Visiting a Welsh seaside town outside of the glorious sunshine of the summer months may seem like madness, but don’t miss out on visiting Llandudno in Autumn! Sea views, spectacular culture and traditional seaside fun, Llandudno really is an amazing destination any time of the year and there is still so much to see and do in the Autumn off season, but without the crowds and the costs!
Llandudno is one of North Wales – and the UK’s – most popular seaside destinations, full of old fashioned charm and nostalgia, with beautiful Art Deco architecture, fish and chips on the pier and some spectacular coast to explore if you can tear yourself away from the charming town itself. It really is one of those special places you find yourself falling for very easily, and it is easy to see why it has repeatedly been given accolades from best seaside town to most recently top trending destination in 2022. It’s no real surprise that during the summer months it can get extremely busy, but here is a relatively local secret, the best time to visit Llandudno is in the Autumn!
From September to November, when the weather starts to get cooler, the summer holidays have ended and the crowds start to disappear, Llandudno still offers all the charm and amenities that it does during the peak tourist season, but without the crowds or the costs. and with a few bonus extras thrown in that you only get at this time of year too.
Now to be fair there is a good reason that the Autumn is not as popular as the summer for a beach holiday, and that is the weather. No one wants a seaside break when the weather isn’t hot and sunny all the time, but with British weather being what it is there really isn’t all that much difference, especially in September and October. Yes, it is slightly cooler and yes there is always a chance of rain, but it’s the UK! You run that same chance of inclement weather in the Summer and it could equally be warm and sunny in October too! So whatever you do don’t let the weather put you off.
What To Do When The Weather Isn’t Great.
If the weather does get a little wet and windy Llandudno still has an absolute ton of things to keep you entertained no matter what your interests. Apart from the independent shops, which are well worth visiting for their Victorian and Edwardian charm as much as they are for their unique souvenirs and wares, there are also two excellent museums that you can spend some time in.
The Llandudno Museum itself is home to a surprising number of artefacts that tells the story of Llandudno from its geological importance to its more recent history, while just around the corner the small but impressive World War II Experience, a unique museum that lets you step back in time and experience what life was like for the local soldiers and civilians during one of the most important events in living history.
The displays in the museum are a mixture of recreated sets and atmospheric street scenes, with a large number of artefacts and information that gives a real insight into Llandudno’s importance not just to the war effort itself, but to the countless civilian evacuees and civil service.
And if art is more your thing, another short walk away is the Mostyn Art Gallery, boasting works by contemporary Welsh artists and a mixture of permanent galleries and temporary displays.
Of course if all that culture isn’t enough for you, you can pick one of the countless charming cafes, old fashioned tea houses or modern coffee shops to refuel at, or visit one of the award winning fine independent dining experiences or the traditional fish and chip restaurants! Llandudno is a seriously surprising foodie hotspot!
Those with gluten or other intolerances were all fantastically catered for in every place I personally visited as well, which shows the genuine calibre of the foodie scene here. All restaurants do get really popular from late afternoon onwards though and a lot of the fish and chip places shut around 1900 hours, so if you want to eat in the evening it is usually wise to book ahead.
But visitors don’t come to the seaside to stay indoors, and Llandudno has a gorgeous bay with views right out to the Irish sea and even Puffin island if you are lucky enough to catch it on a clear day. The beach itself is mostly pebble, which isn’t great for building sandcastles, but there is a good stretch of sand that is popular even in the Autumn time. You are as likely to see an old couple wrapped up warm with a bag of chips on one of the many benches looking out to sea as you are some insane soul braving the cold waters for a swim!
But the seaside charm doesn’t end at the beach, or the endless rows of pastel coloured Art Deco fronted hotels that run the length of the promenade, it is the pier itself that instantly gives that impression of a Victorian seaside town.
At over 700 metres long it is Wale’s longest pier and has remained largely unchanged since its heyday at the height of the Great British Seaside holiday. Apart from a few notable exceptions like the Llandudno Eye, a large Ferris Wheel that dominates the landscape, and the modern arcades that unfortunately don’t have the retro TMNT or Simpsons games but do have a ton of flashing seaside penny slots and grabbers, plus a Zoltar for anyone wanting to grow bigger, most of the pier is as traditional as it always has been and definitely retains that Victorian and Edwardian charm.
