Betws y Coed
Betws y Coed (meaning Chapel in the Woods) is a village in Conwy, and one of the primary tourist resorts in the Snowdonia National Park. The village claims to be Wales' most popular inland tourist resort. The name is often abbreviated to "Betws" or even "BYC".
Betws y Coed station is on the Conwy Valley branch line from Llandudno Junction to Blaenau Ffestiniog. Trains run approximately every three hours during the day Monday to Saturday and three times a day on Summer Sundays.
Betws y Coed is served by Bws Gwynedd services:
- S2 (Llanrwst–Capel Curig–Betws y Coed) (every 1–2 hours on workdays)
- S97 (Porthmadog–Penryndeudraeth/Beddgelert–Betws y Coed) (less frequent)
- X1/84 follows the same line from Llandudno Junction to Blaenau Ffestiniog as the train but is more frequent (every 1–2 hours on workdays)
- Local buses to Llanrwst
In effect bus travel to/from Betws y Coed is not easily manageable; many buses run only on certain days, dates or periods, especially in summer. And times are not evenly distributed—at some times there may be 3 buses to Llanrwst in one hour and then 2 hours before the next one goes. On Sundays there are almost no buses except the S2.
The bus station is 100m north of the entrance to the railway station, at the entrance to the large car park, and is referred to as "Platform 2" although it is nothing like a platform and not even part of the station complex.
As the village itself is quite small it is easiest to get around on foot. The S2 bus can be used to get to the westernnmost part of town as well as to the Swallow Falls Hotel complex, the Ty y Hyll trailhead and Capel Curig. Many places, however, cannot be reached by public transport at all, so a car is very handy. A bike is also useful but it must be suitable for hilly terrain.
- Conwy Valley Railway Museum, ☎ +44 1690 710568. A very small railway museum, but it has a small ridable model steam train for kids and an electric tram.
- National Park Information Centre & TIC, Royal Oak Stables, ☎ +44 1690 710426. Small exhibition.
- Swallow Falls (2 miles to the west on the road to Capel Curig). The path to the falls is accessed via a turnstile at a charge of £1. While the falls are indeed beautiful there are similar rapids closer to town and fee of charge: for instance at the Miners Bridge (1 mile west) and at the Pont-y-pair bridge (in town), both free of charge. The falls can also be viewed free of charge from the opposite bank by following the riverside public footpath downstream for 1 mile from Ty Hyll (below).
- Forest boardwalk (just west/north of Pont-y-pair bridge). Impressive Douglas firs.
- The Ugly House (Ty Hyll) (on the A5 west of the village), ☎ +44 1690 720287. 9:30PM–5PM. 7 days in summer, M–F in winter. Home of the Snowdonia Society.
Betws y Coed's location in the heart of Snowdonia's mountains means that many visitors are here for hillwalking, mountain biking and climbing.
- Mountain Biking. Check out the Marin and Penmachno Trails.
- Gwydyr Forest. The forest surrounding Betws-y-Coed is rich in both marked and unmarked trails. The marked trails range from one-mile walks on level roads to 10 mile walks in strenuous terrain. The lower parts of the Llugwy valley offer forests remniniscent of temperate rainforests with a thick cover of moss and lichens on the trees and on ground. Another speciality is the exploring of old mines and quarries, many of which are partly (and safely) accessible.
- Narrow-gauge railways. Betws y Coed is a great base for exploring the Great Little Trains, narrow-gauge heritage railways found all over North Wales. Apart from the railway museum the Conwy valley line itself is quite interesting, and provides access to Blaenau Ffestiniog with the Ffestiniog Railway and the mine tramways of the Llechwedd Slate Caverns as well as to the Chester to Holyhead mainline via Llandudno Junction. Sherpa bus S2 provides easy access to Llanberis with both the Snowdon Mountain Railway and the Llanberis Lake Railway (1 proper railway, 3 narrow-gauge heritage railways and 4 smaller mine or model tramways).
There are a number of outdoor clothing and equipment shops and also some shops selling local crafts. Comparative to the size of the village the number of outdoor clothing and equipment shops is large (5–6), but otherwise there is nothing special to get which can't be purchased in similar shops otherwise. A few shops sell slate specialty products and souvenirs, but in general Llanberis (Welsh Slate Museum) and Blaenau Ffestiniog (Llechwed Slate Caverns) are better choices for slate.
