So, #1 on my list of reasons to visit Conwy is its magnificent, medieval castle.
You’ll be hard pressed to miss Conwy Castle, whether arriving in Conwy by train or car, the castle dominates the town, warding off would be attackers and recurring locals of their safety … or at least that was the case once upon a time. Now, with would be invaders few and far between (unless you label tourists invaders haha), the castle plays educator to those that visit this part of Wales and wish to learn about the local history.
Built for Edward I during his conquest of Wales (1283 – 1289), by Master James of St George, Conwy castle is among the finest surviving medieval fortifications in Britain. So fine in fact that UNESCO considers Conwy to be one of “the finest examples of late 13th century and early 14th century military architecture in Europe”, and it is classed as a World Heritage site.
The castle was constructed as part of a wider project to create the walled town of Conwy, a project which cost some £15,000, a rather large sum of cash back in the day! It was money well spent however, as over the next few centuries, the castle played an important part in several great battles and wars. One such battle was the siege of Madog ap Llywelyn (1294–95).
Now about that wider project to create a complete walled town, well that happened, and it is #2 on my list of reasons to visit Conwy.
Whereas you’ll need to pay a fee to enter and explore the castle (not that its a huge fee), to walk the Conwy town walls is free, and for that costly sum you are afforded some beautiful views over the Quay, which is also where you first ascend up to the walls and begin your journey around them.
The circuit of the walls is some 3/4 of a mile long, and includes 21 towers. The walls themselves are 1.68m thick and 9m high, with towers rising to 15m. It’s a pretty incredible feat when you think about it, to protect a town in such a way … but it clearly worked!
Like any other lookout point, the walls are great for a walk just before sun down. Golden hour over the quay makes for some rather lovely looking photographs.
Conwy lies on the banks for the River Conwy (Duh!), and only a short distance from Conwy Bay (Duh again) where river water becomes ocean water.
Now admittedly its not the kind of water you’ll be wanting to go splashing around in, this is the UK after all, it’s cold(!), but there’s something very tranquil and peaceful around the water front. Yes many local businesses may rely upon each days ‘catch of the day’ to feed those back in town with rumbling bellies, but nothing appeared frantic or panic’d. Maybe I’m too used to living the 100mph London life, but by simply taking in the sea air and walking the pebbles of the quay, I felt a sense of calm I had not experienced in a while. A well deserved spot at #3 on my list of reasons to visit Conwy.
The top of the front door came up to shoulder, it really was tiny. Number 4 on my list of reasons to visit Conwy is the smallest house in Great Britain.
So just how small is the house? That the top of the front door only came up to my shoulder maybe it’s the best indication I could have given. The official measurements of the house stand at just 72 inches wide by 122 inches high, yet up until May 1900, someone bigger than me was actively living in this tiny space. At 6ft 3′, local fisherman Robert Jones couldn’t even fully stand up in some of the rooms, and was eventually forced to move out when the council declared the house unfit for human habitation.
At #5 of my reasons to visit Conwy we have Prince Llywelyn the Great, who lived between 1173 and 1240, and whom ruled over most of Wales for almost 40 years.
I place the statue of Llywelyn in my list as it exists at the centre of town, at the tip of the High street, and reminds you that without he, there might not have been a Conwy (as we know it) in the first place, for it was Llywelyn who founded Aberconwy Abbey, around which Conwy grew into the town we know today.
Now this was unexpected! Street art is hardly rife in Conwy, but as you can see from the below, where street art is found, it seems to employ a ‘go hard or go home’ mentality. POW!
Looking like something out of the rainbow road circuit from Mario Kart, this crazy exciting tunnel of colour is found just a mere couple of minutes walk from its castle. So close, but worlds apart! A fifth spectacular reason to visit Conwy.
Nom, nom and nom again.
Conwy was an unassuming foodie town. I thought everything I’d experience in and around town would be based around Conwy’s history and geography. Well I guess it’s geography and location close to the water might explain the tendencies for fresh sea food, but I’m not a massive sea food fan and even I had more than my fill of incredible eats whilst visiting Conwy.
From local ale sampling at the Castle Hotel to cheese and wine tasting at Bodnant Welsh Food Centre, we didn’t go thirsty.
From half and half burgers at Whatson’s Bistro to pigeon breast and sirloin steaks at Signatures Restaurant, we did not go hungry.
Of course if you couldn’t wait until meal time, there was a yee old sweet shop in town and plenty of cute pubs to grab a drink.
I’ve never tried to sell myself as a foodie blogger, but I could be swayed after this experience … I just might need to go buy myself some bigger clothes before I visit Conwy, or anywhere else offering eats like this, again.
Of course if you couldn’t wait until meal time, there was a yee old sweet shop in town and plenty of cute pubs to grab a drink. We were definitely well fed and watered, which put us in good stead for our daytime activities such as mountain biking in Coed y Brenin, and bouncing around in neon lit caves.
I’ve never tried to sell myself as a foodie blogger, but I could be sway after this experience … I just might need to go buy myself some bigger clothes.
My Conwy experience formed a part of a press trip entitled #AdventureWales, which I was invited to attend by Visit Wales.
While Visit Wales covered the cost of my travel and time in Conwy, they did not request a favourable review and all of the opinions included in this article are my own.