The network of public transport routes in Wales ensures travelling to and around North Wales by train and bus are easy. Direct trains operate from London Euston, Manchester and Birmingham along the North Wales Coast to Holyhead; and from Birmingham, Shrewsbury and Crewe to the North Wales coast and the Llŷn Peninsula. From Liverpool, there are trains to North Wales with a change in Chester. There are also trains from Edinburgh and Glasgow with a change at Warrington Bank.
Once in North Wales, the main line runs along the north coast via Prestatyn, Rhyl, Colwyn Bay, Llandudno Junction, Conwy and Bangor to Holyhead. There is also a branch line between Wrexham and Shotton and several scenic main lines too including the Cambrian Line and Conwy Valley Line.
Transport for Wales (TfW) offer two for one entry to Cadw's historic sites when purchasing a valid same day rail ticket. Visit the TfW website for more information.
Start your tour in North East Wales
Chirk is located on the Chester to Shrewsbury mainline. From Chirk train station it is 0.25 miles (0.4 km) to the gates of the estate and 1.5 miles (2.4 km) to the castle. Chirk Castle is a magnificent medieval fortress that became a family home. There are 700 years of history which contrasts the austere medieval tower and dungeons with elegant state rooms and fine furniture. Award winning tranquil gardens with rare trees and shrubs, lime tree avenue and spectacular views across nine counties.
Llew Jones’ bus service 64 travels from Chirk to Llangollen which takes around 30mins. Visit Plas Newydd, wander around the town and also take a return journey to Corwen on the Llangollen Railway, a standard gauge railway between Llangollen and Corwen.
Take bus service 5 from Llangollen to Trevor. Alternatively, bus service 64 travels from Parade St to Froncysyllte. Take a leisurely 45min round trip canal boat ride with Anglo Welsh Waterway Holidays on the 'Seren Fach' across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. Other options include a 45min round trip on a horse drawn boat or a 2hr journey on a motorised boat. A picturesque walk along the canal and across the aqueduct from Llangollen is 4 miles (6.4 km) and would take around 1.5hrs. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the longest aqueduct in Britain. Built by Thomas Telford, it is a spectacular piece of engineering, completed in the 19th century to carry the canal over the River Dee. The structure is 307 metres (1,007 ft) long, 38 metres (125 ft) high and holds 1.5 million litres of water. It was recently included in TripAdvisor’s 10 heat-pumping places to visit. Walking across the aqueduct takes about a 30mins round trip.
A 25min walk from Llangollen takes you to Castell Dinas Bran (a landmark in the town of Llangollen). Climb to the top and look for the Holy Grail, as according to legend, it is buried here.
To get to the medieval market town of Ruthin, a suggestion is to take the Llangollen Railway to Corwen then bus service 55 operated by M&H Coaches, which takes about 1hr in total. Ruthin Craft Centre, Ruthin Gaol and Nantclwyd Y Dre Historic House and Gardens are worth a visit.
From Chester, the mainline takes you to Flint, Colwyn Bay, Llandudno and Conwy, the latter being two popular tourist destinations which are a good base to stay and travel around North Wales. Visit traveline.cymru to plan your route.
Flint Castle is just a 5min walk from the railway station. Its design is both unique and sophisticated and is described as 'a castle within a castle'. The attraction is free to visit.
The seafront at Colwyn Bay is an 8min walk and has undergone a redevelopment programme. Porth Eirias beach offers adventure activity and is where the Michelin awarded Bib Gourmand restaurant Bryn Willaims at Porth Eirias lies.
Please note that not all trains stop at Llandudno station. Travellers may need to change at Llandudno Junction.
The Victorian seaside resort of Llandudno has much to offer and may take a full day to visit everything. Your clients may just want to take a stroll along Llandudno Pier. For those who like to shop, there are plenty of big name stores and smaller independent shops and galleries. Mostyn Art Gallery is Wales’ leading contemporary gallery and visual arts centre. Penderyn Lloyd St Distillery offer 1hr tours around the Old Board School building. Learn how Penderyn was founded and see how the whisky is made, before sampling some products at the tasting bar. Hire a bicycle for a half or full day with Beics Betws @ Llandudno who also provide local bike routes for safe cycling.
One of Llandudno's main features is the Great Orme. Either travel or walk to the summit, or take a trip around the Orme on a sightseeing bus. Great Orme Tramway is Britain’s only cable-hauled street tramway which starts at Victoria Station. Llandudno Cable Car is Britain’s longest passenger cable car system. The 9min journey takes you up 207 metres (679 ft) with views of the bay, Little Orme and the Conwy Estuary. All are within and is an easy walk from the train station through the high street and its Victorian shops or along the promenade. City Sightseeing hop-on-off tour offers a blue route explorer ticket which can be combined with the red route ticket to visit the Orme. Another option is to travel around the Orme with the Vintage Marine Drive Tour.
