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Wales by train: South to North Wales by Rail

Is Wales by train an achievable travel goal? I’ll be honest, When I think about travelling through Wales, the two words that wouldn’t immediately spring to mind are ‘public’ and ‘transport’. Wales is full of windy roads, lakes, rolling hills and scenic mountains. Surely travelling across Wales by train would be a logistical nightmare?

Especially given that the UK is not exactly known for its stellar train service. However, a little research revealed that Wales by train is entirely possible. You can travel from Cardiff to Holyhead by train, aboard the ‘Gerald of Wales’ train. It’s one of the most scenic train journeys in Wales.

Wales by Train

Wales by train

Wales by train is entirely possible, you can travel from Cardiff to Holyhead, in style aboard the ‘Gerald of Wales’ train & have stunning country & coastal views. Click To Tweet

Gerald of Wales Train

If you are interested in touring wales by train then this is the Welsh train service for you. The Gerald of Wales is a premier passenger train service that runs between Cardiff and Holyhead. Business Class is available on selected train services between Holyhead and Cardiff and is operated by Transport for Wales.

The Gerald of Wales train runs the length of Wales, making the occasional crossing into England. It also comes complete with an onboard chef aboard its dining car. The Gerald of Wales dining car serves three-course meals on the evening service and cooked breakfasts on the morning service. The Gerald of Wales is one of only two train services in the UK that offers a dining carriage.

Wales by train
Wales by train

Business Class train service Wales

The Business Class service from Cardiff to Bangor, which at a journey time of under 4 hours, is half an hour faster than other standard services operating on the same route.  The service is known locally as the “Gerald of Wales” or “Y Gerallt Gymro” to use the Welsh name. The Gerald of Wales train has four coaches, three for standard-class ones and a fourth coach for business class passengers, who receive a complimentary meal, that is cooked to order by the travelling chef.

Why not book a tour in Wales?

Gerald of Wales evening Business class service

I travelled on train service from South Wales to North Wales on the evening Business class service. I got the train from Cardiff Central at 17:16 pm and got off at Bangor at 21:11 pm. After my initial delight at the prospect of posh train travel, panic set in. What on earth will I wear on a business service? Would it be full of actual adults with their briefcases and important job titles? Good god, what if one of them speaks to me? After having a wine and a little calm down, I decided that the best course of action would be to dress ‘smart casual’. Also to copy whatever the grownups were doing, this is my normal ‘fit in’ tactic.

Business Class train service Cardiff to Holyhead

As I boarded the train service at Cardiff, I was warmly greeted by the staff and seated in a comfy window seat, complete with a table and power socket. Ever the professional, I took out my laptop, camera and notepad and got myself ready to review train travel in Wales.

I was going to take comprehensive notes. I was going to ask thoughtful questions. I was…. “Excuse me, would you like to see our wine list?”, asked a lovely smiling lady. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly all my good intentions go out the window at the mere mention of the word ‘wine’.

Wales by train: A stunning journey from South to North aboard 'The Gerald of Wales'

Gerald of Wales Dining Service

Predictably, I ordered a glass of white, the Pier 42, Pinot Grigio from the drinks menu. I then stared dreamily out of the window, watching the lovely Welsh scenery whiz by. The ever attentive staff were soon back enquiring what I would like to order from the menu? Each Gerald of Wales business class ticket holder receives a complimentary, cooked-to order-meal.

The menu on this train service is on a five-week cycle. The food on Gerald of Wales also features locally sourced Welsh produce. There is a hot breakfast on the Gerald of Wales train morning service and a three-course meal on the northbound service in the evening.

Wales by train: A stunning journey from South to North aboard 'The Gerald of Wales'

Gerald of Wales train three course meal

I decided to order the chicken liver parfait with cracked pepper butter and caramelised red onion toast to start. Followed by Chicken and mushroom pot pie and chocolate fudge cake to finish. This was accompanied by a cheeky little glass of rose wine as well, it would be rude not to right?

Wales by train: A stunning journey from South to North aboard 'The Gerald of Wales'

I was curious as to the quality of food that is cooked aboard a train, I had no frame of reference? There aren’t many train dining carriages in the UK? I was really surprised at how tasty the food was, not to mention the portion sizes. The chicken pot pie was the size of my head!

Wales by train: A stunning journey from South to North aboard 'The Gerald of Wales'

After only managing around two-thirds of the gigantic pot pie, I was presented with a large slab of chocolate cake. It was warm and oozing with chocolate loveliness, how on earth was I supposed to fit this in? Like most ladies though, I am always game for a chocolate based challenge. Cake on a train is certainly a treat in the UK!

