Railways & Castles of Wales
Save up to $60pp when booking on or before Oct 31, 2018
Save up to $60pp when booking on or before Oct 31, 2018
Enjoy a fantastic tour of North Wales, based in charming Llandudno. From here we explore the historic steam railways and impressive castles found along the coastline of this beautiful and mountainous region of Wales.
Our tour begins as you meet your Tour Manager in Llandudno, where we stay at the Dunoon Hotel. This fabulous seaside resort, sometimes referred to as the 'Queen of the Welsh Resorts', is the ideal base from which to enjoy our explorations of Wales, thanks in part to its marvellous history in welcoming travellers and guests to its delightful sandy beaches.
Tonight we meet for a drinks reception ahead of our first dinner together in the hotel's award-winning restaurant.
Today we head along the coast to Caernarfon, and join the narrow-gauge Welsh Highland Railway* into the foothills of the Snowdon Mountains to Porthmadog. Here we coach to Portmeirion. This excellent line was opened in what is considered to be the 'Golden Age of rail travel', the roaring 20's. Although it closed only 15 years later, a marvellous effort has come to restore the line, and in 1980 it began running again, to the great pleasure of anyone that has had the fortune of travelling on it.
The particular stretch of line that we are travelling on today was restored and re-opened in 2011, and takes us through the spectacular rolling hills and dipping valleys that are so synonymous with Wales. The windows in the marvellously restored carriages are large, perfect for watching the breathtaking views that sail past just outside them, and the seats are extremely comfortable, giving you no better way to see the countryside as it is meant to be seen.
On arrival in Porthmadog, we transfer to Portmeirion, which we get acquainted with on a short guided tour. This tiny tourist village started construction in 1925, after being designed by architect Clough Williams-Ellis in a rather successful attempt to re-create a village the likes of which you would see in the Italian Riviera: something that has been achieved to a marvellous effect. Portmeirion finished construction 52 years later, and now enjoys numerous visitors who come to enjoy the calming sea views, the lovely architecture, and verdant greenery.
After some time here at leisure, perhaps perusing the quaint souvenir shops, we return to Porthmadog to join the narrow-gauge Ffestiniog Railway* to Blaenau Ffestiniog. The second heritage railway that we travel on today is owned by the same company as the Welsh Highland Railway, and it boasts the title of being the oldest railway company in the world.
This particular line is short but sweet, and has a history dating back nearly 200 years. There are a number of locomotives that operate on this line, some of them steam, but the oldest of the locomotives is over 150 years old, and has been impeccably maintained to guarantee a marvellous train riding experience.
* Steam hauled where possible
We begin our day with a guided tour of the impressive Caernarfon Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Marvel at the iconic polygonal towers of this famed attraction. As we wander through the sprawling ancient complex, it is easy to imagine what life must have been like for the soldiers that lived here - from the legions of Rome to the armies of Edward I.
After the tour of the castle, we then travel over the rather dramatic scenery of the Llanberis Pass to Llanberis, where we visit the National Slate Museum which outlines the history of quarrying and slate in Wales since the original quarry was opened in 1870. Later, we board the Snowdon Mountain Railway's diesel service†, which climbs to the summit of Snowdon at 3,494 feet.
Enjoy travelling up the rugged sides of Wales' highest mountain in the comfortable, and rather modern, carriages of this wonderful service. Mingled with the everunchanging scenery of Snowdonia National Park, it can be all to easy to lose yourself in the amazing and immersive experience of this fantastic mountain railway. Hopefully, if the weather is good, you are able to reach the summit† and marvel at the spectacular panorama that is laid out before you, as you enjoy a scene that was just this year voted 'the best view in Britain'.
This evening, we return to our hotel and enjoy a talk on the history of Llandudno ahead of dinner by special guests from the Llandudno Museum.
†Please note the first two departures are unlikely to reach the summit as it is too early in the season. Reaching the summit is dependent on weather conditions.
Today you are at leisure to explore Llandudno. The nostalgic Victorian pier is well worth a visit. Built in 1878, this charming attraction provides excellent views of the seafront promenade. The fantastic Great Orme Tramway is another option; this excellent transport system takes passengers up to the top of the Great Orme, an impressive headland which stands watch over Llandudno and offers some striking views across the bay. Originally opened in 1905, this is the only cable operated tramway in Britain and is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.
This morning we visit Conwy Castle, a wonderfully preserved 13th century castle that stands in majestic ruins over the town of Conwy. A guided tour reveals its intriguing history. We also visit Plas Mawr, a lovely whitewashed building that holds the title of the bestpreserved Elizabethan townhouse in Britain. We then continue to Bodnant Garden, which spans 80 acres, including a beautiful wild garden. This evening we enjoy a 'Taste of Wales' farewell dinner at the hotel.
The tour concludes after breakfast this morning, and you are free to depart Llandudno at your leisure.
Please note ** Diesel service in April & October Itinerary and excursions may vary on some departures.
Departures WDS1801, WDS1804 and WDS1810 Days 3 and 5 have swapped around.
Departure WDS1807 Days 2 and 5 have swapped around.
Departure WDS1812 Day 2 is now Day 5, Day 3 is now Day 2 and Day 5 is now Day 3.
We recommend that for this tour you arrange flights to and from Manchester Airport (MAN), which is approximately 76 miles from your base in Llandudno.
It is your responsibility to check and fulfil the passport, visa, health and immigration requirements applicable to your itinerary. We do not accept any responsibility if you cannot travel, or incur any other loss because you have not complied with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities. You agree to reimburse us in relation to any fines or other losses which we incur as a result of your failure to comply with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
An escorted experience and travel during your tour
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
This tour may be suitable for reduced mobility passengers, please call for further information.
of travellers would recommend this tour
based on 38 verified reviews
Rexcellent from start to finish, hotel, tours, tour manager all 100%. A perfect short break
Very good itinerary ,great food ,nice hotel ,good planning and a very good ,friendly tour manager
hotel was in a good location,food was excellent, excursions were well chosen and we were fortunate that the weather was favourable
An enjoyable tour, well organised, good hotel.
Very well-organised tour with interesting itinerary that was enhanced by good company and nice weather. The Dunoon was particularly good, the meals were excellent. Would definitely recommend, have done already!
Hotwl and tour manager great, coach and driver ditto. Slate mine unexpectedly excellent, weather stunning, snow do. Experience only mot good factor. Not your fault just too hot, too boring, too crowded on top and nowhere to go. We will come again
superb accommodation and food at the Dunoon, excellent service from all the staff, and beautifully organised by the guide/courier.
Very good tour. Hotel rooms were a little dated and could do with general improvements. Hotel food was excellent. The tours arranged were well organised and the tour manager professional, friendly and informative.
Great hotel, great excursions, great tour manager, fantastic weather.. Llandudno is a fine place to be based with lots to do on the day off.
Good overall tour with good program.
Scenic tours through the Welsh countryside