Popular as a holiday destination, the market town of Conwy lies on the north coast of Wales. The town grew around Edward I’s castle, built as part of his conquest of Wales in 1283, and has many well-preserved medieval buildings inside its town walls.
Conwy enjoys a regular rail service, and along with its neighbouring town of Llandudno, offers numerous attractions to suit all tastes. So if you’re after a family day out, a week away or a break just for yourself, head for Conwy and relax.
1. Enjoy Nature Watching at the RSPB’s Conwy Nature Reserve
Covering over 114 acres on the east side of the Conwy Estuary, the RSPB Nature Reserve attracts bird watchers and lovers of the great outdoors from miles around. Opened to the public in the spring of 1995, the reserve protects a mix of habitats, including salt marsh and mudflats, reedbeds and grassland and has several large pools perfect for wildfowl. Carefully positioned hides allow the many visitors to watch the wildlife behaving naturally without disturbing it.
In excess of 220 bird species have been spotted passing through or making their homes on the reserve, including lapwing, plovers, and skylarks, while the mudflats encourage water rails, Terek sandpipers and godwit. The list of mammals includes weasels, and stoats which have been observed hunting the rabbits that crop the grass, and otters fishing for their lunch. Dragonflies fill the air and over 20 butterfly species help pollinate the wide variety of flowers.
Welsh Mountain ponies graze the southern half of the reserve, ensuring that brambles, reeds and rushes don’t take over, and this encourages rare bee orchids to grow, which in turn provides food for hungry caterpillars, while the ponies manure is great for beetles and flies which feed the birds - companion conservation at its finest.
In winter, early sunsets are dominated by the jaw-dropping sight and sound as thousands of starlings congregate, flying in huge sweeps across the sky before roosting in the reedbeds. Called starling mumerations, this is one of the most spectacular sights offered by nature.
With so much to enjoy at RSPB Conwy, this is should be high on your list of things to do.
- Perfect for a family day out
- Entry from £3.00
- Conwy Nature Reserve Website
2. Explore the History of Conwy Castle
Widely considered to be one of the finest medieval fortresses in the whole of Europe, Conwy Castle attracts visitors from around the globe. Built in 1283 by King Edward I, it has played a major role in many battles and sieges, even, in 1399, becoming a safehouse for Richard II.
The interior of the castle was originally white - unusual for one of this age to be lime rendered and it added to the grandeur of Conwy. Today, visitors can explore the King’s Great Chamber, imagining what life was like for his servants scurrying through the hidden passages between the rooms.
The protective walls that encircle the town still stand, and their whole length of 1,400-yard (1.3km) remains unbroken. Why not climb the tower’s spiral staircase and walk the ramparts around the town? Look down and you can see Conwy’s harbour and twisting narrow streets, while in the distance Eryri’s magnificent mountains can be seen.
With a variety of fun activities and events, including a pirate day and a well-stocked gift shop, a visit to Conwy Castle keeps everyone happy.
- Learn all about this magnificent mediaeval castle
- Tickets from £7.80
- Conwy Castle Website
3. Plas Mawr
Dating from the 1500s, the Elizabethan townhouse, Plas Mawr lies just off the High Street. Meaning Great Hall in English, Plas Mawr was built by local gentleman and land owner Robert Wynn. For the next 150 years the house was a family home, before passing into the Mostyn family hands, becoming a courthouse, school, and finally, the headquarters of the Royal Cambrian Academy of Art.
Plas Mawr is now a tourist attraction managed by Cadw and has undergone extensive restoration. Original and replica furniture was installed, including wall hangings, and the project won the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Building Conservation Award, and now has Grade I listed status. The gardens, too, have been restored to their former Renaissance glory, and a stroll around them will have you feeling relaxed and refreshed.
With self-guided tours, disabled access and a lovely cafe and gift shop, visiting this spectacular house is a real treat.
- Britain’s finest remaining Elizabethan town house
- Entry from £5.80
- Plas Mawr Website