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Things to do in Conwy

Published on 3 Feb 2022 by Gwion Llwyd

Ah Conwy, you absolute beauty. We will never fail to feel just a little bit star-struck by your rock-solid magnificence. This brilliant medieval harbour town sits on the mouth of the River Conwy looking out across a fleet of little fishing boats to the Irish Sea. The 13th century castle dominates proceedings, along with the town walls. They’re so well preserved that they’ve been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But Conwy isn’t just about its castle. It’s a place where you’ll also find stunning scenery, the smallest house in Britain, Bodnant Gardens and Conwy Mountain, as well as some great pubs, delis, and independent shops.

Here’s a selection of our favourite things to do in Conwy.


DAYS OUT

The smallest house and an Elizabethan town house

The Smallest House in Great Britain can be found nestled at the end of a terrace of houses on Conwy’s quayside. You really can’t miss the smallest house and you’d be crazy not to pop in for a look on your way past – it is a national treasure, and well worth a few minutes of your time. Meanwhile, a short walk away at Plas Mawr (the Great Hall) you can visit the finest surviving Elizabethan town house anywhere in Britain.

Visit Conwy Castle

Conwy’s famous fortress is exceptionally well preserved. It contains the most intact set of medieval royal apartments in Wales, and its high curtain wall and eight lofty towers rise almost as impressively as when they were built more than 700 years ago. One of the most magnificent medieval fortresses in Europe.

Explore Conwy’s Town Walls

Conwy’s town walls are so well preserved that they’ve been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  You have to pay a small admission to go into the castle, but the walk around the town walls is free. You can access them at several different points in the town but a good place to start is the section that runs alongside the castle car park to the Mill Gate. In all there’s over 1.2km of walls to explore. You’ll get great views of the harbour, castle, Conwy mountain and Llandudno from the battlements. 

A walk around Bodnant Gardens

Nestling in the foothills of Eryri at the top of the Conwy Valley, you’ll find the National Trust’s beautiful Bodnant Gardens, one of the glories of North Wales. There’s 80 acres of gardens to explore and a warm welcome in the Bodnant tearooms. The garden is open all year-round, and is a magical space to immerse yourself in nature, grab some fresh air and exercise, and maybe enjoy a picnic with family and friends. Dogs are permitted on certain days. 5 miles from Conwy.

Dolwyddelan Castle

Not had your fill of castles in Conwy? Head south down the Conwy Valley to visit Dolwyddelan Castle – a 13th century fortress – is as Welsh as the rugged Eryri mountains that surround it. You’ll find it on the road between Betws y Coed and Blaenau Ffestiniog, close to the village that shares its name. The castle played a critical part in the story of Wales and is a fantastically atmospheric place to let your imagination run wild. 20 miles from Conwy.


ACTIVITIES AND ADVENTURES

Sblash Aqua Park

Sblash Aqua Park promises laughter, excitement, and a fun-filled experience for all. Suitable for children aged 6 and above, this brand new aqua park includes a wide range of inflatable obstacles which provide a variety of challenges for all levels of fitness and confidence; balance, climb, slide, jump and ‘sblash’ your way through this wet and wild assault course. Set in a spring fed lake, nestled amidst scenic Welsh countryside, Sblash is a great all-weather activity. Open May to October, booking essential. 5 miles from Conwy.

Zip World Velocity

Prepare for a truly unique and exhilarating experience: the fastest zip line in the world since 2013! On Velocity2 in Bethesda, you will soar over Penrhyn Quarry, where you can travel at speeds of up to and over 100 mph while taking in unbeatable views of Eryri. 14 miles from Conwy.

Zip World Fforest

In a stunning woodland setting nestled in the North Wales Conwy Valley, and just a couple of miles from Betws, a host of forest adventures and foodie delights await at Zip World Fforest. With adventures to keep the whole family busy all day, choose from the Fforest Coaster, the UK’s only alpine coaster of its kind, bouncing fun on Treetop Nets, or zip line and adventure courses high in the trees on Tree Hoppers or Zip Safari. If that isn’t quite enough, you could also have a go on Europe’s highest giant swing, Skyride, or take a tandem freefall jump from Plummet2. Book online in advance. 14 miles from Conwy.

Go Below

Could this be the scariest assault course in the world? It surely has to be a contender: Go Below’s epic subterranean trip includes a sequence of zip wires, cold-sweat-inducing bridges and traverses, and an abseil to the deepest accessible point in the UK.  Boating across an atmospheric underground lake feels like a welcome reprieve. The course culminates in a 70ft jump into the abyss on the world’s only underground free fall. It’s adrenaline pumping, heart thumping, pulse jumping ‘fun’, if you like that kind of thing. Head for heights advised. You’ll emerge feeling like a hero. You’ll find Go Below just outside Betws y Coed, in the Conwy Falls Forest Park. Book in advance. 19 miles from Conwy.