Wales by train: A stunning journey from South to North aboard 'The Gerald of Wales'

Wales by train views

Full of food and wine, I sat back and watched the ever-changing Welsh and English landscape as we passed through rolling hills, farmlands and the various towns of Abergavenny, Hereford, Shrewsbury and Wrexham. It was lovely to pass through some of the most Instagrammable places in Wales.

Wales by train: A stunning journey from South to North aboard 'The Gerald of Wales'

You forget just how beautiful Wales is when you travel a lot. As a travel writer, you become accustomed to beautiful scenery and it’s all too easy to forget the captivating landscapes back home. Best have another small wine for all this introspection new found love of the homelands right? With the correct camera settings, you can also get some really great travel photography on this gorgeous Welsh rail route.

Wales by train: A stunning journey from South to North aboard 'The Gerald of Wales'

The most scenic train ride in Wales

As you get closer to North Wales the tracks follow the coast, providing you with breathtaking seaside views as you whizz past shorelines, houses and Conway Castle.  The sun was starting to slowly sink into the horizon as we rolled through the pretty seaside towns of Rhyl, Colwyn Bay and Llandudno Junction. Here’s where the window view became even more glorious. I was treated to stunning sunset views just as the train rolled past the sea. It’s one of the best train journeys with sea views in the UK in my opinion.

Wales by train: A stunning journey from South to North aboard 'The Gerald of Wales'It’s these kinds of picture-perfect scenes that make train travel through Wales a worthwhile option. It would perhaps be all too easy to miss whilst driving, train travel allows for appreciation, for reflection and most importantly, for Instagrams. I got off the train in Bangor, where I would be staying for a few days. If you are looking for hotels in North Wales, I would check out TripAdvisor. You can search through hundreds of hotels to get the best hotel deals in North Wales.

Wales by train: A stunning journey from South to North aboard 'The Gerald of Wales'

Wales by train journey planner

Before I knew it I was in Bangor, it felt as if the last few hours had flown by, with the help of lovely scenery and one or two, perhaps three wines. I was only going to be in North Wales for a few days with family, scoping out the area for a future article on adventure travel in North Wales.

I used public transport to get around North Wales and got a lot of information from the Traveline Cymru journey planner to navigate public transport whilst I was in the area. Public transport in North Wales is serviced by train routes and local bus services. You can also check for train stations in Wales map on the Transport for Wales website.

Wales by train: A stunning journey from South to North aboard 'The Gerald of Wales'

Bangor to Cardiff train

Two days later and I am back at Bangor train station ready for the rail journey home. Bangor is a rather sweet, almost retro looking, train station, with a little cafe and newsagents selling coffee in polystyrene cups, it filled me with a sense of nostalgia for childhood trips to the seaside by train. Wales by train is a rather splendid way of seeing the beautiful scenery of my home country.

Wales by train: A stunning journey from South to North aboard 'The Gerald of Wales'

Britain’s most scenic rail journey

It’s honestly not often that I can claim to enjoy long train journeys in the UK. This particular British rail route was utterly delightful. It has sparked a new interest in train travel for me. Ok, so clearly not all UK rail routes are going to be quite so impressive as this premier service granted. I am now, however, quite inspired to seek out scenic UK rail routes. Preferably ones with sauvignon blanc on board. I would definitely recommend experiencing Wales by train if you are looking for a stress-free way to explore Wales. It’s definitely one of Britain’s most scenic rail journeys.

Wales by train: A stunning journey from South to North aboard 'The Gerald of Wales'

Wales train business class tickets

More information about Wales by train and this service can be found on Transport for Wales. Or you can ask about Wales train business class tickets at any train station ticket office. Fares for the Gerard of Wales train service typically range from £10 to £80, depending on the route.

Cooked to order meals are complimentary for first-class ticket holders. Standard class ticket holders, however, can pay extra to upgrade to the business class ticket. It really is one of my favourite train routes in Wales and I would highly recommend it.

Wales Business Class train service station timetable

Wales by train: South to North Wales by Rail

Wales by train: South to North Wales by Rail


Love this post? Why not pin it and share it?Travel right through Wales by train and enjoy amazing views & food aboard Arriva Trains 'Gerald of Wales' business class service. Read more here! #wales #europe
Travel right through Wales by train and enjoy amazing views & food aboard Arriva Trains 'Gerald of Wales' business class service. Read more here! #wales #europe
Travel right through Wales by train and enjoy amazing views & food aboard Arriva Trains 'Gerald of Wales' business class service. Read more here! #wales #europe

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Pip Jones
Pip Jones

Pip Jones is a UK travel blogger, freelance writer and travel contributor for BBC Radio. She has been shortlisted for at the Visit Holland Press Awards for Travel Journalism. Also shortlisted for a Vuelio blogging award and the UK Post Office Travel blogger of the year. She can normally be found drinking wine, typing an article and taking a selfie all at the same time.

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