With its emerald-green coastline, sheltered beaches, sweeping promenade and abundance of family activities, it is little wonder the seaside town of Llandudno on the Conwy coast is hailed as “Queen of the Welsh resorts.”
Popular over the summer for a good old-fashioned seaside stay, its spectacular scenery, well-preserved history and plentiful attractions make it an appealing getaway at any time of the year.
Tucked between the Great and Little Orme headlands, Llandudno is home to the longest pier in Wales, has Victorian seafront architecture and pastel-coloured hotels, as well as lush greenery, dramatic clifftops and historic castles.
For more, see visitwales.com
How to get there
Llandudno straddles a peninsula with the Irish Sea on one side and the River Conwy estuary on the other. A trip 200m above sea level to Great Orme delivers incredible views of the town.
The railway station is in the heart of the town. It is mainly served by Transport for Wales trains, with most journeys requiring a change at nearby Llandudno Junction. There is plenty to do and see within walking distance and the seafront is a six-minute stroll from the station.
Where to stay
Built in 1854, St George’s Hotel on the seafront is steeped in history. It is grand yet welcoming, with modern comforts and wonderful views. Plenty of famous guests have graced the hotel with their presence, including seven British prime ministers – Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher and William Gladstone among them. French emperor Napoleon III and Otto von Bismarck, the politician who united Germany in 1871, also stayed the night. The hotel retains its classic charm and many original features and has doubles, with accessible options available, from £125, including a full Welsh breakfast.
The Clifton Villa Guest House is also well located, just 200m from the beach and pier, with pubs and restaurants less than a minute’s walk away. Doubles from £70 B&B.
More Visit Wales-graded accommodation can be found on visitwales.com.
Day One: Up with the sun
Begin with a bite at The Loaf Coffee & Sandwich Bar, perfect for breakfast, brunch, or coffee. A highlight is the delicious Welsh rarebit with garlic mushrooms. Open Tues-Sun, times vary.
The family-run Llandudno Chocolate Experience gives an interesting insight into the history of chocolate, with samples to nibble along the way. After the self-guided tour, you can go across the road to buy hand-made chocolates from Maisie’s Chocolate Shop which sells award-winning artisan and luxury chocolates, as well as fudge and real hot chocolate in 16 flavours. Open Tues-Sat.
Who can forget the sight of the Kashmiri goats roaming the streets of Llandudno during the lockdowns? Well, you can still see them – but now in their usual home on the Great Orme.
The Great Orme is Llandudno’s mini-mountain, rising 207m out of the sea. Get to it using the Great Orme Tramway. Britain’s only cable-hauled public road tramway, it has been ferrying passengers to the summit since 1898. £9.50 adults, £7 children.
Alternatively, take a ride up on llandudno-cable-car-p277371″>Llandudno’s cable cars, Britain’s longest passenger cable-car system, with breath-taking aerial views. £12.50 return adults, £10 children.
As well as magnificent coastal scenery and wildlife, the summit is bursting with things to do for families.
The Llandudno Snow Sports Centre offers action and adventure, with the longest toboggan track in Wales and bouncy rides in inflatable sno-tubes, as well as dry-slope skiing and boarding. Prices vary.
You can also visit the Great Orme Bronze Age Mine, part of an old copper mining system beneath the Orme. Explore the tunnels and get a feel for the harsh conditions experienced by ancestors. £9 adults, £6 children.
Time for a sundowner
Ocean’s Bar, right at the end of Llandudno Pier, is a dog-friendly spot from which you can soak up views of the Great Orme, the sea and the promenade. Enjoy the sunset with an ice-cold lager in hand.
Bistro Bach in the Craig-y-Don area is family-run and uses locally sourced ingredients; the pot roast beef and Welsh lamb are popular. It is near Venue Cymru, Llandudno’s theatre and concert arena, which is on the seafront and offers a variety of shows and entertainment to enjoy after spending the day on the beach.
Day two: Hit the beach
There are two in Llandudno: North Shore, the principal beach with a long Victorian pier and wide promenade; and West Shore, which has views across to Anglesey and as far as Snowdonia. Wales’s longest pier was originally 242ft long when it opened in 1858. Now measuring 2,295ft, it is Grade II listed. With its eye-catching ferris wheel and abundance of stalls, the pier offers food, entertainment, gifts and crafts.
Nothing beats fish and chips eaten on the beach. Chish ‘N’ Fips, a street back from the promenade, has some of the tastiest and freshest around. It reopens on Monday 12 September.
Time to relax
Happy Valley park is a haven from the weekend hustle and bustle on the east side of the Great Orme. It was donated to the town by Lord Mostyn as a celebration of the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887.
The gardens have an Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland theme and feature sculptures of the characters. A path which winds through the trees and past the rockery, is worth the climb for the gorgeous views.
For families with younger children, Bodafon Farm Park, set just back from the seafront, is a lovely working farm where you can hand-feed goats, deer and llamas and walk around the large collection of owls.
A final treat
With its quirky Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland décor, the Looking Glass ice cream parlour is a delightful place for a sweet treat. The family-run business has an impressive range of irresistible flavours as well as heavenly milkshakes and bubble waffles. It truly is a wonderland, and everything should be labelled “Eat me”.
Three things you might not know about Llandudno…
1) Legend has it that Llandudno – a holiday destination visited by the real Alice in Wonderland, Alice Liddell – inspired the Lewis Carroll classic and that he even wrote some of the book during a stay in the town.
2) Llandudno is the childhood home of former Australian prime minister Billy Hughes. He emigrated to Australia in 1884 and was chosen as prime minister in 1915.
3) The town has the longest-running Punch and Judy show in Britain. Professor Codman’s Punch and Judy, now in the fifth generation of his family, is still entertaining visitors on the Promenade with its slapstick humour after more than 160 years.