Ruff Guide to… Conwy County

From the imposing turrets of Conwy Castle to the majestic sweep of Llandudno’s Victorian promenade, there are some spectacular sights to be seen in North Wales. Conwy County is where Snowdonia meets the sea, so visitors can expect everything from sandy beaches to scenic walking trails – with lots of wildlife in between. The area is also incredibly dog-friendly, with pets welcome at many pubs, cafes and tourist attractions. Keep reading to find out the best things to see and do with your dog…

Conwy Castle
Majestic Conwy Castle © Crown Copyright

Dog-friendly Conwy County: the must-sees

Wales is often referred to as the ‘Land of Castles’, which is not surprising considering there are more than 425 of them. Conwy Castle is one of the most impressive and best preserved – and it really dominates the walled market town. In fact, you’ll see the medieval fortress long before you arrive! Dogs are not allowed inside the 700-year-old castle, but they can walk along the ancient town walls that adjoin it. The walls, which run for three-quarters of a mile, encircle the ancient heart of the town and are free to visit.

Conwy is also home to the Smallest House in Britain, which stands just 122in high and 72in wide. Visitors can pay £1.50 to go inside – but it really isn’t much bigger than the average kennel. If you want to step inside a castle though, follow in the footsteps of the stars and head to Gwrych Castle, near Abergele. This haunting 19th Century ruin is where ITV television show I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! was filmed in 2020 and 2021. Dogs are very welcome to explore the site but must be kept on a lead. At the time of writing, adult tickets cost £10.

The Great Orme Tramway
The Great Orme Tramway has been operating for more than 100 years

In Llandudno, a trip up the Great Orme is a must. This 679ft limestone headland towers over the coastal town and is home to its own herd of Kashmiri goats. There are three main ways to get to the top – on foot, by car or by tram. If you decide to walk up, there’s a great six-mile circular route you can follow, or you can pay £3.90 per car to access the five-mile Marine Drive toll road. The quirkiest way to reach the summit of the Orme, however, is via the Great Orme Tramway, which has been carrying sightseers since 1902.

This old-fashioned, open-sided tram is the only funicular tramway in Britain to travel on public roads, and dogs are very welcome onboard. The journey from Victoria Station to the summit takes around 20 minutes but you will need to change trams halfway so factor in some waiting time. The tram runs from April to October and adult returns cost £9.50. Dogs travel for £1. Pets are also welcome on the Llandudno Cable Car, which travels to the summit of the Orme during the summer months (weather depending). Adult returns cost £12.50.

Llandudno's ferris wheel in action next to the Grand Hotel
Llandudno’s ferris wheel in action © Matt Crow

The incredible Great Orme Mines, in Llandudno, are also worth visiting. The ancient copper mines, which date back almost 4,000 years, were discovered by chance in 1987 during a scheme to landscape part of the Orme. New tunnels are still being unearthed today, but you can visit the site – thought to be the largest prehistoric mine ever found – to see the progress so far. Dogs are welcome on the 45-minute underground tours, although be aware there are some metal staircases and grates that not all pets will enjoy walking on. Adult tickets cost £9.

While you’re in Llandudno, visit its famous pier and promenade. The wide, paved prom runs alongside the town’s north shore for almost two miles and is flanked by colourful Victorian townhouses and grand hotels. Pets are also welcome on Llandudno Pier – the longest in Wales – which stretches out 2,295ft into the Irish Sea. There are a number of concessions, bars and funfair rides to enjoy on the pier. Be sure to pop in to Pets on the Pier to stock up on dog treats and say hello to Burt the Westie.

Laburnum Arch at Bodnant Garden, near Conwy © National Trust
The spectacular Laburnum Arch at Bodnant Garden, near Conwy © National Trust

Just outside Conwy, in Tal-y-Cafn, you’ll find Bodnant Garden. This beautiful National Trust property is a fantastic place to visit all year round, with 80 acres of formal gardens, shrub-filled glades and meadows to explore. From October to March, dogs are welcome in the garden every day but in spring and summer, restrictions apply. The pet-friendly days are published online in advance so be sure to check before you visit, if you plan to go between April and September. Adult tickets cost £14.

