tidal mudflats, it’s a magnet for birdlife. There are three hides here. You might spot kingfishers and herons along with waders and other waterfowl. Pretty Ogwen beach is right here too.
Bike along the Lôn Las Ogwen
Or how about hopping on a bike? Cycle towards Bethesda along the Ogwen Trail and then on to Llyn Ogwen. It’s an easy day ride taking in dramatic views of the valleys of Eryri (Snowdonia) and the slate quarry. The highlight is Llyn Ogwen, a magical glacial lake with mountains rising precipitously around it. The return ride is around 22 miles (35km).
Rest and recharge
Bangor has plenty of accommodation options, ranging from cosy self-catering cottages overlooking the Menai Strait to 4 star bed and breakfasts.
If you're after a real retreat, Tyddyn Sydney Bach is a self-catering cottage just a 10-minute bus ride from Bangor. Set in beautiful gardens, it's an oasis on the edge of the city - perfect for a couple.