Greenwood Forest Park

Consistently voted Best Family Attraction in North Wales, GreenWood boasts amazing family adventure play nestled amongst the trees, including the world’s only people powered coaster. 19 miles from Conwy.

Zip World Caverns

This underground adventure allows you to speed through the caverns of the abandoned Llechwedd slate mine on zip lines, navigating part of the course with a via ferrata, monkey bars, and a whole variety of challenging obstacles. It’s a thrilling experience! Zip World Caverns is part of the Zip World portfolio, which also boasts Europe’s largest zip zone at Blaenau, as well as the fastest zip line in the world at Penrhyn Quarry – a site that was once home to the world’s largest slate quarry. 25 miles from Conwy.

Bounce Below

Zip World Caverns (see above) is where you’ll also find Bounce Below – a series of giant underground trampolines, strung across enormous underground chambers, with climbs, slides and various levels to navigate. Bounce Below is another thrilling and completely unique North Wales adventure. From age 7+. 25 miles from Conwy.


WATERSPORTS

Head to a beautiful lake for wild swimming, walking or paddleboarding

Beautiful Llyn Crafnant lies on the edge of the Gwydir Forest and at the lower slopes of the Carneddau mountains, just outside Betws. We go there to enjoy its magnificent panoramas – there are great views of Mount Siabod, Yr Wyddfa and Tryfan – and because its natural soundtrack and peaceful atmosphere do something a bit special to your soul. There’s a brilliant 2.5 mile family-friendly circular walk around the lake which is suitable for little legs as well as buggies and prams. The lake is also popular for paddleboarding and swimming.  There’s plenty of car parking and access to public loos. 14 miles from Conwy.

The National Whitewater Centre

Located just a couple of miles outside Bala, the National White Water Centre is the place to head to if you fancy an adventure on the water. The River Tryweryn has predictable rapids all year round, which are perfect for exhilarating adventures in the water. Prepare to get drenched as you head down the river in your raft under instruction by one of the centre’s expert guides. You’ll be buzzing for the rest of the day! You can grab a well earned hot drink and a piece of cake at the café afterwards. The National White Water Centre runs family rafting sessions for anyone aged 10 and over, as well as other kayaking and canyoning activities. 32 miles from Conwy.


MOUNTAIN BIKING

Gwydir Mawr a Bach / The Marin Trail

Also known as the Gwydir Mawr a Bach trail, the Marin Trail is one of the ‘must-dos’ for any serious mountain biker who is visiting North Wales, but it is also a very pleasure day out on two wheels for a total novice! Expect fabulous views of the Eryri mountains from forest trails and single-track. 12 miles from Conwy.

Penmachno Trails 

The Penmachno Trails near Betws y Coed are a hidden gem of North Wales mountain biking, with 30km of super-sweet single-track and scenic forest trails riding high through Eryri National Park. Choose from 3 main trails each with their own challenges and character. The mountain views are stupendously good. 21 miles from Conwy.

Antur Stiniog

Set in the stunning slate mountains of Blaenau Ffestiniog, and with far-reaching views towards the Irish Sea, Antur Stiniog offers 14 fantastic gravity fed trails for all shades of rider from novice to world cup racer. The downhill trails are graded from green to black. Antur Stiniog includes a mountain uplift service, and bikes are available to hire from the site. 25 miles from Conwy.

Bike Hire

Not bringing your own wheels? No problem! Head to Beics Betws to hire bikes and e-bikes in Betws y Coed.


BIG WALKS

Explore the local mountains – the Carneddau

Bounded by Conwy in the north, the Conwy valley to the east, and the Ogwen valley to the west and south, the Carneddau are a wide expanse of mountain and moorland to the north of the Eryri National Park. They are home to some of the biggest mountains in Wales, the highest summit, Carnedd Llywelyn, stands at 1064m – just 21m lower than Yr Wyddfa. And you can’t go to Conwy without climbing Conwy Mountain. Expect grassy whaleback humps rather than the rugged peaks of the Yr Wyddfa massif, with some beautiful lakes and forests to explore. Look out for the Carneddau’s resident population of wild ponies. 

Conquer Yr Wyddfa – Snowdon

It’s a bucket list favourite for anyone visiting North Wales – do you fancy climbing Wales’s highest summit  on your next trip here? It can get very busy in the summer months, so the best time of year to walk is late spring or early autumn. Plan ahead by downloading the Snowdon Walks app, which covers the six main routes up, with detailed maps and a live progress tracker. Closest startpoint is Pen y Pass. 28 miles from Conwy.

