Posted on 11/07/2018 by David
Cross the bridge onto Anglesey and you’ll find yourself on a unique island that’s full of history, culture, beautiful scenery and plenty to explore.
The island is set just off the north-west coast, and is accessed by road via one of two bridges - the historic Menai Bridge or the imposing Britannia Bridge - and is also serviced by train and by air through a small airport. Of course, it is also visited by boat, and indeed the best views of the island can be spotted from the water.
Speaking to Anglesey’s importance, the island is known as Mam Cymru, or Mother of Wales. It is the perfect place to learn all about Welsh culture, as around 70% of Anglesey’s residents speak Welsh as a first language.
Most of Anglesey’s coast has been deemed an official Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and it’s hard to disagree. Here you’ll find sandy beaches, rocky cliffs, patchwork green fields and great wildlife.
Anglesey’s charted history spans millions of years, with some of the geology still visible today, dating back more than 600 million years. By the Iron Age large settlements and hillforts were spreading across the island, some of which are still visible to this day.
Sometime between 6,400 and 3,200 BC Anglesey became the island it is today, when rising sea levels filled the Menai Strait, cutting the area off from the North Wales mainland.
A fascinating insight into the ancient life of the island was uncovered during World War II, when the RAF were building on the Valley site. Pots, swords, cauldrons and iron bars were among the metal objects found at nearby lake, Llyn Cerrig Bach. It is believed pagan pilgrims visited the lake to throw in their valuable items as an offering to the gods.
Naturally, being an island, much of Anglesey is coastline, and as a result there are lots of lovely coastal areas to explore. Whether you’re looking for the perfect spot for some watersports or simply want to relax on a sunlit patch of sand, you’re sure to find the beach for you.
To take in the best of the seaside, we recommend a stroll along the Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path. Stretching over 200km, just some of the top sights along the trail include Penmon Point, the Britannia Bridge, Cemlyn Nature Reserve and the Menai Suspension Bridge
There’s lots to see away from the shore, too. There are also plenty of trails, paths and woodlands perfect for exploring by bike or on foot. As well as lovely towns and villages brimming with Welsh charm, you’ll fall in love with rolling pastoral landscapes and spectacular views out over Snowdonia.
Naturally, many of Anglesey’s most famous attractions are based in the great outdoors. During the warmer months, we’re sure you’ll relish making sandcastles on the beach, cycling through the countryside or taking to the waves for watersports, but during the famous Welsh rainy days you might wish for a more weather-appropriate activity.
Why not visit Anglesey Sea Zoo in Brynsiencyn, where you can see an amazing variety of marine life, and even pick up some pearls! Other great options are viewing the incredible art at Oriel Ynys Mon, or learning more about the Bronze Age at the Copper Kingdom.
A site not to be missed whatever the weather is Plas Newydd. Managed by the National Trust, this grand mansion comes with beautiful gardens ripe for exploration. This will be a real highlight for heritage lovers, but there’s plenty for all the family to enjoy here.
Top 5 things to do
Fringed by dense pine forest, bordered by sand dunes and offering truly jaw-dropping views out over Snowdonia and beyond, Newborough Beach is a ‘must’, and one of the most beautiful beaches in the UK.
While you’re here, don’t miss Ynys Llanddwyn (Llanddwyn Island); follow the footpath and discover an amazing nature reserve, as well as an important historic site. ‘Llanddwyn’ translates as ‘church of Dwynwen’, and indeed this is the place where St Dwynwen’s chapel is found. Dwynwen is often described as the ‘Welsh St Valentine’, and during Tudor times this chapel was a hugely popular pilgrimage site.
With a delightful mix of architecture and the perfect seaside location, Beaumaris looks straight out of a postcard. There’s lots of charming cafés, restaurants and shops to explore on an afternoon here, and you can’t go wrong with a stroll along the waterfront. Unmissable attractions here include Beaumaris Castle, which is often cited as a ‘technically perfect’ castle, and Beaumaris Gaol.
From Beaumaris Pier you can hop on a boat and head off on a voyage to the marvellously-named Puffin Island! As the name suggests, this is a great place for birdwatchers, and this is a lovely option for a sunny family-friendly afternoon out, too. As well as the odd puffin, you’re likely to spot guillemots, kittiwakes and razorbills.
Definitely a quirky spot for an unbeatable holiday snap, this village is the proud owner of Europe’s longest place name! The catchy Welsh moniker is also the second longest in the world, second only to Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu in New Zealand!
It’s definitely worth stopping here to pose next to the train station sign – just make sure you’ve got a long lens!
Learn how to say it here and wow your friends!
Anglesey’s most westerly point is also one of its most beautiful. Though this is a fantastic place for birdwatching (keen twitchers should try the view from the RSPB’s Ellin’s Tower Observatory), we challenge you to take your eyes off the landscape, which offers stunning views out to a variety of landmarks – including Bardsey Island and even Ireland’s Wicklow Mountains! A notable site here is the South Stack Lighthouse, which dates back to the early 1800s.
Top 5 foodie favourites
Dylan’s - Menai Bridge
Celebrating the best of local seafood, Dylan’s has become an institution in North Wales. Enjoy freshly made pizza, the freshest mussels and the sensational views out over the Menai Strait.
The Marram Grass Café - Newborough
Having recently appeared on Channel 4’s Hidden Restaurants, we’re not sure this wonderful bistro can still be classed as a hidden gem! Come for the rustic charm, stay for the daily changing gastro-menus highlighting amazing local cuisine.
The Tavern on the Bay - Pentraeth
The views from this former seaside cottage are worth a visit alone; look out across Red Wharf Bay and beyond, all the way to Llandudno. The seasonal gastropub menu here utilises local ingredients.
The White Eagle - Rhoscolyn
A pub with royal approval; this was reportedly Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge’s favourite pub when they lived on Anglesey! Menai oysters are particularly excellent here, and are perfect followed by a drink out on the lovely terrace.
Red Boat Gelato - Beaumaris
Often featuring on lists naming the best ice cream parlours in the UK, Red Boat is perfect for a sweet treat after a morning full or exploration! Tony, who makes the sumptuous gelato here, has been trained at Carpigiani University in Italy, so this is the real deal!
Make a stay of it
If we've inspired you to explore Anglesey, there's no better way to do it than from one of our gorgeous island holiday cottages! Browse the selection here and find your perfect Anglesey holiday cottage from North Wales Holiday Cottages.