Though it's only 75 miles from the English border to the tip of Anglesey Island. The North Wales Way traverses thousands of years of history along a trading route once used by the Romans. There's lots to do, so choose wisely!
You could easily cover the distance in four days if you don't have so much time. You don’t need to drive either: the scenic North Wales Coast Rail Line and National Cycle Route 5 shadow the North Wales Way.
Day one: Mold to Rhuddlan
Distance: about 25miles/40 km
The North Wales Way starts in the ancient border town of Mold. Begin with an overnight stay and you can take in an evening performance at Clwyd Theatr Cymru home to one of the country’s foremost theatre companies. Make sure to book in advance!
If you’re here on a market day, have a wander round the stalls packed with local produce before setting off next morning.
Next, dive into the enthralling history of North Wales. Flint is 20 minutes north, the location of the first of the mighty castles along this Way. Work began on Flint Castle in 1277, making it the first of Edward I’s strongholds in his quest to conquer Wales.
Worth a detour: Like walking? The Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty stretches from here in North Wales south to the Berwyn Mountains and the UNESCO listed Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in the south.
Next enjoy the great outdoors and learn about the industrial heritage of North Wales at Greenfield Valley Heritage Park. There are over 70 acres of woodland, an ancient abbey, a museum and lakes and streams. Kids will love the adventure playground.
Saint Winefride’s Well is just up the road. If you stop here at the tranquil crypt with its healing waters and fascinating museum you will be in good company. Previous visitors include King Charles as Prince of Wales, Richard Lionheart and James II.
Still have some energy? How about a late afternoon stroll to a rushing waterfall? The little town of Dyserth has a spectacular torrent of water that dashes 70 feet into a foaming pool below. There are several easy walks here if you want to stretch your legs a bit further.
Overnight: Close by splendidly ornate Boddelwyddan Castle and cosy Kinmel Hotel and Spa are both good options.
Accommodation near Rhuddlan
Day two: Rhuddlan to Llandudno
Distance: about 20 miles/32km
Start your day with another fix of fantastic Welsh history. Rhuddlan Castle is a stately sequence of gatehouses and towers high above the river Clwyd. The town is well worth a wander. Or else, drop by St Asaph with its ancient cathedral which boasts splendid stained glass windows.
The North Wales Way heads up to the coast now. Kinmel Dunes Local Nature Reserve’s shores and sands are home to birdlife, rare maritime plants and even the occasional seal. It’s a tranquil spot in the midst of the natural world.
Fans of the TV show I’m a Celebrity... might want to stop by Gwrych castle. You can visit several of the areas used for filming. The rest of the castle is a series of brooding ruins. You can even stay here in a converted cottage.
Time for lunch? Head for the sandy beach at Porth Eirias and a foodie hotspot. Chef Bryn Williams and team cook up dazzling food in an airy bright space on the seafront. Seafood is the focus but there’s plenty for veggies and farm-fresh meat too.
After lunch explore the seafront at Rhos on Sea. There’s a sandy beach, splendid new prom and quirky boutiques and cafés. You might want to step inside old St Trillo’s Chapel. It's said to be the smallest church in Britain with room for just six people!
Got kids in tow? Head instead for Welsh Mountain Zoo. Set in 37 acres of countryside. Whilst you’ll be thrilled to see snow leopards, Sumatran tigers, alligators, bears and sealions, conservation is top of the agenda here and you’ll all learn plenty during your visit.
Grown ups might prefer Gwinllan Conwy Vineyard. On a guided tour, you can see their unusual grape varieties on the vines in summer and sample the results from the bottle.
A short right fork up the A470 will bring you to the historic seaside resort of Llandudno.
Overnight: There are lots of places to stay in Llandudno including boutique B&B the Escape, the stately St George and the stylish Empire.
Day three: Llandudno
Distance: 0 miles
You’ll need a full day in Llandudno. Stroll the perfectly preserved Victorian seafront lined with candy-coloured hotels. Or get some sea air with a walk down the historic pier.
The Great Orme headland, a nature reserve with rare flora and – would you believe? – wild Kashmir goats, rises above the promenade. You can go to the top San Franciscan-style on the historic tramway, or alpine-style by cablecar.
Back in town, Oriel MOSTYN Gallery is making waves as a cutting-edge contemporary art gallery. If you like a tipple stop by the Penderyn Distillery to see how they make award-wining Welsh whisky and maybe sample a tot or two.
For evening entertainment there’s Venue Cymru, North Wales’ leading entertainment complex, with performances by Welsh National Opera among many others.
Day four: Llandudno to Conwy
Distance: about 5 miles/7km
It’s just a short hop down to Conwy today. Think narrow streets, enclosed within original town walls, historic houses, and to top it all, brooding, dark-stoned Conwy Castle.
