Harlech Castle and Beaumaris 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. Alternatively, Day Tickets can be purchased up to three weeks in advance. Visit Cadw Admissions for more information.
On arrival in Wales, head for the small town of Llangollen which nestles between the Berwyn Mountains and the River Dee. It has been made famous by the annual July festival ‘Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod’ established after the Second World War to encourage peace between nations. The town has a good range of independent shops and there is a country market in the Town Hall on Friday morning and a market in the Market Street car park on Tuesdays.
Highlights to choose from today include:-
Look out for Castell Dinas Brân, a hill overlooking the town, with a ruined castle at the top which is rumoured that The Holy Grail is buried here. If your clients are feeling energetic they can walk to see the ruins of Castell Dinas Brȃn and enjoy lovely views. A round trip is 4 miles or 6.5km (or longer if you search for the Holy Grail!). Coach parties can drop off their clients before returning to park in the designated coach spaces at Market Street in Llangollen.
A 10 mile journey to Corwen on the heritage steam Llangollen Railway through the Dee Valley, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. On-board dining is available including Welsh cream tea, picnic, buffet lunches and afternoon tea. There is also a Café bar and gift shop at Llangollen Station and a tea room at Carrog Station. Group discount offered for 15 or more passengers. Discount increases if more than 35. Free admission for coach driver or tour guide. The railway station is a five minute walk from the car park at Market Street.
The Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is a spectacular piece of engineering, completed in the 19th century to carry the canal over the River Dee. This is the largest aqueduct in Britain and the work was undertaken by Thomas Telford. The structure is 307m long, 38m high and holds 1.5 million litres of water. It was recently included in TripAdvisor’s 10 heat-pumping places to visit. Your clients can walk across it which takes about a 45 minute round trip from the coach park at Wimbourne Gate, Queens Street, Cefn Mawr, LL14 3NP. One essential item is a camera because the views are stunning!
Plas Newydd Llangollen is a stone built house framed in black and white timber. It was home to 'The Ladies of Llangollen' in the 18th century who received many famous visitors including The Duke of Wellington and Wordsworth. There are ten acres of ground to explore and a tea room on site. A Heritage Assistant can offer groups of 15 or more a free talk revealing the story of the house and its infamous inhabitants. To arrange a group visit, you can email them or telephone +44 (0)1978 862834. Coach parties can drop off their clients before returning to park in the designated coach spaces at Market Street.
Overnight: Betws-y-Coed, the official 'Gateway to Snowdonia'
Approx. distance: Llangollen to Betws-y-Coed 60 miles (96km)
Approx. driving time: 1 hour 40 minutes
There are a lot of options at Llechwedd in Blaenau Ffestiniog which is suitable for groups of different tastes – the adrenalin buzz seeker to those wanting a more cultural experience. And there is free coach parking too. Depending on what you choose for your clients here will determine the time left for you to include other suggestions.
Quarry Explorer Tour
Experience one of the most extreme landscapes in the UK for the very first time in open sided 4 x 4 military trucks to the top of Llechwedd’s formidable slate mountains which were largely created by the men and boys who dug the rock out of the mine in the 19th century. Various routes and roadways have been cut through the challenging terrain which covers an area of around 500 acres. Tour can take up to one and a half hours. Arrival required 30 minutes prior to start of tour. Each truck holds up to 20 people
Deep Mine Tour
Travel back in time 500 feet underground with local guides. Tours run every 30 minutes, duration is one hour and a quarter with a 15 minute slate splitting demonstration at the end of the tour. Arrival required 30 minutes prior to start of tour.
Slate Mountain Adventure
This is the ultimate experience combining the quarry explorer and deep mine tours.
Slate Workshop Tour
This tour is offered to coach groups who are on a tight schedule and are unable to commit to a full tour on site. Find out how slate was distributed worldwide in the 19th century and learn how to split slate. Café, Tavern pub and gift shop on-site.
Quarry Walking Tour
New for 2020 is a walking tour around Llechwedd, taking in the historic importance of the site. Led by a qualified Mountain Leader, this is a three hour strenuous circular walk. Lunch is included. The guided tour must be booked in advance.
Adventure experiences at Zip World include:-
Zip World Titan – the first four person zip line in Europe
Bounce Below – a series of huge trampolines inside a vast underground chamber, twice the size of St Paul’s Cathedral, all connected with slides and ladders.
