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Llandudno

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Llandudno bay

Llandudno [1] is a Victorian-era seaside resort situated on the picturesque north coast of Wales. Once a favourite of Queen Victoria, and a staple of the Victorian travelling set, Llandudno still retains an old-world charm that sets it aside from other British seaside resorts and has largely escaped the degradation that blights so many similar towns. Llandudno is set between the cities of Bangor and Chester and is easily accesible by road and rail.

Understand[edit]

Llandudno has the distinction of being the largest seaside resort in North Wales. It lies between two notable carboniferous headlands, the Great Orme and the Little Orme  with the Irish Sea on one side and the estuary of the River Conwy on the other with sunset views of Puffin Island. It is these headlands and the two waterfronts, the North Shore and the West Shore, that give Llandudno its special appeal.

Although settlements have existed on the Great Orme since the Stone Age and an Iron Age hill fort survives at Pen-y-Dinas, Llandudno was developed as a seaside resort in the Victorian era. As such, it has a distinct Victorian charm - large Victorian houses, fine hotels lining the bay, Wales' longest free-standing pier, the original 'Punch and Judy' show, an excellent lifeboat service, an authentic Victorian-era funicular tram and a fine theatre with ballet, opera, orchestral concerts, ice shows and seasonal pantomime.

Llandudno from the entrance to the town

The town has a prominent Welsh speaking community, greatly increased by the frequent visitors from rural communities further inland whose primary day-to-day language is Welsh. As a result of the recent emphasis placed on the language in Welsh schools, the majority of young people will have some proficiency.

Llandudno must be one of the most commonly mispronounced place names in the British isles; both LAN-dudno and KLAN-dudno are incorrect. As a simple mnemonic for English speakers, in Welsh the double LL is pronounced as THL. The U is usually pronounced as an I as in did. So Llandudno is pronounced THLAN-didno[2]. Even this 'happy medium' is technically incorrect, albeit the closest easily-pronounceable facsimile for those of an English mother-tongue. In fact, the Welsh LL is a letter unto itself with its own unique pronunciation. For aficionados keen to learn the true pronunciation; simply ask a local.

Get in[edit]

By train[edit]

Llandudno's Victorian railway station is disconnected from the main North Wales line and all services change at nearby Llandudno Junction. The splinter line running from Llandudno Junction passes through the small town of Deganwy before reaching Llandudno. The from Llandudno to Llandudno Junction is in the region of 10-15 minutes. Llandudno Railway Station is currently (Summer 2013) undergoing much-needed renovations.

  • Through trains from London Euston, 6 times a day, change at Llandudno Junction.
  • Through trains from Manchester, every hour on weekdays (2½ hours). 
  • Through trains from Liverpool (approx. 2-2½ hours), change at Chester or change at Chester and Llandudno Junction (it depends on the timetable how many changes there'll be).
  • Trains from Crewe, every hour on weekdays, change at Chester and/or Llandudno Junction.
  • Trains from Cardiff, every two hours on weekdays, change at Llandudno Junction.
  • Trains from Holyhead, every hour on weekdays, change at Llandudno Junction.

By car[edit]

From England: From the M6, take the M56 in the direction of Chester, North Wales. Take the M53 in the direction of A55, North Wales at the end of the M56. This becomes the A55, stay on this for 30 miles or so until you see signs for the A470 turn off. From here follow signs for Llandudno.

By plane[edit]

The nearest airports are Liverpool [3]  and Manchester [4] but only Manchester is directly linked by train (from airport by train to Manchester Piccadily, then change train). From Liverpool airport; take a bus to Liverpool Lime Street station [5], then take a train (connecting at Chester and Llandudno Junction).

By bus[edit]

Local buses operate from Rhyl (every 12 minutes), Bangor (four per hour), Caernarfon, Llanberis and Llangollen but there are no daily long distance coach services to Llandudno. National Express [6] has a daily service from London calling at Llandudno Junction (three miles away). There is a weekly National Express service to Newcastle-upon-Tyne on Sundays.

Get around[edit]

Llandudno is compact in size and largely flat (with the very notable exception of the Great Orme headland). As such, it is easily navigated on foot. For those looking to travel further afield and see the breathtaking North Wales countryside, the following options are available;

  • Take the scenic Conwy Valley Train from Llandudno to Blaenau Ffestiniog.
  • Gwynedd Red Rover Tickets [7] cost £5.50 for unlimited day travel on the Conwy Valley train, on all buses in Snowdonia and on all buses in the Conwy Valley and throughout western Conwy, Gwynedd and Anglesey.

