Llandudno and the Little Orme - Photo by Noel Walley

Llandudno Tourist Guide


Llandudno (pronounced 'Thlan-did-no') is a seaside resort and town on the north Wales coast between Conwy and Colwyn Bay, and at the 2001 census had a population of 20,090 including that of Penrhyn Bay and Penrhynside, which are within the Llandudno Community. The town is just off the North Wales Coast railway line which was opened as the Chester and Holyhead Railway in 1848, became part of the London and North Western Railway in 1859, and part of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway in 1923. Llandudno was specifically built as a mid-Victorian era holiday destination and is served by a branch railway line opened in 1858 from Llandudno Junction with stations at Deganwy and Llandudno.

Llandudno, Queen of the Welsh Resorts, a title first implied as early as 1864 is now the largest seaside resort in Wales, and lies on a flat land between the Welsh mainland and the Great Orme peninsula. Llandudno, which lies in Conwy County Borough, was formerly in the district of Aberconwy within Gwynedd, and prior to 1974 was in Caernarfonshire.

Modern Llandudno takes its name from the ancient parish of Saint Tudno but also encompasses several neighbouring townships and districts including Craig-y-Don, Llanrhos, and Penrhyn Bay. Also nearby is the small town and marina of Deganwy and these last four are in the traditional parish of Llanrhos. The ancient geographical boundaries of the Llandudno area are complex. Although they are on the eastern side of the River Conwy (the natural boundary between Caernarfonshire and Denbighshire), the ancient parishes of Llandudno, Llanrhos and Llangystennin (which includes Llandudno Junction) were in Caernarvonshire. Today, Deganwy and Llandudno Junction are part of the town community of Conwy even though they are across the river from Conwy and linked to Conwy only by a causeway and a bridge.

Llandudno Bay and the North Shore

This wide sweep of sand and shingle extends two miles (3 km) in a graceful curve between the headlands of the Great Orme and the Little Orme.

For most of the distance on Llandudno's North Shore there is a wide curving Victorian promenade separated from the roadway by a strip of garden. The road, collectively known as The Parade, has a different name for each block and it is on these parades and crescents that many of Llandudno's hotels are built.

Near the centre of the bay is the North Wales Theatre and next to it The North Wales Conference Centre. The Llandudno Yacht Club and a roundabout mark the end of this section of The Parade and beyond are more hotels and guest houses but they are in the township of Craig-y-Don.

At Nant-y-Gamar road, The Parade becomes Colwyn Road with the fields of Bodafon Hall Farm on the landward side but with the promenade continuing until it ends in a large paddling pool for children and finally the Craigside residential development on the lower slopes of the Little Orme.

Llandudno Pier

The town's award winning pier is on the North Shore; it was built in 1878, and is 1,234 feet (376 m) in length and a Grade II listed building.

Looking back towards the town from the end of the pier, on a clear day one can see the mountains of Snowdonia rising over the town. A curious major extension of the pier in 1884 was in a landwards direction along the side of what was the Baths Hotel (now where the Grand Hotel stands) to provide a new entrance with a pier pavilion theatre at the North Parade end of the promenade, thus increasing the pier's length to 2,295 feet (700 m). Attractions on the pier include a bar, a cafe, amusement arcades and children's fairground rides. There is also a range of shops, including Victorian kiosks selling photographic prints of the local area, crafts, herbal remedies and souvenirs.

In the summer, Professor Codman's Punch and Judy show (established in 1860) can be found on the promenade near the entrance to the Pier.

Great Orme

This great limestone headland has many attractions for the tourist including the Great Orme Tramway that takes tourists effortlessly to the summit.

Two features of the Great Orme should be mentioned here because the both start at the end of the promenade where North Parade becomes for a short distance Happy Valley Road, which in its turn becomes the Marine Drive.

Happy Valley

The Happy Valley, a former quarry, was the gift of Lord Mostyn to the town in celebration of the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887. The area was landscaped and developed as gardens, two miniature golf courses, a putting green, a popular open air theatre and extensive lawns. The ceremonies connected with the Welsh National Eisteddfod were held there in 1896 and again in 1963. In June 1969, The Great Orme Cabin Lift, a modern alternative to the tramway, was opened with its base station adjacent to the open air theatre. The distance to the summit is just over one mile (1.6 km) and the four-seater cabins travel at six m.p.h. on a continuous steel cable over two miles (3 km) long. It is the longest single stage cabin lift in Britain and the longest span between pylons is over 1,000 feet (300 m). The popularity of the 'Happy Valley Entertainers' open air theatre having declined, the theatre closed in 1985 and likewise the two miniature golf courses closed and were converted in 1987 to create a 280 metre artificial ski slope and toboggan run.  The gardens were extensively restored as part of the resort's millennium celebrations and remain a major attraction.

Marine Drive

The first route round the perimeter of the Great Orme was a footpath constructed in 1858 by Reginald Cust a Trustee of the Mostyn Estate. In 1872 the Great Ormes Head Marine Drive Co. Ltd. was formed to turn the path into a carriage road. Following bankruptcy, a second company completed the road in 1878. The contractors for the scheme were Messrs Hughes, Morris, Davies, a consortium led by Richard Hughes of Llandudno. The road was bought by Llandudno Urban District Council in 1897. The four mile (6 km) drive (it is one way only) starts at the foot of the Happy Valley. After about one and a half miles, a side road leads to St. Tudno's Church, the Great Orme Bronze Age Copper Mine, and the Summit of the Great Orme. But, continuing on the Marine Drive one passes the Great Orme Lighthouse (no longer operational) and at the half way point the 'Rest and be thankful' Café is very popular with both walkers and motorists.


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Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015