Dogs on leads are also welcome at Conwy Water Gardens – a wildlife-rich site that is free to visit. There’s a lovely nature trail you can follow, set among trees and ponds, and the onsite Dutch Pancake House is well worth checking out too. Dogs are not allowed inside the cafe, but there is plenty of outdoor seating. And in Betws-y-Coed, train fans should be sure to visit the Conwy Valley Railway Museum. Here, pets can join their owners on miniature train rides and are welcome in the railway shop and museum. Entry starts from £2.

Stan takes in Fairy Falls, Trefriw
Stan takes in Fairy Falls in Trefriw

Wales is also renowned for its waterfalls and scores of them are dotted across Conwy County. Swallow Falls, just outside Betws-y-Coed, is the highest continuous waterfall in Wales and you can see it by taking this two-mile circular walk. There’s a small charge of £2 per person to visit. Conwy Falls, which runs through the deep gorge of the Fairy Glen, is another real beauty spot. You can access the falls by putting £1 in the turnstile next to the Conwy Falls Cafe, which welcomes dogs. Fairy Falls in Trefriw is also well worth visiting – and it’s completely free.

To see the area from a different perspective, try taking a boat tour. Several local companies welcome dogs onboard, including Conwy Sightseeing Cruises. The family-run firm has been taking tourists out on the water since 1946. Half-hour cruises, which allow you to see the medieval town from a different angle, cost £7.50 per adult and dogs go free. Tours run from February to October. Llandudno Boat Trips are also dog-friendly. Their seasonal 25-minute trips take visitors out past the pier to see the caves, coves and lighthouse. Tickets cost £5.

Ernie and Stan on West Shore Beach, Llandudno, at sunset
Ernie and Stan enjoy a twilight run on West Shore Beach, Llandudno

Dog-friendly Conwy County: the best walks

Head to the beach! Conwy County is blessed with a 45-mile coastline so there are plenty of places where your dog can dip their paws in the water. Llandudno’s West Shore Beach has an amazing expanse of soft sand at low tide and is dog-friendly all year round. While restrictions apply at many of the area’s beaches from May to October, dogs are always welcome at Conwy Morfa Beach. They will love a trip to Kinmel Dunes Local Nature Reserve too, where there’s a mile-long Dunes Trail for visitors to enjoy. For more about the local beaches, click here.

If it’s scenery you crave, head to Great Orme Country Park in Llandudno, which has miles of footpaths to follow. For spectacular views of Liverpool Bay, the Menai Strait and Anglesey, try the Historical Trail, which can be either three or four miles long. Alternatively, there’s a lovely circular walk you can do around the summit of the Orme, which is approximately 3.5 miles long. Head to the visitor centre first to pick up a map – or click here for more information about the recommended walks.

Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee in Llandudno's Haulfre Gardens
Seek out Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee in Llandudno’s Haulfre Gardens as part of the Alice in Wonderland Trail

Literature lovers will enjoy “following the White Rabbit” on the Alice in Wonderland Town Trail. Lewis Carroll, who wrote the famous children’s book, had lots of links to Llandudno – and the real Alice spent the first of many summer holidays in the town back in 1861. Over the course of seven miles, the trail allows you to see a number of characters from Alice’s fantasy world, such as the Cheshire Cat and Tweedle Dum and Tweedle Dee. Pick up a map from the Tourist Information Centre in Mostyn Street or buy one online for £2.99.

And if you’re keen to follow in the footsteps of the locals, head to Conwy Mountain. This hilly area, to the east of the town, is a popular spot for dog walking and you’ll be rewarded with fine views too. There are a number of grassy paths to follow but to make the most of the mountain, the local council recommends this 3.5-mile walk. Dogs should be kept on lead at all times as the trail incorporates some quiet B-roads. Be sure to keep your distance from the wild ponies and grazing sheep, too.

St Tudno's churchyard on the Great Orme, Llandudno
The Wales Coast Path snakes around Llandudno’s Great Orme – passing St Tudno’s Church and graveyard

The Wales Coast Path – which celebrates its 10th birthday in 2022 – also runs through Conwy County. It is one of the few footpaths in the world to follow an entire nation’s coastline and it runs for a whopping 870 miles in total. The section that passes through Conwy County is largely flat and tarmacked – and the mile-long walk along Llanfairfechan promenade comes highly recommended. This gentle route takes you along the seafront to Glan y Mor Elias Nature Reserve. To extend the walk, keep going to the bird hides at Morfa Madryn Nature Reserve.