For clients taking the tram, disembark at the Halfway Station and visit the Great Orme Bronze Age Copper Mine, or continue to the Summit Complex which has a gift shop, eateries, mini golf, walking maps and a visitor centre. The journey up to the summit takes 30mins.
Please note that not all mainline trains stop in Conwy, so please check the timetable. The historic walled town is a 15min walk from Llandudno Junction station.
A visit to Conwy Castle is a must - built for Edward I, by Master James of St George, it is amongst the finest surviving medieval fortifications in Britain. Allow at least 1hr to explore the castle. Plas Mawr is a well preserved Elizabethan townhouse. Inside the house are 17 rooms of bright, lavish furnishings and ornate plasterwork to explore. Conwy Mussel Museum offers free entry from Easter to end of August and is located on the quay. Musseling continues in the traditional way as Conwy was once an important fisher of pearls in the country. Learn about Roman times pearl fishing, the harvesting of mussels and the best way to eat them. Also on the quayside is The Smallest House in Great Britain. The former fisherman's cottage is only 1.8 metres (5.9 ft) wide, which has only one room downstairs and again upstairs.
Amanda Whitehead of Conwy Tours is a Wales Blue Badge Guide and offers guided tours of the town starting at the Tourist Information Centre.
There is a direct bus service 25 from Llandudno to the estate. Bodnant Garden is a National Trust property. The large garden is home to exotic plants from across the world. The five Italianate terraces and formal lawns lead to a wooded valley with a stream running through a secluded wild garden.
Bodnant Welsh Food is on the same estate and is a 1.3 mile walk (2.1 km) away on a road with no pavement. The food centre stocks a range of Welsh produce in its stone farm buildings dating back to the 18th century. A tearoom, restaurant, cookery school are on site as well as the National Beekeeping Centre for Wales.
Attractions accessible from Bangor
The mainline travels onto Bangor and then through to Anglesey. Bangor can be a great base to visit other attractions.
Penrhyn Castle and Garden is 2 miles (3.2 km) from Bangor. There are regular buses from Bangor bus station which take around 25mins. From the bus stop at the gate, walk for 1 mile (1.6 km) to the castle. Owned by The National Trust, it is a ‘Neo-Norman’ fantasy castle. Visitors can admire the unique architecture, opulent interiors and fine art collection along with magnificent views over the Menai Strait. Also on site is the industrial railway museum, a café and the Castle shop.
From Bangor bus station, bus service 58 and bus service 62 travels across the Menai Bridge to Anglesey in around 20mins. RibRide takes adventurers on an exhilarating sightseeing boat ride along the Menai Strait, passing under the two spectacular bridges which connect the mainland to the island. 'Puffins and Seals' is another of the adventures offered which travels past the colourful houses of Beaumaris before heading to Puffin Island. Boat trips last between 1hr to 1.5hrs and each boat takes up to 11 people (weather dependant).
Continue on bus service 58 to Plas Cadnant Hidden Gardens. From the bus stop at Hideaway Cottage, the garden is a 0.8 mile (1.29 km) walk. Alternatively, a walk from Menai Bridge is 1.3 miles (2.1 km) and would take around 30mins. The historic garden is described as one of North Wales’ best kept secrets.
Bus service X4 from Bangor stops at Llanfair PG which has the longest place name in Europe. Take a photo stop at Llanfair PG station. The full name is Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, translated as St Mary's Church in the hollow of the white hazel near the rapid whirlpool and the church of St Tysilio by the red cave. Transport for Wales also run trains to the station from Bangor. Alternatively, the walk from Menai Bridge is 1.9 miles (3.06 km) and would take around 40mins.
Travel to Plas Newydd House & Garden on a range of bus services from Bangor to Llangefni. The National Trust property is home to the Marquess of Anglesey and offers spectacular views across the Menai Strait to Snowdonia. This elegant 18th century house is an interesting mixture of classical and Gothic. The comfortable interior, restyled in the 1930s, is famous for its association with Rex Whistler, whose largest painting, and exhibition of his work, is found here. The garden provide colour throughout the seasons.
Disembark at Brynsiencyn from bus service 42 / 42a and walk 1.4 miles (2.25 km) to Halen Môn Sea Salt. The salt flakes are harvested from the Menai Strait in Anglesey, with a mineral content that makes it unique in appearance, texture and taste. Visitors can tour the Saltcote visitor centre and learn about the history of the sea salt and how it was produced with a trained guide. It is suitable for up to 12 guests, includes a tutored salt tasting and lasts approximately 60mins. On site, there is a shop selling Halen Môn products and other Welsh produce, and an outdoor café. For an extended day out, walk 4mins to Anglesey Sea Zoo. Group rates are available.
