What a surprise Anglesey has been. Perfect beaches and coves, forests, castles, brilliant birdlife and we even had four days of sun. There are lots of campsites to choose from and 125 miles of coastline to explore. We loved it.
We’d always avoided this part of Wales, mistakenly thinking it would be a land of static caravans and built-up resorts. It’s now one of our favourite places to camp in Britain! Here’s just one road trip through North Wales and Anglesey if you have four or five days to spare.
Country parks, crafts and Snowdonia
We aimed to take a couple of days to amble towards Anglesey and we made no plans. We use the Park4night app to find overnight stops when we campervan and the Nearly Wild network of wildish spots when we tent, along with Google maps when we need a ‘proper’ campsite (just typing in camping or campsites for your location shows you the options in a flash).
Moel Famau picnic and Ruthun crafts
First stop was Moel Famau, a country park and arboretum with lots of picnic areas and woods. It’s just one of so many reserves and parks (like the nearby Loggerheads), where it’s super-easy to pull in for a picnic or a walk. Next was the little town of Ruthun, where there’s a fantastic fine art crafts gallery with a good café.
After a night of wild camping, we headed into Snowdonia for awe-inspiring views. Not so inspiring was the litter around the castle at Llanberis, but it was an isolated incident in an otherwise beautiful drive. We skipped past the tourist hotspots of Betws-y-Coed and headed for the Britannia Bridge over the Menai Straits.
We chose this campsite to be close to Newborough forest and the coast there. It’s a vineyard in the making with three camping fields. A pretty and peaceful spot, it’s slightly marred by there not being enough showers or washing up facilities (even though the site was less than a quarter full), plus it’s not cheap and you still have to pay for showers.
Having said all that, we’d recommend it for its location and laidback-ness. You can cycle from here (hire bikes in Llangefni at Cycle Wales) to the beach and through the lovely Newborough Forest reserve.
White Lodge and the Marram Grass
Even closer to the beach is White Lodge, but this is a small and packed site (in season, at least). It’s main attraction is the fabulous Marram Grass restaurant – star chef cooking, adventurous menus and always booked up.
Given that nowhere is too far away in Anglesey and there’s always a beach or cove nearby, we’ll be exploring other wilder campsites on our next trip.
Newborough forest and beach and Llanddwyn Island
We couldn’t believe our eyes when we arrived here through the dunes. Miles of sandy beach with the mountains of Snowdonia and the Lleyn Peninsula in one direction and, in the other, a magical island (said to be the home of St Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers). Newborough Reserve also has miles of forest trails and is home to red squirrels.
There are four or five car parks with varying distances to walk and different types of landscape – choose to walk to the beach through dunes or forest. Most park at the main (£5 fee) centre, which is only a stroll onto the beach. They then set up camp there, leaving the rest of the miles and miles to more adventurous loners!
We chose a walk through the trees parallel to the main beach, arriving opposite Llanddwyn exactly at high tide. The island is cut off by the tide, but we managed to wade across with our picnic and snorkelling gear. The advantage was that the island was deserted.
It’s a stunning place of coves and beaches with a ruined church, lighthouse and pilots’ cottages. We walked all of it, trying out different beaches (all of them beautiful). We swam near the lighthouse and then snorkelled in a bay further around – sharing the water with a seal (and a couple of jellyfish).
Right at the south-western tip of Anglesey is the RSPB reserve at Southstack. Here, the cliffs are rugged and the walks windswept and wilder. You can see kittiwake, choughs, gulls of all kinds, blue butterflies and maybe even the puffin (and their pufflings). The list of wildlife spotted by visitors takes up a whole whiteboard! We added a porpoise to the list.
The café is excellent, parking is free and you can take the 400+ steps down to the lighthouse (£5.80) for a mini-tour and even more chance of seeing rare seabirds.
South coast bays
All along the south coast, there are bays and hidden coves – some great for watersports (Rhosneigr), some for families (Trearddur) and some for quiet swimming or rockpool explorations. One thing we really appreciated was the number of places to simply stop and look – nature reserves, handy laybys and beachside pull-ins.
Anglesey’s towns and villages
Definitely low-key, many of the towns and villages have only a shop or two and there’s not much chance to buy more than the basics for meals. There’s a decent farmshop on the road between Newborough and the Britannia Bridge, and there are supermarkets in Holyhead and Llangefni.
We didn’t explore the northern coast or central inland on this trip, so our info is only partial, but we did venture to Menai, and Beaumaris, which had much more choice, some lovely delicatessens and cafés and great views as always. The castle and seafront at Beaumaris is spectacular.
Further up the coast is Penmon, where there’s an ancient priory, more superb beaches and views out to the mainland.
The return journey – Bodnant
On the drive home, we called in at the National Trust gardens at Bodnant near Conwy. Though expensive for non-members, the gardens are well worth the cost. Acres and acres of unusual planting, champion trees, water gardens, meadows and wood, along with a good café, which is much better than the one at the nearby Welsh(ish) food centre. There’s also a garden centre where you can buy the plants you need to recreate the garden at home…if only!
We had glorious weather for our five days on Anglesey, which is definitely not guaranteed. It’ll be interesting to see what happens on our return trip and whether a grey sky makes us less euphoric. We were sad to leave, delighted to have found somewhere so special and excited about going back.
Where should we go next time? If you love Anglesey (or North Wales) and have a must-see place or camping spot to recommend, please leave a comment below.