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Best home base to tour North Wales July 2016

I am arriving from Ireland via ferry to Holyhead and will be staying 3 nights in North Wales. Can you recommend the best city to have as my home base for my touring. I am traveling solo without a car and will need to rely on the train and buses.

I know Rick Steves recommends Conwy, but the Bryn Guest House has no vacancies for July 15, 16, 17, checking out July 18th. The other areas I am considering are Bangor, Llandudno, Caernafon, Llanberis, and Betws-y-coed. I will be leaving by train from Conwy to Chester and on to Cambridge to stay with a friend.

I am interested in seeing castles, historic homes, Snowdonia National Park by railway to Mt. Snowdon, and just nature in general. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. It appears hotel bookings are filling up fast!

Posted by
1887 posts > is a very useful website for travel in Wales.

When going by train from Wales to Cambridge, it might be cheaper to split the ticket at Birmingham - and advance purchase specific trains. see and test out the journeys for different dates. (If you stop off at Chester, you will need to split the ticket here as well. (A buy on the day ticket from Conwy? might be the same price as advance purchase).

Bangor has good public transport but is not particularly attractive. Caernarfon (Castle) is OK and is the starting point of the Welsh Highland Railway.
Also check bus routes to Llanberis as that is the starting point of the Snowdon Mountain Railway - you will probably need to pre book as you are travelling in peak season.

Also consider staying in Porthmadog as that has 2 narrow gauge steam railways going off through scenic areas. Portmeirion is only about 2 miles away - use local bus. The coastal railway down to Barmouth is also attractive but you might wish to use a bus and visit Harlech Castle.

You could do Holyhead to Bangor by train. Change for a bus to Caernarfon - see the Castle & perhaps 1 night or 2 - if you wish to go up Snowdon on the Mountain Railway. Then, next day Welsh Highland Railway - 1 way to Porthmadog for 2 nights. Visit Portmeirion (half a day) and perhaps take train/bus to Barmouth & back then to Porthmadog.
Leave Porthmadog with a one way train ticket on the Ffestiniog Steam Railway. Change at Blaenau Ffestiniog to 'normal' train (pay on day) for trip down to Llandudno (or Conwy) for 1 or 2 nights.
Both Caernarfon & Porthmadog have conveniently located Travelodges - but the one in Porthmadog is in an industrial estate about 10 minutes walk from the main street.
You should be able to find accommodation with them if nothing else is suitable. Also try which I think has a way of selecting cheapest prices for single rooms. Llandudno is a seaside resort geared to tourists with plenty of hotels.