With more castles per square mile than anywhere else in the world, this short break to North Wales will show you all the different sides of this diverse nation. Think marvelous mountain ranges set back with historic railways, as well as the contrast of rugged and rural countryside with well-kept National Trust gardens. Plus of course Portmeirion, where a true Mediterranean feel exudes from its colourful rows of houses.
As well as the highlights of North Wales, we will also step into the shoes of nature with two included walks, crafted to really showcase the two different sides of this fine country. Discover Snowdonia with our walk to the impressive Aber Falls, as well as the Wales Coastal Path for a circular walk not far from Portmeirion.
Arrive at your centrally-located hotel this afternoon, a charming and welcoming setting just a five minutes’ walk from the beach. Llandudno is a great base to explore the best of the area, as well as being the largest coastal town in North Wales with plenty to offer. Later this afternoon, our knowledgeable tour manager will take us on a brief orientation walk around the Victorian town centre, with its 19th-century pier.
Highlights include the Great Orme and its Tramway, almost reminiscent of the San Francisco cable cars, to the summit of the headland, with great views over the bay, and on the other side, stretching as far as Snowdonia. The town gained popularity as a holiday town for affluent visitors in Victorian times, today the Victorian atmosphere still prevails thanks to careful preservation, with its harmonious white and pastel coloured buildings along the iconic promenade. A walk along the pier - the longest in Wales - affords views over the harbour. For keen walkers among the group, miles of spectacular trails are available around the Great Orme. As evening draws in, minds might turn to dinner this evening in the hotel.
After breakfast, we leave Llandudno for a drive along the coastal road. Crossing the River Conwy, the scenery quickly changes from coastal to rural as we make our way to Llanberis for a breathtaking trip on the Snowdon Mountain Railway – one of the highlights of this part of Wales, which is both picturesque and wildly rugged. This is Britain’s only rack railway, and undoubtedly one of the most scenic railway journeys in the UK. The views are stunning on all sides as we slowly get to the summit whilst taking in the views of the stark landscape, with sparse vegetation. At over 3500 ft, Snowdon is the highest summit in England and Wales, and if venturing to the cairn from here, on a clear day the breathtaking views can stretch as far as Ireland. For 2021 departures, Snowdon Mountain Railway trains are not running to the summit. The train will reach Clogwyn station instead, the highest possible destination, where we will have free time to enjoy the views.
After the train journey we will drive to nearby Caernarfon for lunch. This charming town is best known for its imposing castle, one of the most renowned in Wales from Edward I. Nestled on the banks of the River Seiont, it is no wonder that this impressive architectural feat took an incredible 47 years to build. As well as its staggering King’s Gate and polygonal towers, look up high to see the menacing eagle statues guarding the 18 ft. thick walls. Later this afternoon we continue to the Coedydd Aber Nature Reserve for a walk to the scenic Aber Falls.
Aber Falls Walk
This easy walk has a gradual climb through woodland and up to the stunning waterfall. As you make your way along the stone path to Aber Falls, be sure to look out for the incredible flora and fauna of the area, such as wood warblers and redstarts in Spring and Summer, whilst Autumn sees the trees turn into a red, orange and yellow display of nature’s finest work. Your expert walking guide will lead the way through the woodland path and open grassland to truly appreciate the every-changing beauty of the Welsh landscape.
Easy walk - Duration: 2.5 hours / Distance: 3.7 miles / Altitude gain: 330ft (100m) / Terrain: footpaths with a gradual and continuous climb, with a compacted stone surface and some loose gravel, benches along the way.
This morning we enjoy a scenic drive through Snowdonia National Park to reach Portmerion, taking in views of the sparse, verdant countryside that Wales is famous for. Stunningly located on its own lush peninsula, this atmospheric village is the most popular destination in Wales and is truly unique. Welsh architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis who masterminded the project was inspired by the beauty of Portofino and decided to create his own version of the Italian village complete with delightful architecture, pretty gardens and coastal views. The village was developed over the course of 50 years, starting from 1925, and today all the buildings are listed. We have time to explore and enjoy the facilities as well as the almost Mediterranean atmosphere created by the Italianate architecture and vegetation.
