Why Llanrwst should be on your Wales itinerary
Llanrwst, pronounced similarly to kchlan-roost, is a small town on the River Conwy. Once known for it's trade in wool and clocks, LLanrwst used to be a bustling market town, but over the years these trades diminished and shops closed down. Llanrwst and it's surrounding areas started to develop as tourist destinations with new restaurants, accommodation and attractions opening. However, being so close to Betws-y-coed, famous for it's waterfalls and hiking trails, Llanrwst is often unfairly overlooked. We've compiled a list of reasons why you should add Llanrwst to your itinerary when visiting Wales.
Lovely walks and waterfalls
From the free car park behind Llanrwst’s library and council buildings, you can descend some steps down to the riverside and follow a path along the River Conwy. Passing the iconic Pont Fawr bridge and Tu-Hwnt-l’r Bont tearooms, you can then either continue deep into the valley along the river, or you can hike up into Gwydir Forest. There are 14 guided walks in Gwydir Forest, but we’d highly recommend the walk to the Grey Mare's Tail. It’s a beautiful waterfall, which can be found by following the signposts from the lower car park near Gwydir Castle, just off the B5106 road between Llanrwst and Trefriw. The postcode for the car park is LL26 0PN.
Another lovely waterfall worth visiting is Fairy Falls, close to the centre of Trefriw. The water flows down from Llyn Crafnant, a stunning mountain lake with several circular walks and a cute cafe. To read more about our hike around Llyn Crafnant and Llyn Geirionydd, click here.
There are also mines and caverns to be explored, as well as old logging routes. We have yet to explore all of the forest because it’s so vast!
As well as beautiful scenery, Llanrwst has some interesting historical sites and period properties to explore, including Gwydir Castle, a stunning stately home on the edge of Gwydir Forest. Gwydir Castle is a Tudor house, which was once owned by the wealthy and powerful Wynn family. Considered the finest country house of it’s era in Wales, it’s well-worth wandering around. The entry fee is £6 for adults or £3 for children and it’s open Weds-Sun. Find out more on their website by clicking this link.
During the early 15th century, Howard Coytmor, the illegitimate grandson of the last Prince of Wales, lived at Gwydir Castle with his family. His effigy can be found at the St Grwst Church in Llanrwst. The church is also home to the Llywelyn Fawr’s tomb. Llywelyn Fawr was the last Prince of Gwynedd, an area of North Wales which held a great power over the country in the 13th century. Although his body is not kept there, the church has maintained his tomb and opened its doors to the public so that visitors can come and pay respects.
You’ll also notice the Pont Fawr Bridge right in the heart of Llanrwst, which was built by Sir Richard Wynn in 1636. This beautiful stone bridge is very narrow and has no traffic light system, so you’ll often see cars battling to get the right of way as they try and cross it. It’s lacking in pavements, so make sure to keep to the side if crossing the bridge on foot.
Gwydir Forest isn’t just a hiker’s paradise, it’s also a fantastic place to go mountain biking. The Gywdir Mawr Trail (previously called the Marin Trail) is a 25km route, which starts from the same lower car park as the Grey Mare’s Tail (postcode LL26 0PN). It’s a red trail, which means it’s graded as difficult and probably shouldn’t be attempted by a complete novice!
If you like high speeds and want an adrenaline rush without the fear of falling off your bike, then you should head to Zip World Fforest, situated on the A470, about 5 minutes South of Llanrwst. They have a forest coaster, which is just as fun for adults as children (we have both been on this and loved it!) and a huge swing called Sky Ride. They also have a tree-top Zip Safari, where you can fly between the trees on zip lines, a tree-top trampoline course and a bungey drop called Plummet 2. To find out more, head to their website at www.zipworld.co.uk/location/fforest.
There are also plenty of opportunities to get out on the water in one of the many mountain lakes. Llyn Geirionydd is the perfect spot for canoeing, windsurfing or paddle boarding. You can launch from the slate beach and there’s a honesty box to pay for the maintenance of the lake, car park and toilets.
Llanrwst may be small, but it’s full of hidden gems. One of our favourite shops to browse around is Pickwick’s Antiques. The building doesn’t look like much from outside, but it’s bursting with character inside and is stuffed full of quirky items, some of which would be perfect props in a ghostly horror film.
For delicious food and fresh coffee, you should check out the Health & Food shop or the Blas ar Fwyd Deli and Wine Shop. The latter has lots of tasty snacks and a great selection of wine and craft beers, but for veggies and vegans the Health & Food shop has a great selection of meat-free meals. They also have amazing coffee and chocolate! Check out their blog here.
There are a few gift shops and craft shops in town too, as well as a couple of decent charity shops if you like bargain hunting.
Eating and Drinking
Below are a few of our favourite places to eat and drink in Llanrwst:
Jade 2 - This Chinese takeaway is super tasty and pretty cheap. They are also extremely fast at serving food, but only accept cash payments. There is a cash point in the main square.
Tir a Mor - Very good fish and chips! They often have a queue at weekends as they’re so popular.
Lle Hari - A burger restaurant and bar in a hotel on the North edge of Llanrwst. This is our favourite place for a drink because they have a lovely bar with velvet armchairs and a selection of cocktails. The interior is warm and cosy with a touch of decadence.
The Eagles Hotel bar and restaurant - A grand building overlooking the river in the heart of Llanrwst. They have a beer garden, which is perfect on a Summer’s day.
Tu-Hwnt-I'r Bont - This cute cottage covered in ivy is a lovely little tearoom and is right next to the stone bridge. The perfect spot for lunch before hiking up into Gwydir Forest.
Places to stay
No matter your preference and budget, Llanrwst has accommodation suitable. Whether you prefer camping, glamping, self-catered cottages or stylish country hotels, there’s a plethora of options available. To find campsites and caravan sites in the local area, we’d recommend checking the UK Camping website. If you’d rather the comfort of a hotel, you can find a variety of options via hotels.com.
Whatever you decide to do, we hope you enjoy your trip to Wales and get the chance to enjoy Snowdonia’s epic landscapes without too much rain! Let us know your comments and thoughts below!
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