Exploring Wales!

  • Snowdonia
  • National Trust Gardens
  • Ffestiniog Steam Railway
  • the Llyn Peninsula
  • Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
  • Ironbridge Gorge
  • Shropshire Hills - Welsh Borders


May 1 - 11, 2023


  • the valley of the fast-flowing River Conwy – and the nearby sites of Bodnant Gardens and Conwy Castle
  • Leisurely visits to some of Wales’s loveliest villages - featuring tea-time, delicious dining, and the warm hospitality of top-shelf boutique hotels
  • A scenic ride on the Blaenau-Ffestiniog steam railway
  • A canal boat ride across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
  • Majestic parts of northern Wales, including the sublime mountain region of Snowdonia, and the enchanting Llyn Peninsula

Trip Description

Welcome to the UK’s Playground!

Prepare to be swept away by the ancient charms of Wales! Join a small group of adventurers to explore majestic northern Wales, including the sublime mountain region known as Snowdonia, and the enchanting Llyn Peninsula. We’ll enjoy multi-night stays in three lovely inns, using them as hubs to explore the surrounding regions. We’ll also discover rich culture and history around every bend, in a place known for its melodic language and ancient Celtic heritage.

Our itinerary will take us from the valley of the fast-flowing River Conwy – and the nearby sites of Bodnant Gardens and Conwy Castle – to the Isle of Anglesey and the Llyn Peninsula areas, then to the Shropshire Hills on the border with England. Discover this stunning countryside through scenic drives in the mountains and along the coast, and leisurely visits to some of Wales’s loveliest villages. Enjoy tea-time, delicious dining, and the warm hospitality of top-shelf boutique hotels. Transportation enthusiasts will enjoy rides on the Blaenau-Ffestiniog steam railway, as well as a canal boat across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. For those who are truly feeling adventurous . . . we’ll cap off the journey with a spelling bee featuring Welsh place names.


Day 1 – 2

Depart from the U.S. on your overnight flight to the U.K.

You’ll arrive the next morning at the Manchester Airport, just a short drive from Wales. Join your Explore Up Close guides in the airport, and travel by chauffeured van westward, into the “UK’s playground” – Wales. After an hour’s drive, we’ll stop for tea and scones. Nearby, we’ll visit the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, and enjoy a short ride on a canal boat. Poncysyllte itself is the highest canal aqueduct in the world, spanning the vale of the River Dee. And it’s a nod to the importance of eastern Wales in the development of the early modern industrial revolution.

In the afternoon, continue our drive to Tir y Coed – a lovely country house hotel, nestled into a wooded valley on the slopes of Snowdonia. Dinner and overnight, Tir y Coed.

Day 3

Enjoy a delicious Welsh breakfast in our inn. Not far away, we’ll find a beautiful National Trust site, known as Bodnant Garden. It’s a Victorian estate that features beautiful natural water elements and a number of British national champion trees (referring to “height”). There are formal gardens near the estate house, forest gardens, and enchanted sitting / reflection spaces throughout.

We’ll continue to the beautiful town of Conwy, located where the Conwy estuary joins the Irish Sea. Enjoy this atmospheric and historic market town – replete with a medieval castle and an 1820’s suspension bridge (open to foot traffic only these days) that was built by engineer-genius, Thomas Telford, to “match” the ancient castle – 600 years older.

We’ll return to Tir Y Coed for relaxation. Dinner in the area; overnight, Tir y Coed.

Day 4

After our breakfast, we’ll explore Snowdonia. Our drive will take us through a region known for its slate mines, both industrial and “calendar-pretty” villages, and some of the UK’s most stunning mountain scenery. We’ll explore as far as the village of Beddgelert – among Wales’s lovliest – before we return to Tir y Coed for our last overnight in Snowdonia.

Day 5 

We say goodbye to our hosts, then explore two of Wales’s legendary hinterland regions – both known for ancient heritage sites and rugged, natural beauty . . . never far from the sea. First, we’ll drive onto the Isle of Anglesey via the Thomas Telford Menai Strait Bridge. We’ll explore the scenic coastal enclaves on Anglesey’s southwest, near the ancient village of Aberffraw.
In the afternoon, our drive will return us to the mainland, where we’ll drive onto the beautiful Llyn Peninsula to the beachfront village of Aberdaron for our overnight.

Day 6:

Enjoy breakfast in the hotel. This morning we’ll explore the southern shore of Llyn – the villages of Criccieth, Pwllheli, and Llanbedrog – with colorful beach huts, quaint lanes, and picturesque harbors.