Compared to the number of hotels and B&Bs and the number of visitors seen on a summer weekend, there are relatively few restaurants—most of them part of a hotel, and most of them serve only classic English/Welsh food or have a bar menu. There is one Chinese restaurant and one Indian.
- Ty Gwyn Hotel & Restaurant (On the A5 just south of the village by Waterloo bridge), ☎ +44 1690 710383. Bar and restaurant in 18th-century coaching inn, big portions, excellent food and service. Booking advised.
- Pont-y-Pair Hotel, Holyhead Rd (Centre of Betws-y-Coed opposite Pont-y-Pair bridge), ☎ +44 1690 710377. Reasonably priced bar food in a traditional pub as well as a restaurant.
- The Royal Oak Hotel. Large hotel, central and well equipped. A bit pricey. Has 3 restaurants of fair quality—all have standard English/Welsh cuisine:
- The Royal Oak Restaurant is a classic hotel restaurant with good but traditional and somewhat pricy menu.
- The Grill Room right next to the restaurant is a tad cheaper, and have more grill dishes on the menu—quite good. Full on Fridays and Saturdays.
- The Stables is a bar with both indoor and outdoor seating. The menu is a subset of the menu from the Grill Room, but a few quid cheaper. Can be quite full Fridays and Saturdays.
Relative to the size of the village there is a huge number of hotels and B&Bs—you get the impression that more than every second house is some form of accommodation. Amongst others are:
- Ferns Guesthouse, Holyhead Rd. Supposedly one of the better guesthouses.
- Gwydyr Hotel, Holyhead Rd. An old, classic hotel aimed at fishing. Has cheap singles.
- Mairlys Bed & Breakfast (Mary's Court Guest House), Holyhead Road (centre of village), ☎ +44 1690 710190, e-mail: email@example.com. 4* Victorian villa. £45–85 per room (including breakfrast).
- Swallow Falls Hotel, Holyhead Road (2 miles west of town). Part of the same complex as the Youth Hostel.
- Waterloo Hotel and Lodge. A Best Western Hotel, so at least one of the large hotel chains is represented in Betws.
- Bryn Bella Guest House (Bryn Bella), Lon Muriau, Llanrwst Road, Betws-y-coed, LL24 0HD, ☎ +44 1690 710627, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 10:00. This eco-friendly B&B heats its water with solar energy and uses home grown fruit and vegetables. They were awarded the coveted Gold Star by the Green Tourism Business Scheme and were once listed among the 30 coolest bed & breakfasts by Time. The place has a lovely garden available for guest and if you drive an electric car, you can use their charging point for free. 85.00£.
There are many campsites in the area, especially on the road to Capel Curig. One large camping site next to the railway museum.
- YHA Betws-y-Coed, ☎ +44 1690 710796. 2 miles west from the village centre, part of a larger hotel and bar complex next to the Swallow Falls. Open 365 days a year. Reception hours 8AM–12 noon. 78 beds. Family rooms available.
- The Vagabond, Craiglan Road, ☎ +44 1690 710850. Check-out: 10AM. Independent hostel in a detached Victorian villa. 36 beds, self-catering kitchen, bar, common room, meals available, climbing wall. Bed linen provided. Bed per night £14. B&B (obligatory at week-ends) £18. B&B and evening meal £25.
The Landmark Trust renovates vulnerable historic properties and makes them available as self-catering accommodation. The Trust has three properties at Rhiwddolion, a "ghost village" in the wooded hills to the southwest of Betws y Coed. These isolated but idyllic properties can only be approached by car via a forest drive and thence by walking, and they must be booked in advance via the Trust. The buildings are simply furnished with basic kitchen facilities and comfortable sleeping accommodation. Prices vary according to the season and length of stay.
- Ty Capel. A former chapel and schoolroom. Sleeps 3. 4 nights from £148.
- Ty Coch. Single-storey stone cottage by a stream. Sleeps 4. 4 nights from £188.
- Ty Uchaf. The oldest of the three properties, a 17th-century single-storey white-painted cottage. Sleeps 2. 4 nights from £121.