Amazing food and ice cream stalls, independent shops and a few water gun games and children’s slides greet you as you walk the full length of the pier and take in those awesome views of the bay, and I promise you nothing beats that old fashioned seaside feeling you get when you reach the end of the pier and stop for an ice cream!
And for those who want a slightly quieter beach, the West Shore, easily walkable from the main beach, offers a much more sandy experience for those who do want to bring a picnic for a day on the beach.
The West Shore is also the start of the White Rabbit trail, a unique – and free – walking tour that pays homage to Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland, with a number of statues and characters hidden all over town, and gives tribute to Alice Liddel, the real life Alice who inspired Carrol’s fictional characters and spent her childhood right here on this beach.
The Great Orme.
For those that want to add a little bit of countryside to their seaside getaway, Llandudno does not disappoint.
The Great Orme headland is a spectacular chunk of limestone that rises 207m straight out of the sea and has been dated to over 350 million years old. Climbing the great Orme, or more accurately slowly hiking to the top, is a popular pastime for any visitor and is easily manageable by most people with a reasonable level of fitness.
The views across the bay from the top are genuinely spectacular and it is well worth adding a day onto your trip to explore this beautiful nature reserve. If you don’t fancy the walk either way there is a cable car that offers return trips or an old fashioned tram if the wind is too heavy for the cable cars.
There are a few different trails to choose from, all a little over a mile long and ranging from easy to moderate. None should take more than a couple of hours each way but be prepared and dress warm with a few removable layers and a waterproof, the weather is often great for hiking but it can get a lot cooler at the top and can change quite quickly, especially in the Autumn when weather is more unpredictable.
At least with that unpredictable weather the season gives visitors to Llandudno two unique experiences they can’t get any other time of the year!
Wildlife Watching And Seal Spotting.
The National Trust describe the Great Orme as a wildlife paradise and is one of the most important botanical sites in the UK. This is why it has been designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) with unique flora and fauna found nowhere else in the world and protected habitats that are home to countless birds, mammals and other animals.
Autumn is the perfect time to take a hike around this spectacular coastline if you are a bird watcher, as the cliffs are home to a large number of sea birds including the Guillemot and Razorbill, as well as falcons, gulls and many others. The Autumn migration means that they are much more likely to be spotted by hikers than at most other times of the year, and quite often there are less people around which makes for a quieter experience.
It isn’t just birds that you are likely to see though. The Autumn is the perfect time to see baby seals. Pupping season differs slightly around the UK, but here in Wales September to October is the perfect time to catch a glimpse of these lovable mammals as they return to the same breeding spot year after year.
I had a chance encounter with a new seal mother protecting her pup in on of the coves underneath the coastal path while on an easy stroll enjoying the scenery. It was from a long distance above of course and I didn’t attempt to get any closer, it was nice to see the council had closed off the only route down to the cove too out of respect for the animals privacy, and I was later informed even boat tours were giving a wide berth too.
It was a one off, beautiful encounter, viewing a new seal mum simply watching over her pup in the bay, and was genuinely an encounter I will never forget.
Adventure In Llandudno.
Llandudno for many is the perfect sleepy seaside town, and the most they would want out of a break here is a slow and easy hike up to the top of the Great Orme, or maybe if they are really in the mood, braving the choppy waters on a boat trip around the coast, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But for those who do want a little bit of extra adrenaline pumping action and have a little bit more time here, there are so many adventure activity options too.
From coasteering around the spectacular coastline to sea kayaking, there are plenty of options for rock climbing, scrambling and even mountaineering training with local tour operators. The Great Orme is a perfect playground for adventure of all kinds, and the best thing is they have not allowed the activities to develop too much or encroach into what is a protected natural asset.
Unique Autumn Events.
As if the seasonal Seal pup spotting or bird watching wasn’t enough for you there are also unique seasonal events that only happen in the Autumn that makes any visit during this time extra special. The dates can change slightly dependent on weather but in the last week of October Llandudno has its annual firework celebration.
This is not to be confused with Guy Fawkes night, where there will generally be fireworks going off all week anyway, this is a specific event run by the local council simply to celebrate Llandudno and its achievements as a seaside tourist destination, and it is completely free to attend!
So if you missed your chance for a traditional seaside holiday in the summer, come to Llandudno in the Autumn! The weather is still great most of the time, the cooler weather makes it more comfortable to hike the Great Orme, and you can enjoy everything without the crowds or the hiked up Summer costs!
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