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See wales by bus?

Can anyone help with an itinerary in Wales next year? I will not have a car. So far it looks like there is bus/train service between these according to the tfw.wales site. I will have three weeks.
Cardiff
Swansea
Pembroke
Aberystwyth
Caernarfon
Llandudno

I will try to book day tours from these places to see things like Brecon Beacons and Snowdonia if I cant get there on my own by bus. I could fly from Anglesey airport back to Cardiff for my flight back to the states.

In beginning stages and Im wondering if its too ambitious. I enjoy hiking, local wildlife like birds, and exploring towns. Would I be better off just going as far as Aberystwyth? Maybe do coastal hikes? Thank you!

Posted by
6113 posts

I have always used my own car when in Wales, but I would recommend St David’s and not Pembroke - I spent 3 weeks there last year walking the beautiful coastal path, bird watching and cycling. Pembroke is more functional and the shops and cafes had been hard hit by Covid, with many vacant units.

Aberystwyth is ok but not as pretty as the other places on your list.

You should be able to manage your itinerary in 3 weeks. Caernarfon and Llandudno are only 25 miles apart, so you may want to consider combining these. I would opt for Llandudno of the two.

The coastal path on Anglesey is also good walking - very different between the north west cliffs and the east flatter coastline.

I don’t think that the flights to Cardiff from Anglesey have resumed after the pandemic - it is a military airport RAF Valley.

Posted by
4163 posts

I'm facing a similar dilemma as Tvlnow, only perhaps not quite so active, so I'm looking forward to the responses to this question.

Right now I'm trying to decide between St. David's and Tenby, or ... drop somewhere else. I have only about 2 weeks. Yikes!

Posted by
2725 posts

I too would recommend St David’s. It’s a charming little town with a really nice cathedral, which is a rare combination. There are nice pubs and a couple of excellent restaurants. There are buses that go in either direction along the coast which makes it easy to hike with spectacular views and return via bus. I highly recommend a stay at Ramsey House, a B&B owned by a delightful couple. The breakfasts are fabulous and they will make you dinner if you request it in advance.

I have not been there since the pandemic, so please check to make sure all this information is accurate.

Posted by
6634 posts

We had a car when we were there. Jennifer made some good points that I agree with. We enjoyed Tenby and Pembroke castle. In St. David’s we too stayed at Ramsey House and thoroughly enjoyed it. It is close to the coastal path. While we enjoyed our hotel in Aberystwyth but weren’t overly impressed with the town. We stayed in Caernarfon for a few nights but Llandudno is larger with more options on things to see and restaurants. Other than its castle there is little else in Caernarfon. We spent an entire day in Anglesey and never made it to any of its coastal path.

Posted by
2444 posts

https://www.trawscymru.info/routes/ is the website you need for longer distance buses in Wales.
www.traveline.info should also tell you how to get around by buses.
www.traintickets.com is good for telling you the trains and sometimes it suggests splitting the tickets to get lower fares - which the Welsh Government run Transport for Wales site does not.
https://www.seewales.com is a privately run tour company.

The air service between Valley on Anglesey and Cardiff has been scrapped and will not return. If on Anglesey & you want to return across the Atlantic, either go by train to Manchester Airport (which I think may have some trans-Atlantic flights) or go as a foot passenger on the ferry to Dublin from Holyhead. See Stena Line & Irish Ferries for this.

In Cardiff, see Museum of Welsh Life at St.Fagans Castle (Easyway bus 32A). Cardiff Castle & Cardiff Bay (waterfront - not a beach), Caerphilly Castle (local train) and maybe Castell Coch.

I would go by train to Tenby rather than Pembroke - although Pembroke does have a medieval castle. I would also favour St.David’s but Tenby more so. If going to St.David’s - take the train from Cardiff to Haverfordwest & then bus.

To get from Pembrokeshire to Aberystwyth - you will need to use buses. Try and stop off at the colourful town of Aberaeron en-route.
If staying in Aberystwyth - take a ride on The Vale of Rheidol steam railway to Devil’s Bridge.

From Aberystwyth, it is possible to go by rain north up the coast - change trains at Dovey Junction or Machynlleth.https://www.thecambrianline.co.uk Aberdovey is attractive and Barmouth is also nice. Harlech has a castle but this is up a very steep hill from the train station. Porthmadog would make a good base - visit Portmeirion and take a ride on the Ffestiniog steam railway. When done with Porthmadog, you could take a one way trip on the Welsh Highland Railway - https://www.festrail.co.uk - to Caernarvon (Castle). Also consider Mount Snowdon - highest mountain in England & Wales. Train to the top from Llanberis or leg it yourself.

On the north coast, Conwy (castle) and Llandudno are worth seeing as is nearby Bodnant Gardens. If exiting Wales in the NE - Chester is worth seeing.

Posted by
67 posts

Thank you so much for the wonderfully informative responses. I truly appreciate your insights. I will make some changes and keep planning. You guys are awesome.

Posted by
1256 posts

Bus and trains are reasonably well connected in Snowdonia with a day area pass available.
Llandudno ,I had all.ku childhood holidays there and 40 years later its still one of the classier seaside resorts.
TriBells still going strong I believe

Posted by
67 posts

Thank you again for all the great info! Still reading and watching videos. I am hearing that cell service isnt always available. I recently traveled through Ireland and had a rough time finding a few of the bus stops so I cant see doing this without cell service to check bus routes, etc. Are the stops well marked or do you have to guess which side of the road to be on?
Considering a shorter geographic route: I have three weeks.
Cardiff 7 nights
Swansea 1 night
Tenby or St Davids 3 nights
Aberystwyth where I will walk and train the coastal path. See Snowdonia then train back to Aberystwyth. 5 nights
From there it looks like I can bus back to Cardiff. 3 more nights
If doing this by bus and train is too difficult, the only other option is staying in Cardiff and booking tours to see places. I find they dont give you enough time to hike and explore though.
Ideas? Suggestions? Any help is greatly appreciated.