Gwydir Forest Park, which surrounds Betws-y-Coed, is also a fantastic place to enjoy the great outdoors. It has a range of waymarked trails to suit all abilities, many of which follow old miners’ paths. Its Coed Tan Dinas Walk is an easy boardwalk stroll that’s just under a mile long and takes you past majestic Douglas Fir trees, many of which are hundreds of years old. For something a bit more challenging, however, try the 6.5-mile Llyn Parc Walk, which follows a steadily ascending trail to a beautiful lake. For more information about the trails, click here.

Welsh Rarebit at The Snowdon, Llandudno
The incredible Welsh Rarebit available at The Snowdon, Llandudno

Dog-friendly Conwy County: the best pubs and cafes

Dog owners will be spoilt for choice when it comes to eating out in Llandudno. One of your first stops should be The Snowdon, on Tudno Street, which is incredibly popular with locals for good reason. A warm welcome is guaranteed at this traditional pub and the food is delicious. If you’re keen to try a traditional Welsh rarebit, this is an excellent place to do it! Other great dog-friendly pubs include The Albert, on Madoc Street, and The King’s Head – the oldest pub in town, located on the appropriately named Old Road.

Beer lovers should head to TAPPS micropub, on Madoc Street, which serves a great range of real ale, craft beer and cider, many of which are local. And it’s well worth making a trip to The Penrhyn Arms, a multi award-winning pub a mile from Llandudno seafront. The cosy pub has a fantastic tropical-style beer garden and serves tasty wood-fired pizza, cooked to order in its outdoor oven. The Cross Keys Inn, just across the road, also welcomes dogs but does not serve food. Be aware that parking in the narrow streets around the pubs can be tricky.

Dudley & George's pet store and coffee shop, Llandudno
Pop in to Dudley & George’s to pick up some goodies for your pet – and treat yourself to a coffee while you’re there

There are plenty of dog-friendly daytime options in Llandudno, too. Dudley & George’s boutique pet store, in Mostyn Street, serves excellent coffee and cake and has a whole menu for dogs featuring things like pupcakes and puppuccinos. It’s also a great place to go if you’re in the market for some treats, toys or Welsh souvenirs to take home. Dogs can also expect a warm welcome at Blend, which has two branches in Llandudno – in Clonmel Street and Vaughan Street. The trendy coffee shop serves delicious cakes, lunches and small plates.

Haulfre Tea Rooms, in Cwlach Road, is a great place to enjoy a tasty treat after you’ve worked up an appetite exploring Haulfre Gardens. And up on the Orme, check out Rest and Be Thankful, on Marine Drive. This simple clifftop cafe has been welcoming travellers since 1908 and even today, all of its water comes from a local spring. On a clear day, the views are stunning. But if it’s fine dining you’re after, try Dylan’s on East Parade. This grand restaurant is housed in the former Washington Hotel building and specialises in Welsh produce.

The quirky Mut Hut at Cantina, Conwy
The quirky Mut Hut at Cantin, Conwy

In Conwy itself, make a beeline for Cantin, which is based in the modern Culture Centre. The cafe serves everything from soup to sandwiches and while dogs are only allowed on the covered outdoor patio, it’s a pretty spectacular one. Customers are welcome to help themselves to goodies from the ‘Mut Hut’, which contains everything from dog beds and bowls to biscuits and water. Cantin is right next to Bodlondeb Park so it’s popular with dog walkers. It also overlooks the ancient town walls.

The Albion Ale House, in Upper Gate Street, is another great place to visit in Conwy. The pub is one of the best remaining examples of a 1920s boozer in Britain and comes complete with a lounge and snug. Four local breweries work together to keep the pub well stocked with ale so you’re sure to get a good pint here. Dogs are welcome throughout, just as they are at the trendy Bank of Conwy, which used to be a bank. Pets visiting the pub, in Lancaster Square, may even be treated to their own sausage!

