Don’t let being at Uni stop you embracing the travel bug. Here are ten must-see, easy to get to places for you to visit before you leave.
You are privileged to have one of the magnificent three peaks right on your doorstep, so don’t waste the opportunity. There are routes to suit all walkers –the Pyg Track is the shortest but the Miner’s is generally regarded as one of the easiest. Whichever route you choose, you’ll always be subjected to the magnificent views and crisp mountain air that makes Snowdon such a popular destination. To get there, take the 85 or 86 bus from Bangor bus station (opposite Burger King) and get off at Llanberis Interchange where you’ll find the Snowdon Mountain Railway Station for those getting the rail to the top. For the walkers get on Line S2 from the Interchange which has stops all around Snowdonia, including Pen-y-Pass. Different buses run during School Holidays, so keep that in mind when you plan.
Anglesey really deserves more than one bullet point. Home to large, sandy beaches and a wealth of history it’s well worth a visit. Although easily walkable – head past Normal Site and eventually you’ll get to the Menai Bridge – it can be easier to drive or get a bus. For Newborough beach take the 42 bus towards Llangefni and get off at the White Lion Hotel. Rhosneigr is also worth a trip.To explore the historical side of Anglesey, visit the 13th Century Beaumaris Castle, the Amlwch Copper Kingdom (an old copper mine) or the South Stack Lighthouse. And with 220 square miles considered AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) it’s the prime spot for walking, cycling and/or nature spotting. Enjoy!
- Aber Falls
This is easiest to reach by car— although public transport will get you there eventually. Take the number 5 bus towards Llandudno and get off at Abergwyngregyn, from there it’s a 2.5 mile walk to the Falls. By car the village can be reached on junction 13 of the A55, with a carpark just past the Aber Halls Hotel. Once you’ve reached the footbridge in the car park it’s an easy 30 minute walk through the Coedydd Aber Nature Reserve to Rhaeadr Fawr—a 100 waterfall from source to mouth. Although a few dead sheep have been known to float there, it is worth dipping your feet—even your whole body in—if you think you can handle the cold. Although watch out for the slippery rocks.
Situated at the foot of Snowdon, this town is absolutely beautiful and easily accessible by bus – just take the 85 or 86 from the bus station. Best on a sunny day, it’s a great spot for scenic walks or bike rides around the lake (check out Llanberis Bike Hire). If you’re willing to fork out a bit more you can get stuck in and hire a canoe, try some high ropes or have a go at diving. Or if you’re looking for a more cultural day out, check out the Dolbadarn Castle, the Slate Museum or the Electric Mountain. The town itself is host to lots of brightly coloured houses and delicious eateries, including a vegan, very organic café.
Easily accessible by train, Conwy is well known for its castle walls and 22 towers that enclose the town. Go see for yourself the mountain & sea views from the battlements in the castle (usually open 9.30 – 17.00) and admire from above the roofless 125ft Great Hall. Conwy isn’t just known for the castle however; it holds a yearly Food Fest (full of free samples) and is home to the smallest house in Britain – 3.05m high and 1.8m wide. Although quiet, Conwy is the perfect place, rain or shine, to get a big portion of fish and chips and sit on the sea front admiring the docked boats.
Although Llandudno Junction is often visited for the cinema our Uni lacks, Llandudno itself is rarely seen. Just a short train ride from Junction (which is a short train ride from Bangor) sits the perfect seaside town, home to plenty of ice-cream places, B&Bs and the longest pier in Wales. To fully experience it I recommend trying one of the Great Orme walks, visiting the West Shore Beach and having an old school donkey ride. There’s also boat rides, a ski centre and bike hire if you’re feeling adventurous.
- Welsh Mountain Zoo
It’s not just goats and sheep! The Welsh Mountain Zoo is perfect for a flat day out. Watch the gorillas run clutching as much fruit as they can, try and find the red panda hiding in the tree, or pet a rabbit in the petting area if you’re missing your furry animals back home. The zoo opens 9.30 – 18.00 (with last entry at 16.45) and can be accessed by most public transport. Starting in 2016 they’ll be running a free minibus service from Colwyn Bay railway station.
Whether you want a weekend away or a crazy night of Guinness, Dublin can fulfil all your needs. Just get a train to Holyhead and catch a ferry straight there. Try Temple Bar for some great pubs and clubs, or go to the Leprechaun Museum (I admit, it’s aimed at children) or Guinness factory. You can even kayak or jump into the River Liffey. Supply yourself and Dublin will supply the craic.
If you’re missing the hustle and bustle of the Cities back home, Chester is your best bet, situated only an hour away on a direct trainline. Whether you want to visit Chester Zoo, have a full day of shopping you can a ord (Primark) or (dare I say it) a cheeky Nandos, Chester has it all. With the big city vibe that Bangor is missing, it’s a great day or night out.
Although a bit further afield, this beautiful city is great for its music and gigs. I recommend visiting it at Christmas time when the great Christmas market makes an appearance complete with bratwurst and super cheesy garlic bread. It’s also a great meet-in-the-middle point for us Northerners whose friends see Wales as a scary, distant land.
If you need an adventure in between lectures, here are four places based right in the City’s heart:
- The Pier
Facing right onto Anglesey, this beautiful monument is one of the highlights of Bangor – and has even made it on to post stamps. On a sunny day watch the water sparkle with your mini-milk in hand, and on a rainy day hide in one of the shelters and listen to the waves crash. Try your hand at crabbing from one of the few little huts along the walkway or grab a bite to eat at the café.To the right of the pier (when you’re facing away from Anglesey) is a nice little beach perfect for BBQs in the warmer weather.
- Roman Camp
Come out of Main Arts, turn right and the path to it will be on your le hand side, just at the top of love lane. Imagine the 12th Century Fort that once occupied the eld. With views of Anglesey, the Menai Strait and the Snowdonia Mountain Range it makes a perfect picnic spot in the summer.
- Penrhyn Castle
Easy to get to, this 19th Century Castle is well worth the visit. Just start at Beach Road and walk for about 1 mile till you see the castle. Although quite pricey to get in, you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous grounds, a wealth of history to learn about and a delicious café.
- Bangor Mountain
Not a real mountain, but it sits tall at about 380 feet behind the high street. Take the steep, thorny path up and be rewarded with great views of the city, main arts and Anglesey. However be careful of the flying balls from the nearby golf course.
There are a lot more nooks and crannies, but I’ll leave those up to you to discover.