There are plenty of serendipitous pleasures along The North Wales Way. The most romantic spot in Wales, awesome art galleries and gourmet salt are all on the menu. We've put them in order from east to west, but whether you explore them that way or just pick and choose is up to you!
Flint and Rhuddlan Castles
The North Wales Way plays host to several of our most spectacular castles – Conwy and Beaumaris in particular. But several lesser ones get far fewer visitors and they’re wonderfully atmospheric. Flint Castle was partially destroyed by Cromwell’s army in the 1640s, but there’s plenty left to enjoy and it makes a lovely picnic spot on the Dee Estuary. Rhuddlan Castle is another, a historic clutch of gatehouses and towers overlooking the waters of the river Clwyd. The town is well worth a wander too.
St Winefride’s Well
Another of the uniquely unusual historic sites along the North Wales Way, Saint Winefride’s Well has been a place of Christian pilgrimage for centuries. It’s perfect for peace and contemplation with an ornately tranquil 16th century crypt filled with healing waters. There's a fascinating museum too. Previous visitors include King Charles as Prince of Wales, Richard Lionheart and James II.
Read more: Special places of faith in North Wales
Conwy is home to a truly splendid castle which is an absolute must-see. But hunt down a few lesser visited spots too. Britain’s smallest house is on the riverbank but people often walk right past. Quay House measures 3.05m x 1.83m (10 x 6ft) and was last lived in by Robert Jones who was 1.905m (6ft 3 inches) tall – what a squeeze! If you’ve even the smallest sweet tooth find Baravelli’s Artisan Chocolatiers for heavenly cocoa delights. History buffs should also visit Plas Mawr. See how wealthy merchant Robert Wynn lived in this ornate Elizabethan house.
The oldest city in Wales is full of interesting attractions with some nice cafés to boot. You can explore Penrhyn Castle, an extravagant mansion built by a wealthy slate baron. Then go for a wander along the pier. Garth Pier is one of the prettiest in Wales with boutiques and cafés housed in its Victorian kiosks. Finish off by popping into Storiel Museum and Art Gallery.
Read more: Things to do in Bangor
Sosban and the Old Butchers
Chef Stephen Stevens at Sosban and the Old Butchers in Menai Bridge doesn’t have a menu. And a meal here is a Michelin-starred gastronomic journey. You’re served a series of amazingly tasty dishes which Stephen cooks right in front of you using the very best local produce available on the day. You need to book at least a couple of months in advance.
Read more: Top spots for foodies on The North Wales Way
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. Ready? 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’.
Read more: Discover the myths and legends of Wales
At Hooton's Homegrown the Hooton family have been growing fantastic fruit and veg and rearing livestock for over 50 years. Their farm shop is a foodie paradise with all sorts of pies, chutneys, fruit and veg and home-reared meat. They also stock delicious things from other local producers like cheeses from Caws Rhyd y Delyn and Y Cwt Caws.
A pair of Bangor University graduates fell in love with Anglesey (and each other), grew oysters in the Menai Strait, and founded Anglesey Sea Zoo. They noticed that their seahorses – notoriously picky about water quality – thrived here, and wondered if these pristine waters might make superb salt. The rest is history. Halen Môn is now one of the world’s top salts, and its behind-the-scenes story is well told at their visitor centre.
Read more: The story of Halen Môn sea salt
St Dwynwen is our patron saint of lovers, whose day we celebrate on 25 January. She was a fifth century princess who set up a nunnery on the little peninsula of Llanddwyn Beach, which now has two lighthouses, a ruined chapel, several springs and wells. It’s a wonderfully romantic spot. The beach is backed by Newborough Warren nature reserve and a forest that’s home to red squirrels and a huge roost of ravens.
Read more: Fall in love on St Dwynwen's Day
Seaside locations have always drawn colonies of artists, and galleries have followed. There are lots around the North Wales coast, but here are just three: MOSTYN in Llandudno is one of our best public visual arts centres. The Royal Cambrian Academy in Conwy was founded in 1882 as a centre for artistic excellences. Oriel Môn has the largest collection of works by Sir Kyffin Williams alongside contemporary exhibitions and a museum of Anglesey’s history and culture.
Read more: Art galleries in Wales