See[edit][add listing]

Panorama of the Great Orme, with Llandudno infront
  • Bronze Age Copper Mines [8] - Recently discovered bronze age mines on the upper slopes of the Great Orme. Tours start off with a brief talk on the mine and seeing tools found in excavations, before heading down into the mines! Great fun and well worth a visit, although the tours aren't very long.
  • Alice in Wonderland Trail [9] - Explore Llandudno's link with Lewis Carrol's timeless classic. Both Carrol and the young girl who inspired the character of Alice visited the town and their legacies are celebrated in this new exhibit - a number of expertly crafted statues dotted throughout the town.
  • Bishop's Quarry - A large exposed rock face close to the Great Orme Summit Complex. Pre-historic fossils are visible along with excellent views of the Snowdonian mountains.
  • Oriel Mostyn Gallery [10] - Contemporary art and design exhibiting the work of local artists. The Mostyn is 200 meters from Llandudno Train Station.
  • The Pier -  The longest and finest in Wales, the second longest Victorian pier in Britain and one of a dwindling number in the country. Themed gift-shops line the pier; walk all the way to the end for excellent views across the bay.
  • Home Front Museum [11] - This small museum incorporates a recreation of a war-era street and has been a popular visitor attraction for decades.
View of the promenade from the end of the Pier

Do[edit][add listing]

The Grand
  • Ride the Victorian Tramway [12] to the summit of the Great Orme. Built in 1902, it is the only remaining cable-hauled tramway in Great Britain. Ride to the summit of the Great Orme where you will find a small selection of shops, a café and a bar as well as excellent views along the North Wales coast.
  • Go for walks over the Great Orme, perhaps visiting Saint Tudno's [13], a magnificent and secluded church and cemetery perched atop the Orme's northern cliffs.
  • Walk, cycle, drive or ride a coach around the Marine Drive [14]. There is a toll of £2.50 for cars but that includes free parking at the summit car park, which is reached by a side road via Saint Tudno's Church. The toll is only applicable before 1900hrs (occasionally later during the summer months), after which the road can be driven free of charge.
  • Take the cable car [15] from the Happy Valley to the summit of the Great Orme.
  • Walk in Happy Valley [16] and the Haulfre Gardens [17] and enjoy the magnificent views.
  • Visit the Happy Valley artificial ski slope [18] or take the toboggan run from the top...
  • Ride a donkey or just enjoy the sun on either of Llandudno's two beaches, North Beach and West Shore
  • Visit Bodafon Farm Park, [19] a working farm that includes llamas, deer, goats and a bird of prey sanctuary (lots of owls included). FREE ENTRY. Pony rides. Cafe facilities. Band on Tursdays.
  • Take a dip in the lovely, large paddling pool, on the east end of the promenade.
  • Take the stairs on the west side of the pier to some rock pools (only advisable during the low tide).
The Great Orme from the Pier

Buy[edit][add listing]

As a modern, medium sized town, Llandudno is home to all of the large chain retailers that one expects. The shops are generally centred around Mostyn Street in the centre of town, the Victoria Centre (accessible from Mostyn Street) and Parc Llandudno, a recently constructed retail park at the southern end of Mostyn Street, easily accessible on foot from the centre of town. In addition to the major retailers, Llandudno is home to a wide array of locally owned shops.

For visitors, Llandudno has many souvenir shops catering to all tastes and budgets. A popular Llandudno gift (in common with almost every other British seaside resort) is a stick of rock, a solidified cylinder of sugar syrup decorated in local colours.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Llandudno is home to many food venues catering for all tastes and budgets.

Budget[edit]

  • The Palladium [20] This Pub/Bistro is part of the J. D. Wetherspoon chain. It is located on Gloddaeth Avenue close to the junction with Mostyn Street and is housed in an old cinema building (you can't miss it). Be aware that there is often a very long wait for food here at peak times, owing to the popularity and sheer size of the venue.
  • Characters [21] This quaint yet trendy café is located just off Upper Mostyn Street. It is known locally for its excellent afternoon tea selection and transforms into a popular bistro in the evenings.
  • Café Orient Express - Situated on Gloddaeth Avenue, directly across from The Palladium. Serves excellent breakfasts and lunches along with freshly made cakes and pastries.
  • Fortes (Italian & Bistro) [22] Serving traditional and locally made ice cream for over 100 years, Fortés also serves a full food menu.
  • Fountains Trendy bar/bistro with decent selection of good quality sandwiches, pizzas and wraps. [23]. Located on Mostyn Street.
J. D. Wetherspoon's "Palladium"

