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Would like feedback on one-day itinerary: Northern Wales

sandy, utah
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Would like feedback on one-day itinerary: Northern Wales

We'll be coming to England for 2 weeks from the U.S. next May. We'll only have two nights and a day in Northern Wales and I want to make the most of it. I'll have my husband and a son and daughter with us, age 21 and 19. This will probably be our only trip to Great Britain with the chance to see some historic castles, etc.

Please tell me if this itinerary is doable or if there's other must-sees we should try to add in. We'll plan to arrive at Conwy Castle as soon as it opens. How much time should we allow at each castle and Bodnant Gardens?

What about Betws-y-Coed? Where are the best places to take pictures there/grab a quick bite of lunch?

In his guidebook Rick Steves also mentions the Trefriw Woolen Mills and touring the Welsh Slate Museum in Llanberis. Are they worth the time?

I included the Plas Newydd House because it's free with the National Trust pass we're going to purchase. Is it worth going to or should we focus our attention elsewhere?

Would an early evening drive to Beaumaris or the vicinity be worthwhile? I just want to make sure we capture the most beautiful areas in our limited time.

Day 8 (Wed 5/16). Tour Conwy Castle (9:30-5), Drive 5.7 miles (13 min.) to Bodnant Garden (Wales’ finest garden; 10-5; free with NTP). Drive 12 miles (20 min.) to Betws-y-Coed for lunch and pictures of the bridges. Drive 24 miles (39 min.) to Caernarfon Castle (9:30-6). Drive 9 miles (17 min.) to Plas Newydd Country House and Gardens (house 12-5; garden 11:00-5:30; £8.45; free with NTP). Drive 20 miles, 30 min. to Conwy. Follow Rick Steves' Self-Guided Walking Tour of Conwy in the evening. Sleep in Conwy.

UK
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1. Re: Would like feedback on one-day itinerary: Northern Wales

You cannot do justice to Conwy and Bodnant Gardens in a morning. Each will take half a day at least. If you try to go via Betws for lunch it will be almost closing time for Caernarfon castle when you arrive. You would certainly not arrive at Plas Newydd in time. Also, your driving times are unrealistic on Welsh country roads, or even on the main coast road with holiday traffic. 24 miles in 39 mins is almost 40 miles an hour -just not doable in safety on the winding minor roads. It .twould be much better to decide what you want to see most rather than dash around seeing nothing properly

Liverpool, United...
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2. Re: Would like feedback on one-day itinerary: Northern Wales

Impossible - you need 2 full days minimum.

Where are you spending the rest of your two weeks in England?

I guess several days in London? If I were you I'd spend 1 less day in London ;-)

Scunthorpe, United...
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3. Re: Would like feedback on one-day itinerary: Northern Wales

In the time you have available Trefrew woollen mill and The Slate Mining Museum are definitely NOT top priorities. Plas Newydd is a large house - interesting but can be missed - there are better things.

Your driving times are tight. They don't allow time for getting in and out of the car, finding parking etc. On a short run you almost need to double the times to allow for this.

Do the guided tour of Conwy the night you arrive.

Conwy Castle can be done in 1-2 hours. There is also Plas Mawr the Elizabethan Manor House in Conwy (joint ticket with the Castle) which is well worth visiting too.

You need to allow 1-2 hours for Bodnant Gardens. You may want to eat lunch at Bodnant Gardens as it may be too late to head on to Betwys y Coed afterwards for lunch.

From Betwys y Coed head for Caernarfon and visit the Castle. This is a lot bigger than Conwy and again will need 1-2 hours to do it justice. However if time is at a premium now scamper round quickly and climb the Eagle Tower for the views. In many ways this isn't as interesting inside as Conwy. If time allows go for a walk along the quay and round the walled town.

Days are long in May - sunset is about 9pm. Beaumaris is a marvellous castle and if it is a nice afternoon/evening, it is worth visiting, even though you may only have chance to enjoy the outside. It is also worth driving the extra distance beyond Beaumaris to Penmon Priory (free and open daylight hours). This is well off the tourist beat and doesn't get mentioned in the guide books but is 'hidden gem'.

www.visitanglesey.co.uk/penmon_priory-94.aspx

anglesey-history.co.uk/places/…index.html

Continue down to the end of the road at Black Point for the views. Then head back to Conwy (probably very late by now....which is why you need to do the town tour the first night).

Edited: 10 November 2011, 18:36
Manchester, United...
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4. Re: Would like feedback on one-day itinerary: Northern Wales

Your holiday, your choices, but your plan sounds exhausting! Your itinerary may be doable in terms of getting to each place, but I fear you wouldn't have time to actually see or explore them. Even them you'd be trying to drive at a pace faster than practical at many times or conditions. I'd suggest either extra time in the area or a reduction in the list. I'd certainly omit the woollen mill & slate museum in the circumstances.

