The North Wales coast has good transport links with England via the coastal A55 Expressway which leads over the Menai Strait and across Anglesey, the largest island in England and Wales.

Major towns east to west along the coast are the holiday resorts of Prestatyn, Rhyl and Llandudno. The University town of Bangor sits at the west on the mainland and the port of Holyhead with ferries to Ireland is at the far side of Anglesey.

Wrexham in the north east is a city with an industrial history and the hills and mountains begin west of this, with the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Included in this designation is the riverside town of Llangollen which also sits on a length of canal awarded World Heritage Status for past industrial heritage and engineering innovation.

South and west is Snowdonia - Wales’ largest National Park with 823 square miles (2,130 sq km) of mountains, forests and lakes. As well as the inland villages of Beddgelert, Betws-y-Coed and others, there are seaside towns such as Pwllheli and Criccieth on the Llŷn Peninsula. On the coast, there are old quarrying or port towns, now more focused on the tourist trade, including Llanberis and Porthmadog. The walled towns of Edward 1 which surround Caernarfon Castle, Beaumaris Castle, Harlech Castle and Conwy Castle have UNESCO World Heritage Status.

The region has a variety of other historic sites, from stone-age burial chambers to 19th century industrial heritage sites and stately homes. In fact North Wales has three UNESCO World Heritage sites - Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd (Beaumaris, Conwy, Caernarfon & Harlech); Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal; and the Slate Landscape of North West WalesMost itineraries to North Wales try to incorporate a ride on a narrow gauge railway and a visit to a castle.

The region has a justifiable reputation for adventure and outdoor activities from mountain hiking, biking and climbing to river, lake and sea sports.

Places to include in a group visit to North Wales

1. Conwy Castle

Construction on Conwy Castle and town walls started in March 1283 and was completed within four and a half years. A climb to the top of one of the towers provides views of this estuary town. The roofless castle has the most complete surviving set of royal apartments, as well as a model of the town and exhibition. 

Most of the ¾ mile (1.5 km) town walls are walkable and accessible during castle opening hours.

Group visit information:

  • coach drop-off point, though coaches have to leave the town to park. There is a large car park (charged) at Morfa Bach car park (300 metres from town), note castle arch to the car park prohibits high sided executive coaches. Alternative coach parking is at Builder Street, Llandudno;
  • Travel Trade rates available - Cadw’s Tour Operator Scheme;
  • gift shop;
  • toilet facilities;
  • time needed – 1hr.
An aerial shot of a castle with a road and railway line running past it.

Conwy Castle

2. Bodnant Garden, Tal-y-Cafn, near Conwy

The world famous Bodnant Garden has been created over a period of 150 years, with plants collected and brought to Britain from far afield. The Laburnum Arch flowers in late May, a great time to visit, but there is plenty of interest whatever time of year. There is even a winter garden.

Group visit information:

  • coach parking;
  • group rates available;
  • meet and greet available if pre-booked;
  • shops, including specialist craft shops;
  • restaurant and café;
  • toilet facilities;
  • time needed – at least 2hr.
The sun shining down on a lake with weeping willow framing the shot.

Bodnant Garden

3. Penrhyn Castle and Garden, Bangor

In contrast to the more famous medieval castles of Edward 1, Penrhyn Castle is largely a Victorian imagining of what a medieval castle should look like, but with the addition of a grand staircase and central heating. Built with the profits from the local slate quarries, it is lavishly furnished and has extensive grounds and a railway exhibition.

Group visit information:

  • coach parking;
  • group rates available;
  • café;
  • gift shop;
  • toilet facilities;
  • time needed – 2hr for house and garden.

4. Industrial heritage

UNESCO has awarded the North West Wales slate landscape World Heritage Status because the slate industry had an overwhelming importance in shaping North Wales’ social and economic landscape and its influence across the world. There are sites interpreting this history, including slate splitting demonstration and exhibitions at the National Slate Museum at Llanberis.

Group visit information:

  • coach parking;
  • free entry, group advance booking essential;
  • café;
  • toilet facilities;
  • time needed – 1hr

At Llechwedd, there are deep mine underground tours guided by a former miner. There are also above ground tours in a Quarry Explorer vehicle. Each truck carry 20 people.

Group visit information:

  • coach parking;
  • group rates available;
  • café and pub;
  • gift shop;
  • toilet facilities;
  • time needed – the Deep Mine Tour lasts 1hr 25min with a 15min slate splitting demonstration at the end. The Quarry Explorer tours take up to 1hr 30min. Arrival is required 30min prior for both.

Inigo Jones Slate Works, near Caernarfon, offers a self-guided behind the scene and interactive Great Slate Tour to learn about the heritage and skill of working slate. The audio tour is also available in German, French, Spanish, Mandarin and Japanese, telling the story of the origins and evolution of slate in North Wales.

