Holyhead (Photo:Wild Placebos/Shutterstock)
2.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Cruise Critic Staff

Port of Holyhead

Located on the very northwestern tip of Wales, facing out to the Irish Sea, Holyhead is a traditional rail and road terminus with a scruffy town center. Though the town itself has very little to offer visitors, its location on the scenic Isle of Anglesey gives cru Located on the very northwestern tip of Wales, facing out to the Irish Sea, Holyhead is a traditional rail and road terminus with a scruffy town center. Though the town itself has very little to offer visitors, its location on the scenic Isle of Anglesey gives cruise travelers easy access to some of the best attractions in the country, most within an hour and a half.

About Holyhead


Pro

Cruisers can travel to three nearby medieval castle towns by public transport from Holyhead

Con

There's not much to do in this very small town

Bottom Line

Holyhead is a fantastic gateway port for travelers looking to take day trips to sites in Wales


Find a Cruise to the British Isles & Western Europe



Cross the fast-flowing Menai Strait via one of the historic 19th-century bridges, and you'll soon come face-to-face with the greatest network of medieval castles ever built, stark evidence of the English kings' domination of the Welsh, beginning in the 13th century. Eight turreted fortresses constructed during the reign of Edward I rise above waterside towns, such as Beaumaris, Conwy and Caernarfon. They are fun to explore, especially as you can climb the towers for views over the towns below and out to sea.

Deeper into the interior, Snowdonia National Park covers over 800 square miles of mountains, valleys, tidy towns and former mining sites, interlaced with scenic one-lane roads, hiking trails and two preserved, narrow-gauge steam railways. Both lines date back to the very early days of train travel. An additional rack-and-pinion railway snakes up Mt. Snowden, the highest peak in Wales.

Cruise-ship visitors typically spend the whole day on day trips through Wales. If you prefer to explore on your own by public transit, the three nearby medieval castle towns can be easily accessed by train and bus. It's best to take advantage of your cruise line's shore excursion program (or other organized tours) to experience the more distant Snowdonia National Park and the Ffestiniog Steam Railway.

Holyhead is included in summertime castle and garden cruises that circumnavigate the U.K. and Ireland. Cruise lines that call include Azamara, Crystal, Fred. Olsen, Holland America, Princess and Swan Hellenic.ise travelers easy access to some of the best attractions in the country, most within an hour and a half.

Cross the fast-flowing Menai Strait via one of the historic 19th-century bridges, and you'll soon come face-to-face with the greatest network of medieval castles ever built, stark evidence of the English kings' domination of the Welsh, beginning in the 13th century. Eight turreted fortresses constructed during the reign of Edward I rise above waterside towns, such as Beaumaris, Conwy and Caernarfon. They are fun to explore, especially as you can climb the towers for views over the towns below and out to sea.

Deeper into the interior, Snowdonia National Park covers over 800 square miles of mountains, valleys, tidy towns and former mining sites, interlaced with scenic one-lane roads, hiking trails and two preserved, narrow-gauge steam railways. Both lines date back to the very early days of train travel. An additional rack-and-pinion railway snakes up Mt. Snowden, the highest peak in Wales.

Cruise-ship visitors typically spend the whole day on day trips through Wales. If you prefer to explore on your own by public transit, the three nearby medieval castle towns can be easily accessed by train and bus. It's best to take advantage of your cruise line's shore excursion program (or other organized tours) to experience the more distant Snowdonia National Park and the Ffestiniog Steam Railway.

Holyhead is included in summertime castle and garden cruises that circumnavigate the U.K. and Ireland. Cruise lines that call include Azamara, Crystal, Fred. Olsen, Holland America, Princess and Swan Hellenic.

Where You're Docked

Ships dock at a former industrial pier inside the harbor main breakwater and not far from the ferry and railway terminal.

Good to Know

As Holyhead is a busy ferry port for ships to and from Ireland, the town experiences a lot of vehicular traffic, including cars, camper vans and trucks. The Welsh drive on the left side as in the rest of Great Britain. Some narrow streets are one way, others two ways, so be aware of the direction of traffic when crossing the road.

Also, try not to make the mistake of referring to the Welsh as English, unless the latter are indeed from England.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

ATM's are available in Holyhead's combined ferry and railway terminal and along Victoria Street, the town's main shopping district. The currency is the British pound sterling. For current exchange rates, visit www.oanda.com or www.xe.com. It is a good idea to have some local currency for small purchases, such as snacks, souvenirs and local transit.

Language

While fully half the locals in Anglesey and Snowdonia speak Welsh (Cymraeg), everyone also speaks English. Signs are bilingual. If you travel ashore independently, it is a good idea to know the destination names in both languages. Expect to hear Welsh spoken in shops and pubs. And it's not just the old-timers speaking their mother tongue; since 2000, the teaching of Welsh is compulsory in schools until pupils reach the age of 16. The language is derived from Celtic and has similar origins to Breton and Cornish (though the latter two are much less widely spoken).

Shopping

Popular purchases include items like Welsh-made knitted caps and scarves in a variety of colors and patterns or ones bedecked with the country's red dragon logo. Handmade silver pendants, earrings, badges and ornaments are also popular. In addition to the Welsh dragon, Welsh mountain sheep are popular design features. It's not surprising as the 11 million four-leggers in Wales outnumber human residents almost four to one.