The big trip

A weekend in Llandudno, north Wales

Everything you need to know for a break in this Welsh ‘seaside gem’

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Why you should visit Llandudno

In its 2022 travel predictions, Booking.com picked out Llandudno as one of this year’s top trending destinations to explore. Known as “the Queen of the Welsh Watering Places”, this Victorian “seaside gem” is a perfect base for exploring beaches, nature, and castles along the north Wales coast. 

On a weekend break in Llandudno visitors should “stroll along the pier, take a tram up a mountain and search for dolphins”, said Jo Fletcher Cross in National Geographic. For a “proper” British seaside escape, Llandudno “fits the bill”. 

You’re “going to love” Llandudno, said Kayak.co.uk. With a “dash of relaxation” and a “pinch of excitement”, it’s the “perfect spot for a getaway with a partner, friends, or family”.

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Llandudno Cable Cars ascending the Great Orme

Llandudno Cable Cars ascending the Great Orme

Alan Novelli/Alamy Stock Photo

Top attractions: things to see and do

Walk or hike the Great Orme…

If you want to see the town in all of its glory, then make sure you head to the Great Orme. This formidable limestone headland, regarded as Llandudno’s “own mini-mountain”, has spectacular views at the top. The two-and-a-half mile walk from the town to the summit takes around two hours, said Walks Around Britain. At the top there’s a visitor centre, nature reserve, pitch ‘n’ putt golf and a play area. On a clear day it’s possible to see as far as the Isle of Man, Blackpool and Lake District.

There are lots of different walks up and around the Great Orme summit, said Visit Conwy. With a long route of 4.2 miles and short route of 3.2 miles, the Great Orme Historical Trail offers “spectacular views of Liverpool Bay, the Carneddau range, the Menai Strait and Anglesey”. Other nice walks include the Great Orme Nature Trail and Great Orme Summit Trails. 

The Great Orme Circular, a “moderately challenging” 5.6-mile loop, is “great for hiking and walking”, said All Trails. Open all year-round, it takes just under three hours to complete. 

…or take the tram 

If walking or hiking is not on your weekend agenda, then you can also take a tram to reach the summit. Opened in 1902, the Great Orme Tramway is Britain’s “only funicular, or cable-hauled, tramway that travels on public roads”. Leaving from the town’s Victoria Station, it climbs a mile through the Great Orme country park and nature reserve to the summit. The tram runs from April to late October, 10am to 6pm, but closes at 5pm during March and October. Standard return tickets, which can be bought at the station, cost £8.50 in low season or £9.50 in high season for adults and £6 or £7 for children (aged three to 16). High season is July and August. Family tickets and single journey tickets are also available.

Llandudno Cable Cars

The Llandudno Cable Cars continue to be “one of town’s most popular attractions” and glide silently from Happy Valley to the summit of the Great Orme, said Visit Conwy. You can buy single or return tickets from the Happy Valley station or the summit terminus. 

A day at the beach 

There are five beaches – North Shore, West Shore, Deganwy, Conwy Morfa, and Penrhyn Bay – in and around the town of Llandudno, said TheBeachGuide.co.uk. North Shore is Llandudno’s main beach and home to the town’s Grade II-listed pier. There are “some sandy sections” on the North Shore, but it is “mainly pebbles towards high tide”.

Llandudno Pier 

This “engagingly old-fashioned” seaside resort has “a wealth of well-preserved Victorian architecture”, said Fodor’s Travel. And its “ornate” amusement pier has entertainment, shops, and places to eat. Kids will “love to explore” the longest pier in Wales, said VisitWales.com. It’s home to “noisy, colourful” fairground rides, ice cream sellers and shops packed with seaside gifts. Britain’s oldest Punch & Judy show is performed from a red and white striped booth near the entrance to the pier.

Castles 

There are eight castles and palaces to pick from in and around the town and region, said Day Out With The Kids. Located four-and-a-half miles from Llandudno, the mediaeval walled town of Conwy is home to a perfectly preserved 12th century castle. 

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Bodysgallen Hall and Spa

Bodysgallen Hall and Spa

Where to stay: best hotels in Llandudno

Situated a few miles south of the town, Bodysgallen Hall and Spa is The Telegraph’s top rated hotel in Llandudno. With “600 years of history” and “sublime views” to the mountains and coast, it’s “a great base to explore the seaside, castle-topped Conwy or the high peaks of Snowdonia”. 

Hip, elegant and great value, Tynedale Hotel is the “coolest luxury hotel” in Llandudno, said Sara Lind on LuxuryHotel.Guru. It’s set just 20m from the beach and offers modern rooms and regular live evening entertainment. Bodysgallen Hall and Spa, St George’s Hotel, Bella Vista and Belmont Llandudno are also highly rated by the site. 

Lawton & Lauriston Court Hotel was named as the second best in the UK in the 2021 Tripadvisor Traveller’s Choice Best of the Best awards, WalesOnline reported. Located right on the seafront, the family-run Victorian townhouse has 35 rooms and “luscious sea views” of Llandudno Bay.

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A 1932 postcard depicting ‘the end of a perfect day’ in Llandudno

A 1932 postcard depicting ‘the end of a perfect day’ in Llandudno

Lordprice Collection/Alamy Stock Photo

Where to eat and drink: best restaurants and pubs

Restaurants in Llandudno are “known for their diversity, with taste and flavours from around the world”, said Go North Wales. A visit isn’t complete without having some fish and chips. Llandudno’s fish and chips shops “are anything but fast food – the quality of produce is incredible”. 

If it’s a “charismatic pub” you’re looking for then the “delicious food” at The Cottage Loaf ranges from “the traditional” to the “more exotic”, said Lonely Planet. “Tucked down an alleyway” off Mostyn Street, it has “an atmosphere of genuine bonhomie”. Other top rated eateries in Llandudno include The Seahorse Restaurant, Characters Teahouse, and The Ham Bone Food Hall & Brasserie.

According to RestaurantGuru.com, Paysanne in nearby Deganwy is the No.1 place to eat. This French restaurant serves up “mouthwatering” hake, lamb and garlic shrimps – “do not delay your visit”. 

Located six miles east on The Promenade at Colwyn Bay, Bryn Williams at Porth Eirias has been awarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand. This “striking beachside brasserie” is “the place to come”, said the Michelin Guide. “The owner is proud of his Welsh roots and it shows on the menu. Cooking is pleasingly unfussy and local seafood is to the fore.”

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Llandudno railway station sign Wales

CBsigns/Alamy Stock Photo

Transport: how to get there

Trains

Llandudno station on Augusta Street is mainly served by Transport for Wales trains, said TheTrainline.com. It connects directly to Rhyl in 30 minutes, Blaenau Ffestiniog in 1hr 15mins and Manchester Piccadilly in 2hrs 15m. The station is a nine-minute walk away from North Shore beach.

Driving 

Located on the Creuddyn Peninsula in north Wales, Llandudno is easily accessible by car. It’s 55 miles from Liverpool, 80 miles from Manchester, 190 miles from Cardiff and 250 miles from London. 

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Alice in Wonderland carved wooden statue in Llandudno

Alice in Wonderland carved wooden statue in Llandudno

Dave Ellison/Alamy Stock Photo

What the locals say…

If you’re looking for some adventure then “whizz down the Orme” on the dry ski slope or play golf at “classic” championship courses, said the Visit Conwy tourism board. It was also here that Alice Pleasance Liddell, who inspired Alice in Wonderland, holidayed as a child. “There’s an Alice Trail map and souvenir guide that’s easy to navigate – simply follow the White Rabbit’s bronze footprints around the town.”

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