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How's this for a plan?

Thanks to everybody, especially James, Emma and ryan_gill w/ all of your advice! I don't know where I'd be without Rick's forum for all of my trips to Europe. SO, THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH!

I always swore I wouldn't write something long and here goes. Please feel free to jump to the end for trip plan!

So, this is what I'm thinking so far. It's been, unfortunately, a quick plan, with working tons and trying to plan this so last minute with any free time (after thinking we were going to Iceland...) I've researched a ton with RS and TA.

The airfares were quite costly from Los Angeles already and no good flights into Manchester, etc. so we ended up buying direct flights to London, in and out, unfortunately.

So a total of 13 nights. (Mind you, I've been all over Europe (20+ trips) and my guy has been 3 times. I love Italy and Ireland most and don't love traveling with huge crowds (I swore I'd never travel to Europe in August but, alas, this is how work dictates it now...)). We are both in our upper 40ties and don't want the stress of renting a car (did that twice in Ireland), so, of course, this has made it harder to see Wales. I have had to, sadly, give up on the idea of seeing the S/W Coast of Wales. I've checked all the buses and trains and it just seems really silly. I don't want us to sit more than 3 hours on a bus/train. My guy also gets amazing deals for any Marriot/Spg hotel, so that has helped guide my trip. We are also not huge hikers/walkers. We enjoy nature's beauty but don't need to necessarily go into national parks. Finally, we don't want to be going, going, going, like a RS tour! We especially enjoy good food/drink, great music, gorgeous scenery and chatting with locals (and art for me!). 2 castles will probably be enough for me! : )

Days 1-3: Arrive in morning from 10 hr flight. Sleep/stay 2 nights in London (free!). He has only been to London once for 24 hours.
Days 3-5 Sleep/stay 2 nights in Liverpool via train from London's Euston station. Never been! Stop by Chester on way to Conwy, for the afternoon? Or reverse this and stay in Chester and day trip to Liverpool??
Days 5-10 Sleep/stay 5 nights in Conwy. Use as a base camp to visit all northern sites in a somewhat relaxed manner. : )
Days 10-13 Train down to Cardiff. Stay 3 nights. Travel around.
Day 13 Train back to London.
Stay for free in city.
Day 14 Fly home

We can take little tours, hire private drivers for afternoon tours, take local buses, and/or use taxis. Did all of this for Northern Ireland last August and it worked out great!

How's this sound? More cities than planned (but we love cities) and I think we will see enough water locales because water seems to be everywhere in Wales! : ) Truly bummed to miss Tenby or Aberystwyth but without a car, seems too out of the way. I hate to backtrack when traveling, and this way we have a triangle from London to London. Though, if I'm missing something, please suggest a better way but all I can see Wales is as a side-ways T with trains. Have to go halfway up/down, on the English side, to go all to the West, so that means I would be repeating a journey or taking a 4 hr bus ride down south and that's too long for my guy.

I'm a bit disappointed because I had hoped to use, at least 10-11, of our 13 nights in Wales but I can't seem to find enough places to go now that I'm not hitting the West coast. I guess if we love it so much, we will return via Dublin and rent a car next time.

Thanks again my friends! So appreciate all your advice! Happy travels!

Posted by
4128 posts

five nights in Conwy is too much, even using as a base. We have done North Wales and South Wales and loved Tenby. Also, Cardiff (close to so much) and St. David's.

Posted by
5817 posts

Hi Linda
I would move one of the 5 nights in Conwy to Chester. There is loads to see there and you wouldn't really do it justice by just stopping off on the way from Liverpool. There also isn't any left luggage facilities at Chester station so you would be stuck carrying your cases around which you really don't want to do.

As an alternative, and to avoid too much moving around, you could stay 3 nights in either Chester or Liverpool and do a day trip to the other. It's a straight run between the 2 cities by train. The journey takes about 50min. There are a couple of interesting things to do along the route if you fancy. You can get off the train and take the ferry across the Mersey. Or a visit to Port Sunlight Village is very worthwhile. It has a very interesting history and a good art gallery at the "Lady Lever".

Whether to stay in Chester or Liverpool depends on what you are looking for . Liverpool is very much a big city. Chester is much smaller and feels more historic. Chester is very walkable, Liverpool isn't. Liverpool, being bigger has more museums, art galleries etc.

