North Wales circular by trains and bus, clockwise. Info was correct in July 2017.
A great day out. Allow nearly 10 hours for the round trip.
Llandudno Junction to Blaenau Ffestiniog
Conwy Valley Railway Departs 07.26 Arrives 08.29
Blaenau Festiniog to Porthmadog
Ffestiniog Railway Dep 10.10 Arr 11.25
Porthmadog to Caernarfon
Welsh Highland Railway WHR Dep 12.55 Arr 15.10
Caernarfon to Bangor
Arriva 5C bus service Dep 15.45 Arr 16.17
Bangor to Llandudno Junction
Arriva X5 bus service Dep 16.22 Arr 17.06
Note: The Arriva 5C bus from Caernarfon becomes the X5 bus at Bangor. There is no need to leave the bus. Buses run every one to 1½ hours, allowing you to stay longer in Caernarfon, if you wish.
1. The 07.26 train originates in Llandudno Junction, not Llandudno. It does not stop in Conwy. Later services originate in Llandudno. Park on roadside near Nicky Collinge Antiques, 5-minute walk under the flyover to the railway station.
2. The 10.10 service from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog runs on Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays until mid September.
3. Phone Ffestrail on 01766 516024 to make a reservation on the Ffestiniog Railway and WHR, and to check the train times. Your tickets will be waiting for you at Blaenau Ffestiniog Station.
4. Caernarfon bus station is a 5-minute walk from the WHR station. Walk towards the town, and cross the railway footbridge. Turn left and walk to Castle Square. Cross the Square into the road between Poundstretcher and a chemist shop. Pass Costa on right. Turn right. The bus stop is opposite Argos.
Festrail for Festiniog Railway and WHR timetables.
Traveline Cymru for Conwy Valley Railway and Arriva bus timetables.
The all-Wales senior citizens’ bus pass can be used on the Conwy Valley Railway line, and on the Arriva bus from Caernarfon to Llandudno Junction.
North Wales full-time residents can buy a Cerdyn/Card for £15, valid for five years, giving large discounts on the Ffestiniog Railway and WHR. Further discount for over 65s.
Download an application form here. Passport photo required.
Conwy Valley Railway Llandudno Junction to Tal y Cafn Bridge, good views of the Carneddau mountains and Afon Conwy.
The train passes through Llanrwst, a pleasant market town; Betws y Coed, attractive tourist village; Dolwyddelan, worth a separate visit. Great walk back to Betws y Coed through the Lledr Gorge; tunnel into Blaenau Ffestiniog, with a dramatic change of scenery.
Blaenau Ffestiniog Interesting Welsh-speaking town, full of reminders of the slate industry.
Model Bakery on the main street is a very popular Kurdish bakery, run by friendly Kurmang. Spicy Kurdish pasties highly recommended. Good for take-out hot drinks.
Tourist information at Antur Stiniog opens at 8.30am. Free toilets nearby.
Ffestiniog Railway Hugely successful restored slate railway. I traveled in style in the first class observation carriage. Look out for the Dduallt loop, unique in UK. Attractive, well-kept stations, all crowded with onlookers.
Porthmadog Spooners Restaurant, Cob Records, Australia Inn, all worth a visit. Good shopping town. One station serves Ffestiniog Railway and WHR. Good views of the mountains from the station.
Welsh Highland Railway 25 miles and 2¼ hours to Caernarfon. I travelled Pullman class in the observation carriage, well worth the extra payment. Up through Aberglasyn Pass. Come back and do it on foot one day, it’s a marvelous walk. Dramatic tunnel, pitch black, smoke and sparks. Good views of Moel Hebog on left side of train above Beddgelert (very touristy).
The train climbs 400 ft to Rhyd Ddu, where it stops to take on water. Wonderful views of Snowdon on right side of train. The path up Snowdon from Rhyd Ddu is my favourite route up Snowdon.
The train meanders downhill, through Waunfawr and Dinas to Caernarfon.
Caernarfon World Heritage Castle and town walls and great ice cream at Moo Ice Cream in Castle Square.
Arriva 5C/X5 bus to Llandudno Junction, amazing glimpses of the mountains from Ysbyty Gwynedd Hospital.
We’d welcome your comments on this write-up.
Have you done the North Wales Circular in the anti-clockwise direction?
Please email Peter McFadden firstname.lastname@example.org
All information was correct when I did the trip on 12th July 2017.
You must check the train times before travelling.
Updated February 2018