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Railroads & Castles of Wales

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Scenic tours through the Welsh countryside

6 daysFrom $1,055 per person

2020 Tour code: WDS20

About the tour

Enjoy a fantastic tour of North Wales from our base in charming Llandudno. Ride aboard historic steam railroads and visit the impressive castles found along the coastline of this beautiful and mountainous region of Wales.

Highlights

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - Meet in Llandudno

Our vacation 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 travelers 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.

Includes
  • Dinner
Llandudno
Day 2 - Portmeirion and Ffestiniog Railroad

Today we head along the coast to Caernarfon, joining the narrow-gauge Welsh Highland Railroad* for a journey into the foothills of the Snowdon Mountain Range to Beddgelert. This excellent line was opened in what is considered to be the 'Golden Age of rail travel', the roaring 20s. Although it closed only 15 years later, a marvellous effort has brought the line back to life, and in 1980 it began running again.

On arrival in Beddgelert, we transfer to Portmeirion by coach for a short guided tour. This tiny tourist village was designed by architect Clough Williams-Ellis, in 1925, who wanted to create a town that wouldn't look out of place on the Italian Riviera: something that has been achieved to a marvellous effect. Construction of Portmeririon was finished 52 years later, and now enjoys numerous visitors, who come to enjoy the calming sea views, the lovely architecture, and abundant greenery.

After some time at leisure, perhaps perusing the quaint souvenir shops, we travel to Porthmadog to join the narrow-gauge Ffestiniog Railroad* to Blaenau Ffestiniog.

The second heritage railroad that we travel on today is owned by the same company as the Welsh Highland Railroad, and it boasts the title of being the oldest railroad 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 among them are over 150 years old, and has been impeccably maintained to guarantee a marvellous experience.

*Steam-hauled where possible

Please Note: For departure WDS2012 Days 2, 3 and 5 have swapped around

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Welsh Highland Railroad
Day 3 - Caernarfon Castle & Snowdon

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 Railroad's diesel service, which climbs to the summit* of Snowdon at 3,494 feet (weather dependent).

Enjoy traveling 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 railroad. 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.

*April departures will not travel to the summit

Please Note: For departure WDS2006 Days 3, 4 and 5 have swapped around

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Caernarfon Castle
Day 4 - At leisure in Llandudno

Today is 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. It also has the lovely title of being the longest pier in Wales, taking you out into the sea and giving a delightful view of Llandudno behind you.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Llandudno
Day 5 - Conwy Castle and Bodnant Garden

This morning we visit Conwy Castle, a wonderfully preserved 13th-century castle. A guided tour reveals its intriguing history, from its initial and somewhat humble beginnings as a Cistercian monastery and its part played in the War of the Roses, to its eventual ruin in the 17th century. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, a title which it shares with many of the castles built on the borders of King Edward that are scattered throughout Wales.

We also visit Plas Mawr, the best preserved Elizabethan townhouse in Britain. Constructed over the course of 9 years, what is perhaps most striking about this white-washed house is its lovely crow-stepped gables and the heraldry that stands out above the door. It has stood unchanged since the 16th century, and is therefore an incredible insight into how life was in the 1500s. We then continue to Bodnant Garden, which spans 80 acres and includes a beautiful wild garden, an explosion of color and scents. This evening we enjoy a 'Taste of Wales' farewell dinner at the hotel with a harpist.

Includes
  • Breakfast, Dinner
Conwy Castle
Day 6 - Homeward bound

The tour concludes after breakfast this morning, and you are free to depart Llandudno at your leisure.

Includes
  • Breakfast
Llandudno

Additional information

Please note

Please note: The itinerary order may differ dependent on departure. Please call for more details.

Recommended airport

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. 

Visa Requirements

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.

Departure times

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.

Hotel

Dunoon Hotel, Llandudno

View hotel

Trains

Ffestiniog Railroad
Snowdon Mountain Railroad
Welsh Highland Railroad

Reviews

96% of travelers would recommend this tour

Based on 77 verified reviews

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Anonymous

Submitted Oct 23, 2019

A wonderful time with an excellent Tour Guide, good hotel and interesting trips.

Anonymous

Submitted Oct 23, 2019

Lovely hotel, lovely base town, interesting tours, beautiful scenery, friendly guide, enjoyable company.

Mr T Osborne

Submitted Oct 20, 2019

Good vacation again from GRJ

Mr G Purse

Submitted Oct 17, 2019

Apart from the weather everything was almost perfect. Super hotel, good food, good company, very good journeys and visits. The tour guide was always available and did a very good job.

Anonymous

Submitted Aug 15, 2019

Great itinerary and accommodation. Excellent Tour Manager

Anonymous

Submitted Aug 15, 2019

An excellent vacation in all respects

Europe, UK & Cruising by Rail 2019

Europe, UK & Cruising by Rail 2019

The definitive guide to our 2019 rail tours to a wide range of destinations in Europe.

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