If storybook English countrysides, 12th century ruins, and fields of wild flowers and sheep are your thing, it's time to book a trip to Wales. From Manchester, Northern Wales and its Snowdonia National Park are only a two and a half hour drive away, making it the perfect adventure road trip out of the city. All you need is your camera, plenty of layers, a wetsuit, comfortable hiking boots and an adventure buddy. Here’s how we’d spend 48 perfect hours in Wales.
EAGLE STREET, MANCHESTER M4 5JY, UNITED KINGDOM
Grab breakfast at Mackie Mayor, a market style dining hall dating back to the 1850s, in the Northern Quarter before starting your journey. From porchetta sandwiches with fried egg from Rotisserie to a steak sandwich at Tender Cow, everyone in your party will enjoy something that Mackie Mayor has to offer. Don't forget to grab a cup of the freshest coffee served up from Atkinsons and Wolf House Coffee before you leave.
HIT THE ROAD, JACK
BETWS-YN-RHOS ABERGELE LL22 8AW, UNITED KINGDOM
The drive from Manchester to Snowdonia National Park only takes two and a half hours, but that's only if you don't make any stops. There are dozens of places to "ooh and ahh" at in between, especially once you turn inland from the coastal roads. This is one of those rides where it's totally about the journey, not just the destination, so be sure to stop whenever you see something that stops you in your tracks (and there will be many).
TU-HWNT-L'R BONT, LLANRWST LL26 0PL, UNITED KINGDOM
While you might not be able to pronounce the tea house’s name, this Welsh establishment is a must do while driving through the area. The tea house is located on the River Conway and is covered in vines and leaves all spring and summer. Even in the fall when the leaves start to turn, the house is beautifully draped in leaves. No reservation required — just park in their lot and settle into the tiny tea house for a small bite. If it’s hot out, enjoy some of their homemade ice cream. For the best view and photo opportunities, head across the river via the small one-lane bridge.
HIKE THE HIGHEST MOUNTAIN IN WALES
SNOWDON, SNOWDONIA NATIONAL PARK
With your sturdy hiking shoes on and plenty of water in your backpack, set out on one of the six to nine-mile hikes to summit Snowdon, Snowdonia National Park’s prized peak. Llanberis Path is the easiest but longest path with a slow gentle climb to the top. Snowdon Ranger and Rhdy Ddu Path are a little more difficult routes for the more experienced hikers. On your hike, keep your eyes peeled for the Snowdon lily, a wildflower only found in certain parts of Wales.
ENJOY A HOT MEAL + A VIEW
THE ROYAL VICTORIA HOTEL, A4086 LLANBERIS LL55 4TY, UNITED KINGDOM
During spring and summer, order some food and dine alfresco at the Dolbadarn Lounge or the Conservatory at The Royal Victoria Hotel. The views from the garden overlook the lake below and surrounding mountains, making for a picture-perfect end to an already pretty wonderful day.
SUNRISE FROM A 12TH CENTURY CASTLE
CASTELL DOLBADARN,LLANBERIS LL55 4UB, UNITED KINGDOM
Set your alarm to wake up at dawn so you can jump out of bed and walk a brisk five minutes to the historic castle of Dolbadarn. Located on the grounds of The Royal Victorian Hotel, the ruins are still very much in tact from one of the towers, and you can easily climb to the top to watch the sunrise over the lakes below. Don’t forget your camera — these views are Instagram gold!
SURF'S UP, DUDE
SURF SNOWDONIA, CONWAY ROAD, DOLGARROG, CONWY LL32 8QE, UNITED KINGDOM
The problem with most first time surf lessons is that the waves have to be forming perfectly for newbie surfers to benefit from the lesson. At Surf Snowdonia that's not a problem because there’s always a perfect wave. With the world's first inland surf lagoon, Surf Snowdonia guarantees the perfect surf break by using state of the art technology to provide multiple wave profiles for every type of surfer.
CONWY CASTLE, ROSE HILL STREET, CONWY LL32 8AY, UNITED KINGDOM
On your way back to Manchester, stop by Conwy Castle, a castle built in 1283 by famed castle builder James of St. George. With eight towers and high walls, this is the most impressive of all the castles in Wales. After a walk around the inside, head to West Shore Beach Café for a late brunch or early lunch with bay views.
HOW TO DO IT & WHERE TO STAY: THE ROYAL VICTORIA HOTEL
THE ROYAL VICTORIA HOTEL, 14086 LLANBERIS LL55 4TY, UNITED KINGDOM
You can fly nonstop to Manchester from Las Vegas, Orlando, San Francisco, New York, Atlanta, or Boston via Virgin Atlantic. The city, known as the Gateway to Northern England, is an easy drive (or train ride!) to the rest of Northern England, including Wales. While you're in Wales, make your base the Royal Victoria Hotel. This hotel has been fully renovated, yet charmingly feels as if you stepped back in time – or on the set of the latest Wes Anderson film. The hotel is on 30 acres of gardens and forests and has a 12th century castle (Castell Dolbadarn) in its backyard. What's not to like?