We love North Wales and have recently been asking ourselves is Anglesey worth a visit? We found it hard to believe that we’d never been to Anglesey before. Seemed ridiculous really. All over the world we’ve been, but still not to some parts of our own beautiful country, Wales. Sometimes when we’re abroad, we’ve had people tell us they’ve been to Anglesey and we’re ashamed to say we haven’t! And we love Islands!
So we decided this was a trip we needed to make happen. By that we mean that unless we make solid plans it won’t. And we have tried before but there always seemed to be some obstacle which meant it was easier not to. Lately, we’ve shifted our thinking towards the belief that nothing that’s easy brings as much reward as something that’s hard work. And we knew this would be, so we started the planning.
We spent a lot of time trying to find somewhere suitable to stay either on Anglesey or close enough to visit. No large chain hotels here. Accommodation consists of smaller independent hotels, holiday lets and AirBnBs. We found something. Something different. Some of us had never stayed in a caravan before but most of us were excited about the prospect, so we booked it. And off we went. Stopping at quite a few places on the way!
Our first stop was in Aberaeron briefly for a comfort break. Aberaeron is a nice little harbour town on the A487 between Cardigan and Aberystwyth. We usually get honey ice cream here but this was not a day for it. There’s also a great chip shop, plenty of restaurants and accomodation. We’ve never stayed here but the Harbourmaster Hotel has a great reputation locally.
Tan y Coed
It’s around a 4 hour car journey from where we live and it’s usually a really scenic drive. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t great on the way up so not many photographic opportunities. But that didn’t stop us enjoying it. In fact it added to the experience. If it hadn’t been raining we wouldn’t have seen this!
This stop wasn’t planned but we just had to. Some of us didn’t want to get out of the car as it was raining heavily. Those who did got wet. But guess what? We soon dried off. And skin is pretty waterproof! And we were treated to a great shared experience which will live long in the memory.
Next we stopped in Caernarfon. Again, some of us had never been here so we decided it was time to put that right. 8 miles south of the Britannia Bridge on the A487, this Royal town is home to a magnificent 700 year-old castle. There is plenty of parking available here. Most of it is subject to fees but we managed to get a free space for an hour on the High Street.
There are also plenty of places to eat. In the main square we came across Nemo Fish and Chips. We couldn’t help but notice the hygiene rating of 5 and from the outside it looked really nice. It was around 5 o’clock and we all agreed it would be rude not to. We were glad we did. The chips here really were fantastic, so much so we went back for another portion! You know, just in case.
From Caernarfon we headed to Anglesey via the Britannia Bridge. This was a fairly short drive along the A55, but at 5.30pm on a Friday it was quite busy.
St Mary's Church, Llanfairpwll
While we were crossing the bridge to Anglesey we noticed something underneath which we though may be worth visiting. Saint Mary’s Church. The narrow road to get to it was barely passable at the time and we noticed that the road was completely closed when we passed by on our way home. For us this underlined the importance of taking opportunities when they arise rather than postponing them. We wandered down through the Churchyard which was spectacular in itself.
As we followed the path down we caught a glimpse of something unusual. As we got closer we could see that this was, incredibly, a statue of Admiral Nelson. Incredible because of where it was but also because nobody was paying a blind bit of notice to it. Not even the 2 gentlemen gathering cockles on the shore of the Menai Straits! This was another fantastic sight. And one we would have totally missed out on had we decided not to take a slight detour at that very time.
Mind blown we continued on our way to where we were staying in the small village of Gaerwen.
Newborough Forest and beach
As the weather had hugely improved we decided to not end the day here but to make our way down to Newborough Forest and the beach. Another site owned and managed by National Resources Wales, this is a stunning location. For some reason we thought it would be quite difficult to find. But we were pleasantly surprised at how easy it was and the drive down was quite special.
This turned out to be a great decision as we were able to see the sun setting and we had the place to ourselves apart from a couple of kite surfers.
On the way to Beaumaris we stopped by what we thought was the famous station at Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogogoch. The place with the longest name in Europe and 2nd longest in the world, it was good to have seen it (and taken a few photographs) but we were a bit disappointed. Again no fan-fair and seemingly no interest. The station building itself was closed and also looked like it was in need of a bit of TLC. It’s easy to find and there is a free car park. Around 4.5 miles from the Britannia bridge, you pass it as you drive along the A5.
