If time is short, we'd skip the minor sights of town -- that is, after you've walked over those bridges -- and head instead for one of the beauty spots of Wales, the Swallow Falls and Miners Bridge. Take the A5 for 3.2km (2 miles) to the west of Betws-y-Coed. The Swallow Falls is one of the most mystical and evocative -- also one of the most powerful -- of its kind in Wales. It's composed of a series of waterfalls strung together, creating a mist. Miners Bridge is a wooden footbridge impregnated with pitch for preservation and dating from the late 18th century. It's not a conventional flat bridge, but a steeply inclined staircase-style bridge, with elevation much higher on one end than on the other. The Miners Bridge doesn't charge anything to visit -- and, as such, many walkers opt for a brisk half-hour riverfront walk from the center of Betws-y-Coed, with the bridge as their final destination. You'll pay £1 to see the falls, however. There's no attendant -- just drop a coin into a tollbooth, and visit anytime you want, night or day.
Again, and only if you have time, there are two more evocative places to visit in the area. One is Dolwyddelan Castle at the hamlet of Dolwyddelan (tel. 01690/750366; www.betws-y-coed.com/castle.html). Standing lonely on a ridge, this castle was the birthplace of Llywelyn the Great, according to tradition. It was certainly his royal residence. Restored to its present condition in the 19th century, the castle's remains look out on the rugged grandeur of Moel Siabod peak. A medieval road from the Vale of Conwy ran just below the west tower, which made this a strategic site for a castle to control passage. About 1.6km (1 mile) from Dolwyddelan, the castle is accessible by a rough track off the A470 to the southwest of Betws-y-Coed, on the road to Blaenau Ffestiniog. To enter, adults pay £2.70, children ages 4 to 16 pay £2.30, and children 3 and younger enter free; a family ticket costs £7.70. It's open April to September Monday to Saturday 10am to 6pm, Sunday from 11am to 4pm; off-season hours are Monday to Saturday 10am to 4pm, Sunday from 11am to 4pm.
One of the premier literary sights of Wales, Ty Mawr, Wybrnant, Penmachno (tel. 01690/760213; www.nationaltrust.org.uk), lies 11km (7 miles) southeast of Betws-y-Coed. From the town, head southwest for 5.6km (3 1/2 miles), going west of Penmachno along B4406 the rest of the way. At the head of the little valley of Gwybernant, this cottage is where Bishop William Morgan was born in the 16th century. He was the first person to translate the Bible into Welsh, and his translation is viewed even today as a masterpiece and the foundation of modern Welsh literature. It's an isolated stone-walled cottage with a slate roof that you might pass by unless you knew its pedigree. Between April and September, it's open Thursday to Sunday noon to 5pm. In October, it is open Thursday to Sunday noon to 4pm. Admission is £3 for adults, £1.50 for children, and £7.50 for a family ticket.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.