Llangollen is a small Welsh town in Denbighshire, renowned for its spectacular scenery and hordes of summertime tourists. There are so many amazing things to do in Llangollen.
With steam trains billowing smoke across the impressively green countryside and the winding waters of Llangollen Canal, this tremendously popular Welsh town has a storybook charm you’ll find simply impossible to resist.
Boasting multiple attractions and an eatery on every corner, this quaint spot in North-East Wales has plenty of things to do for visitors of any age.
This article will give you 10 highlights and places to visit that you won’t want to miss!
What Is Llangollen Famous For?
The town is, of course, best known for the Llangollen Canal – which is also a key part of the town’s history. Additionally, what really makes the area so special is the famous Llangollen Railway, which gives visitors the opportunity to take a step back in time by traveling through the welsh countryside on a Hogwarts-esque steam train.
Designed in the 18th century by two fairly prominent figures in the history of civil engineering, Thomas Telford and William Jessop, the Llangollen Canal crosses the border between England and Wales is a vastly popular walking route with holidaymakers today.
The canal crosses two valleys, and a gentle walk from Llangollen to Horseshoe Falls is the perfect opportunity to take in the area at a leisurely pace.
Horseshoe Falls, a Telford designed weir shaped, feeds water into the canal from the River Dee and is shaped as its name would suggest.
The falls can be accessed from the car park and picnic area at Llantysilio Green, but as it’s less than 2-mile walk along the towpath from Llangollen you’ll have no trouble getting there and back in the space of a morning or afternoon if you’d prefer to leave your car parked in the town.
Horse Drawn Boat
If you’d prefer to experience the canal with your feet up, then you can choose to travel on a motorised canal boat, which operates all year round. During the warmer months, you can even enjoy the scenic route along the canal via a traditional horse-drawn boat!
These boat trips tend to be pretty popular, especially during peak season, so you’ll want to make sure you remember to book your tickets in advance. Adult tickets are priced at £13.50 and family tickets (2 adults, 2 children) are available for the discounted price of £40.
Whether you’re a keen walker or not, the Horseshoe Pass is one of Llangollen’s absolute must-see attractions and can be experienced either in your car or on foot.
The mountain pass derives its name from its shape, which travels in a horseshoe figure around the sides of a valley, and as a result, the views are truly outstanding. You’ll definitely want to make sure you keep your camera at the ready for this one!
At the road’s highest point sits the Ponderosa Café – a popular haunt with cyclists, hikers, and motorcyclists alike. Boasting spectacular views, a fantastically good-value menu and extensive free parking, this is a pretty unbeatable stop-off for a spot of lunch or afternoon tea.
If you, like many others, have dreamed of getting the chance to ride on a real-life Hogwarts Express then the delightfully traditional steam trains at Llangollen Railway will not disappoint.
The entire length of the line follows the River Dee, journeying through the picturesque Dee Valley, to the postcard-worthy town of Corwen. The Llangollen Railway is located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, so keep your camera handy and prepare to be well and truly blown away by this spectacular trip!
A standard return ticket comes in at £16 for an adult and £8.50 for a child, but discounts are available for a full family package.
You can book your tickets in advance from the website here.
Cafés & Restaurants in Llangollen
When it comes to places to eat in Llangollen, you’ll find yourself pretty spoilt for choice!
If you’re visiting for the weekend and would like to know the best options to check out during your 48 hours in the town, we’ve put together a proposed eating itinerary together for you below:
Beautifully situated on the banks of the River Dee, Dee Side Bistro is a welcoming and friendly place with an impressive lunch menu of handmade sandwiches and light bites, all costing in the region of a very manageable £6.
With plenty of indoor and outdoor seating available, this is the very best place to enjoy a spot of lunch with a hell of a view!
Decorated with chintz wallpaper and mismatching dining chairs in pretty pastel shades, Pretty Vintage Tearoom has an atmosphere worthy of a Beatrix Potter book.
Afternoon tea is a pretty special experience, with a generous and pretty display of sandwiches and cakes all made fresh on arrival, for just £8.95 per head. Another strong merit of this tearoom is that it is dog-friendly!
Understandably, it tends to be pretty busy during peak season so remember to bookahead.
Traditionally an old mill, as its name would suggest, The Corn Millhas been beautifully converted and features beautiful wood beams and an exceptional riverside location.
With a huge menu of impressive dishes, ranging from £8 – £20, and an excellent wine list, this place scores major points in terms of quality of food and overall atmosphere. You’ll be hard pushed to find a better place to enjoy your first evening meal in Llangollen.
If you’re interested in combining your breakfast and lunch into one for your second day in Llangollen, then the Ponderosa Café’s ‘Big Breakfast’ will be more than enough to keep you fuelled for the day ahead. At a penny-saving £5.25, this café is the perfect pitstop if you’re spending the morning exploring Horseshoe Pass.
There’s plenty of outdoor seating available, so if you’re blessed with good weather during your visit then be sure to bag yourself a spot outdoors to enjoy your meal with a grand view.
Combining traditional 19th-century charm with luxurious modernized refurbishment, The Wild Pheasant sits in the scenic Vale of Llangollen and has a pretty spectacular brasserie restaurant.
