Denbigh Castle, Plas Mawr and Conwy Castle are in the care of Cadw. Register with the Cadw Tour Operator Scheme (CTOS) to become a member of Cadw’s online group booking scheme. Members benefit from preferential trade rates and discounts, complimentary admission for your tour leader, complimentary introductions to Cadw monuments, enhanced information for existing tours and invoicing following your visit. Site Entry tickets are currently released one week in advance of visit. See Cadw Admissions for more information.
Start The North Wales Way at Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Llangollen which is a spectacular piece of engineering, completed in the 19th century to carry the canal over the River Dee. This is the largest aqueduct in Britain and the work was undertaken by Thomas Telford. 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. Your clients can either walk across (allow 45 min for a round trip) or take a leisurely canal boat ride (around 45min or longer 2hr chartered boat trips). Companies also offer narrowboat holidays from here. One essential item is a camera because the views are stunning! There is a long stay car park for coaches on Queen Street, LL14 3NP.
Continue to the small town of Llangollen on the edge of the River Dee, famous for the Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, established after World War two to encourage peace between the nations. Highlights today, include a voyage on the Llangollen Steam Railway, a visit to Plas Newydd House and Garden, a black and white timber framed house home to the ‘infamous’ Ladies of Llangollen or climb to the top of Castell Dinas Bran and look for the Holy Grail as according to legend, it is buried here! There are designated parking spaces for coaches on Market Street in the town.
Continue to Ruthin Craft Centre this iconic building’s undulating roofs were designed to mimic the surrounding Clwydian hills. There are three galleries, six artist studios, retail gallery, education and residency workshops, tourist information gateway and café with courtyard terrace serving locally produced food. There is designated parking for coaches on-site.
Ruthin Gaol the only purpose-built Pentonville style prison in the UK that is open to the public as a heritage attraction. Visitors can explore and learn about Victorian prison life –the diet, the work schedule and the harsh punishments, including the 'dark' and condemned cell. Find out about the Welsh Houdini and William Hughes who was the last man to be hanged there. They host an artisan market on the last Sunday of the month. Please note the Gaol is closed during the winter months from October to March. However, groups can arrange a visit during these months by calling +44 (0) 1824 708218.
There is a car park which has spaces for coaches on Park Road, Ruthin.
Overnight suggestion: Ruthin
Nantclwyd y Dre is Wales’s oldest dated timbered town house and is a short walk from Ruthin Gaol. It was started in 1435 and has been added to, updated and upgraded throughout the centuries. Today, Nantclwyd y Dre has been beautifully restored to show the changing fashions and lives of its residents and interactive television screens help visitors learn more about the house and its inhabitants. Please note the attraction is closed during the winter months from October to March. However, groups can arrange a visit during these months by calling +44 (0) 1824 708218.
Denbigh Castle is one of Edward the first's 13th century castles although not as well known as the ‘Iron Ring of Castles’. It was built upon an existing Welsh castle and today historians highlight its unique triple-towered great gatehouse as one of the key points of interest on the site. Allow about 45min for a visit.
Holywell dates back to Roman times and it has been attracting Christian pilgrimages since c660. It is named after St Winefride's Well, a holy well surrounded by a chapel. According to legend, Saint Winefride was beheaded by Caradog who attempted to attack her and a well appeared where her head fell to the ground. The well is one of the Seven Wonders of Wales. Today, many pilgrims from all over the world continue to visit Holywell and the Well. There is a bus layby used by coaches opposite Tesco's on Rue St. Gregoire.
St Asaph Cathedral is a 13th century cathedral and is the smallest ancient cathedral in Great Britain. It is the home of the William Morgan Bible (the first version of the whole bible that was translated into Welsh from Greek and Hebrew) therefore, providing a vital link with Welsh culture and literature. Coach parking is available in the car park and the entrance has been widened to enable coaches to turn. Coaches can also park down the road by the cathedral leading to the car park.
St Margaret’s Church in Antioch, Bodelwyddan, is more popularly known as the Marble Church as there are 14 different types of marble. The church spire is 62 metres (203 ft) high; it is a landmark visible when passing along the A55 Expressway. The church was built by Lady Margaret Willoughby de Broke (daughter of Sir John Williams of nearby Bodelwyddan Castle) in memory of her husband, Carl Fisher, 16th Baron Willoughby de Broke. There is a large parking layby on the road alongside the church which is free for 2hr allowing a stop off to visit.
