Exploring Cymru – take a road trip on the Wales Way to discover magnificent landscapes, friendly locals and some surprising hidden gems.
But first things first – let’s get the fundamentals straight. The Wales Way is a bit of a misnomer, because this is in fact a Wales Three-Way: a trio of showstopper driving routes that criss-cross our magnificent country.
And as luck would have it, all three of these routes take in some of the best bits of North Wales. Following them – or parts of them – on your next holiday is a great way to explore our region. With easy-to-follow routes and pocket-size maps supplied by Visit Wales. Here are some of the best places to look out for on your way.
A few highlights on The Wales Way (s)
First up we have The North Wales Way. This route follows the stunning northern coast of Wales from the borderlands near Chester to the island of Anglesey. It’s a route that’s packed full of great food and culture. Some of the UK’s best arts, film and performance at Theatre Clwyd. Fab tipples at the Gwinllan Conwy vineyard (we highly recommend the vineyard tour and wine tasting with Welsh cheeseboard). A couple of fantastic micro-breweries including the Bragdy Conwy Brewery where you can brew your own beer. A gin distillery or two. Many foodie restaurants. A trio of awesome UNESCO listed castles at Conwy, Caernarfon and Beaumaris, and plenty more besides. The views from Anglesey looking back to Snowdonia (you drive onto Anglesey over a short bridge, itself a great part of the journey) are worth the trip alone. Prepare to be bowled over.
Next up, we have The Coastal Way. This route stretches from the old fishing village of Aberdaron on the Llŷn Peninsula and hugs the coast south, following Cardigan Bay all the way to St David’s. It takes in some of our favourite places on earth. Including the awesomely atmospheric medieval castles at Criccieth and Harlech (again, these are UNESCO listed, and both have fab visitor centres). The wonderfully eccentric Italianate village of Portmeirion. Steam trains and other wonderful feats of Victorian engineering at Porthmadog (look out for William Madocks’ Cob embankment, once the gateway for Welsh slate on its way to roof the world). The dunes and wide golden sands at Harlech beach (can you ever beat a Harlech beach sunset) and further south on to the stunning Mawddach estuary. If you make it this far you should really make time to explore the Mawddach Trail from Barmouth to Dolgellau – possibly the most beautiful cycle and walking trail in the UK. It’s time to get out of the car and stretch those legs…
The last of our trio of routes is The Cambrian Way. It departs Llandudno on the north coast and runs south all the way to Cardiff, taking in much of the beautiful Snowdonia National Park on its way. A great route for anyone who likes to get up and at it. As well as some of the best walking, climbing and hiking in the UK, this route will take you past Adventure Parc Snowdonia (home to a world-first inland surf lagoon). 25km of graded single track and stupendous mountain bike trails in the Gwydir Forest’s Marin Trail. Zip Fforest with its brilliant Alpine rollercoaster and dare-devil freefalls. A hidden gem of a Tudor mansion at Gwydir Castle, and what may be the world’s most photographed tea room – the Tu Hwnt ir Bont – at Llanrwst. Take a riverside stroll to the Swallow Falls at Betws-y-Coed, the head to the Conwy Falls Café just outside Betws to refuel. Enjoy a walk around the beautiful forest park before something tasty at the café. The more observant of your fellow travellers might notice that the café building style looks familiar – it was designed by Sir William Clough Ellis, creator of Portmeirion.
If you’d like to explore Cymru and take a road trip on the wonderful Wales Way, check out the suggested routes and maps on the Visit Wales website.