In the afternoon, we’ll visit a National Trust estate property – Plas yn Rhiw. Famed for its views across Cardigan Bay, the smallish house has roots as a 16th century Tudor house, with additions and updates over the years. Its 20th century restoration is part of its wonderful story. We’ll return to Aberdaron for dinner and our overnight.

Day 7:

Well . . . we could get used to this: After another good breakfast from our waterside hotel, we’ll explore Llyn’s north shore. We’ll see headlands close by the hotel – with exceptional views; and we’ll visit the National Trust-owned village and beach of Porthdinllaen.

Dinner and overnight, Aberdaron.


Day 8:

We’ll depart LLyn today, driving via Porthmaddog / Portmeirion to Barmouth.* There, we’ll head inland, arriving at the Castle Hotel in the center of Bishop’s Castle – near the Wales-England border. We’re surrounded by the Shropshire Hills – a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In addition to the pretty vales and steep, rounded hills, a number of heritage sites abound. It will all be ours to explore in the next two days.

*We plan to ride a heritage steam train while in Wales. If we can’t board the Ffestiniog train in Porthmaddog (not running in the fall of 2021), we will ride the Welshpool and Llanfair narrow gauge train in the greater Bishop’s Castle area.

Day 9:

Feel free to enjoy a morning walk around our lovely village in the cool morning air – it’s exceptionally beautiful here. After a good breakfast, we’ll go in search of hidden treasures – often taking the form of ruined castles and ancient hillforts. A notable treasure is the village of Ludlow – among the prettiest in all of Britain – replete with its own ruined castle, next to the River Teme.

This evening we’ll celebrate our adventure together in Bishop’s Castle.

Day 10 – 11:

Departing Bishop’s Castle, we’ll drive to Ironbridge on the Severn River. Ironbridge marks the site where Britain’s industrial revolution began. Today the site features museums and preserved structures that speak to area’s iron- and steel-making past, and a restored Victorian Village.

In the afternoon, we’ll continue to pretty Prestbury – a lovely village that puts us very close by the Manchester Airport. Dinner and overnight, Prestbury.

The following morning, we’ll drive to the Manchester Airport for our flight home.

Featured Experiences

Tir y Coed Country House

A lovely Edwardian country house hotel, nestled into a wooded valley on the slopes of Snowdonia. Conceived and built as a gentleman’s country retreat, the house retains that timeless, peaceful aura: large comfortable beds with luxurious feather and down duvets, a cosy drawing room with wood-burning stove, and a balcony overlooking the gardens and mountains. Expect home-baked bread, freshly cooked breakfasts, offering the best from local butchers, and in the evening, a convivial, well-stocked bar. Outside is an acre of garden with quiet spots to relax, listen to the birds, and watch the sun dip below the mountains.


Situated in the picturesque and historic village of Aberdaron on the Llyn Peninsula, enjoy lodging overlooking the bay - where fresh-caught lobster and crab will be served up for dinner!

The Castle Hotel

Built on the site of an ancient castle, the Castle Hotel in Bishops Castle offers delightful rooms, a bustling country pub and an oak-panelled restaurant, and one of the finest hotel gardens in Shropshire. Watch red kites soar above the castle top terraced gardens, and gaze out into the Welsh hills.

What's Included

  • Comfortable ground transportation (including yes, by train!)
  • Accommodation for nine nights
  • Breakfast, 5 lunches and 5 dinners
  • All activities / admissions per the itinerary
  • Guide and concierge service throughout the trip

Trip Price

$5,245 / person (double occupancy; single supplement, $1,150)

What's Not Included

Price does not include airfare, alcohol, other meals, optional activities, or optional trip insurance.

. . . well-planned, from interesting and fun excursions planned each day to comfortable lodging and transportation. Our trip leaders, Chumley and Khal, were impressive with their knowledge of each area we explored and gracious in their planning of every aspect of our respective trips.
I highly recommend Explore Up Close. Not only did we enjoy some beautiful cities and landscapes, we learned so much history. They are memory makers!
If you want first-class service within a small group of traveling companions that you can really get to know, then definitely consider Explore Up Close.

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Please note, all trip participants should wait for confirmation from Explore Up Close that the trip has the minimum sign-up required to be a “go” before purchasing airline tickets.

Explore Up Close will provide a recommended flight itinerary for your consideration, which is intended as a helpful suggestion. We encourage travelers to choose airfare depending on their personal preferences, as some travelers may prefer to travel independently and meet at our destination, or may wish to extend their travels at the beginning or end of the trip. Our travel agent is available to assist you with booking flights and trip insurance.

Again, please confirm with Explore Up Close before purchasing your airline tickets or making additional travel arrangements!

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