The Ultimate Welsh Road Trip: the A470
The A470 stretches from Cardiff in the south to Conwy in the North, referred to as the Cardiff to Glan Conwy trunk road or the route 66 of Wales it really is a trip to add to your bucket list. The constant change of scenery and places of interest, no matter your choice of adventure, could occupy you for weeks. Not everyone has weeks to spare however, so we’ve outlined our ideal itinerary for a 5 day road trip along the 186miles. We’ve thrown in a few suggestions for longer stays if you have extra time and want to explore more of this beautiful country.
If starting in Cardiff, we recommend spending the night here before heading out. It’s a brilliantly vibrant city with so much to offer in the way of culture and history.
Leave Cardiff and head North, after about 40 minutes you will find yourself surrounding by the rolling brecon beacons. You have a few options here.
- Stop at Garw Nant visitors centre and take in a low level walk, drink tea at the coffee shop or picninc next to the river. Their sculpture trail and play park are not to be missed if travelling with little ones.
- Stop at Pont Ar Daf and spend a couple of hours walking to the top of Pen Y fan. Just remember that, though it is a roadside walk, it is still a mountain and conditions can be changing and somewhat unpredictable. At the least you should take a spare layer, water, something to eat and a waterproof and make sure you’re wearing sturdy footwear.
- Head into Brecon and eat Llanfaes dairy ice cream next to the river. Have a wander around this historic market town and pick up something for dinner or book a table somewhere you like the look of.
Spend the night in or around Brecon, visit the theatre or take a twilight stroll down the canal. The local Ghurka restaurant does amazing food!
Drive North from Brecon, following the river Wye all the way to Rhayader and the Cambrian mountains, about an hours journey if you don’t stop in one of the market towns along the way. There are plenty of things to do around Rhayader, check out this site for ideas and inspiration. We’d recommend:
- Getting your timings right and stopping off for the Red Kite feeding centre to get up close to some fantastic birds of prey. Dinner time is 2 pm from the last weekend in October to last weekend in March, 3pm from the last weekend in March to last weekend in October
2. Head out to the Elan Valley. Hire a bike, Take a walk or enjoy some paddlesports. Take a picnic and find a spot for a wild swim in of the little streams.
Stay an extra day and spend a night at the Lluest Cwm Bach Bothy, an old Isolated cottage hidden in the Elan valley. Details of it’s location and usage can be found here.
The scenery begins to get more rugged as we wind our way closer to the Snowdonia National Park. If you’re feeling like doing something a bit different we recommend the CAT centre, otherwise continue North and dig out your walking shoes!
- Detour towards Machynlleth and check out the Centre for Alternative Technology, not to be missed if you are interested in sustainable living. Their interactive displays, inspirational examples of sustainability and ‘Quarry Trails’ make for an educational and enjoyable day for all ages.
- Drive to Dolgellau. Yes, the drive is an attraction in itself. take your time and feel free to stop along the way.
- Throw on your walking boots and head up Cadair Idris. There are a variety of routes catering for all abilities and the views from the top or amazing.
- A small detour will take you to the Dolgoch falls. Take the short circular walk and admire the 3 waterfalls, crossing bridges and journeying through beautiful woodland. A perfect place for a picnic dinner maybe?
There’s a whole lot of adventure in this leg of the journey so feel free to book in for a day or 3 and get your adventure on.
- Go mountain biking, running or walking at Coed Y Brenin. There are some seriously spectacular trails that loop back to the centre with beautiful gorges, wooded single tracks and forestry tracks. With Amazing views, something for all abilities and an easily accessible river for a cool off dip post adventure, it’s really a spot not to miss.
- Blaenau Ffestiniog. Once a rundown mining town, they’re now trying hard to be know as an adrenaline inducing destination and they’re doing a good job at it too! Check out Zip World, Bounce Below or Go Below for an adventure with a difference. If you’re looking for something a bit more relaxed there are also local walks, the Ffestiniog railway and the Llechwedd Slate caverns.
- Betws Y coed is the outdoor shopping capital of Snowdonia. Imagine an alpine resort but in wales, with a variety of shops, hotels and restaurants and the river Conwy meandering it’s way through the town. A great place to spend a few hours or a few hundred quid, depending on your ability to not buy outdoor clothing when you try it on just to see/because the colour is cool/ you have no will power.
- Conwy Castle is pretty spectacular with its breathtaking views of both the mountains and the sea.
- Llandudno is a Victorian seaside resort with a traditional pier and some beautiful architecture. Enjoy the end of your road trip with a good old fashioned fish and chips at the seaside.
Where to stay along the way
You have 3 choices:
Stay in your vehicle.
We love to ‘stealth camp’ in our van as it gives us total freedom and costs next to nothing. Obviously it has it’s down sides, but that’s for another post. Pre-van life, we converted both the back of an estate car and a belingo into beds with plenty of storage underneath. Where there’s a will there’s a way right? You could also hire a campervan or motorhome if your budget allows/
There are numerous scenic campsites along the route to chose from. travel a few miles from the A470 itself and you’ll find some brilliantly secluded spots with amazing scenery.
Whether it be a bed in a hostel or a 5* hotel, there are plenty of options for all budgets in the many towns you travel through.
We’d love to hear about your A470 Adventures.