My North Wales - Nicole

I was born and bred in South Wales and whilst I have a deep love for my home turf, North Wales has definitely got a special place in my heart too. I’ve lived here for 8 years now, having originally moved here to attend Bangor University and I’d like to think I have a good grasp on what makes it such a special place.

If you’re into lazy brunches, a spot of sightseeing (including the odd castle or historic house) and a real good pint, then hopefully you’ll find some useful tips below; I’ve curated my absolute favourite places to eat, attractions to visit and vistas to take in, just for you!

Food, food and more food!

Those who know me well understand my deep love of food; whether it’s a relaxing brunch, spontaneous lunch or special dinner, I’m always up for a spot of dining! Over the years I’ve sampled a fair few places but I do have a shortlist of places in North Wales that I come back to time and again. Blue Sky in Bangor was the place to go for a reasonable yet healthy and substantial meal when I was a student. The cooked breakfasts are divine - I personally recommend the ‘Cowboy’, the healthy ‘Breakfast Sundae’ or good old eggs on toast - but lunch and dinner are equally as good. The freshly ground coffee is delightfully quaffable and their loose leaf tea selection is superb. It also doubles as a lively venue for events come nighttime.

Also in Bangor is a tiny but perfectly formed café called Follow your Bliss who are superfood geniuses. Healthy but absolutely delicious smoothies (I recommend the Rejuvenation Smoothie!), excellent coffee and tea as well as super-filling but entirely guilt-free crepes. You’ll always receive a warm welcome here! Further afield in Llandudno there’s the Cottage Loaf which not only serves some good beers, but a good selection of tasty meals too including a fantastic goat curry that I still dream about (I have a problem, I know!).

Insider’s tip: Blue Sky and Follow your Bliss both have free wifi so you can always get some emails answered over your perfectly-brewed coffee!

Fancy a tipple?

Another of my great loves is real ale - you wouldn’t necessarily assume this looking at me and I often get odd looks when I approach the bar which I can barely see over (I’m just over 5 feet tall!) and ask for a pint of obscure strong ale, but I live to defy stereotypes! As such, one of my favourite pastimes in the spring and summer is relaxing in a sun-drenched beer garden with friends and a cold beer. The Black Boy Inn, Caernarfon is perfect come rain or shine as they have fires inside for the winter and excellent outside seating for the sunny days. Some of my favourites year-round include The Albion (cracking roaring fires) and Bank of Conwy which are both in the popular historic town of,...you guessed it, Conwy!

The Bay Hop in Colwyn Bay is also a corker in terms of their beer selection. The Tavern on the Bay only has a small beer selection (other alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks are of course available!), but the views over Red Wharf Bay are pretty spectacular. Just slightly further along the same bay is The Ship Inn and that’s a delight on a sunny summer’s day, right on the beach. The Golden Fleece in Tremadog is also worth a mention for the quirky, cosy interior and good selection of food and drink. I could go on and on - we’re spoilt for choice here!

Make a day of it!

When I venture around North Wales, I love to set aside a whole day and pack in as much as I possibly can to make the most of it! Conwy or Llandudno is an obvious choice because you’ve got walks (choose either countryside, mountain or seafront...or all three!), great places to refuel ready for the next adventure, whether that’s a spot of shopping, a trip up the Great Orme or visiting a historic attraction (castle and an Elizabethan town house in one day, anyone?) or even a trip to the theatre or cinema if that’s more your idea of fun. You can also have a good supper and evening out if you’d like; both places are served by excellent public transport links, so you could leave the car at your cottage.

When I first moved to North Wales I loved to jump in the car and take a mystery tour to find new and exciting places. One of my favourites was driving the Anglesey coastal road and stopping wherever took my fancy. Menai Bridge, Beaumaris, Penmon, Red Wharf Bay, Benllech, Moelfre, Cemaes Bay, South Stack, and Newborough are all worth a stop and a browse whether you’re a walker, beach lover, view seeker or just an avid explorer! Or why not take a drive down the Lleyn Peninsula? Morfa Bychan, Criccieth, Pwllheli, Llanbedrog, Abersoch, Aberdaron, Tudweiliog and Morfa Nefyn are all absolute gems with gorgeous outlooks. That’s not to forget various places inland - the Snowdonia National Park is vast and has so much to offer! Places I recommend are Beddgelert, Porthmadog, Llanberis, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Betwys-Y-Coed...I genuinely could write forever on this subject because there are so many pretty villages, walks and views to be found!

North Wales is a fantastic place no matter what your passion is; whether it’s good food, great beer, fantastic walks, incredible views, you can find it all here! Why not take a look at Michelle’s, Jen’s, or Luke’s for their insider’s tips to get the most from your stay. too?

Monday 16 January 2017