Planning on May 2023. Solo traveler.

Posted by
2444 posts

Please clink https://www.google.com/maps/@51.7137861,-4.4887064,62017m/data=!3m1!1e3!5m1!1e1 which will show part of south-west Wales.
It sounds like you wish to do some hiking of the coast. You will see the Gower peninsula sticking out west of Swansea. Suggest you take a bus from Swansea to Rhossili at the western tip and find accomodation for a night or 2. The coast here is stunning. A good hike would be to walk eastward along the south Gower coast. How far east you go is up to you but if you can get as far as Oxwich that would be good. Zoom down on the map for some guidance.

Now go back to original map and look for Tenby. The south Pembrokeshire coast is also stunning west of Tenby. If you can get a bus to Penally (or walk along the beach from Tenby) to Skrinkle Haven (Youth Hostel here called ‘Manorbier’ even though it is not in Manorbier village - would be a good cheap place to stay) and then on to Manorbier village (where you could stay in the castle if you have the money) - that would be another good bit. From Pembroke - bus to Bosherston and walk along the ‘lily’ pools to the beach at Broadhaven south and then E to beautiful Barafundle Bay. Please note that much of the coast west of Bosherston is in an army range and usually closed to the public. (Manorbier rail station is a fair old way from the village and youth hostel).

The coast is also good near St.David’s. If you zoom down on the bits mentioned and pull out the yellow man and place him on the coast path, you will see that Google have walked the route with a camera so you can see what to expect should you visit.

I would not stay 10 nights in Cardiff. If you have surplus time in Cardiff, a good day trip would be train east to Chepstow (castle) and then local bus up the Wye Valley to see the ruins of Tintern Abbey.

The coast near Aberystwyth is not the best - forget the idea of walking it in this area. 5 nights in Aberystwyth is too long. You need to establish a base in the north-west for seeing/hiking Snowdonia. I suggested Porthmadog but also consider Caernarvon as these have buses into the hinterland.

You do not need to get back to Cardiff to return to London of that is your intention. Trains go from Aberystwyth or Porthmadog via Machynlleth to Birmingham which has fast trains to London (Euston). If in the north, direct trains go from Bangor & Llandudno Junction to London (Euston) or Transport for Wales Trains to Chester & then change for London train. Transport for Wales also have direct trains from Cardiff to north Wales via Shrewsbury (worth a look) and Chester to Llandudno Junction, Bangor & Holyhead. Long distance trains are much cheaper if pre-booked for a specific train. Even booking the day before will usually get a cheaper ticket than pay on the day. Pay on the day is OK for short hops.

Don't assume that all of the Wales Coast Path train is scenic. Some of it goes through industrial areas such as Port Talbot. You need to pick the best bits! https://www.walescoastpath.gov.uk/?lang=en

Bus stops are clearly marked and it should be obvious which side of the road you stand for each direction. You can also ways confirm with a local.

The Fflecsi bus service is available over much of rural Wales. See also:>
https://www.visitpembrokeshire.com/explore-pembrokeshire/getting-around

For Snowdonia:> https://snowdonexperts.uk/snowdon-sherpa-bus/

Posted by
67 posts

Wow! Thank you for all the indepth ideas and routes. What makes me nervous is making so many transportation connections by bus or train. I find it hard to travel to a new city every day. St David sounds like a good base. Pembrokeshire seems to have great transportation. Your link was immensely helpful.
Im from the US and will probably get a better fare on a round trip ticket from Cardiff.
I was planning on 5 days only to do the coastal walking north of Aberystwyth up into Snowdonia. From your suggestions I will reduce that and hike more in the south instead. The route you suggested sounds wonderful and I am going to shuffle around days to allow more time in the southwest. Thank you again for taking the time to help!

Posted by
2444 posts

Generally speaking, the less populated areas have less public transport. Haverfordwest - the main town in Pembrokeshire, for example, only has one train in each direction every 2 hours. Same for Tenby. Buses are important for linking up rural communities and small towns. www.traveline.info will tell you how to get from a to b.

Walking the coast north of Aberystwyth is not advised as much of it is low lying rather than the dramatic cliffs and bays that you would see in Pembrokeshire and Gower. That said, most of the land north of Aberystwyth is mountainous. Aberdovey/Aberdyfi is a nice little seaside small town on the Cambrian Coast Railway.

Posted by
7714 posts

James had some great tips.

We did South Wales in 2017, visiting several castles and Tintern Abbey on our way to Cardiff, then on to Tenby, then St. Davids.

Also, I visited the small sheep farming village in SW Wales were my paternal ancestors departed from for America in 1716.

North Wales should start with a visit to Conway.

Posted by
431 posts

We traveled through Wales by bus/train mostly bus. We took the bus from Burton on the Water to Cardiff and the train from there to Fishguard. We visited St. Davids, Newport and Porthgain by bus. We headed North to Snowdonia by way of Aberystwyth, a necessary stop to connect Northward. In Snowdonia we based in Lanberis and day tripped to Bedgelert and Snowdonia Peak. Moved on to Betsy Coed by bus. The point of all this is that Wales is doable by public bus even Snowdonia. The coastal walks are world class. Brad
Take my spelling with a grain of salt,...... you know Welsh

Posted by
67 posts

Im so relieved to hear this! Im so excited and appreciate all of you for your help. Thank you!!