Group visit information:

  • coach parking;
  • group rates available;
  • café;
  • craft showroom shop;
  • farm shop;
  • toilet facilities;
  • time needed – the self-guide tour can take about 1hr.
A group of people watching a demonstration on slate splitting.
Tree trunks formed into a rig and pulley to lift slate onto a wagon.
Inigo Jones Slate Works

National Slate Museum, Llechwedd Deep Mine Tour and Inigo Jones Slate Works

5. Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Llangollen

In an area known as the Trevor Basin, 4 miles (7 km) from Llangollen is the world-famous Pontcysyllte Aqueduct known as three streams in the sky. Built between 1795 and 1805, it stands 38.4 metres (127 ft) high and 307 metres (1,007 ft) long. Visitors can walk across the aqueduct and experience the thrill of looking down at the River Dee, with views of the valley. It can also be accessed from below, giving the opportunity to see first-hand the precision and architectural genius.

Group visit information:

  • Wimbourne gate car / coach park is the official coach parking for Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Coaches can drop off visitors in the slightly closer main car park that is on the same road, walking from this car park along the canal towpath is a simple flat 5min walk to the aqueduct. Coach parking is free in the Wimbourne gate coach park;
  • visitor centre;
  • toilet facilities;
  • Pontcysyllte Chapel Tearoom can cater for large parties;
  • time needed – minimum 30min.

Narrowboat trips are offered across the aqueduct by Anglo Welsh Waterways aboard its refurbished boat 'Seren Fach.'

Group visit information:

  • operates on weekends and selected weekdays depending on season;
  • first trip start at 1100hrs with the last boat travelling at 1530hrs;
  • seating capacity 45 passengers;
  • refreshments on board;
  • no booking is required and trips are subject to availability;
  • time needed - 45min return trip.
A narrowboat travelling along an aqueduct on a sunny day.

'Seren Fach' Little Star on Pontcysyllte Aqueduct

6. Llandudno

This Victorian seaside town, the Queen of Resorts, has many hotels and sits on a sweeping bay, between the two rugged limestone headlands of the Great and the Little Orme. Clients can walk along Llandudno pier, Wales’ longest pier; ride on the Great Orme Tramway, Britain’s only Victorian cable-hauled street tramway, up to the Great Orme Bronze Age Copper Mines and Great Orme Summit Station. Alternatively, hop on a vintage bus for a vintage marine drive tour around the Great Orme. There’s also whisky tours at Penderyn Llandudno Lloyd St Distillery. There are plenty of shopping, eateries and coach drop off spaces along the front.

Group visit information for Great Orme Tramway:

  • coach parking at Builder Street;
  • group rates available;
  • tramway starts at Victoria Station, a 5min walk from the coach drop-off point;
  • your clients can disembark at the Halfway Station to either visit the Great Orme Mines or continue to the summit on a connecting tram;
  • restaurant at summit;
  • toilet facilities;
  • time needed – the journey to the summit takes 30min.

Group visit information for Alpine Travel's Marine Drive Tour:

  • coach parking at Builder Street;
  • group rates can be arranged on an enquiry basis depending on the day and time;
  • time needed – the tour is a 4 mile (6.4 km) scenic drive around the Great Orme, taking around 1hr.
View of the Great Orme Tramway on a steep hill looking down to the sea.
A coach driver standing next to an old fashioned touring coach full of people.
A large copper vat and distilling equipment in a building with large windows.

Great Orme Tramway, Marine Drive Tour and Penderyn Llandudno Lloyd St Distillery

7. Heritage railways

Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway are two narrow gauge railways running steam trains which can be taken from the station at Porthmadog. Welsh Highland Railway is the UK's longest heritage railway and runs for 25 miles (40 km) to Caernarfon whilst Ffestiniog Railway, which is the oldest independent railway company in the world, runs to Blaenau Ffestiniog. Mountain and lakeside Llanberis also has a choice of railways with Llanberis Lake Railway along the lake or Snowdon Mountain Railway, a rack and pinion mountain railway to the Summit of Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa) itself. 

All the railways have coach drop off, parking arrangements and special rates for groups. See each website for more details.

Ffestiniog Railway train coming into Harbour Station.
steam engine with carriages passes lake.

Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway and Llanberis Lake Railway

8. Food and drink tours

Aber Falls Distillery is just off the A55 Expressway in Abergwyngregyn, 15min from Conwy. It was the first to produce Welsh whisky in North Wales since the early 1900s. Taking water from the nearby Rhaeadr Fawr waterfall, the whisky went on sale for the first time in 2021. There is a visitor centre with tasting tours. They also produce a selection of gin and liqueurs, from orange marmalade to chocolate.

