When Edward I captured Snowdonia and built Conwy Castle from 1283 to 1289, he granted a charter permitting local Welsh people to enter the town to trade on four days a year without charge. One of these was 13 September, when beekeepers could sell their honey within the town walls.
The 700-year-old Honey Fair continues every year in Lancaster Square and the High Street. Shoppers buy about a tonne of honey by lunchtime, as well as fruit, jams, cakes and plants.
Whether or not you visit Conwy on Honey Fair day, the town boasts many fine buildings and is intriguing to explore. The eight-towered Conwy Castle is part of the Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd World Heritage Site. Built by Master James of St George between 1283 and 1287, the castle dominates Conwy Estuary and is open all year. The fortress was also a royal residence and Edward I spent Christmas here in 1294.
Its exterior walls originally gleamed with white limestone paint and must have been a startling sight from afar. Though the whitewash has since disappeared, the castle still looks wonderful from a distance.
The view is superb from the castle’s battlements, too – especially as you can look down on Conwy Suspension Bridge. Built by celebrated civil engineer Thomas Telford in 1826, this was the way into town from the east until the end of November 1958, when the modern road was built. For a small charge, you can walk across it and view the small house where the toll keeper and his family lived.
Small is beautiful
Down on the quayside you can explore the smallest house in Britain, a mere 3m (10ft) high and 1.75m (5½ft) wide. At one time, a fisherman over 1.8m (6ft) tall lived here. By the harbour you will find a kiosk selling locally made Parisella’s Dairy Ice Cream.
Go through the Lower Gate into the walled part of town and at the crossroads stands Aberconwy House, a medieval merchant’s house with a projecting upper storey, thought to be the oldest
of its type in Wales.
On the High Street you’ll find Plas Mawr, possibly the finest Elizabethan house in Britain. Created by Robert Wynn of Gwydir near Llanrwst in the Conwy Valley, it is decorated with glorious, ornamental plasterwork of heraldic emblems and geometric patterns on ceilings, panels and walls.
Don’t miss a walk along the town walls – there are three access points and you can follow much of it while enjoying views over the harbour and town.
For a longer trek, climb nearby Conwy Mountain, with its Iron Age fort, for views out over the bay to the Great Orme, but not before you’ve stocked up at Edwards of Conwy on the High Street, an award-winning butcher selling a variety of pies.
HOW TO GET THERE
Conwy is on the A547, off the A55, west of Colwyn Bay.
FIND OUT MORE
Conwy Tourist Information Centre
Castle Buildings, Conwy LL32 8LD
Conwy Honey Fair
Anna’s Tea Rooms and Coffee Shop
9 Castle Street, Conwy LL32 8AY
Serves homemade food, seven days a week all year round.
High Street, Conwy LL32 8DB
This luxurious former coaching inn is situated in the heart of the medieval town.
Bryn Guest House
Sychnant Pass Road, Conwy LL32 8NS
Located outside (but beside) the town walls, this B&B can cater for special diets if required.