Obviously with non-essential shops and restaurants still closed, and events and activities still unable to take place, we had to get creative to fill our 3 night stay in North Wales. However, this was much easier than we anticipated due to the breathtaking surroundings of the Snowdonia National Park and the (admittedly unusual) beautiful spring weather.
Here’s our top recommendations for filling a long lockdown weekend in North Wales:
1) Stay at the Tropicaravan
Being selective about your accommodation is more important than ever, it certainly made our trip what it was. You know that feeling you get when you’re sooo comfortable that you feel like you’re gunna melt? Yeh- we highly reccommend!
We wanted to be sure that we had somewhere cosy to retreat to should the weather turn bad/in case literally everything was closed due to lockdown restrictions. We chose the ‘Tropicaravan’ due to its stunning location, exotic vibe and brilliant reviews on Air bnb. It’s located just outside of the rural village of Llansannan and provided the perfect isolated retreat but also a fantastic jumping off point for day-trips to Conwy and Llandudno. It can be impossible to find by instructions alone, but when we put the coordinates provided by the host family into google maps, it led us straight there (be careful to slow down when driving through the farm land and try not to get too distracted by the breathtaking views).
We got so lucky that our hosts were the sweetest people. They allowed us to roam their farm grounds freely, feed their peacock (shoutout to Mr. Cocky for his evening screamo performances), and they even allowed us to cuddle with the newborn lambs that had arrived just two days before!
2) Drive the A5 route from Betws-Y-Coed to Bangor
Although there are quite literally hundreds of country lanes with the most beautiful views, we enjoyed this route the most. The actual drive is relatively short, around 35 minutes, but it can easily end up taking well over an hour due to numerous photography stops.
3) Eat like a local at ‘The Cheese Room’ in Conwy
We recommend the cheddar with port and brandy! The flavours were subtle enough to balance such a unique blend but the real selling point was the texture of the cheese, I have never tried a cheddar so creamy and bouncy – not to mention the beautiful pink colour!
4) Hike the Swallow Falls trail
Let’s get the disappointment out of the way first: the actual waterfalls are closed to the public. We’ll be honest, we never would have hiked for an hour through uphill woodland if we’d have known the waterfalls were shut.
However, we are so glad that we did! The only regret we do actually have, is that we didn’t take our swim suits with us to slip into the crystal clear waters like we saw other people doing.
If swimming in 10°c is not your thing, do make sure you take the time to ‘forest bathe’. This is a type of Japanese relaxation. It is really simple and can be so rewarding. All you need to do is find a space in the forest where you can simply be quiet and listen to your surroundings. When you are still, the forest really comes alive. From experience, this is a lovely activity for younger children to do as well. Perhaps guide them with a checklist of things they can listen and look out for. Our favourite sight was the birds building their nests out of twigs and stolen sheep’s wool.
You can find the route we took easily by parking in the village of Betws-Y-Coed. The village is small but there are plenty of parking opportunities. We simply found a free space on the side of the main road that runs alongside the river Llugwy. The road has several access points to get down to the Gwydir Forest trail. It is then about two miles up to the falls.
Unusual sights on this trail:
– The Wish Tree – this is a felled tree with tens of coins forced into the trunk. The superstition goes that a person who hammers a coin into the wood will be cured of any illness they are suffering from.
– Abandoned Mine – Although this is fenced off, it is an interesting and unexpected piece of history to pass on a forest walk.
Note: there are some fallen trees that need navigating and several flooded areas that needed jumping over after rainfall.
5) Order fresh from ‘Hangin’ Pizza’
Probably some of the best pizzas we have ever tasted. We went due to the many (manyyyy) recommendations left in the guest book at the Tropicaravan. Lloyd ordered the Mozzarella, Salami and Prosciutto and I got the goats cheese, caramelised onion and rocket, yummy!
They also sell a Welsh cider named ‘Orchard Gold’ which we highly recommend! It tasted like crisp, sharp apples. The perfect compliment to the wood-fired pizza.
There is a lush green playing field located across the road from the restaurant which is a popular spot with locals and visitors alike for picnicking and having a rest.
Note: there are public toilets located opposite Hangin’ Pizza which cost 30p to enter.
6) Visit the town with the longest place name in Europe
One of the more unusual recommendations on this list, but as you can see from the picture, brought Hannah (the word-nerd) quite a lot of joy.
The full name of this town is Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. This is shortened on road signs for obvious reasons, so if you’d like to see the name in full, head to the local train station.
With 58 characters, making it the second longest place name in the world, it also has a spectacularly specific meaning. The name translates as: The church of Mary in the hollow of the white hazel near the fierce whirlpool and the church of Tysilio by the red cave.
7) Drive to the top of Happy Valley
Located in Llandudno, Happy Valley seems like the perfect day out when there isn’t a national lockdown hanging over the area. There is usually skiing, cable car rides and putting greens accessible to the public. With these features unavailable, we took the chance to visit anyway and see what was around.
Again, we were extremely lucky because when we arrived, we were greeted by some of the most incredibly beach views we had ever seen. The sea seemed to stretch on forever. We decided to have our lunch at the top of the hill, we were lazy and drove up, but having spoken to some locals they said the route up and around the hill should take 1.5-2 hours. There were lots of people walking- it seemed like the most popular place we had visited during out trip to North Wales.
Although we visited at midday, we would recommend heading up to watch the sunset as we bet the views are fantastic. On a clear day, you will see for miles.
8) See the spectacular Conwy Castle
Perhaps an unpopular opinion, but we find that the outside of castles are always way more impressive than the inside! So we were particularly excited to visit the iconic Conwy Castle without having the guilt of not paying to go inside.
We recommend walking back over the bridge that brings you into the town centre for photo opportunities. Bonus: you will also get brilliant views out over the sea.
Let us know what you love most about North Wales and your top recommendations for a lockdown trip in the comments section below!