Since I relied so heavily on the Rick Steves' podcasts and the various message boards for tips and advice on planning my trip to Wales, and since it feels like such an untapped location in terms of message board resources compared to other travel destinations I thought I would share my road trip earlier this summer.
First off, I drove. I had never driven on the opposite side of the road, I don't drive stick, and while I'm a good driver I'm by no means a pro with a comfort level for taking a stab at something like driving in a foreign country. But I did it. After mapping out the places I wanted to go, both in-person friends, and helpful RS tipsters indicated that public transportation, even at its height during the summer, probably wouldn't work for travel goals. I had to make a decision between cutting my list down to accommodate out of the way public transport and wait times, unreachable locations, or pay an exorbitant amount for tour guides to drive me around every day.
I flew into Heathrow and took the train from Euston to Chester and then switched to the Wales line in Chester to Llandudno Junction - Conwy is an optional stop so I had to get off in Llandudno Junction since that day it apparently wasn't optional. Buses to Conwy pick up in Llandudno Junction as do cabs, but the bus schedule would have had me waiting for quite a while and by that point I'd been traveling for too many hours to be willing to wait. I took a cab to my hotel in Conwy.
I game-planned out a kind of tight schedule - but only a few parts of it were truly binding (pre-bought tickets).
Conwy is an adorable seaside walled town. My hotel had a pub/restaurant downstairs and rooms upstairs. It was quiet and the smell from the restaurant did not travel up. My room was a on a corner so I had castle views on one side and castle wall and hill views on the other - and a good breeze since it was hot.
My first day I had planned originally on only visiting Conwy Castle, since I got in around 2 pm, but the day before I had checked closing times and was able to juggle a few things by starting with lunch in town across the street from Plas Mawr - the Elizabethan merchant's house. This was SUCH a cool historical home to visit - particularly since my original purpose for visiting Wales was to attend a book conference that has a book based in Elizabethan times. I was able to get a view of what the characters in the books would have experienced, seen, lived in while there. Also, the original owner's love of Greek iconography really translated into some ....interesting... replications in the main hall. Plas Mawr is part of CADW so I was able to pick up the CADW 7 day explorer pass. The explorer pass lets you visit CADW eligible facilities for no additional charge for seven days (doesnt have to be consecutive) in a 14 day period. Both Plas Mawr and Conwy Castle are eligible facilities.
Conwy Castle was open to 6 pm for summer hours so I was able to do all of Plas Mawr and their self-guided tour in an hour and have slightly over 2 hours to visit Conwy Castle. I suppose if you have kids and want to do the castle scavenger hunt you might need more than 2 hours, but I was solo and more efficient and able to climb 7 out 8 towers and read most of the historical markers with rest time to spare. Conwy is STUNNING and in great shape for an Edward the 1st castle. Plus its location on the coast of Conwy leads to stunning views of the hills and water and harbor and the bridge over to Llandudno Junction. Doing 7/8 towers worth of stairs on top of the other walking and climbing that day probably wasn't the smartest idea in terms of pacing myself but its doable.
TBC in comments