Explore the ‘secret’ mountains of North Wales

If you’d prefer to avoid the crowds of Yr Wyddfa, you’ll be pleased to know that Eryri is home to plenty of peaks to explore outside away from the crowds. Check out the Dioni guide to the lesser-known mountains of North Wales, here.

Other local walking ideas

For some more walking inspiration, you might be interested in these websites: Mud and Routes is a great information resource for walking in the area. Simply enter where you would like to walk and it will give you some tried and tested routes. Geocaching is popular in this neck of the woods and if you love a treasure hunt, then this is a great way to while away an afternoon, especially if you’re trying to keep the kids amused too.


BEACHES

Conwy 

Conwy Morfa Beach is an enormous expanse of golden sands with views of the Great Orme and Anglesey. 

Llandudno

West Shore Beach in nearby Llandudno offers the full promenade experience…beach, ice cream, games and fish and chips.


THE PRACTICAL STUFF

For medical help

Dial 999 to call for an ambulance if you require urgent medical attention.

You can find your nearest urgent care health services provider by searching the NHS online directory at https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/other-services/

For non-urgent medical advice dial ‘111’ to speak to an operator at the NHS telephone advice service, or visit www.111.nhs.uk


WELSH LANGUAGE

The welsh alphabet is phonetic so once you know how to say the letters, the theory is that reading the words is straightforward; you say what you see. A little time spent familiarising yourself with the alphabet will help no end when you’re trying to navigate your way around the area…

a short, as in ‘hat’, never as in ‘ball’
b as in ‘bag’. Although is there really any other way?
c always hard as in ‘cat’, never an s as in ‘precise’
ch like the ch in the Scottish word ‘loch’, but with more phlegm
d as in ‘dog’, never as in ‘djinn’
dd a buzzy ‘th’ sound, as in ‘this’. Think angry bees with a lisp
e short, as in pen
f v. This is very, very simple, and when you get really used to it, f will play hafock with your spelling
ff f. Equally, you can ffind yourselff getting too used to ff as well
g always hard as in ‘get’, never a ‘j’ sound as in the last g in garage
ng as in ‘song’, where the g isn’t hard, like in ‘gig’, but a soft glottal stop made in your throat
h as in hat, always sounded and never silent
as in ‘pin’
j accepted now because of the loan words from English that use it, like ‘garej’
l a ‘luh’ as in ‘lava’, but never an ‘ul’ sound as in ‘milk’
ll not as hard a sound to make as some would have you think. Raise your tongue to the top of your mouth as if you were going to say ‘el’, then make the ‘ell’ sound by blowing air round the sides of your raised tongue, instead of by using your voice. You should sound like an annoyed cat
m as in ‘mithridatize’. Or as in ‘mum’, if you want to be boring
n as in ‘nanobot’
o short as in ‘hot’, not round as in ‘hotel’
p can I have a p please Bob?
ph an English f, or Welsh ff sound, as in ‘phase’
r rolled. Some people just can’t get a rolled ‘r’ – their tongues are unable to vibrate in the right way. It’s a genetic thing, apparently,
similar to being able to roll your tongue into a tube, or turn the end upside down. Honestly, some people can, but my tongue’s not that prehensile. Roll if you can, don’t if you can’t
rh hr. Make a huffy, breathy sound before your rolled ‘r’
s always soft as in ‘sit’, never a ‘z’ sound as in ‘juxtapose’
t as in ‘top’. Can it get any simpler?
th as in ‘think’, softer and less buzzy than dd
u If you had stepped in something disgusting and made a kind of ‘eugh’ noise, the vowel ‘eu’ sound would about approximate
w oooooo
y ok, y breaks the rule that Welsh is phonetic. As a single syllable word, y is like ‘uh’, on the last syllable of a multisyllabic word it’ an‘u’ or ‘ee’, and anywhere else it’s like the unstressed, indeterminate noise of the final e in ‘garden’ or ‘letter’. Ysbyty (hospital) is the perfect example.

USEFUL PHRASES

Welcome: Croeso
How are you? Sut mae / Ti’n iawn
Good morning: Bore da
Good Afternoon: P.nawn da, prynhawn da
Good evening: Noswaith dda
Good night: Nos da
Cheers / Good Health! Iechyd da!
Do you speak welsh? Ydych chi’n siarad Cymraeg?
How do you say…. in welsh? Beth ydy….yn Cymraeg?
Thank you: Diolch
I love you: Dw i’n dy garu di
Happy Birthday: Penblwdd Hapus

and a couple of funny ones….
Microwave: popty ping
‘Might as well’: Man a man a mwnci



Check out our selection of Holiday Cottages in Conwy

 
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