You can climb the spiral staircases and wander the battlements. The views across the estuary are amazing. Learn more about the town’s history at the Conwy Culture Centre and browse artworks by emerging artists at the Royal Cambrian Academy. A wander along the quay takes in the smallest house in Britain among other things!
There are lots of options for lunch. And if you’re a foodie don’t miss Baravelli’s Artisan Chocolatiers, packed with meticulously crafted treats.
How about a stroll to walk off lunch? Paths criss-cross Conwy Mountain above the town and you can wander the remains of Iron Age hillforts and Neolithic hut circles whilst admiring huge views of the Carneddau mountains.
Overnight: Try the comfy Castle hotel in town, or a short way away, spa hotel the Quay at Degawny and atmospheric pubs with rooms like Y Groes and Erskine Arms.
Accommodation near Conwy
Day five: Conwy to Beaumaris
Distance: about 25 miles/32km
Start today at the university town of Bangor. Explore Penrhyn Castle, an over-the-top 19th-century mansion built by a wealthy slate baron. Then go for a bracing stroll along the pier. Garth Pier is one of the most attractive in Wales with boutiques and cafés housed in its pretty Victorian kiosks.
You’re on the doorstep of the UNESCO world heritage Slate Landscape of Northwest Wales here. For a proper walk, do the first section of the Snowdonia Slate Trail to Bethesda. It's about six miles (10km). The scenery is spectacular and it’s a great introduction to the area’s slate heritage.
Worth the Detour: Adrenaline addicts should head for Zip World at Bethesda. Fly through the air on a zipline high above the old slate quarry! Or if you want to max out on castles today Caernarfon just down the road is one of the most spectacular in Wales.
Next, head for the largest island in Wales – lovely Anglesey. Cross the Menai Strait that separates it from mainland Wales either on the modern Britannia Bridge, or historic Menai Suspension Bridge, designed by 19th century genius Thomas Telford.
Time for lunch? Dylan’s at Menai Bridge serves local favourites with panache – seafood is unsurprisingly excellent. Menai Bridge is also home to Michelin starred Sosban and the Old Butchers. It's only open certain evenings of the week and you need to book well in advance to get a table, but if you're a foodie you'll be in heaven. Chef Stephen Stevens doesn't offer a menu - he just prepares a sense-dazzling series of dishes using the freshest local produce available on the day.
A little way up the coast, Beaumaris is a handsome sea-town with another outstanding castle. Of all the 13th century castles built by Edward I in Wales, Beaumaris is the most accomplished.
Overnight: The Bull is a stylish inn with rooms in Beaumaris, whilst Chateau Rhianfa is a sumptuous Gothic mansion overlooking the Menai Strait.
Accommodation near Beaumaris
Day six: Beaumaris to Holyhead
Distance: about 30 miles/48km
You could start today with a stroll around Menai Bridge taking in the bridges and views of the Strait. Look out for the huge lions guarding the Britannia Bridge and see if you can find the statue of Lord Nelson. He used the treacherous waters here to train his sailors. To see it from a different angle with the wind in your hair, hit the water on a high speed ride in a RIB boat.
Britain’s longest place name was invented in the 1860s as a publicity stunt to attract tourists. It still works, judging by the number of visitors who come to take selfies with the railway station sign. [Deep breath]: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch means ‘St Mary’s Church in the hollow of the white hazel near the rapid whirlpool and the Church of St Tysilio of the red cave’.
Just down the road you’ll find Plas Newydd. Once the home of the Marquess of Anglesey, it’s now a National Trust property filled with antique treasures and surrounded by spectacular gardens.
At Halen Môn you can learn how some of the world’s finest sea salt is distilled from the super pure sea waters here. Housed in a sleek new building the visitor centre is fascinating and there’s a great café for lunch.
Worth the Detour: Feeling in the mood for love? The most romantic spot in Wales is Llanddwyn Island, on Anglesey's southwest coast. A dreamy islet with a tiny church on a crescent of sand commemorates the Welsh patron saint of lovers Saint Dwynwen.
Retrace your steps to the main road and if you’re hungry stop by Hooton's Homegrown family farm in Llanfairpwll. The farmshop is amazing and they serve freshly cooked meals made with their own produce.
Continuing along The North Wales Way across the island, at Llangefni you can admire unique artworks old and new at Oriel Môn. This attractive museum and gallery provides an instant tour of the island’s history, heritage, wildlife, geology and art.
Holyhead marks the end of The North Wales Way. You’ve literally run out of road! Ferries from this busy port take you to Dublin.
All of Anglesey’s coastline is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and it doesn’t come much better than at Ynys Lawd - South Stack sea-cliffs - just round the coast from Holyhead. Here colonies of guillemots, puffins and razorbills can be viewed from Ellin’s Tower RSPB Seabird Centre.
Overnight: Pretty Trearddur Bay is a lovely spot to finish your trip with cosy coves to explore and Trearddur Bay hotel is a nice place to rest your head.