Discover Conwy: A Complete Guide to the Historic Welsh Town

Close up of boat conwy Atlas Introspective

A few years ago I lived in Penrhyn Bay, a small village in North Wales. Conwy was one of our neighbouring towns, just a 10 minute drive away.

Conwy is a walled market town on the river Conwy that casts a striking image against the Snowdonia mountains. The castle and walkway on top of the castle walls are an incredible place to explore a beautifully preserved town and a unique time in Welsh history.

While Conwy may be small, it’s full of character and hidden delights.

What to See

Conwy Castle

Conwy Castle and the walled market town was built between 1283 and 1289 to protect the English colony against the Welsh, and continues to loom over the landscape. No easy feat beside Snowdonia mountain.

The road to Conwy literally takes you through the castle wall and the thrill of taking my son to a playgroup within the castle walls, never lots its magic.

Conwy boats on shore Atlas Introspective

Conwy Castle is a world heritage site with spectacular views of surrounding landscapes and the best to enjoy them is from the castle towers. Paid entrance to the castle allows allows access to the castle rooms and if you’re lucky you might catch a glimpse of some sword fighting re-enactments.

The well-preserved nature of the castle and surrounding walls allow visitors to walk the perimeter of the town from the top of the wall. Access is free and it gives a unique perspective of the town and surrounding areas. All visitors who are fit and able, should walk the castle wall at least once.

Conwy Suspension Bridge

The Conwy Suspension Bridge was designed by Thomas Telford. It was one of the first suspension bridges in the world to be built with a road, although now it can only be crossed on foot. Telford also designed other bridges in the area including the Waterloo bridge (Betws-y-Coed) and the Menai suspension bridge (Anglesey).

3 bridges Atlas Introspective

The Smallest House in Great Britain

The smallest house in Great Britain overlooks the quay and is a teeny 72″ x 122″. It was built in the 16th century and inhabited until 1900 by a local fisherman, after which time the council declared it unfit for human habitation (the resident at the time was unable to stand upright within the dwelling). Perhaps with the new movement towards minimalism and tiny houses, the Smallest House will serve as inspiration (or deterent). The small home just fits a single bed, fireplace and coal bunker: low maintenance to the extreme. It’s thought that originally, many houses overlooking the quay were tiny like this one, but the Smallest House is the last one standing.

Conwy Marina & Quay

Conwy mussels Atlas Introspective

The marina is small but absolutely charming. Views of the red and blue fishing boats are best appreciated from the largest beer garden in Wales, located at the Liverpool Arms. The Conwy Food festival, held on the quay in October is a highlight of the Conwy social calendar.

Conwy Nature Reserve

The Conwy RSPB Nature Reserve (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) is a perfect outing for children. Take in the fresh air and enjoy one of the many community events, including bird watching, guided walks and farmers markets.

Where to Eat

Watsons Bistro

The family-run Watsons Bistro is Conwy’s best restaurant for fine dining. Watsons prides itself on using local ingredients and offers a home-made, a la carte menu. Great for special occasions and date night, the menu and service is first class. Bookings are recommended.

Edwards of Conwy

castle foundation Atlas Introspective

Edwards of Conwy is hands down, the best butcher ever. Since returning to Australia, the knowledge that Edwards sausages and bacon are out in the world and I can’t buy them, is a heartache I live with daily. You won’t find a better packed lunch for a hike on one of the local trails, than an Edwards pie.

The Conwy Water Garden & Dutch Pancake House

The Conwy Water Garden & Dutch Pancake House, is a great family outing. Kids will love the nature trail and feeding the ducks. Big kids will love fishing the well-stocked lakes. After working up an appetite, stop for a bite at the pancake house. Sweet & savoury pancakes are on the menu.

Pubs & Nightlife in Conwy

Liverpool Arms

castle turret and river Atlas Introspective

I’m always happiest when I’m near the water, which is why the Liverpool Arms is my favourite place to stop for a pint. On a clear day, take in the view of the quay from the largest beer garden in Wales.

The Albion Ale House

A warm and lively pub, the Albion Ale House is a real crowd pleaser and has been serving Ale to patrons since the 1920s. It’s a great place to kick off a Friday night with your mates.

Day Trips from Conwy

Take a short drive beyond the castle wall to Bodnant Garden. The extensive grounds of Bodnant Garden are beautiful and reward return visits to admire the seasonal changes. While you’re in the area, the Bodnant Welsh Food Centre includes a gourmet food store, several dining options and a cookery school. The National Beekeeping Centre is also nearby. Those interested in learning more about beekeeping can sign up for a course.

Snowdonia National Park has many picturesque and challenging hiking trails. Mountaineers and rock climbers, will find many adventures to keep them active in the great outdoors.

Betws-y-Coed, located within the Snowdonia National Park is a charming village. It’s a great place to shop for quality mountaineering & outdooor gear or stop for a hot meal. My favourite lunch spot is the Grill Room or the Y Stablau for a pint.

The neighbouring seaside resort town of Llandudno is a 15 minute drive from Conwy and boasts the longest pier in Wales. Take a stroll along the promenade, a cable car ride up Great Orme and explore the town where the real-life inspiration for Alice in Wonderland, Alice Liddle took her family holidays.

Conwy Castle inside Atlas Introspective

Visiting Conwy? You may be interested in Day Trips in North Wales.