After exploring this truly unique village we will head to the castle village of Cricieth to the start of our walk which will take us on the beautiful Welsh Coastal Path alongside Ceredigion Bay, towards the river Dwyfor and then up through Llanystumdwy, enjoying views of both the sea and the countryside.
Llanystumdwy and Criccieth Wales Coastal Walk
Starting in Llanystumdwy and heading towards the river Dwyfor, following Welsh Coastal Path tracing Ceredigion Bay and finishing in Criccieth. As we start in the quaint village of Llanystumdwy, the final resting place of David Lloyd George, we follow open fields and rail lines towards the river Dwyfor, where winding boardwalks mark our way. We amble past the National Trust Ynysgain and see signs of the wildness of nature with evidence of coastal erosion. We then follow the coastline road, with views of contemporary Cefn Castell, featured on Grand Designs, arriving in Criccieth.
Easy walk - Duration: 3 hours / Distance: 4.3 miles / Altitude gain: 288ft (88m) / Terrain: gravel paths and boardwalks along the coastline and countryside, footpaths along country lanes.
Later this afternoon, we call at a local vineyard before returning to Llandudno. While you might not think of Wales as a wine-producing nation, the owners of this winery inventively use hybrid grape varieties to ensure that they grow in this particular climate, where the specific soil and climate of North Wales adds a delicate freshness to their wine varieties. We will learn more about their techniques and enjoy a tasting before we return to our hotel.
Today we discover yet another side to North Wales, in the perfectly-kept Bodnant Garden, with the contrasting silhouette of Snowdonia in the distance. One of the most beautiful gardens in the UK, this National Trust property overlooks the Conwy Valley. The garden was established in 1874 and has been curated and improved upon over 150 years. Colourful and vibrant year-round, you’ll have plenty of free time to explore and take in the large stately lawns, dense woodland and grand terraces.
We then visit Conwy with free time for lunch and to explore. Famous for its impressive 13th century castle, this traditional walled town is one of the most complete in the country. The castle dominates the town, being located on a rocky outcrop, and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Conwy offers a wealth of cafes, restaurants and traditional pubs. Why not try some Bara-Brith, the famous spiced fruitcake usually found in local shops, bakeries and tearooms before we return to our hotel?
After breakfast at your hotel, why not enjoy a leisurely stroll along the promenade before returning, or perhaps an invigorating morning walk to the Great Orme
The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a twin room. Single rooms are subject to availability at the relevant supplement. The price includes:
Just like our classic tours, with 25 or fewer people in your group.
On a range of tours we are delighted to offer the option to travel in a small group of up to 25 people.
You’ll enjoy the same sociable atmosphere of a typical Riviera Travel holiday - but with a smaller number of travellers and a touch more exclusivity. Just look out for the icon on holiday pages.
View 2023 dates and see changes to the tour.
We want to ensure you make the correct choice before you book your holiday with us. If you have any concerns regarding the suitability of the holiday due to reduced mobility we would encourage you to call us to discuss these concerns. General information on mobility in connection with our tours can be found here.
Good quality walking shoes or boots are a must. We also recommend a waterproof jacket, comfortable rucksack, hat, sunglasses, sun cream, water bottle and clothes that can be layered easily. Hiking poles are not necessary, but you may wish to take them.
Most of our walks are guided by accredited local professionals, who have intimate knowledge of the routes and can offer meaningful information about the history and nature of the area.
On each walk we prefer an intimate atmosphere, so you can expect around 10 to 15 people. Depending on the nature of the walk, the group may occasionally be slightly larger. The wider group size will be around 25 people, mainly during coach transfers.
While we will always try to adhere to the route as advertised, we may be required to modify the itinerary due to local conditions. Our guides may also make minor changes to tailor the walk to the group.
George & Rita Kennedy
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