Stay on bus service 58 to Beaumaris, a pretty seaside town with pastel coloured buildings. Beaumaris Castle was built by King Edward I in the 13th century and has perfectly symmetrical and classic proportions. One of the castle's highlights is the little chapel housed in one of the towers and its inner wall passageways. Walk through the corridors, cells and punishment areas at Beaumaris Gaol. The prison provides a fascinating insight of those incarcerated during the 19th century.
Attractions accessible from the Conwy Valley Line – Llandudno to Blaenau Ffestiniog
Gwydir Castle is a 10min walk from Tu Hwnt i’r Bont. It is a restored 16th century manor with a reputation for being one of Wales’ most haunted homes.
Continue on the train from Llandudno to Betws-y-Coed. The popular village is the official gateway to Snowdonia and has many independent shops, galleries, cafés and a railway museum. The river walk can take between 20mins to 2hrs - depending on ability. Mountain and off road bike hire is also available at Beics Betws.
From Betws-y-Coed, your clients can get on bus service T10 and travel 7mins to Swallow Falls, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). It is 2.2 miles (3.54 km) from the village and would take around 50mins to walk. There is a small fee to pay to access the falls. Close to the entrance is a viewing platform to see the spectacular waterfall, and steps leading down to the edge of the river if feeling more energetic.
Dolwyddelan Castle is set on a hillside and is 1.1 miles (1.8 km) from Dolwyddelan Station. The walk to the castle would take 25mins leading up to the castle but it can only be viewed externally.
Disembark at Blaenau Ffestiniog station and walk 1.5 miles (2.4 km) for adventure at Zip World Llechwedd. There are four adventures at the site including Titan 2 - a four person seated zip line; The Deep Mine which takes visitors 500 feet below ground; Bounce Below - a series of nets and trampolines inside a vast underground chamber; and Caverns - an exploration of a former slate mine using zip lines, tightropes and rope bridges.
See the Conwy Valley Railway map for more information about all the stations for the attractions on the line.
Caernarfon is accessible from Blaenau Ffestiniog. Take the Ffestiniog Railway to Porthmadog and then the Welsh Highland Railway to Caernarfon. Alternatively bus service 5C takes 30min from Bangor. Caernarfon Castle served as a royal palace for King Edward I in the late 13th century and was the birthplace of his son Edward II. King Charles III was invested as Prince of Wales in the castle in 1969 and the royal chairs along with a short video of the event can be seen in one of the towers. The castle stands on the bank of the Menai Strait, where a choice of 2hr or 45min boat trips can be taken with Menai Strait Cruises. There are plenty of independent shops cafés and restaurants to be found in the town. Bike hire is available from Beics Antur Bikes located in the town centre.
Attractions accessible along the Llŷn Peninsula
Travel to the Italianate village and gardens of Portmeirion on the Ffestiniog Railway or the Cambrian Line. Disembark at Minffordd and walk 1 mile (1.61 km) which takes around 20mins. It was created by Welsh architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1975 which was made famous by the TV series The Prisoner. There are 70 acres of sub-tropical gardens, lakes and woodlands to explore along miles of pathways. There is self catering accommodation and a hotel on site along with restaurants, cafes and shops. Visit Portmeirion’s ‘How to get here’ page for more information.
There is an option to visit Harlech Castle. Although classed as Mid Wales, it is not far from the border. Travel to Harlech station on the Cambrian Line. The castle sits on a rocky outcrop overlooking Cardigan Bay. It was built by thousands of labourers and craftsmen at the end of the 13th century. Two rings of walls with towers and a gatehouse meant invasion was impossible. The ‘floating’ bridge connects the castle from the visitor centre which has hi-tech interpretation and a café.
Direct trains travel to Porthmadog from Birmingham International and Shrewsbury. It can also be reached using the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway. The picturesque harbour town has plenty of independent shops, eateries, a railway museum and a maritime museum. The Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways are also located in Porthmadog.
The Snowdon Sherpa bus service travels from Porthmadog or Caernarfon to Beddgelert. The mountain and riverside village with quaint stone cottages was made famous by the legend of Prince Llewelyn and his trusted dog Gelert. Walk to Gelert’s grave and discover the story before returning to the village for refreshments. The Welsh Highland Railway also stops at the village. Hourly or daily bicycle hire is available from 1085 Adventures.
There are direct trains from Birmingham international and Pwllheli to Criccieth. Bus service 3 also travels here from Pwllheli and Porthmadog. The charming Victorian resort’s main landmark is Criccieth Castle, perched on a headland with magnificent views toward two coastlines. The interactive visitor centre provides a glimpse of the castle - scarred by serious conflict - as it was hundreds of years ago.