The menu includes a selection of locally sourced and equally mouth-watering dishes, priced at a very doable £21.95 for two courses and £25.95 for three. With its sophisticated décor and romantic atmosphere, a meal at The Wild Pheasant is the perfect way to end to your weekend visit.
Pubs in Llangollen
With a pub on almost every corner, Llangollen is not short
of traditional breweries for enjoying a beer in the sun or by a roaring
fireplace (depending on what time of year you’re visiting). As there are simply
far too many to mention them all, we have highlighted our favourite two below.
We know we’ve already mentioned this pub as a recommended spot for dinner in Llangollen, but if you’re not planning on eating out during your visit then we do recommend shoe-horning in a visit to The Corn Mill for a drink, at the very least.
The water wheel still turns at the heart of this converted mill, which means that this busy and atmospheric eatery retains a great deal of its historic charm. To top it all off, this pub is dog-friendly for those holidaying with four-legged friends.
Another dog-friendly pub in Llangollen is The Sun Trevor. This traditional Welsh country pub has a delightful menu of freshly cooked food and a welcoming family atmosphere.
Perched beside the beautiful Llangollen canal and with a cupboard full to the brim with board games, The Sun Trevor is a particularly good choice if you’re visiting with a group of friends or with children.
If you head roughly 4 miles east of Llangollen along the canal towpath, towards the village of Trevor, you’ll find yourself at the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct (pronounced ‘pont-kus-sulth-teh’).
This landmark is so impressive that it has been granted UNESCO World Heritage status and is the highest canal aqueduct ever built. Historically used to transport goods, the aqueduct is used today to carry visitors up and down the scenic Vale of Llangollen and offers a beautiful stretch of peaceful, traffic-free walking.
Costs and Parking
Whilst walking across won’t cost you a penny, charges apply in the nearby pay-and-display carparks if you are planning on parking close by. But apart from a few coins for parking, there are really just two things you’ll need to bring with you to Pontcysyllte – a camera and a head for heights!
Castell Dinas Brân & Valle Crucis Abbey
If you’re the sort of tourist that hungers for the history of a place, then Llangollen is home to the pretty impressive ruins of the medieval castle ‘Castell Dinas Brân’, which you’ll find perched on a hilltop just outside of the town.
No one is quite sure exactly when it was built, but the first historical documents to mention the castle date back to the 12th century. The site can be explored today on foot and the climb is a somewhat breathtaking challenge!
The castle is thought to have once been occupied by the Lord of Powys, whose son founded the nearby Valle Crucis Abbey. This Cistercian Abbey was built in 1201 but was sadly dissolved in 1537 by the Dissolution of the Monasteries.
Although the building is now a ruin, its distinct medieval architecture is a remarkable sight and a very fine collection of medieval memorial sculpture is preserved in the dormitory.
International Musical Eisteddfod
If you happen to be visiting Llangollen during July, then the International Musical Eisteddfod music festival, more commonly known as ‘Llanfest’ is an absolute must (not that you’ll have much luck avoiding it!) It has been taking place during the first week of July ever since 1947 and is one of the UK’s most inspirational cultural festivals.
With around 4,000 performers on show each year, this festival attracts as many as 50,000 visitors to this small Welsh town, so you’ll want to make sure you book your accommodation fairly far in advance to avoid disappointment!
Tickets and Main Events
The Sunday Evening concert is considered the ‘main event’, and officially closes the festival. It has hosted a number of very famous names in recent years, such as Status Quo and Manic Street Preachers, so the atmosphere is pretty breathtaking. Tickets for Llanfest start at just £39 and can be purchased over on the website.
Outdoor Things to do in Llangollen
If you fancy yourself a bit of an adrenaline junkie, then the River Dee happens to be a particularly good place for white water rafting. The river stays high after rainfall for longer than most rivers in the UK and therefore means it is paddleable all-year-round!
There are many local operators to choose from, most of which offer stag and hen packages if you’re looking to plan a particularly special occasion…
Premier outdoor activity provider Whitewater Active offers a fantastic white-water rafting experience in Llangollen, as well as a tonne of other exciting outdoor pursuits including gorge walking, kayaking, and abseiling.
Prices for their experiences start at just £50 and tickets can be booked either online or in-person on the day.
Victoria Promenade, Llangollen
And last, but certainly no means least, there’s Victoria Promenade – a beautiful riverside walk and the perfect way to spend your final afternoon in Llangollen.
Bordering the River Dee, the promenade was opened in 1897 to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria and became one of the most popular attractions of the town with both locals and visitors.
A walk along the promenade will lead you to a café and children’s play park – an ideal spot for any families visiting. For instance, the bandstand is worth a visit and a quick photograph. It also happens to be a pretty unbeatable spot to enjoy an ice cream during the summer months.
The park also boasts a skate park and miniature 9-hole golf course, which makes for an enjoyable Sunday afternoon activity.
Suggested 48-Hour Llangollen Itinerary
In conclusion, we’ve created this Llangollen itinerary to make sure you have a clear plan for your trip.