Medium Range[edit]

For those seeking a medium priced meal, there are several Italian and other ethnic cuisine restaurants in the town:

  • The Albert (Pub) [24] - A popular pub serving a wide variety of traditional British fare.
  • Mamma Rosa (Italian) - Located in Craig-y-don but walking distance from the town along the promenade. Close to Venue Cymru and Boulevards. Recommended. [25] - Located just outside the town centre in the Craig-Y-Don neighbourhood (convenient to the Promenade), this Italian is popular with locals and visitors alike.
  • Romeos (Italian) Lloyd Street [26] - Another of Llandudno's well established Italian restaurants. Every local has their favourite!
  • Candles (Italian)[27] - On the corner of Lloyd Street and Madoc Street [28]
  • The Bengal Dynasty (Bangladeshi/Indian) [29] On the corner of Upper Mostyn Street and Prince Edward Square.
  • Taste of India (Indian) [30]
  • Home Cookin' (Bistro) Frankly the best of its kind for miles around! Hence the queues to be served most nights.Good food and friendly service. [31]
  • The Lilly Bar & Grill [32] - Bistro that offers more substantial medium-priced meals along with excellent and reasonably priced cocktails.
  • Jasmine House (Chinese) [33] - Llandudno's oldest and most well-established Chinese restaurant. Located opposite Trinity Church on Mostyn Street.
  • East (Chinese/Japanese Fusion) [34] - Popular and ideal for those looking for 'something different'. Opposite the Railway Station.

Splurge[edit]

  • The Empire Hotel [35] - A four star hotel with an excellent restaurant overlooking the indoor spa pool.
  • The Seahorse [36] - This popular and acclaimed seafood restaurant is located on Church Walks, close to Mostyn Street and the Promenade.
  • No.1s Bistro [37]

Night Life[edit]

Though not on a par with the likes of Blackpool, Llandudno does have a vibrant nightlife scene with several popular bars and clubs. Busier in the summer months when tourists swell the ranks of revellers, a decent night out can be had in Llandudno all year round owing to the sizeable local crowd.

Along with the obvious Friday and Saturday nights, Wednesday can also be busy with certain nightclubs offering popular reduced rates. Llandudno's 'trendier' bars can be found in the area of Upper Mostyn Street (the area around the junction of Mostyn Street and Gloddaeth Avenue, stretching up towards the Great Orme). For this guide, the town has been separated into various areas;

Upper Mostyn Street area

  • Fountains - A popular bar offering a varied drinks menu. Quieter atmosphere in the upstairs section, live DJ in the basement.
  • Lilly's Bar - Good food, well-made cocktails. 
  • Club 147 - Popular on Friday and Saturday nights when '147' as it is commonly known transforms into a fully fledged nightclub. Also shows sports evens (but be warned; during international football or rugby matches, the crowd supports Wales and anybody but England (with tongue firmly in cheek!)
  • The Palladium - The flagship Welsh pub of the J.D. Wetherspoon chain set in a former cinema. A very impressive sight. Crowded and often rowdy on weekends. Known locally (and exclusively) as Wethers to the extent that some locals would not recognize its official name.
  • The Cottage Loaf - A stalwart of Llandudno nightlife for decades, the Loaf is located beside the rear entrance to the Palladium. Local beers, live music, quiz nights and a great atmosphere.
  • The King's Head - Situated beside the tram station. Offers a good variety of drinks, live music and quiz nights. Popular with young and mature crowds alike. Hosts outdoor local music evenings during the summer months. (Headstock) [38]
  • The Carlton - On the corner of Mostyn Street and Gloddaeth Avenue, the Carlton has been around for generations and serves very reasonably priced drinks, undercutting the prices of nearby Wetherspoons (The Palladium) in many cases.

Mostyn Street

  • The Alexander - Known locally as the Alex, situated just off Mostyn Street at the junction of Clonmel Street.
  • The King's Arms - Old-world atmosphere and outdoor seating in the heart of Mostyn Street. Located close to Bog Island (officially North Western Gardens, but nobody in Llandudno will recognise that name).
  • The Town House - Attracting a more mature crowd, the Town House hosts frequent karaoke nights which go on into the small hours!

Madoc Street

  • The Cross Keys - An ever-popular spot on Madoc Street, particularly with pub-quiz enthusiasts.
  • The Albert - Quiet pub well away from the buzz of Upper Mostyn Street.

