Conwy Castle and Caernarfon Castle are in the care of Cadw. Register with the Cadw Tour Operator Scheme (CTOS) to become a member of Cadw’s online group booking scheme. Members benefit from preferential trade rates and discounts, complimentary admission for your tour leader, complimentary introductions to Cadw monuments, enhanced information for existing tours and invoicing following your visit. Site Entry tickets are currently released one week in advance of visit. See Cadw Admissions for more information.
Arrive in North Wales and the first stop is the historic town of Conwy complete with a foreboding castle and walls by the picturesque quay set against a stunning mountainous backdrop. Conwy is a classic walled town. Its circuit of walls, over three quarters of a mile long and guarded by no less than 22 towers, is one of the finest in the World.
Visit Conwy Castle, built in the 13th century and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its gritty dark stoned fortress has the ability to evoke an authentic medieval atmosphere. Main picture.
Take a walk around Conwy, with a visit to the quayside and the smallest house in Britain, built as a one up and one down fisherman’s cottage measuring only 1.8m wide. Also Conwy Mussel Museum – Conwy was once the most important pearl fisheries in the country and today musseling is still carried out in the same traditional way.
Depart Conwy and head for Llandudno Wales's largest resort, uniquely situated between the Great and Little Ormes. It has two beaches, the award winning North Shore and the quiet sand duned West Shore, and Llandudno pier – the longest in Wales. Llandudno has kept its Victorian and Edwardian elegance, including around the town centre despite its modern attractions. Travel to the top of the Great Orme on the Great Orme Tramway or on the cable cars (weather dependent). Clients have the option of alighting at the Halfway Station to take a 45 min tour of the Great Orme Bronze Age Copper Mines. Another option is to take the 4 mile (6.4 km) Vintage Marine Drive Tour, which takes around 1 hr to enjoy the spectacular views around the Great Orme. Heritage and culture highlights include the contemporary gallery and visual arts centre Mostyn, the Home Front Museum and Llandudno Museum and Gallery.
If time allows take a tour of Penderyn Llandudno Lloyd St Distillery to find out about the history of Penderyn, the building and how the whisky is made, followed by sampling in the tasting bar. There is also an opportunity to purchase their products from the gift shop. Limited coach parking is available on request but alternative coach parking is available at Builder Street. Group rates available.
Approximate distance: 5 miles (7.5km)
Approximate travelling time: 10min
Overnight suggestion: Choose one of the hotels or guest houses located in the Victorian seaside resort town of Llandudno.
Depart hotel and travel to the Italianate village of Portmeirion, listed as an unmissable experience in Lonely Planet’s Ultimate United Kingdom Travelist 2019.
This scenic route meanders through some of the stunning Snowdonia Mountain scenery, there’s a good view point of the lake and mountains at Llyn Gwynant just past the Llanberis Pass turn. Take a coffee stop at Beddgelert it’s a small mountain village with quaint stone cottages that has been made famous by the legend of Prince Llewelyn and his trusted dog Gelert. Will you be able to hear the legend without a tear in your eye?
Portmeirion was built by Welsh architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis from 1925 to 1976. Surrounding the village are 70 acres of sub-tropical gardens and woodlands with lakes and miles of pathways. Portmeirion is North Wales’ most popular visitor attraction with over 250,000 visitors every year.
Continue to Llanberis and board the Snowdon Mountain Railway for a 2hr 30min round trip to the top of Mount Snowdon. You will be travelling on Britain’s only rack and pinion railway to Hafod Eryri, the new visitor centre at the summit of Snowdon, the highest mountain in England and Wales at 1086m (3560ft). Greener hybrid diesel locomotives joined the fleet in 2020 which will run alongside the traditional steam and diesel trains. Booking is essential.
If time permits, head for the National Slate Museum, Llanberis. The National Slate Museum is sited in the Victorian workshops built in the shadow of Elidir mountain, site of the vast Dinorwig quarry. Here you can travel into the past of an industry and a way of life that has chiselled itself into the very being of this country.
Head to the historic walled town of Caernarfon for your overnight stop.
Approximate distance: 52 miles (82.5km)
Approximate travelling time: 1 hr 15min
Stroll into Caernarfon and visit Caernarfon Castle which was inspired by imperial Constantinople. Caernarfon Castle’s appearance is unashamedly intimidating.
The lure of water and easy access to the sea make the banks of the River Seiont an ideal spot for Edward I most ambitious building project. In 1969 the investiture of the current Prince of Wales took place at Caernarfon Castle and today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Alternatively, you could head to Inigo Jones Slate Works to take a self guided 'Great Slate Tour' to discover the rich heritage and skill of working slate. The tour goes behind the scenes to access the original and still functioning workshops established in 1861. It also includes trying out interactive elements including calligraphy and letter cutting skills. The personal audio devices which features languages in German, French, Spanish Mandarin, Japanese, Welsh and English tells the story of the origins of slate in North Wales and its evolution. The self-guided tour can take about an hour, but time may need to be allowed for visitors to interact and visit the on-site Craft Showroom shop, farm shop and café.
Workmen can sometimes be seen crafting new and bespoke products and are happy to answer questions. Recent commissions include the slate peace plaque at Treborth and Llanberis, the Memorial plaque at Ffestiniog Highland Railway commemorating railway staff who served during the Great War, and a slate plaque in recognition of Chris Gunter’s record 93 caps for Wales!
There is ample parking for coaches.
Head East on the A55 expressway, with good coastal views and visit Bodnant Garden. It is one of the most beautiful gardens in the UK overlooking the Conwy Valley towards the Snowdonia range.
The Gardens were created by five generations of one family and are in two parts. The upper garden around Bodnant Hall consists of the terraced gardens and informal lawns shaded by trees. The lower portion, known as the "Dell" is formed by the valley of the River Hiraethlyn and contains the Wild garden. It is famous for the laburnum Arch that flowers in June each year.
Alternatively, you could take a tour around Aber Falls Distillery, which includes laboratory experiences, master classes and samplings of their premium quality spirits. The tour is available for a maximum of 12 people and the route is fully accessible. Sensible footwear must be worn. The tour lasts around 40 minutes and runs between 12 noon and 1700 hours.
Continue on onward journey.