Group visit information:

  • coach parking;
  • group rates available;
  • bistro;
  • gift shop;
  • toilet facilities;
  • time needed – tours last approximately 1hr.
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Halen Môn Anglesey Sea Salt is located on the banks of the of Menai Strait and offers guided tours of the production of sea salt, enjoyed around the world by chefs, food lovers and even Barack Obama. Tours finish with a tutored salt tasting.

Group visit information:

  • coach parking;
  • group rates available;
  • gift shop;
  • outdoor café;
  • toilet facilities;
  • time needed – tours last approximately 50min.

Following Penderyn’s success in the foothills of the Brecon Beacons there is now a second site in Llandudno - Penderyn Llandudno Lloyd St Distillery. The water from a reservoir on the Great Orme, the prominent headland overlooking the town, is used to produce their peat based whisky. Your clients will learn about the history of Penderyn, the building and how the whisky is made during the tour, ending with sampling in the tasting bar. Masterclasses are also available.

Group visit information:

  • coach parking is available on request as spaces are limited. Alternative coach parking is at Builder Street, Llandudno;
  • group rates available;
  • gift shop;
  • toilet facilities;
  • time needed – tours last 1hr.

 More information on food and drink producers in North Wales

A range of Halen Môn sea salt products displayed on the coast against the tide.
A distillery shop and refreshment area bathed in sunlight from the glass windows.

Halen Môn and Penderyn Llandudno Lloyd St Distillery

9. Portmeirion, Minffordd, near Porthmadog

Portmeirion is an Italianate style village designed by the eccentric architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis in the early 20th century. It is often compared to Portofino, Italy and the Riviera-inspired houses, ornamental garden and campanile and frequently used as a film location. Day or overnight visits are available and the village has a choice of shops and places to eat.

Group visit information:

  • coach parking;
  • group rates available;
  • shops;
  • cafés and restaurants;
  • toilet facilities;
  • free entry for coach driver and tour guide;
  • free refreshment voucher for driver;
  • time needed – min 1hr.
Colourful houses in Portmeirion
A giant chess board in the gardens of an Italianate village.
Colourful houses and stone paths in an ornate village.

Portmeirion

10. Anglesey

The coast of Anglesey is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Anglesey is the largest island off mainland Wales and England, and has a variety of coastal landscapes, both natural and man-made, such as rock arches, cliffs, sandy beaches and traditional piers and promenades. A good place to see this coastline is Ynys Lawd South Stack with a dramatic lighthouse.

Take a photo stop at Llanfair PG, the full name of this Anglesey village is the longest in Europe: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, translated as St Mary's Church in the hollow of the white hazel near the rapid whirlpool and the church of St Tysilio by the red cave. The famous sign at the Victorian railway station is one of the great photo opportunities of Wales. At the station, your clients can also do some shopping at James Pringle Weavers.

Group visit information for Llanfair PG station:

  • coach parking;
  • shops;
  • café;
  • toilet facilities;
  • time needed – 10min for photo and allow extra time if visiting the shops.

Plas Newydd is the home of the Marquess of Anglesey and the 18th century house is a mix of classical and gothic, now a National Trust property. It’s famous for its connection with Rex Whistler and his largest painting and exhibition of his work can be found here. The gardens provide colour all year round and there are amazing views across the Menai Strait to Snowdonia.

Group visit information for Plas Newydd:

  • coach parking;
  • groups rates available;
  • on-board coach welcome;
  • special interest tours available on request such as The Glorious Garden Tour, The Magnificent Home of the Marquess and Whistler Behind the Scenes;
  • out of hour tours possible;
  • gift shop;
  • café;
  • toilet facilities;
  • time needed – 3hr.

Beaumaris Castle is one of the castles that make up the Iron Ring and was the last and largest Welsh fortifications of King Edward I. The castle wasn’t completed fully as money ran out which is why it looks a bit short.

Group visit information for Beaumaris Castle:

  • drop-off and pick-up opposite Spar Shop in Castle Street. Coach park is 300 yards past the castle on the left;
  • travel trade rates available - Cadw’s Tour Operator Scheme;
  • gift shop;
  • no toilet facilities on-site;
  • time needed – 45min.

Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens is described as one of North Wales’ best kept secrets. The walled garden, valley garden with waterfalls and ancient woodland is being returned to its former glory.

Group visit information for Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens:

  • coach parking;
  • private groups tours are available by appointment;
  • no charge for coach driver and tour guide;
  • tea room;
  • toilet facilities;
  • time needed – 2hr.

Promotional video by Visit Anglesey

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