Promenade

  • Langtry's - Blackpool-style cabaret, comedy, dancing and other kitsch entertainment at Langtry's, located at the bottom of the Grand Hotel, ideally located on the Victorian Pier.

As of May 2013, both of Llandudno's full-sized nightclubs (Broadway Boulevard and The Washington) have closed. In response, many of the venues in the town centre (particularly in Upper Mostyn Street) have extended their opening hours to accommodate late-night revellers. At the time of writing, Club 147 is Llandudno's only night club.

Gay Scene[edit]

Llandudno could certainly be seen as a Gay-friendly town when it comes to nightlife. The bars in Upper Mostyn Street attract a decent crowd.

Upper Mostyn Street

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Owing to its origins as a Victorian resort, Llandudno has a vast array of family run B&Bs (service consisting of a basic room with a generic cooked breakfast). Llandudno has a wide variety of hotels, ranging in size and quality.

Budget[edit]

  • Llandudno Hostel (4 Star) [39]

Medium Range[edit]

  • The Royal Hotel  [40] Victorian-era building conveniently located to the town's attractions. Offers Wireless internet and inclusive on-site parking.
  • The Broadway Hotel  [41]. Built in 1865 this Victorian Hotel sits proudly on the edge of the Town Centre and 200 yards from the seafront.
  • Llymar Hotel [42]
  • Kensington Hotel Llandudno [43]
  • Bella Vista Hotel [44]
  • Elsinore Hotel [45]
  • Lauriston Court Hotel [46]

Splurge[edit]

  • The Empire [47]
  • Cae Mor Hotel Llandudno [48]
  • St Georges Hotel, The Promenade, Llandudno. LL30 2LG (On the Promenade in Llandudno), 01492 877544, [49]. checkin: 2PM; checkout: 11AM. North Wales Premier 4 Star Hotel and Visit Wales Gold Award Winner. Wales.  edit

Stay safe[edit]

Llandudno is considered safe by any standards, though as with any other tourist destination, it is easy to fall into a false sense of security about your own safety. Note that Llandudno is also a fully functioning medium sized town and is therefore subject to the same difficulties as any other town. Trouble associated with nightlife (drunkeness, anti social behaviour) is not uncommon. The Police take a robust response to incidents and maintain a visible presence on busy nights. Door staff can be strict and entry can be refused to pubs, bars and clubs.

Respect[edit]

The massive annual influx of tourists is something that local people are used to. People from Llandudno are generally friendly, welcoming and appreciative of the economic boost that tourists bring to the town.

One issue that can arise is during international football matches. Hoards of fans wearing England strips and filling out the pubs should remember that the Welsh will rarely share their support for the England team and will often (in the spirit of good fun) cheer on the opposing team... Even if it's Germany! Don't make an issue out of this, it is not meant to offend. Plus, you are in Wales after all!

Get out[edit]

  • Conwy - fantastic castle and walled town, just 5 miles away from Llandudno. Walk the town walls for free, many stairs leading up to them are throughout the town. 
  • A cycle path now exists between West Shore Llandudno and Conwy, very flat and car free. Also suitable for pedestrians. [50]
  • A 'working' riverfront where you can find a riverfront pub for a drink and an ice cream stand that also sells hot drinks along with 'The smallest house in the UK'.
  • A sightseeing boat that takes a 30 minute ride up and down the Conwy River (runs mainly on school holidays).
  • Various independent shops in the town and various independent cafes (including the Tower Coffee House, built into one of the wall turrets, right across from the castle and giving great views of the river). 
  • If you'd like a free place to relax and maybe a read, Conwy Library also has great views of the river from its upper lounge. 
  • You can also take a walk from the river front, through the gate and find your way along a riverfront walk, at the bottom of Bodlondeb. The walk takes you around Bodlondeb, where you can make your way to Conwy Marina, where there is an upmarket pub with a large outside dining area overlooking the marina. 
  • There are many hill walks around Conwy as well (National Trust gift shop under Aberconwy House sells some maps, there's also an independent bookshop in the town).
  • Aberconwy House, 14th-century merchant's house run by the National Trust.
  • Plas Mawr (The Great Hall), one of the finest surviving town house of the Elizabethan era to be found in Britain, run by Cadw (who also run Conwy Castle, see about a joint ticket for both!).
  • Colwyn Bay - New watersports facilities with free showers and toilets and NEW man-made permanent sandy beach.
  • Chester - Roman walled city, 50 miles away (one hour by train).




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