Actually, it’s much more than a visit to Conwy. Wales’s finest medieval town – complete with a world-famous castle and ring of ancient walls – is just for starters. It’s next door to Llandudno, Wales’s premiere seaside resort, and some of North Wales’s loveliest, greenest countryside. Conwy’s characterful quayside and the sands of Llandudno and its neighbouring resorts first catch the eye. But venture inland and you’ll find a mix of forest, vale, lake, waterfall, moor and mountain, a varied landscape that appeals to serious outdoor enthusiasts up for a challenge and families or couples looking for a laid-back, relaxing break.
This coastline has been popular since the early days of tourism. Llandudno, the undisputed ‘Queen’ of the Welsh resorts, is a rarity. In a time when other British seaside resorts have lost their way, Llandudno retains its period charm and atmosphere. Mind you, it’s no museum piece – modern venues and attractions integrate seamlessly with its Victorian and Edwardian fabric.
Nearby Conwy, in contrast, is one of Europe’s best-preserved medieval towns, with a World Heritage castle thrown in for good measure. A little further westward brings you to the charming lowkey resorts of Penmaenmawr and Llanfairfechan. In the other direction, Colwyn Bay is busy reinventing itself with a new beach and watersports centre.
Inland, the fertile Conwy Valley is a natural thoroughfare, flanked on either side by the mountains of Snowdonia and the moody moorlands of Mynydd Hiraethog.
The area’s water-based activities are adding to an already growing reputation as a hotspot for adventure-seekers.
Porth Eirias Watersports Centre is the jewel in the crown of Colwyn Bay’s regenerated waterfront. In the heart of the Conwy Valley Surf Snowdonia, the UK’s first multi-million-pound inland surfing destination, offers adrenaline thrills for all abilities.
Zip World has blazed a trail for adventure tourism across North Wales with its series of zip lines, including the longest zip line in Europe at Bethesda.
Back in the Conwy Valley at Zip World Fforest, you can traverse the trees via a network of ropes, ziplines, nets and bridges, suspended in the canopy a dizzying 60ft above the forest floor. New for 2017 is the Fforest Coaster toboggan run.
As you’d expect of North Wales, walking is big news too. Not just hill and mountain walking, but sand-between-your-toes strolls along stretches of the Wales Coast Path.
Other activities include dry slope skiing and paintballing, mountain biking and kitesurfing.
And if you’ve ever fancied yourself as a mountain man (or woman), Plas y Brenin National Mountain Sports Centre at Capel Curig is calling your name. It boasts a host of high-altitude activities including rock climbing and white-water kayaking. For a really cool experience, take a winter skills course to learn how to survive and thrive amid the snowy peaks of North Wales.
Llandudno’s Venue Cymru is one of the UK’s top theatre complexes. The area’s castles and historic places almost speak for themselves. The soaring presence of Conwy Castle certainly does, though there are also museums, galleries and exhibitions like the Princes of Gwynedd to add extra illumination into the area’s dramatic past.
And, as if it wasn’t green enough already, the Conwy Valley is home to Bodnant Garden, a much visited National Trust property. The green theme continues at nature reserves, country and farm parks – and the Welsh Mountain Zoo, a caring conservation zoo.