When I first read the word Llandudno I was struggling. First to identify the language then identify which country it belongs to. The answer is Wales, the smallest country in the United Kingdom but probably with the most preserved heritage. First of all, they kept their own language and they are continuously using it till today. Another thing that was grabbing my attention is their flag. They have a dragon on them! Maybe it’s my lack of knowledge but I’m not aware of any other mythic animal being pictured on a national flag. For sure it’s definitely not common as a Lion so I was really excited to visit a part of this small country.

Llandudno West Shore
Airial view of Llandudno

Getting to Llandudno

Getting to Wales directly might not be your best option. Being a small country it only has one airport in Cardiff, the capital with limited international flights. However, getting to more specific locations like Snowdonia or Pembrokeshire will require further transportation. So it is worth checking other airports in England. Manchester is the closest one, but there are train options from London and Birmingham too.

As I was heading to the Snowdonia National Park locally called Eryri I chose Llandudno, a small coastal town as my base location. I took the train from London directly with growing excitement to spend a weekend in North Wales.

Land of the dragons

As it was a spontaneous decision to visit this location I had no time to do my usual home research. Luckily the long train journey presented the perfect opportunity for this. As every legend usually involves battles and kings and omens not surprisingly this is the case with the Red Dragon of Wales as well.

Stories like this usually have multiple versions so I didn’t want to pick just one and probably writing about all would fill a book, so I would recommend reading how this is related to the Arthur and Merlin legends.

On the historical side, the dragon symbol was first used by the British Roman legions returning to Rome around the 5th century. However, the symbol is not appearing on the Union Jack it’s displayed on every government building in Wales.

Place to stay

Usually, I’m more a fan of Airbnb-style accommodation than the traditional hotels, but if you need to find something quickly, probably the latter option will be your choice. You can find hotels at different price points and the good news is most of them will face the seafront. The promenade is long and offers a nice walk by the sea ending with the traditional pier.

Llandudno North Shore
Hotels are lining up by the sea

Watch out for the local wildlife

Walking around on the streets you will realize the most common animals here are the sheep. It feels like every household has at least one just to keep the garden neat. For the common areas of the street hordes of goats are taking the responsibility. If you think I’m joking here, you are completely wrong, and here is a sign for proof. Walking around with food in hand is strongly not advised. Seagulls are everywhere and just waiting for the opportunity to grab them out from your hand. 

Llandudno garden
Sheep are keeping the gardens tidy.

Spend a day around Llandudno

Most of the people who come around the area are usually here for the Snowdonia National Park and I understand why. However this small town has much to offer, so it would be a mistake to don’t spend a day here. I’m glad I didn’t make it.

When I arrived late in the evening it was already dark so I hadn’t seen too much of it. Took my accommodation in one of the promenade hotels and went for an early sleep. I did not ask for a wake-up call, I got it anyway from the local seagull family. When I looked out from the window, It was still early and gloomy. Something that you need to prepare when you are planning any kind of UK trip.

I stepped out from the hotel facing directly to the promenade and the first thing catching my eyes was a statue. I was still sleepy and approached it slowly from behind recognizing the Mad Hatter watching the sea. Quickly read the QR code with my phone to get more information about it. Llandudno was the holiday destination resort of the real Alice in Wonderland, Alice Liddell, the girl who inspired Lewis Carroll and for whom he based his worldwide famous story on, Alice in Wonderland.

In the footsteps of the Alice

With a thought in my head that Wonderland might be just a rabbit hole away I continued my walk towards the pier. From there you have a few options to get to the Great Orme. You can walk or cycle around the Marin drive, this is an easier path, or for the more challenging you can go upwards from the Happy Valley (Another Alice in Wonderland sight). Also, there is a tram or cable car to the top. Once you are up you will have a spectacular view around. I recommend spending some time just sitting in the soft grass and relaxing. It will be needed if you take the hiking path. You can also visit the 3500-year-old Copper mine, one of the biggest in Western Europe. If you haven’t had enough fun yet you can try the toboggan or the snow tubes on the top. On the way back, you can walk or tram back to the pier or continue on the Marin drive to the west shore.