Bangor is a small coastal city in North Wales, and is a picturesque city offering views over the Menai Straits (especially attractive at sunset), and also serves as a convenient base for visiting the nearby Snowdonia National Park. The city is also a popular place to spend the night for travellers leaving for Ireland on the Holyhead to Dublin ferry.
With a population of only around 14,000, Bangor is one of the UK's smallest cities. Bangor is a University city and has a large student population, and is home to Bangor University, established in 1884.
Around half of the people in the city can speak Welsh, but if you took away all of the students in the University, this figure would be much higher.
The origins of the city date back to the founding of a monastic establishment on the site of Bangor Cathedral by the Celtic saint Deiniol in the early 6th century AD. Bangor itself is an old Welsh word for a wattled enclosure, such as the one that originally surrounded the cathedral site. The present cathedral is a somewhat more recent building and has been extensively modified throughout the centuries.
While the building itself is not the oldest, and certainly not the biggest, the bishopric of Bangor is one of the oldest in the UK. Another claim to fame is that Bangor allegedly has the longest High Street in Wales and the United Kingdom.Friars School was founded as a free grammar school in 1557, and Bangor University was founded in 1884.
In 1877, the former HMS Clio became a school ship, moored on the Menai Strait at Bangor, and had 260 pupils. Closed after the end of hostilities of World War I, she was sold for scrap and broken up in 1919.
During World War II, parts of the BBC evacuated to Bangor during the worst of the Blitz.
Bangor lies on the coast of North Wales near the Menai Strait which separates the island of Anglesey from Gwynedd unitary authority, the town of Menai Bridge lying just over the strait. The combined population of the two amounts to 22,184 people. Bangor Mountain lies to the east of the main part of the city, but the large housing estate of Maesgeirchen, originally built as council housing, is to the east of the mountain near Port Penrhyn.
Bangor Mountain casts a shadow across the High Street, Glan Adda and Hirael areas, so that from November to March some parts of the High Street in particular receive no direct sunlight. Another ridge rises to the north of the High Street, dividing the city centre from the south shore of the Menai Strait; this area is known as Upper Bangor (Bangor Uchaf).
Bangor has two rivers within its boundaries. The River Adda is a largely culverted watercourse which only appears above ground at its western extremities near the Faenol estate, whilst the River Cegin enters Port Penrhyn at the eastern edge of the city. Port Penrhyn was an important port in the 19th century, exporting the slates produced at the Penrhyn Quarry.
Transportation - Get In
Bangor lies on the North Wales Coastal Line, and can be reached from either the direction of Holyhead, for those travelling from Dublin, or from Chester, for those travelling from the mainland. Bangor is on the Holyhead → Chester track, and can be reached from either with trains running roughly every hour. Bangor can also be reached the following ways:
- Liverpool Lime Street → Chester → Bangor - about 2 hours travelling time. £18.10 for standard day ticket.
- Manchester Picadilly → Chester → Bangor
- Cardiff → Bangor
- London Euston → Crewe → Bangor - roughly every hour, taking about four hours. £96.50 for a standard open single, £62.90 for a saver single (available most days). Booking in advance may get you a ticket for £51.
- London Euston → Bangor direct - three times a day. Takes just over 3 hours, but same price as above.
Bangor is just off the intersection of A5 and A55 between Conwy and Holyhead. Bangor is directly on the A5, which runs directly from London to Holyhead making it easily accessible from the capital city of England. This 250 mile journey takes roughly four and half hours.
From the north west of England, Bangor can easily be reached on the coastal road A55, which provides a nice safe journey on a road which serves all of the North coast of Wales. The journey takes as little as an hour and is about 65 miles (105km). Bangor is also served by the A487 from the west coast of Wales, from Haverfordwest via Aberystwyth.
Students visiting or moving to Bangor with a lot of luggage may find it safest to travel by coach.
- National Express, 08705 808080 (premium rate). Advance booking is essential to guarantee a seat. Disabled Persons Travel Helpline: +44 121 423-8479, textphone: +44 121 455-0086.
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Welsh lamb and beef feature prominently as does freshly caught fish such as salmon, brown trout, white crab and lobster. Vegetarian preferences are also well catered for with organic fruit and vegetable producers in the area. Some of the local eateries include:
- Blue Sky Cafe, Behind Abbey National/G Williams & Son Butchers, High Street, . Mo-Sa 9.30am-5.30pm. Cafe and restaurant, which focuses providing locally sourced, organic and fair trade food and drinks. Caters well for vegetarians, but also has a good selection of meat dishes. Lovely atmosphere with wooden beams and a wood burner. Can be easily missed as it's just off the high street, but don't be put off. The cafe is located on the first floor and is reached by climbing a flight of stairs. Unfortunately, there is no disabled access.