Overnight suggestions: Conwy or Llandudno
The historic town of Conwy is dominated by the 13th century castle and walls. Its circuit of walls, over 0.75 miles (1.2 km) long and guarded by no less than 22 towers, is one of the finest in the World. Visit Conwy Castle and is today a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its gritty dark stoned fortress has the ability to evoke an authentic medieval atmosphere. Suggested visiting time approximately 1hr.
Afterwards, your clients can take a walk around Conwy, with a visit to the quayside and the smallest house in Britain, built as a one up and one down fisherman’s cottage measuring only 1.8 metres (5.9 km) wide in contrast, there is Plas Mawr the finest Elizabethan town house in Britain famed for it’s elaborate and colourful plaster work. (Cadw offer joint tickets with Conwy Castle).
Alternatively, visit Conwy Mussel Museum - Conwy was once the most important pearl fisheries in the country and today musseling is still carried out in the same traditional way and they can be enjoyed in many of the pubs and restaurants in the town.
Depart Conwy and head for Llandudno Wales's largest resort, uniquely situated between the Great and Little Ormes with two beaches, the award winning North Shore and the quiet sand duned West Shore. Llandudno has kept its Victorian and Edwardian elegance. Visitors can take a ride on The 'San Francisco style' Great Orme Tramway (one of only three still in existence in the world today), take a stroll along the promenade, visit Oriel Mostyn the first art gallery in the world created for the purpose of showing the work of women artists and today showcases contemporary artwork or enjoy the shops and cafes along the main Mostyn Street.
Overnight suggestions: Conwy or Llandudno
Penrhyn Castle is owned by The National Trust and is a ‘Neo-Norman’ fantasy castle. Visitors can admire the unique architecture, opulent interiors and fine art collection. It also houses an industrial railway museum, thanks to links to the nearby Penrhyn Quarry that today is home to Zip World Velocity.
There are plenty of options at Zip World Penrhyn Quarry.
Zip World Velocity 2
Home to the fastest zip line in the world which can reach over 100 miles per hour (161 km/h). Four parallel lines travel over the blue waters of what was once the world's largest manmade pit. The whole experience takes around 2hr.
Penrhyn Quarry tour
Enjoy the panoramic views of the quarry, coast and mountains by taking a tour on the ex-army red truck, whilst watching the zippers travel on Velocity 2. The tour lasts for 1hr 30min and includes tea and cake.
Gravity fuelled karts that zip through twists, turns and tunnels on the quarry track. It is the UK's only mountain cart experience. The ex-army red truck will take clients to the top in preparation to descend 1.9 miles (3 km) in around 5min.
For those who may not be brave enough to take on Velocity 2, this is an ideal way to experience zip lining. The zip wire is 200 metres (656 ft) long with an elevation drop of 100 metres (590).
For the less adventurous, visitors can have something to eat or drink at Blondin Restaurant. All the action taking place around the stunning settings, including a blue reservoir can be observed from the viewing platform.
Group tours must be booked in advance. Go to the visitor centre on arrival for ticket collection (this is also where the coach can park). If required, there is a drop off point outside the castle before returning to the car park (which is free).
Suggested visiting time – half a day
Group and trade rates are available.
Most visitors cross the Menai Straits today to visit Anglesey by the Britannia Bridge, designed by Robert Stephenson. There are great views towards the 19th century Menai Suspension Bridge designed by Thomas Telford. It was the first bridge to cross from the mainland to Wales and needed to transport cattle and the increasing amount of traffic between Dublin and London. Design was governed by the high banks and fast flowing waters of the Straits and the height needed to allow the passage of the tall ships underneath. Visit the website for more information on the Menai bridges. Your clients can choose to take a fast boat ride from St George's Pier, Menai Bridge with RibRide or continue with the options for the rest of the day. Various rides are available including a journey under the historic Menai and Britannia Bridges, Caernarfon, Beaumaris & Puffin Island and further afield to Llanddwyn Island.
Take a photo stop at Llanfair PG - the longest place name in Europe. 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.
Oriel Môn has a permanent exhibition showcasing the art of Sir Kyffin Williams. He became one of the defining artists of the twentieth century with his signature oil paintings of rugged North Wales landscapes. There is also an exhibition about the island’s history including visitors both past and present, the island’s industries, the treasure trove of archaeological discoveries, shipwrecks, and the hunters who became the first farmers of Anglesey. There are no designated coach parking spaces, however there is a large car park which welcomes coaches.
Exploring the outdoors is fantastic fun, but please read up on the risks and make sure you are prepared.
- Find safety advice for exploring Wales' National Parks and safety tips from the RNLI for staying safe on the Welsh coast on the Visit Wales website.
- Visit AdventureSmart.uk for information on how to stay safe whilst exploring Wales.