Disclosure: Links on this page marked with an asterisk (*) relate to advertising in the form of affiliate links. This is an updated post originally published in April 2017.
With a fortress that demands attention from all angles, if you love history and castles then Conwy should be at the top of your list when visiting Wales. Whats more, Conwy is a gateway to Snowdonia National Park, one of the most scenic areas of Great Britain.
How to get to Conwy
Conwy from England:
Conwy is located in North Wales on a river of the same name which separates it from Deganwy and the popular seaside town of Llandudno. The North Wales Expressway (A55) connects the town to Northwest England and Holyhead for ferries to Ireland. There’s a pay and display car park near Conwy Castle if you drive, or you can book a train to Conwy via stations in Conwy town and Llandudno Junction with services to Manchester Airport and Birmingham International.
Conwy from South Wales:
You may be directed on a quicker route up the A49 or M5, however a more scenic and interesting journey awaits travelling through Wales via the A470 – good service stops along the way can be found near near Rhayader and Dolgellau.
What’s inside Conwy Castle
One of the first places to visit in the town is Conwy Castle, a the colossal 13th century fortress built by Edward I. Together with Beaumaris, Caernarfon and Harlech, Conwy Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and part of King Edward I’s ‘ring of iron’.
The fortress was an ambitious project for its time and one of the best surviving examples from the period as the town walls almost completely encompass the town centre.
The castle dominates the skyline and must’ve been such an intimidating sight to see back in its hey day. Even now as you drive over the bridge towards Conwy Castle, or gaze at the towers from the harbour you can’t help but be astonished by its scale.
Inside Conwy Castle there’s many rooms to explore, now exposed to the elements, there’s still evidence in the brickwork to set your mind at play, like grand fireplaces that would’ve hissed and crackled during the harsh medieval winters and arrow slits that would’ve been used to defend the castle from all angles.
Of course, a castle’s position is carefully chosen to keep a watchful eye on approaching enemies, and in Conwy’s case to remind the natives who’s now in charge. If you carefully ascend a steep winding staircase to the top of a turret you can take in terrific views of the mountains of Snowdonia and River Conwy.
After exploring the castle and walking along the town walls (if you don’t mind heights), there’s plenty more things to do in Conwy town itself, beginning down at The Quay.
Britain’s Smallest House in Conwy
At the end of Conwy Quay is a row of holiday cottages and a tiny red house which is in-fact the smallest house in Great Britain! For £1 you can peer inside the property and take a few steps up a ladder to see the upper floor bedroom. Interestingly the last person to live in this house was a fisherman who was 6ft 3!
There’s a pub nearby which is a nice spot in the summer to have a drink outside overlooking the boats, as well as another access point to walk along the town walls. You can also take a coastal cruise from Conwy Quay to explore the local wildlife and stunning landscape.
Quaint streets with cosy coffee shops accessed by thick stone archways you can barely squeeze a bus through, Conwy’s pretty town centre is surely one of Wales’s finest to visit.
Opposite the castle is The Knight Shop, a treasure trove of unique gifts and collectibles, and further down the street is Conwy Gift Shop for other souvenirs and keepsakes. Conwy’s sloping High Street has a traditional feel to it, home to a mix of shops and eateries including a vintage toy store, award winning butchers (Edwards of Conwy), ice cream parlour and coffee shop.
Places for lunch in Conwy
L’s Coffee and Bookshop offers familiar lunchtime favourites (sandwiches and cake) alongside daily specials such as King Prawns with sweet chilli dipping sauce.
If you’d rather save time to explore more of Conwy, pick up a bag of fish and chips and find a bench down by The Quay.
Restaurants in Conwy
Jalsa Tandoori is located near Conwy Castle and appeared to be very popular with locals for Bangladeshi cuisine. If you’d like to dine in the restaurant itself then booking in advance would be wise as there’s only a few tables available.
The Castle Hotel on Conwy’s High Street is a beautiful building with a restaurant and bar for lunch, dinner or Afternoon Tea. The scrumptious menu contains both classic and seasonal dishes such as pie of the day, lamb and fish and chips.
If you’d like to stay in the area overnight or for a few days then there’s plenty of cottages in Conwy, or you can explore places to stay in Llandudno which has a spectacular promenade along its sea front containing guest houses and hotels.