- The Black Bull Inn (JD Wetherspoon), 107 High Street, . Su–Th 9.00am–midnight; F-Sa 9.00am–1.00am. Typical food menu and drink service. Music is now played (sometimes loudly), but family-friendly atmosphere. Food varies in quality and is not a home-made meal, typical from a high-street brand chain. Can provide the venue, but not the atmosphere. If you're looking for a good insight into Bangor culture, this will more remind you of a small bar in any city or town.
- 1815, Waterloo Street, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 1DS, . 9.30am-5.00pm. Quaint cafe located on Waterloo Hill, which serves lovely tapas and other lunchtime dishes, as well as a variety of homemade cakes.
- Kyffin, 129 High Street, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 1NT, , e-mail: [email protected]. M-Sa 9.30am-5.30pm. A vegetarian cafe and deli serving three choices of vegetarian meals and salads a day. Kyffin also serves a wide selection of cakes
- Noodle One, 166 High Street, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 1NU, . A Japanese and Asian noodle bar. Set out with long tables and benches, Noodle One serves a range of noodle and rice dishes, as well as Yaki and Ramen dishes from Japan.
Sights & Landmarks
- Bangor Pier, . Also known as Garth Pier, this Victorian pier opened in 1896 and reaches halfway across the Menai Straits to the Isle of Anglesey. At the end of the pier is the Whistlestop Cafe, which is popular and well-known locally for it's scones.
- Penrhyn Castle, LL57 4HN, , e-mail: [email protected]. Varies by season. The castle is closed over the winter months. A neo-Norman Victorian fantasy castle from the 19th century, Penrhyn Castle is now a National Trust property. It contains a collection of "Norman" style furniture and old masters' paintings. It has a shop, tea room, a doll museum, two galleries and an industrial railway museum. Can be considered well over the top in the desire to impress but the kitchen quarters and the walled garden are particularly to be recommended.£11.50 (£5.75 for children).
- The Spinnies (Near the coast immediately east of Penrhyn Castle estate.). Two splendidly situated bird hides administered by the North Wales Wildlife Trust. Birds frequently seen include little egrets and kingfishers.
- Bangor Cathedral, . A 6th Century cathedral with attractive architecture. The focal point of the city.
- Gwynedd Museum and Art Gallery, Ffordd Gwynedd, . Tells the story of the people of Bangor and Gwynedd over previous centuries.Free entry.
- Bangor City FC, Nantporth Stadium, Holyhead Road, , fax: , e-mail: [email protected]. Bangor City Football Club's home ground, located near the town centre. A good place to go on match days to soak the atmosphere and to meet real Bangor locals. Adults £6, Concessions £4, Kids £2.
- Bangor Tourist Information Centre, Town Hall, Ffordd Deiniol, , e-mail: [email protected]. Information for the entire north of Wales, tips and directions for the best days out.
Bangor's waterholes vary from the traditional to the student popular venues, to somewhere for a quiet drink. Students who have money to spend can also find a great night out.
- Ferel Cat (The Fat Cat Bar), 161 High S. Fine drinks and fine food, definitely worth the money.
- The Boatyard Inn, Ffordd Garth LL57 2SF, . Pub with B & B
- The Harp Inn, 80 High St (Towards the station on the high street), . A friendly, cosy traditional pub. Great menu, all cooked from scratch, no microwaving here! Reasonable drink prices, and offers on house vodka, whiskey. Round of Jaegerbombs only £10 (for 6 shots and red bull).
- Belle Vue, Holyhead Road, . A traditional, ideally situated pub in the busy student sector, offering lunchtime snacks and main meals. Selection of local and established real ales, themed evenings and weekly quiz on Sundays.
- Rascal's Bar, 6a Holyhead Rd, Upper Bangor, . Increasingly popular Student Bar.
- The Globe (Tafarn y Glob), Albert Street, Upper Bangor. M-Su, 10am-midnight. Traditional Welsh pub. Very popular with Welsh-speakers, especially the Welsh student population.
- Patrick's Bar, 57-59 Holyhead Road, . Affectionately known as "Paddy's Bar", this small Irish-themed bar is popular with all and makes such a stamp on visitors that they make sure to return whenever nearby.
Currently, the Students' Union has no venue, as it was demolished, along with the cinema and theatre, Theatr Gwynedd. They are due to be replaced by a complex called Pontio.
- Peep (formally Octagon), Dean Street. Peep is a lively night out occasionally supported by some of the top DJs in the UK. Student night is a great laugh and appears on every Wednesday during term time. Be safe here on weekends though, this is outside student territory and locals frequent this club often. However, this provides a good mix of people and can still be a great night out. More recently there are some good rock/metal nights here in the week and also the occasional band night.
- Hendre Hall, Tal-y-Bont (About 3 miles from Bangor just off the A55 Tal-y-Bont intersection). Hendre is Victorian Grade II listed stone farm building that has been converted to provide a venue of real character for weddings and music events. A favourite venue for local bands, DJs and promoters of world music. It does not provide accommodation.