We're planning to take the train from Holyhead to Caernarfon, continuing on to Cardiff after our visit, and wanted to see the Castle and walk around the city for several hours. We'll have our luggage with us, and won't be spending the night in an area hotel. It doesn't look like the train station has luggage storage. Any ideas where we could store our luggage while visiting? I'm coming up short trying to find a solution on the web. I'm also toying with just renting a car in Holyhead and then turning it in in Canaerfon, which would provide a place for the luggage, but need to look at how convenient any of the car rentals would be to the train station. Normally at least some car rental and train station are co-located in a city, but at first glance that doesn't seem true in Caernarfon.
There is no train from Holyhead to Caernarfon. The nearest train is Bangor, about 15Km/10 miles away.
Map here: http://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=12/53.1828/-4.2078
The station at Caernarfon is the terminus of a tourist railway, which heads in the opposite direction (south).
There is no north-south rail route in Wales, only East-West. To get from Holyhead to Cardiff by rail, you need to go via Crewe and Shrewsbury, both in England. A car from Holyhead to Cardiff would allow you to see a lot of lovely Welsh mountains and coast, plus castles.
Thanks very much for your help and clarifications. I didn't realize Bangor was so close to Caernarfon. We could get a rental car in Holyhead, visit Caernarfon, 20 min drive to Bangor to drop off the car, and a few miles to the train station (taxi?). The reason for the train is to simply reduce the amount of driving on the trip and therefore give my husband a chance to relax and enjoy more of the scenery. But maybe he would prefer to drive. We'll have a look at the train vs. driving route based on your comment. We will be spending about half of the trip in Wales, both in the north and the south. I'm really excited about visiting Wales.
It sounds to me that you are coming off a ferry from Ireland at Holyhead. Now, you could travel by train to Cardiff - direct trains run every other hour. They firstly go along the north Wales coast to Chester before heading south - roughly following the Wales/England border via Shrewsbury. See www.nationalrail.co.uk for schedules & fares - pre-booking will get you cheaper fares than just turn up and go. However, if you choose this rail option you will miss out on so much of Wales has to offer. So, consider taking a break of journey at Conwy to see thew Castle (would require split tickets as the pre-booked through ticket to Cardiff would not allow this). I would also consider an overnight in the historic (small) city of Chester. Caernarfon is not a city but a small town. You could try leaving luggage with the ticket office at the entrance to the Castle.
If I were you, I would rent a car in Holyhead and drive to Cardiff via Caernarfon and Porthmadog. In fact, I would recommend staying perhaps 2 or 3 nights in this area in order to see Snowdonia (NW Wales) as this area has the best scenery in Wales. Near Porthmadog is Portmeirion - well worth a visit. If you don’t won’t to drive in Snowdonia, consider taking the Welsh Highland Railway from Caernarfon to Porthmadog. www.festrail.co.uk
You could then stay overnight in Porthmadog and then catch the train down the slow but scenic Cambrian Coast line to Machynlleth and on to Shrewsbury where you change for trains on the border (Marches Line) down to Cardiff. (Shrewsbury is worth a look).
If you are driving down to Cardiff, the A470 is the route that you follow for most of the way. Porthmadog to Cardiff is 150 miles which I can do (without stops) in 3hours 30 minutes - and I know the route! Also see my response to this previous post:>
https://www.arrivatrainswales.co.uk - click Route Map.
http://www.traveline.cymru - for buses.
I would second James suggestion to consider some time in Snowdonia. We were based in Betws-y-Coed on the northeast edge of Snowdonia for 4 days in October 2015 with a car. Not sure of your interests in the north of of Wales, but there is an interesting rack railway to the top of Mt Snowdon, leaving from and returning to Llanberis (you can ride both directions, or walk up/ride down or ride up/walk down), there are slate museums (previously a huge industry in the area), underground power plant tours (old slate mine), and very appealing rugged scenery throughout.
I was less enthused with Portmeirion that I wanted to be. It's an Italianate village and has an interesting history and back story. Nice to have seen it but don't need to go back.
Oh, and there are a couple of sheep here and there!
Thank you both for the great suggestions. I talked with my husband a bit but we didn't make a decision, so this is really good information to include. We are already planning to stay on Anglesey for a few days (antiquities, South Stack, cliff & beach walks and just slow down), visit Caernarfon, Conwy, Bodnant, Snowdonia in the north, and Cardiff area in the south. We're going in and out of Holyhead (Dublin flight), so the idea was to get south by taking advantage of the train for what would be a long drive, and then spend most of the trip coming north seeing sights as we go. About half of the trip is in England. There are many intriguing areas that we're bypassing but such is the nature of travel on a two week trip. I've regretfully let go of visiting Tenby or St David's but it would be worse to feel rushed so the idea is to get my seaside experience in Anglesey. We're not lay-on-the-beach people; we enjoy walking and crags and cliffs and views. I want to try 'rockpooling' which sounds like a really fun, pleasant way to spend time near the water.
You may also like to visit Plas Newydd - which is on the Anglesey shore of the Menai Straits.https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/plas-newydd-country-house-and-gardens
Agreed. I was also thinking about visiting one of these:
Barclodiad y Gawres http://www.britainexpress.com/attractions.htm?attraction=376
I have not visited the burial chambers - despite being very near one of them in Sept 2015 when I went to Plas Newydd. It is not well signposted so make sure you have a good map. Looks like both sites are worth a visit.
Don’t forget, that if going to Cardiff, downtown hotels do not have their own parking in most cases. It might be better to stay on the outskirts - unless arriving by train when city centre hotels would probably be preferable.
Excellent advice - thank you very much.
I am not sure how long your trip will be but a couple of transportations options that would not require your returning to Holyhead are:
1. TRAIN AND FLY The train route will take you along the north coast of Wales, then along the English border to Cardiff. There are plenty of interesting places to break-up your trip including North Conwy with easy bus connection to Caernarfon, Chester, Shrewsbury, Ludlow, etc. You could them fly to Dublin with cheap 1 hour direct flight. You could also carry on from Cardiff to Bristol and/or Bath and fly direct to Dublin from Bristol airport.
2. DRIVE AND FISHGUARD FERRY If you are worried about too much driving, you could rent at Holyhead and return the car in Fishguard, then ferry to Roslaire and train to Dublin. By visiting sites along the way, you could limit your driving to 2 or 3 hours a day. Fishguard is close to St. David's.
Hope these options help in your planning.
We decided to go to the Royal Welsh Spring Agricultural Festival on May 20 near Llanelwedd. Travel from Caernarfon to there by car will be the most efficient, so we will be taking the route above described by James or similar. I think the Festival will add a great dimension to our trip. Besides the agricultural demonstrations and competitions, there will be dance and music and fair food; it sounds great. Thank you very much for your suggestions about the route. This resolves the original post question about luggage storage, since we'll be keeping the car for most of the trip.
As you are driving down - via A470 for most of the way - and visiting the Show at Builth, consider perhaps staying in the Brecon area - which is about 35 minutes driving time south of Builth Wells and 1 hour from Cardiff. Also consider heading into SW Wales and perhaps visit Tenby (stay 2 nights maybe?) . Then return north up the west coast visiting Aberaeron on the way. When you reach Dolgellau, you might even have time to head along the coastal route via Barmouth to Harlech - which has a fine medieval castle.
Here are some sites in the Cardiff area.
https://museum.wales/stfagans/ (5 miles west of the city centre).