Zip Caverns – underground all-weather adventure through the caverns on zip lines, rope bridges and tunnels.
Discounts are available for groups but bookings must be reserved in advance. There is plenty of parking for coaches. Check out the Zip World website as they have other sites at Bethesda and Betws-y-Coed too.
Alternatively, if your clients like mountain biking, Antur Stiniog have created trails for all styles and riding abilities. Set within the mountains of Blaenau Ffestiniog, incredible views can be seen on the downhill trails. All trails are accessed by an uplift service. Mountain bike hire is available. There is also an information centre, outdoor shop, coffee house and art gallery to visit.
Depending on choice of activity for the day, there may be time to take the World’s oldest narrow gauge Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog (journey time approx. 45 minutes). There are two coach bays in the railway station car park (postcode LL41 3ES) to set down passengers before travelling to the chosen destination for pick up.
If designing an itinerary for a coach group, you don’t have to do the return journey and they can alight at a station stop of your choice which could include Minffordd with easy access to Portmeirion or Plas Tan y Bwlch, Snowdonia National Park’s Study Centre which also has a garden and tea room. The tea room opens from Easter through to October. Visit the website for more information on group travel and coach parties.
Portmeirion (main picture) was built by Welsh architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis from 1925 – 1976 and made famous by the TV series, The Prisoner. Surrounding the village are 70 acres of sub-tropical gardens and woodlands with lakes and miles of pathways. The village includes a hotel, self-catering cottages, restaurants, cafes and shops. Portmeirion was listed in Lonely Planet's 2019 edition of the top 500 experiences in the UK's Ultimate Travel List. Group rates are available for a party of 12 or more guests. The coach car park is close to the village entrance. Guided tours must be arranged in advance.
Alternatively you can include a visit Harlech Castle, built by King Edward I in the 13th century with UNESCO World Heritage Status a spectacular location on a rocky outcrop. The recently installed ‘floating’ connects the castle with the visitor centre. Allow at least 45 minutes to visit the castle. Coaches can park in Min y Don car park (LL46 2UG) which is less than a mile away (1.3km) from the castle.
Overnight: Portmeirion or Porthmadog
Approx. distance: Betws-y- Coed – Blaenau Ffestiniog – Porthmadog 28 miles (38km)
Approx. driving time: 40 minutes
Head along A5 and the scenic Nant Ffrancon Pass to the Isle of Anglesey - who were the first country in the UK to be awarded 'plastic free' status. Cross the historic Menai Suspension Bridge designed by Thomas Telford in 1826 which opened up the historic route between London and Dublin.
The first stop today is a photo opportunity at the railway station with the longest place name. It's too long to name on our website as it is 58 characters long but it is fondly known as Llanfair PG. There are allocated coach spaces at the station car park. Afterwards, enjoy a quick shop at James Pringle Weavers next door.
Halen Môn is a family business that specialises in sea salt from the island of Anglesey. The business was started by boiling Anglesey sea water in the family kitchen 17 years ago, and discovering that the salt that was left was a great local product. The range now includes over 11 different sea salts and is used and sold in over 22 countries and in top restaurants. The saltcote (salt house) and visitor centre offers unique behind the scenes tours which last up to an hour (12-15 people maximum). Group and Travel Trade rates are available.
Discover the ancestral home of the Marquess of Anglesey at Plas Newydd House & Garden (National Trust). This 18th century house with spectacular views across the Menia Strait to Snowdonia, is an interesting mixture of classical and Gothic. The comfortable interior, restyled in the 1930s, is famous for its association with Rex Whistler and his largest painting and exhibition of his work is found here. The fine gardens provide colour throughout the seasons. There is a tea room and two gift shops on-site. Discounts are available for pre-booked groups and 7 and 14 day touring passes for international visitors are available.
The final stop is Beaumaris Castle. It is one of the castles that make up the ‘Iron Ring’ and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was the last and largest of King Edward I's Welsh fortifications and is a perfect example of a concentrically planned castle. However, by 1298 money and supplies ran out before the fortifications reached their full height so, this is why it looks a bit short!
Approx. distance: Porthmadog –LlanfairPG – Beaumaris 34 miles (55km)
Approx. driving time: 58 minutes
You may choose to stay longer and combine with our South Wales itinerary. Don't forget that you can fly from Anglesey to Cardiff and vice versa in just over an hour with Eastern Airways.