If it makes you feel any better about not spending all your time in Wales, Chester is literally on the border with some suburbs technically in Wales. Liverpool has been described as "large welsh city". Historically a lot of North Waleans moved there for education and work, they just weren't quite so obvious as the Irish! ;-)

Posted by
22 posts

"hire private drivers for afternoon tours, take local buses, and/or use taxis."
We got ourselves around North Wales in the same way last month, staying in Betws-y-Coed. My only suggestion is to book a private driver or local guide ahead of time, if possible. We used train, bus, local guide and taxi. There were a few taxi companies that operated out of Llandudno Junction, but when we arrived there by train from Chester, we had not prebooked a taxi and ended up waiting quite a while for a ride to our lodging. Later the same day, we visited Bodnant Garden (very worthwhile) and waited to catch a bus afterwards, only to learn that the bus was running an hour late. We started calling taxi's at that point and the third driver we called was eventually able to give us a ride. Perhaps contacting the host at your lodging and asking for the name and phone numbers of local taxi drivers ahead of time would be a good idea. Everything worked out for us but it took a little more effort to book a ride when we needed one.

Posted by
1834 posts

I would look at using tours such as the choice offered by these:>http://www.wherewhenwales.com/wales-day-tours/
and www.seewales.com

That being so, look at where they go and on what days and plan to stay in Cardiff or wherever for the number of nights that would enable you to use the tours. If in Cardiff, Caerphilly Castle can easily be done by local train. St.Fagans can easily be done by local bus (32A run by Easyway).

If in Conwy, be sure to visit Bodnant Gardens. The train from Llandudno / Llandudno Junction to Bleaenau Ffestiniog (an ugly old slate mining town) is worthwhile. From here, you could take the Ffestiniog Railway to Porthmadog - where you might like to consider relocation for a night or 2 so that you can take the Welsh Highland Railway to Caernarfon (Castle) and also visit Portmeirion. See www.festrail.co.uk It is possible to get to Cardiff by train from Porthmadog by taking the (slow & scenic) Cambrian Line down the coast & through mid Wales to Shrewsbury (worth an hour or so) where you change for trains going down to Cardiff.

To find bus transport in Wales - use >https://www.traveline.cymru

Posted by
8569 posts

Five nights in Conwy is five nights too many. (I'm there now and hate my hotel. It's considered the best but it is pretty bad.) At night this town becomes a ghost town with maybe 4 or 5 places open for dinner. There are very few hotels.

I spent four nights in Caernarfon and enjoyed it.

The bus service in North Wales is very good.

Posted by
1834 posts

Frank - sorry to hear about your hotel. For anyone looking for a greater choice of hotels than Conwy - try nearby Llandudno - BUT this may not be suitable for those with cars due to parking on streets.

For those with the money, this is a highly rated hotel mid way between Conway & Llandudno at Deganwy. (It is within walking distance of Deganwy railway station - which is on the line that terminates at Llandudno).http://www.quayhotel.co.uk

Don’t forget to try and see Bodnant Gardens:>https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bodnant-garden

Posted by
5817 posts

Llandudno, Deganwy and Conwy are all very near each other. If you don't like one area you'll probably find something you do like on one of the others.

Posted by
86 posts

Thanks to everybody for all of your help, including private messages with Emma and Frank. We did end up cutting one night from Conwy and are now staying one in Chester (though I normally hate just 1 nights but Emma sold it so well and I do love me my Romans...). We are going to book a private tour for half the day to visit spots in the North, since we won't have a car and then visit Caernarfon/Llandudno/Gardens by ourselves w/ public transport. I'm happy to stay in a small town as Conwy as a base camp for 4 nights since we'll be in cities the rest of the trip. We don't need to go, go, go the whole time, after all.

Thanks, James, for the links to all the day tours for the South, but my guy's not into 8 hour tours that leave at 9 am, unfortunately. ; ) We will enjoy Cardiff and see some close locales, I'm sure. Still bummed to miss the West Coast, but we can't do everything this time around.

Thanks again to everybody for their insight. I am so grateful, as always, for my RS group!
Best, Linda

Posted by
2361 posts

Thanks to everyone for sharing all this info about how to do this trip without renting a car.
Linda, please share details of future destinations that you do without a car.