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Llangollen is a small town in the north of Wales, not far from Wrexham and the English border. A popular destination since the postal service started passing through in early 1800’s, the town is now a fantastic places to spend a couple of days when travelling north Wales.
When I was searching online for the best things to see and do in Llangollen, there wasn’t too much information out there. However, after passing through and spending some time in the area, I can recommend plenty of things to add to your itinerary.
Below I’ll list out some walks in Llangollen, places to stay, things to see and where to go. If you thought there wasn’t much in Llangollen and you could pass it by, keeping reading to be proved wrong!
The 9 things to see and do in Llangollen
Visit the canal
The Llangollen Canal was built in the 1800’s to provide trade into England from the wool mills that lined the river. Still a working canal today, it is now more likely you will see tourists shuttled up and down the canal on a horse drawn boat, a rare site and one I had never seen before in the British Isles.
The path along the canal is popular with walkers and cyclists and makes a wonderful walk from the town out to the start of the canal at Horseshoe Falls.
See Llangollen museum
For such a small town, it is unexpected to stumble across a museum explaining the history of Llangollen, but on Castle Street, this is exactly what you’ll find.
With over 10,000 artefacts, documents and photographs exploring the community of Llangollen as it has expanded from small village to the busy tourist town that it is today.
The Riverside Park has been in its location on a bend of the River Dee since the land was purchsed by James Cook in 1920. Since being refurbished between 2004 and 2009, the park now contains a skate park, cafe and picnic area.
In summer, its the perfect place to grab some fish and chips and a beer and sit and enjoy the warm river. Or come in spring to see the leaves turn pink giving a stunning backdrop to the area.
Take a dip in the Dee
In the summer months, its possible to take off your shoes and socks and go for a soak in the River Dee. A popular place I saw on my visit was just in front of Riverside Park where the shallow waters allowed kids to splash around and play in the river as it slowly snakes its way towards Chester.
Hike the hills around Llagollen
There are a few popular hikes in the area around Llangollen, some of which are longer and take in a lot of the major sites listed below but are flatter and follow the path of the canal.
For those with a bit more of a spring in their step and want more of a workout from their hike, its possible to hike into the Welsh hills surrounding the town. Eglwyseg Escarpment can easily be reached as can Castell Dinas Brân.
Bring your hiking boots and take in the beauty of the area.
Not far from Horseshoe Falls is Llantysilio Church. Dating back to 1120, but built on a site thought to host pre-Christian pagan worship for many years before that, the church has been extended in the 15th, 17th and 19th Century.
Step inside, as it is open daily, to see a traditional oak eagle lectern and 15th century stained glass windows.
Valle Crucis Abbey
This may be one of the most beautiful abbeys in the region. Built in 1201 and used as a major place of worship until the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII in 1537. Its ruins now stand abandoned but strangely feel as if the abandonment happened yesterday.
It is closed between November and March and closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays the rest of the year.
Castell Dinas Brân
This medieval castle, originally built in the 1260’s, is now in ruins and is far less impressive than the Valle Crucis abbey.
The former castle can be seen from the centre of town of Llangollen and is worth the journey purely for the views looking out over the hills onto the town below.
A short drive down the River Dee is the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Its an example of teh incredible engineering that took place during the industrial revolution that brought trade to the masses.
The Llangollen Railway is a volunteer run heritage railway and one of the busiest in Wales. The line runs from Llangollen to Corwen and runs daily, with tickets costing £19.50 return to ride on this special train. The Llangollen station is a brilliant example of a Victorina era train station in this part of the world.
Originally opened in 1865, the line ran for nearly 100 years carting tourists to Llangollen from England and Wales. After getting through financial hardship in recent years, the railway is thriving again and is one of the best things to do in Llangollen.
Where to stay in Llangollen
There are a variety of campsites around Llangollen which allow you to pitch a tent, bring your motorhome or even rent a caravan for the night. I stayed at Wren Isaf farm and paid £15 to pitch my tent for the night as one of the best places for camping in Llangollen.
As with most tourist towns, AirBnB’s are an option but I don’t find them cost effective for a single person on a one night stay. Families that like to stay in houses would have a bigger benefit.
There are also a number of hotels in Llangollen including the The Hand Hotel Llangollen, and Chainbridge Hotel Llangollen.
Alternatively there are ample BnB’s and pubs with hotel rooms all over the town. Prices can be found by walking in, the tourist information centre or on comparison websites with prices starting at £50.
Where to eat in Llangollen
Llangollen has a number of eateries catering to different tastes and budgets. Traditional British fare can be found at the Nemo Fish and Chip shop on Castle Street, or for something lighter, the Cottage Tea Rooms are a good spot in the afternoons.
Deeside Cafe and Bistro serve into the evening as well as many of the pubs in the area. Treat yourself at Fudge Factory, selling locally made fudge and ice cream with queues often out the door.
Where to drink in Llangollen
I really enjoyed my drink at The Corn Mill pub sitting out on their deck overlooking the river and enjoying the evening sunshine. The local ales and friendly atmosphere makes it an ideal venue for tourists to soak up Welsh hospitality.
I also really enjoyed my real ale at the Bridge End pub, just to the north of town in an old fashioned building. Food was traditional pub fare which fish and chips and pie being a staple for a hearty meal.
Summing up what to do in Llangollen
Llangollen is the perfect spot to spend a couple of days soaking up the beauty of Wales. The small town has a lovely charm which is exuded by the friendly locals.
As a place that has been at the crossroads of postal routes, pilgrimages and trade for centuries, it is well place as a stopping off location for travellers heading in a number of directions around the country.
Dan is an avid traveller from London. His first big adventure was in 2010 living in Malaysia for 3 months and becoming a divemaster. He has been on the road almost constantly since 2015 travelling to destinations that aren’t on the mainstream tourist trail.