Attractions accessible from 'end of the line' station at Pwllheli
Take bus service 17, 17B and 18 from Pwllheli to the coastal village of Llanbedrog which takes 16mins.The sandy coast is lined with colourful beach huts. Visit Plas Glyn-y-Weddw Arts Centre which has a leading gallery dedicated to contemporary Welsh Art, with exhibitions taking place throughout the year. There is also a café and shop on site. From the centre there is a 2.3 mile (3.6 km) circular walk which takes around 2hrs. Key features along the walk include mature woodlands, views of Cardigan Bay from the headland and the Tin Man sculpture.
Use bus service 17 / 17B to Aberdaron. A short walk from the mile long sandy beach is Porth y Swnt, an interpretation centre revealing the history and culture of the Llŷn Peninsula. Walk along the coast path to Porth Meudwy and take a boat trip to Bardsey Island, the 'Isle of 20,000 Saints'. Much wildlife can be seen on the trip including seals, porpoise and peregrines. Spend 4hrs on the island before the return trip back. Check seasonal times with the operator.
Nefyn and Porthdinllaen
Bus service 8, 8A and 8B goes to Nefyn and Morfa Nefyn. Ty Coch Inn is located in a beautiful spot on the peninsula of Porthdinllaen. It is only accessible by foot, walking along the Wales Coast Path. En-route is Nefyn Golf Club, possibly Wales’ most photographed course.
The village of Nant Gwrtheyrn was abandoned in the 1970s after quarries closed and the village was no longer needed. Today, it has been fully renovated and is now a development centre for the Welsh language. Visit the quarryman's cottage and the heritage centre or walk along one of the network of paths. There is a restaurant and accommodation on site. Bus service 27 travels to the village of Llithfaen and Nant Gwrtheyrn is 1.5 miles away (2.4 km), approximately a 35min walk.
Attractions at Llanberis
Llanberis can be reached direct from either Caernarfon or Bangor. If travelling on the Welsh Highland Railway, disembark at Caernarfon and take the Snowdon Sherpa bus service S1 to Llanberis. From Bangor, Snowdon Sherpa bus service S2 also travels to Llanberis.
Travel into the past of an industry and way of life by visiting the National Slate Museum. It is located in the Victorian workshops built in the shadow of Elidir mountain which was the site of the vast Dinorwig quarry.
Llanberis Lake Railway is a 5 mile (8 km) return journey taking up to 1hr between Gilfach Ddu and Llanberis station. Sites on the journey include the 13th century Dolbadarn Castle, birthplace of the Welsh Prince Llywelyn the Great, Padarn Country Park and Lake Padarn - the largest of the two lakes in Llanberis - and the spectacular views of the mountains in the Snowdonia National Park.
- Avanti West Coast
- Cambrian Line – Machynlleth to Pwllheli Coast Line
- Conwy Valley Railway
- National Rail
- Transport for Wales
Traveline Cymru has lots of useful information on planning your journey.
The Explore Wales Pass allows unlimited access to Wales’ rail and bus network and discounts for participating attractions and accommodation. See the webpage for full terms and conditions of use.
Conwy Valley Railway – map of stations between the North Wales Coast and the Heart of Snowdonia (Llandudno to Blaenau Ffestiniog).
The train service in Wales is run by Transport for Wales – see the network map for all routes in Wales provided by the service.
Wales on Rails – promoting tourism by using public transport throughout Wales and includes itineraries, attractions, rail routes and bus routes, upcoming events and you can purchase tickets.
fflecsi - a flexible way to plan and travel by bus on selected routes by booking a ride via the app or phone.
Gwynedd Council - bus timetables
Great Little Trains of Wales steam trains
Bala Lake Railway – 9 mile (14.5 km) return journey taking around 1hr running alongside Bala Lake through Snowdonia National Park.
Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway - Caernarfon to Porthmadog (Welsh Highland Railway) and Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog (Ffestiniog Railway). The two lines offer visitors a 40 mile (64 km) journey across Snowdonia.
Welsh Highland Heritage Railway - situated in Porthmadog, close to mainline railway station. The journey takes around 1hr, including a stop at the engine sheds for guided tours.
Llanberis Lake Railway – 5 mile (8 km) return journey takes up to 1hr starting at Gilfach Ddu.
Snowdon Mountain Railway – the journey begins at Llanberis Station and travels to the summit of Snowdon, taking 2.5hrs which includes a 30min stop at the peak.
Llangollen Railway – a 10 mile (16.1 km) journey starting in Llangollen through the Dee Valley to Corwen.