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6 Things Not To Miss in Llandudno

6 Things Not To Miss in Llandudno

by Lisa Zaslow

3 months ago


The Japanese Tourist Board named Llandudno {slan-did-no} one of the most beautiful places to visit in Europe. It was the only place in the UK that made it onto that list. In honor of that designation, the Welsh Tourist Board commissioned a hybrid food genre using Welsh foods such as leeks, lamb, and cockles to make sushi. They call it "wu-shi".

I knew I wanted to go to Llandudno when I found out that there was Welsh sushi to be had.

Llandudno is Bill Bryson's favorite seaside town. I have never read Bill Bryson, but a few of my friends say he's hilarious.
 
Llandudno is a quintessentially British seaside town. There is a "Parade" by the waterfront, where Victorians strolled and now...so do we. The town is sandwiched between two great landmasses: The Great Orme and The Little Orme.
 It is also famous for "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"...this is where the "real" Alice, Alice Liddell, lived. Apparently, Lewis Carroll was inspired by Alice and wrote a great deal of "Alice in Wonderland" in Llandudno.
 
 We were only here one night, but I could see the potential of this town. We checked into our B&B, The Mulberry House,  and asked our host, Kathryn, where we could find some real ale and some good pub food. She pointed us up the hill to the oldest pub in Llandudno, The King's Head, by the Great Orme Tramway.

 

Ralph's real ale choice was Abbott's Ale from the Greene King Brewery. It's one of his favorites. That night we were treated to some pretty good pub grub...chicken for Ralph and fish and chips for me. After dinner (or "tea", as people call it here) we walked down to the lovely Llandudno Pier and out the 2,295 feet to the end. Although it was the beginning of June, there was hardly anyone about and the sea was silky smooth. Two beers later, we were in our room and getting ready for sleep.

 The next day we spent on windswept Great Orme...riding up on the Great Orme Tramway. There was a threat of rain, but we didn't care. We were too taken with the scenery.
Here are some of the places we visited and hope to go back to:

1. Bodnant Gardens

Bodnant Garden Entrance
 

The McLaren family, who donated Bodnant Garden to the National Trust in 1949, sponsored exhibitions to Asia in the early 1900s to collect "exotic" plants. They bred 350 unique hybrid rhododendrons at the garden.  There is something in bloom every month of the year at Bodnant but it's at its peak in May.

 One of the most beautiful sights is the Laburnum Arch, which is a 55-meter pergola pathway that was created by the garden's Victorian founder, Henry Pochin in 1882. It is in all it's glory in the first week or so of June. We wandered through the Arch and then through the rest of the massive gardens and into the woods. Even though Ralph is Welsh, he said he had never heard of Bodnant and couldn't believe how beautiful it all was.

 2. Bodnant Welsh Food

Bodnant Garden Food Shop

Bodnant Welsh Food is a farm shop, a dairy, a butchery, a bakery, a delicatessen, and a wine cellar. There is also a cooking school, a wine school, a fine dining restaurant called The River Room and a more casual restaurant called  The Hayloft.

Bodnant Garden Farm Shop

There is also a Tea Room. There's even a bed and breakfast! Located in the stunning Conwy Valley overlooking the Conwy River and at the foot of Snowdonia, you wouldn't have to leave here for days!

 
We dropped by the farm shop after visiting Bodnant Gardens. It was a foodie delight! Fresh vegetables, jars of all kinds of jam, jelly, and chutney, cuts of meat, all different shapes of bread and, oh! the cheese!! We wandered round ogling the goodies and decided to buy fresh bread and cheese for our friends. We then rambled over to the courtyard to get a cup of tea. The sun was shining and we sat at a little table sipping our tea and feeling like we had discovered a "secret garden".
 

 3. The Great Orme Tramway

 Llandudno Tram

Construction on the Great Orme Tramway started in 1901. On July 31, 1902, the first paying customers rode the Tramway. The Great Orme Tramway takes visitors from Llandudno's Victoria Station one mile up to The Great Orme. It works on a funicular system. You can find out what that is here. It's a great way to get up the hill, all the while seeing the beautiful view across the bay and beyond. It's open 7 days a week from 10 am to 6 pm from late March through late October.

Llandudno's Great Orme Tramway celebrated its centenary in 2002. It is one of only three cable-hauled street tramways still in existence worldwide. The other two are in San Francisco USA and Lisbon, Portugal. Trams operate at frequent intervals throughout most of the year.

4. The Great Orme

Great Orme Goat Statue

 The Great Orme headland is massive, rising 679 feet straight up from the sea. It was named by the Vikings and means 'sea monster'. You can walk, drive or ride the Great Orme Tramway to get there. It's a country park, a special area of conservation, a site of special scientific interest and heritage coast. The habitats range from rich heathlands to sheer sea cliffs and from limestone grassland to woodland. This varying habitat supports a wide variety of plants and wildlife. Some species - like choughs - are very rare, while others, like the silver-studded blue butterfly, are unique to the Great Orme.

Great Orme Wild Kashmir Goats

The most famous residents of the Great Orme are the wild Kashmir goats with their shaggy white coats and fearsome horns. We only saw them in the distance.

It was cloudy the day we were there, but there were still great sweeping views of the headland (covered with sheep) and the sea. There is a four-mile scenic drive called Marine Drive that we didn't know about but would have taken if we did. It's a toll road, but the toll is only $2.50 per car. You can also take a vintage coach ride from Prince Edward Gardens on the promenade.

 5. Llandudno Pier

Llandudno Pier

 
The Llandudno Victorian Pier is 2,295 feet long and was built in 1878. It's the longest pier in Wales. It is one of the finest recreational piers in Britain. The British Tourist Authority said, "It zooms out to sea...in a spectacular Indian Gothic style, rather like a Maharajah's palace floating on a lake".

6. Oldest Pub in Llandudno

The King's Head Llandudno, North Wales

 We loved this pub. There is a big outside garden that we sat in, drinking our wine and real ale. And, when we were hungry we went to the restaurant for a perfectly good meal of chicken for Ralph and Fish and chips for me. In the main pub, there is a nice warm fire and the people were friendly.

Things we didn't see, but won't miss next time:

1. Mostyn Gallery

I love a modern art gallery and this one looks like it would be a good one. I'll definitely put this on the list for next time. It has 6 galleries, a cafe, a shop, and a meeting room. It doesn't have any permanent exhibitions but features some of the best contemporary art from Wales and all over the world. The address, directions and times open can be found here.

2. The White Rabbit Trail

I love Alice in Wonderland. Had I known sooner that Alice lived here, I would have made more time for wandering and enjoying the trail. Here are some interesting links to websites that honor Alice.

 Here you can download interactive apps for your IOS and android devices to follow the White Rabbit Trail...with a treasure hunt and tea party!! For more information about the White Rabbit Trail in Llandudno go to Visit Wales and Visit Llandudno.

Have you ever visited Llandudno? What are your favorite sights, restaurants or places to stay?

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