“ A small village located in the Snowdonia National Park, Wales. The River Conwy meets its three tributaries flowing from the west at Betws-y-Coed. „
I live just outside Betws-y-Coed, and have been moving around the village since I was 8, so I have seen it grow in popularity over time.
Betws is currently very popular, being as it is at the heart of Snowdonia and having the main road into North Wales running straight through it (A5).
This does of course mean that this small village is extremely crowded during tourist season, and with the solitary police officer stationed only occasionally it can feel a little rowdy at times, especially since the pont-y-pair bridge has been known to attract a certain type of person for the extreme sport known as Tombstoning (basically jumping into the water below.... some people are just odd.).
However, like all places the locals know how to escape the crowds- if it all gets too much I would advise heading over the railway bridge and having a look at the very peaceful St Michaels church, and the swinging footbridge (there is a footpath that leads eventually to the town of Llanwrst, but the bridge is the highlight, as most of the rest of the walk is along the A470!)
Betws boasts a wide range of climbing/mountineering/outdoor shops, the ones I would reccommend are the two Cotswold shops, one located next to the Royal Oak hotel, which holds a impressive range, and the other is a sale shop located at the edge of the village, which sells only discount products.
At either shop, eager, friendly and knowledgable staff are on hand to help, and if you happen to be staying with a local, drag them along with proof of residence, and you will get a local discount.
There are two general supplies shops- a Londis/Post office and a Spar/bakery, and while the bakery sells delicious bakery things, I would advise against buying much from these shops, if you can get out easily there is a Somerfield 6 miles away in Llanwrst, which is obviously a lot cheaper, and less packed with people.
The quality of accomodation in the village is not really something I can comment on much, but from enquiries about price for family members it seems much cheaper to stay in a less popular area, unsurprisingly. There is a bewildering choice of guest houses, hotels, b+bs, and holiday cottages.
There are few attractions outside of the shops, but the tourist information centre (located next to the large and quite central park) has a mini cinema which shows a helicopter ride over Snowdonia. This is probably not one for the easily queasy, as it is made to seem like you are in the helicopter, and it can be quite a strange feeling.
I recently wrote a review about the Snowdonia National Park in which I mentioned a lovely town called Betws-y-Coed and I thought, since it is such a lovely place, it deserved a review all to itself!
Living as we do in Llandudno on the coast of North Wales we often go for a drive through Snowdonia National Park and we regularly stop at Betws-y-Coed for a cup of tea and a mooch round the shops.
It is a really easy place to find as the A5 runs straight through the centre of the town. Looking at a map of the area it is pretty much due south from Llandudno and due east from Caernarvon.
There is a web site at www.betws-y-coed.co.uk which gives lots of information about the town and the surrounding area including accommodation, eating out, shops and attractions.
The accommodation in the town and the area ranges from four star hotels through B & B and self catering right down to camping sites. I can't comment on any of the accommodation specifically as we have never had cause to stay over since we live so close to the area, but I just thought I would mention that there is a good range so you could find something to suit your situation and your pocket I'm sure!
There is some free parking to be found in the streets around Betws-y-Coed but the main parking is in the church grounds, the Stables Hotel car park, the car park next to the bridge over the river and the main one by the train station next to the village green in the centre of the town. These are all paying car parks but the prices are reasonable.
Shops and Eateries
If you park in the main car park there is a line of shops and tea rooms surrounding the train station as you walk from the car park towards the main street. These include a couple of gift shops selling all sorts of things including bears and dolls, sweets, cards, ornaments, Welsh gifts, clothes, scented wares and much more. There is a clothes shop, a china shop, a lovely delicatessen, a specialist candle shop and a shop selling all things pagan which my Goth Goddaughter loves!
Also in this area there is a branch of Cadwalladers where you can get ice creams and teas, a standard cheaply priced café and a lovely tea shop which sells home made food including some lovely cakes! I can recommend this one!
As you walk onto the main street there are a lot of shops which sell climbing, camping and walking gear together with more large good quality gift shops. There are also specialist gifts shops selling paintings and pottery. If you are self catering or just need a bit of shopping there are a couple of small supermarkets in Betws-y-Coed.
There is a lovely church in the centre of town which is open to the public for a look round and they have regular antique fairs in the adjoining church hall.
There is even a little garden centre in the main street as well.
Along the main street there are numerous restaurants, cafes and hotels where you can get a meal or a snack. We have eaten in the bar of the Stables Hotel and that was very good and we have also tried the chip shop next to the bridge across the river which serves delicious chips!
Well it does get very busy in the summer as lots of coaches stop here so it is not the place for you if you aren't keen on crowds! The pavements are quite narrow in places so you will need to be careful particularly if you have a wheelchair or pushchair.
The main attractions around this area are the beautiful walks to admire the stunning scenery. Firstly head for the bridge across the river pausing awhile to admire the tumbling water beneath you and sometimes watch the idiots jump off the bridge into the water below where there are lots of rocks! Next to the bridge is the start of a lovely walk alongside the river through the trees. The path has been made safe for people with disabilities and it is a gentle, fairly flat walk suitable for all and really pretty.
If you head out of the main town along the A5 you come to the Swallow Falls where you pay £1 to go though the turnstile and there is a lovely walk to see the waterfall. This is a more strenuous walk and if wet must be undertaken with care.
There are many more attractions within travelling distance so Betws-y-Coed would make a good base for exploring the area. Places to visit within the vicinity are the castles of Caernarvon, Harlech, Beaumaris, Criccieth and Conwy, Mount Snowdon with the railway to the top, Llandudno and the Great Orme, Anglesey, Portmerion (where the Prisoner was filmed), Bodnant Gardens and numerous slate caverns just to name a few.
Would I recommend a visit?
You bet your bottom dollar I do! It is a lovely place to stop for a walk, a mooch round the shops or just a pot of tea and a cake and I certainly never tire of visiting Betws-y-Coed! By the way I don't work for the tourist board honestly!