We were able to tick off one of the main reasons for our visit to Anglesey on the way to Beaumaris. Church Island is a stunning location on the Menai Strait in the town of Menai Bridge. Accessible from the A5 near the bridge itself, it was quite easy to get to. There is a car park which is signposted for St.Tysilio’s Church and cost £1 for 1 hour. This was plenty of time for us to walk down to the island, across the causeway, have a look around and walk back. It was approximately 300 metres each way but is a fairly steep climb on the way back. It was definitely worth it. The views are spectacular.
Not one of our priorities but we found Beaumaris to be a very nice place. The castle grounds are well maintained and there are a couple of childrens’ playgrounds which are free to use. Overlooking this and the bowling green was the Happy Valley Pavillion. We stopped in here for refreshments. Tea and coffee was great but the stars of the show were the cakes. A huge slice of bara brith and a mug of coffee incredibly cost only £2. We sat outside with views of the castle and the Menai Straits on either side. What’s not to like! There is plenty of parking in Beaumaris with a large car park on the front by the pier. There is a charge for this. We managed to park for free for an hour right on the front.
The former county town of Anglesey it’s a very interesting place. Walking down the high street we came across this. Apparently one of the oldest houses in Great Britain. Now an Estate Agents! There are plenty of shops, places to eat and drink and places to stay in Beaumaris. There is also a pier and the Gaol, a disused jail which is now a museum. You can have a guided tour of this but there is a charge. There are conveniences in the town but there is a 20p charge.
Back to Newborough Beach the purpose of our visit this time was Ynys Llanddwyn. In fact this was the main reason for our trip to Anglesey. To get to the Island is a walk of approximately 1½ miles from the car park either across the beach or through the woods. We did both.
The car park itself is owned by National Resources Wales and cost £5 for the day. Whilst we do our best to avoid parking charges where we can, we did not resent paying this time. The road down to the car park is a bit of a feature itself. There are toilets and showering facilities here. There were also ice cream and hot dog vans. It was easy to get a parking space close to the beach. Even in August.
There is a bit of a walk to and from Ynys Llanddwyn from here but it was definitely worth it. We took the forest walk on the way out. We certainly were not the only people making this trek and we enjoyed a lengthy conversation with a nice couple from the Netherlands. After putting the world to rights we walked back along the beach to the car for much needed refreshment before starting the journey home.
Overall our journey to Anglesey took around 8 hours! For a 4 hour drive! But this was because we made the journey part of the trip. We know that sounds obvious but it’s not something you have to do. We could have driven at breakneck speed (within the law of course!) and stressed ourselves out with trying to get where we were going in the shortest possible time. But that’s not the point. Sometimes its about slowing down. Noticing things. Taking in what’s around you. Shared experiences. Taking detours here and there. Being flexible and adaptable with the plan. Recognising opportunities and taking them.
You still get there. Eventually. And you may just have more fun along the way!
Is Anglesey worth a visit? We definitely thought so. What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment if you’d like any more information and we’ll do our best to help. If you enjoyed this post why not leave check out our other posts on Wales
More places to visit in Wales
Anglesey is Wales’ largest island and can be reached by crossing one of two bridges. The Menai Bridge and the Britannia Bridge. Off the coast of North West Wales, it’s the fifth largest island in Britain. By car from the East head West on the A55 which will take you across the Britannia Bridge onto the Island.
Newborough Forest is around half a mile south of the village of Newborough off the A4080. It can be reached by taking the B4419 and then the B4421 off the A5 near the village of Gaerwen. It’s well signposted and the Postcode is LL61 6SG. The OS grid reference is SH 402 635.
If you decide to make the trip to Ynys Llanddwyn please be aware that getting to the island means crossing a causeway. As such you should ensure you are aware of the tide times.
Tan y coed is around 4 miles North of Machynlleth on the A487. The Post Code is SY20 9AT. The OS grid reference is SH 755 054. There are picnic tables and conveniences here. Parking is free.
Ganllwyd is approximately 6 miles North of Dolgellau on the A470 heading towards Trawsfynydd. OS grid reference SH726244. Post Code District LL40. There is a small car park on the road with conveniences.
St Mary’s Church is on the banks of the Menai Strait. It can be reached by taking the first left off the A5 as you come over the Britannia Bridge from the East. The Church is at the bottom of that road and there is room to park outside it. Postcode LL61 6AD.