Out and About in Snowdonia: Visit Bangor August 24th, 2017
Out and About in Snowdonia: Visit Bangor
Bangor in North Wales may be one of Britain's smallest cities, but it's got more than its fair share of things to see and do. Whether you visit Bangor for business, a holiday or to attend an event at the Faenol Estate, you'll find it hard to tear yourself away when it's time to go home...
The city of Bangor in North Wales is a modern, lively university city with ancient roots. And if you're going to visit North Wales, Bangor's accessible location makes it the ideal base while you explore Snowdonia's mountains and coast.
Travelling to and around Bangor couldn't be easier; there are regular train services to London, Manchester and Cardiff and network links to the rest of the UK. It's easy to get to Bangor by road too, using the A55 and the scenic A5 which cuts through the heart of Snowdonia. Once you're in Bangor, there are many bus services to help you explore the Snowdonia countryside and visit local attractions - as well as those a little further afield.
Bangor's roots can be traced back to the sixth century, to St Deiniol's monastic cell of about 525AD. Bangor Cathedral, in the heart of the city, has ancient foundations and although the earliest buildings on the site were destroyed by Vikings, and the later Norman church was burned by King John in 1210, the Cathedral has endured since being rebuilt in the 13th and 14th centuries. The surviving structure, though heavily restored in the 19th century, retains many original features like the 14th century crossing and choir, a 13th century chamfered arch in the Lady Chapel, and the 15th century wooden statue, dubbed "the Mostyn Christ".
Close to Bangor Cathedral you'll find Gwynedd Museum and Art Gallery, which houses many fascinating local archaeological finds in its permanent collection - including finds from the Neolithic axe factory at Graig Lwyd near Llanfairfechan and a Roman sword from Segontium in Caernarfon - as well as exhibitions of local and international artists; while in the museum's shop you'll find beautiful gifts made by local craftspeople.
If you enjoy a spot of shopping, Bangor won't disappoint; it's one of North Wales' principal shopping centres. Bangor's high street is said to be the longest in Wales, lined with a good mix of high street giants and small independent shops where you can buy anything from local crafts to luxury goods. On Bangor High Street you'll find two excellent indoor shopping centres, while away from the city centre there are large 'out of town' stores where you can grab a bargain or two.
Once you're all shopped out, there are many excellent bars, pubs, restaurants and bistros where you can recharge your batteries; you'll be able to sample local produce cooked to traditional Welsh recipes or, if you fancy something a little more exotic, take your pick from a great range of world cuisine.
When you visit Bangor you'll be spoilt for choice when it comes to finding things to do. Of course, being in the heart of Snowdonia - which has been described as "the UK's number one activities centre" - you'll have access to a huge range of sports and activities. Apart from a vast array of sports and leisure facilities available at Bangor University, Bangor also has an excellent indoor swimming pool with water slides and diving boards, and there's also a bowling green and outdoor tennis club. Nearby are the National Watersports Centre for Wales at Plas Menai, Caernarfon and the National Mountain Centre at Plas Y Brenin, Capel Curig; for golf enthusiasts there's the 18-hole St Deiniol Golf Club and a 9-hole course and driving range at nearby Treborth. And if watching sport is more appealing to you than playing, there's Bangor City Football Club, a cricket club and a rugby club.
There's plenty to see in Bangor if you're interested in history and culture. As well as Gwynedd Museum and Bangor Cathedral, Bangor also boasts a beautiful Victorian pier, lovingly restored to its former grandeur in 1987 and one of the few Victorian piers to remain virtually unaltered in design. Here you can take a refreshing stroll and enjoy spectacular views across the Menai Strait to Anglesey, or try a spot of fishing or crabbing followed by a delicious cream tea.
A visit to Penrhyn Castle is fun for all the family. This medieval manor was extended into a Norman-style fairytale castle - complete with arrow slits and murder holes - in the 19th century, and has been described as "one of the greatest Victorian houses". Penrhyn Castle is home to many precious works of art by Gainsborough, Holbein, Rembrandt and others, and there's a fantastic railway museum too.
The Faenol Estate, just outside Bangor at Y Felinheli, is also steeped in history. This huge estate dates from the Tudor period and comprises thousands of acres of land as well as some 30 listed buildings. The Faenol Estate has in recent years regularly hosted Bryn Terfel's Faenol Festival, the National Eisteddfod in 2005Article Search, and hosts the BBC Radio 1 Big Weekend in May 2010.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Steven Jones is Senior Tourism Services Officer at Cyngor Gwynedd Council, a Welsh local authority whose not-for-profit Snowdonia Mountains and Coast website provides visitors to Snowdonia with a wealth of useful information about the region, including activities, attractions, history and culture. The website provides guides to a number of Snowdonia villages, towns and cities, including Llanberis, Bala, Caernarfon and Bangor.