Hangin' Pizzeria, Betws-y-Coed
The covered outdoor area at the Hangin’ Pizzeria really comes in handy on rainy days!

In Betws-y-Coed, check out the fantastic Hangin’ Pizzeria in Station Approach. Dogs are allowed both inside and out, in the lovely covered seating area where blankets are provided if it’s a bit chilly. The pizzeria has excellent veggie and vegan options and a great ethic because a percentage of its profits goes to animal charities. When we visited, dog sausages were also available for just 30p. Bargain! The pizzeria is linked to the Alpine Coffee Shop, just a few doors away, which serves everything from all-day breakfasts to afternoon teas.

Pets are very welcome at Conwy Brewery, on the Ty Mawr Enterprise Park in Llysfaen. The onsite taproom has lots of outdoor seating with fine views over Colwyn Bay. Inland, the quaint ivy-clad Tu Hwnt i’r Bont in Llanrwst is also picture-perfect – and one of the most photographed buildings in North Wales. The traditional tearoom stands on the banks of the River Conwy and is renowned for its scones, which have been baked to a top secret recipe for decades. Dogs are welcome in the large outdoor seating area.

Smashed avocado on toast at Roots Cafe, Abergele
Breakfast is quite an event at Roots Cafe in Abergele

Abergele is a great place to visit with dogs, too. The market town is home to Roots Cafe, which won the Welsh Cafe Awards in 2019. This family-run eatery, on Market Street, sources all of its food from local and organic suppliers and has some excellent veggie and vegan options. The breakfasts, in particular, are a real treat and dogs are welcome throughout. The Hoptimist, on the same road, is also incredibly pet-friendly and serves a great range of hand-crafted beers, ales and gins.

And just outside Abergele, on Rhuddlan Road, you’ll find PetPlace, which has its own indoor dog park. This comes complete with agility equipment and play sessions can be booked seven days a week. The pet store stocks everything from dog food to treats and toys and there’s also a dog-friendly coffee bar – and self-service dog wash. Another pet-friendly place that’s well worth checking out is Seagrass in Llanfairfechan. This cool beach cafe, on the Promenade, has a special dog-friendly section. Visit at low tide to experience the local beach at its sandiest.

Bedroom at The Clontarf Hotel, Llandudno
One of the stylish dog-friendly rooms on offer at The Clontarf Hotel

Dog-friendly Conwy County: where to stay

Dogs and their owners will receive a very warm welcome at The Clontarf Hotel in Llandudno – a family-run B&B close to West Shore Beach. Pets are allowed in all of the rooms at the stylish hotel and as the owners have three dogs themselves, they have thought of everything guests could possibly need. While many of the rooms have their own handy kitchenettes, allowing you to save money and cook in the evenings, you can still enjoy a delicious cooked breakfast every day so you get the best of both worlds.

The Fairy Falls Hotel in Trefriw is also incredibly dog-friendly, with spacious rooms housed in a separate building away from the main pub. Dogs are also guaranteed lots of fuss at The Groes Inn in Conwy, where several rooms have private secure patios. If you’d prefer to self-cater though, try Apartment Three in Llandudno – a roomy two-bedroom apartment close to both the pier and seafront. Madoc Brook Cottage, a short walk from Conwy, also welcomes pets and has some secure outdoor space for both two and four-legged guests to enjoy.

Boats in Deganwy
Deganwy, just outside Conwy © Robert Mann MA Photography

How do I get to Conwy County?

The area has excellent road and rail links, making it easy to get to from across the UK. Conwy County is approximately a five-hour drive from London with the M1, M5 and M6 linking North Wales to both the South of England and the Midlands. If you’re travelling from the North West, look for the M56 and A55.

Trains and buses also serve many of the popular coastal towns in Conwy County, and the Conwy Valley Line runs inland from Llandudno to Betws-y-Coed via Snowdonia National Park. For more details, visit the Transport for Wales and National Express websites. The Wales on Rails site is also worth checking out if you plan to do a lot of travelling on public transport.

Where can I find out more?

Head to the Visit Conwy website, where you’ll find some more great tips and itinerary ideas for the whole county.

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