Welcome to our guide to what to do in Conwy. This month we’re focusing on the town itself, rather than the county of Conwy, with reviews courtesy of local resident Jeff. Conwy is a pretty and compact town, so it’s easy to stroll around and find all of these suggested locations within walking distance. Last updated: 21 January 2013.
Five special things to do in Conwy
1. Explore medieval Conwy Castle: Conwy Castle (Castell Conwy in Welsh) is one of the best Welsh castles. Built for Edward I, the magnificent castle is well preserved, providing plenty of towers, battlements and fortifications to explore. You can imagine medieval life teeming all around, and you can also enjoy beautiful views when climbing the walls. The castle looks amazing just from the outside, but it’s well worth the money to go inside (under £5 at the time of writing). Visit the Cadw website for details of opening times and entrance fees.
2. Enjoy the town’s special events: The town of Conwy is blessed by a range of events that perfectly match the town’s rich history. The run up to Christmas sees Late Knight Shopping & Parade, where a torchlit procession in medieval costume adds even more atmosphere to the streets. Then Christmas Eve itself sees a visit from Father Christmas and carols in Lancaster Square. Traditional centuries-old fairs, such as the Seed Fair and Honey Fair, take place throughout the year, followed by the large Conwy Feast food festival each October. Visit the Events North Wales website for details of what’s on throughout the year.
3. Walk along the town walls: The town of Conwy is encircled by medieval walls, which cost nothing to walk along and give a series of different vantage points around the town. Steps up to the walls can be found in the car park next to the castle; from there you can walk up to the outlying guard towers and then down towards the harbour.
4. Visit the Plas Mawr Elizabethan townhouse: Unlike, for instance, stately homes, the Plas Mawr townhouse is an historical building that you can actually imagine living in. It’s steeped in history, with many original features, and yet lies right in the middle of the town. The architecture is fascinating, the courtyard gardens are very appealing, and you can even get married there. The Cadw website contains more information on the house.
5. Potter by the harbour: Conwy has a small working harbour, complete with lobster pots and plenty of bobbing boats. There’s always something to see there and places to sit with an ice cream or a bag of chips. It’s also the location of the atmospheric Liverpool Arms pub (see the next section for more details) and the Smallest House in Britain.
Click here to browse our atmospheric pictures of North Wales and Conwy. Or carry on reading below for cafe and restaurant recommendations…
Recommended Conwy restaurants, cafes and pubs
Coffee and cake
L’s Coffee & Book Shop, located on the High Street, has a cosy, relaxed atmosphere much enjoyed by Chocco, the resident cat (who can also be found at the Castle Hotel). More focused on food than on books, L’s has a great selection of home-made options for lunch, plus enormous slices of home-made coffee and walnut cake.
Further up the High Street, the Castle Hotel has a recently redecorated bar which is the perfect place to while away a rainy afternoon or evening. The quality of the food and drink is excellent, and there is a special ‘small plates’ menu if you feel like grazing at a tableful of nibbles. It’s best to book a table at busy periods such as evenings, weekends or holidays (make sure you specify the bar and not the restaurant, unless you’re feeling more formal).
The Press Room, located next to the castle, is a sophisticated, airy spot for coffee or lunch. The food is simple, homemade and very tasty.
A highly atmospheric pub
The Liverpool Arms, located on the quayside, is a very small and very cosy pub. Feeling unchanged for centuries, it’s another great place to go when the weather becomes inclement. Listen carefully and you can almost hear a ghostly sea shanty in the distance…
And more cake
While not a sit-down venue, the Conwy Bakery on Castle Street makes its own cakes every day. Try their cream cakes, which include Belgian chocolate on top of the éclairs.
Edward’s of Conwy, located on the High Street, is a local institution famous for its sausages, pies and more. Again, not a sit-down venue, but a great place to buy a pasty or sandwich for lunch down by the harbour.
Art Deco ale
Once you’ve digested Conwy’s medieval heritage, fast forward to the 20th century at the Albion Ale House. The Albion is a fine example of Art Deco and Art Nouveau architecture and, most importantly, has a fine selection of real ale, board games, open fires and snugs. It can be hard to find a seat at busy times, so try visiting off-peak if you need some peace and quiet.
Interesting websites to visit from here
Pictures of North Wales: Browse our contemporary pictures of North Wales, including prints of Conwy.
Conwy Castle on Wikipedia: A good background history of the castle.
Events North Wales: A round-up of what’s on in Conwy throughout the year.
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