Conwy"And where are they? I pray you tell."
She answered, "Seven are we;
And two of us at Conway (Conwy) dwell,
And two are gone to sea."
William Wordsworth, We Are Seven (1798)
Lying four miles southwest of Llandudno in an idyllic setting, Conwy is situated on the Conwy estuary and backed by the forests of Snowdonia. Built as a key stronghold in Edward I’s Ring of Fortresses, Conwy is still surrounded by its impressive medieval town walls which are littered with some 21 towers. Dominated by the inspiring remains of Conwy Castle, Conwy has attractions for all ages and will interest visitors seeking culture, wildlife or adventures in the great outdoors.
The sheer length and breadth of the the town walls in Conwy are best admired from Conwy Castle. A visit here will stand out in your mind, even if over the course of your trip in Wales you’ve become somewhat dulled by castle hopping. A vast site in a relatively good state of repair, you’ll be able to take a walk around the castle walls (0.8 miles) . The views are outstanding and you’ll take in vistas including Snowdonia, a bird’s eye overview of Conwy and Conwy’s majestic Suspension Bridge (1826). Built by Thomas Telford, the bridge was one piece in a string of road works intended to facilitate access to Ireland. The elegant bridge imitates the castle in the turrets of its design and thus blends harmoniously into the landscape. Telford’s Suspension Bridge was used right up until 1958, but is now open to pedestrians only. Visitors can walk to the tollhouse where they’ll see period furnishing from circa 1900 inside.
Perhaps, the most curious historic building in Conwy is a wee house on the waterfront. The tour won’t take up much of your time. Just 3m / 9ft high by 1.8m / 5ft it is the smallest house in the world. It was inhabited until 1900 when it had to be vacated by its 6ft 3in tenant for reasons of hygiene. On a much grander scale, visitors interested in historic buildings can also head to Aberconwy House on Castle Street. The oldest house in Conwy (14th century), it has served as a bakery, sea captain’s house, antique shop and hotel. This history is portrayed throughout with furnishings reflecting the various incarnations of the house. Your historic tour should not end here - Plas Mawr is at least equally deserving of your attention. Translated as “Great Mansion”, Plas Mawr is reputed to be the finest surviving Elizabethan town house in the United Kingdom. Built in the 16th century for Robert Wynn in the Dutch Style, Plas Mawr is now renowned for its fine plasterwork ceilings. The house also served as the home to the Royal Cambrian Academy Art Gallery for over a century. Displaying fine exhibitions in the summer, the gallery can now be found in a converted chapel near Plas Mawr on Crown Lane. Culture lovers will find more history at the Conwy Mussel Museum and the Teapot World Teapot Museum on Castle Street.
If history and culture aren’t quite for you, there’s plenty to entertain you in the great outdoors. Why not take a relaxing stroll on Conwy Marina or a river cruise from the quay? Visitors keen on wildlife will also be interested in the RSPB’s Conwy Nature Reserve. Residents and visitors here include breeding colonies of reed buntings, sedge & reed warblers, plovers, skylarks, widgeons, red breasted mergansers as well as dragonflies and butterflies. There’s more wildlife at the Pensychnant Nature Conservation Centre a short and beautiful drive away on the Sychnant Pass. Kids will love the Conwy Butterfly Jungle where pungent flowers are pollinated by some 50 different species of butterfly.
Sports enthusiasts will find a range of activities to entertain them in Conwy. The most leisurely activity is a 2 mile walk (return) up Conwy Mountain. Your efforts will be rewarded with views of the coast and the Penmaenbach and Alltwen peaks. Golfers can play 18 holes at the Conwy Golf Club while budding sailors can get out on the water with the Conwy School of Yachting. For horse riding in Conwy, head to Pinewood Riding Stables.
Festivals & Events in Conwy
A lively place at any time of the year, Conwy attracts an even greater number of visitors during its festivals. The first week of July sees the North Wales Bluegrass Festival. At the end of July, international and local musicians head to Conwy for the Conwy Classical Musical Festival. August is all about water and sailing in all its glory with the Conwy River Festival. 700 years of traditional are celebrated in September with the annual Conwy Honey Fair. Gourmands may wish to return in October for the Gwledd Conwy Feast which celebrates Conwy specialties such as Conwy Mussels as well as an array of international food.
Attractions & Sightseeing around Conwy
Barring Llandudno, the Victorian seaside resort, one of the most popular visitor attractions near Conwy is Bodnant Gardens (1875). It is one of the finest gardens to be found in the United Kingdom and is known for its range of botanical collections. Attractions in the vicinity of Conwy include Llangelynin Church and Holy Well situated 4 miles south of Conwy. Walkers and historians will also find a few ancient sites in Conwy Valley which are well worth hunting for. Maen y Bardd Neolithic Burial Chamber, is situated about 4 miles from Conwy in Rowen. Just slightly further west are 2 standing stones known as Bwlch y Ddeufaen. For more information on attractions in and around Conwy you can visit the Conwy Visitor Information Centre on your trip.