Bodnant Gardens is somewhere I've visited several times and always enjoy it. Some days (particularly weekends & school holidays) parking can get crowded so if this is the time of your visit arriving early in the day would be best. The actual gardens cover 80 acres so I'd say 2-3 hours minimum to allow a little time to take in the views, take photos etc - if you're a garden lover & get a good day you can easily spend a lot longer exploring the different paths round the site. In May there should be good displays of rhododendrons & azaleas, may be camellias as well - not sure if the laburnum tunnel will be out or if that's a little later.

Plas Newydd I've also been to - it's a nice enough house with the most distinctive feature being the Whistler mural in the dining room. The setting is lovely with views across the Menai Strait to the peaks of Snowdonia. It's not a place I'd travel to especially, but would happily visit if nearby - at a guess 1-2 hours would include the house & a walk along the waterside garden path.

As for the castles - it's a long time since I visited any of them, but if your time is limited to the one day I'd suggest reading up about the options and picking just one to visit.

I'd also have a bad weather plan - this is a very wet area of the country, so if you do get a deluge you may prefer more of the indoors (castles & houses) than the gardens - especially if you've got other gardens on your lists elsewhere.

5. Re: Would like feedback on one-day itinerary: Northern Wales

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Llandudno North...
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6. Re: Would like feedback on one-day itinerary: Northern Wales

Growing up in Conwy and knowing the area well I would say your itinerary is do-able, but probably only if you drop plas newydd.

If you do Conwy castle in say an hour and a half, bodnant garden is about an hour and a half also, you can then drive for around 25 minutes to Betws-Y-Coed and have a quick drink and snack whilst taking in the bridges and water rapids.This should take no longer than an hour.

The drive to Caernarfon through Capel Curig is a wonderful scenic drive and will take in excellent views. This drive is about 40 minutes.

You would arrive at Caernarfon at around 15.00 and spend around 2 hours viewing the castle and harbour here. The drive back down the A55 to Conwy would take around 40 minutes getting you into Conwy for around 18.00.

This would leave you an hour for a shower and change before dining in Conwy, probably the Castle Hotel is your best bet with some nice wine or a beer after your busy day. After dinner a walk onto the quayside and around the town or on the town walls (free and open 24 hours) which circle Conwy town would burn off some of the dinner calories and leave you tired and ready for bed looking back on a great day Im sure.

Feel free to ask any more questions if you have any

:-)

Liverpool, United...
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7. Re: Would like feedback on one-day itinerary: Northern Wales

@Family-Parry - you are basing your advice on the fact of "knowing the area well" !!!

The OP is from the USA and the driver will not be used to driving on the correct side of the road (joke!)

Plus, you are basing your schedule on perfect driving and weather conditions, and staying at the various locations for stop-watch timed visits.

As we all know - this just doesn't happen!

I could advise you on how to "do" Liverpool in a day; but you'd probably get lost at the first hurdle ! ;-)

Llandudno North...
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8. Re: Would like feedback on one-day itinerary: Northern Wales

Fair point, but maybe that was my plan so they will have to hire me as a guide! :-)

ps as a Liverpool fan and season ticket holder spend loads of time in Liverpool so know my way round pretty well! But see your point lol :-)

La Herradura, Spain
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9. Re: Would like feedback on one-day itinerary: Northern Wales

Both Conwy Castle and Caernarfon Castle are wonderful and if possible, please find time to see both - you will not regret it. Both are spectacular. I have been visiting both almost annually since I was a child and never tire of them. You need several hours in both to do them justice, possibly half a day. Plas Newydd is good if you have time but if you don't, drop this and concentrate on the castles. You will have fantastic memories from them, the castles of Wales are breathtaking.

Fredericksburg, VA
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10. Re: Would like feedback on one-day itinerary: Northern Wales

You do have an ambitious itinerary! We've been to the slate mines and museum and would also advise skipping them. They are certainly interesting, but you don't have the time. Of the 3 castles mentioned above, we liked Conwy and Beaumaris the best, and spent less time at Caernarfon. Betws-Y-Coed could easily take you all day (actually, any of the sites could!). Beaumaris is my personal favorite.

So you do have to decide what is truly important to you and whether you're willing to sacrifice anything. We spent 6 days in N. Wales and could have happily spent lots more.

From the perspective of coming from the US, see the castles. Betws-Y-Coed was beautiful, but reminded me of some places in the US. We didn't make it to Bodnant, but definitely see that if you like gardens. If you can carve out some more time, consider taking a bus or train through the area so you can look around rather than having to watch the road.

FWIW, my family knows I'm a "type A" traveller, and I always keep us running around from place to place, but your itinerary is daunting even to me! Hopefully the rest of your 2 weeks aren't going to be quite this action packed!

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