Alfresco Adventures – our guide to eating outdoors this summer

Now that summer has well and truly arrived, our thoughts turn to long, lazy lunches in the sun and relaxed evenings chilling out with a glass of something we love. For us Brits, the attraction of being able to eat and drink outdoors is a real novelty. Unlike our continental neighbours, who eat and drink alfresco almost all year round, the fickle British weather often dictates whether it’s drinks in the garden or dinner on your lap in front of the TV!

If you’re planning to visit North Wales this summer and you love to eat outdoors, you’re in for a treat! The region has a treasure trove of delightful pubs and restaurants, offering the perfect blend of scrumptious food and idyllic outdoor settings. From charming country pubs to cool coastal hangouts, there’s something to suit every taste and preference. And, better still, some of the best eateries are just a short walk or taxi ride from the train – no need for a designated driver!  

In this blog post, let us introduce you to our favourite pubs for eating alfresco – whether you’re looking for a family-friendly establishment, somewhere to welcome your four-pawed bestie or just a romantic meal for two, you’re sure to find the perfect place to enjoy summer dining here.

The pubs and restaurants we’ve chosen are all close to stops on either the Conwy Valley Railway or the North West Wales Coast Line. Don’t forget to check the timetable with Traveline Cymru before you go, just to make sure you’ve got a ride home! 

The Cottage Loaf – Llandudno 

Image Credit: © The Cottage Loaf

One of the oldest public houses in the seaside resort of Llandudno, the Cottage Loaf is a cosy pub that offers a warm and inviting atmosphere all year round. But it’s during the summer, this hidden town centre gem really comes into its own. With a walled courtyard to the rear and an expansive, flower-filled terrace to the front, you’ll be spoilt for choice when choosing where to sit to catch some rays. If it gets a bit nippy, you can always retreat to the indoor dining area; the bifolding doors open out into the courtyard so you can have the best of both worlds!

We love the Cottage Loaf because it’s the perfect pub for all occasions. Being family-friendly and dog friendly outside, you’re certain of a warm welcome with lots of people to chat to – both locals and tourists. However, if you just fancy a quiet drink with your loved one, there are plenty of nooks to cosy up in and enjoy the ambience too.

The Tal-y-Cafn – Tal-y-Cafn 

When it comes to pubs and stations, you can’t get better than this! Sitting right next to the Tal-y-Cafn station platform the pub of the same name is a popular watering hole in the Conwy Valley. Boasting a glorious suntrap sundeck, you’ll need a really good reason to leave, especially if you stay to experience dusk falling along the valley – the views are to die for! The cherry on top? It’s even got an outdoor bar so you won’t need to go far for a refill. 

Just like the Cottage Loaf, the Tal-y-Cafn welcomes families, doggos and couples. For humans, the menu is a tempting mix of traditional pub classics and modern dishes and, not to be left out, dogs have their very own menu too. If you’ve enjoyed yourself a bit too much, help is at hand. The pub has several beautifully-appointed guest rooms – handy if you’ve missed the last train home! 

Y Stablau, Royal Oak Hotel – Betws-y-Coed 

An iconic landmark in the heart of Betws-y-Coed, the Royal Oak Hotel started out as a coaching inn on the main route from London to Holyhead. It was a popular stopping point for Victorians eager to experience the dramatic alpine surroundings and its popularity has endured. Today you too can enjoy the bracing mountain air at Y Stablau, the thriving bar bistro that adjoins the hotel. Less than five minutes walk from the station, Y Stabalu has a large, fully-covered terrace complete with twinkling lights, chunky wood furniture and patio heaters, you can enjoy alfresco dining all year round without worrying about our unpredictable weather! 

Despite the strong ski lodge vibe, it’s a traditional Welsh pub which prides itself on delivering warm Welsh hospitality; expect big portions and an extensive drinks menu. It’s a lively spot from morning until nightfall but, with an unpretentious and casual feel, it’s a great choice for families and couples alike. Oh, yeah, they love dogs too!

The Mulberry – Conwy 

The medieval town of Conwy is a destination best experienced on foot and the walk to our next pub is definitely worth the effort. Located just outside the town walls overlooking Conwy Marina, the Mulberry offers the ultimate coastal dining experience. The pub’s expansive sundeck oozes Ibiza chic and delivers jaw-dropping coastal views of the Conwy Estuary and the Great Orme – it’s absolutely stunning, especially as the sun goes down. 

But this is a firmly family-friendly eatery, as evidenced by the quirky pirate-themed outdoor play area and extensive kids menu. Naturally, dogs are welcome on the sundeck but, if the weather turns, there’s a small section dedicated to our canine friends indoors too. 

The Gazelle Hotel – Menai Bridge 

Located right on the shoreline of the Menai Strait, the Gazelle Hotel offers a variety of outdoor dining options, you’ll be spoilt for choice here when the sun’s shining. From the charming terraced gardens to the waterside deck, drinkers and diners can follow the sun all day long. We absolutely adore the location of this pub, did you know it has its very own stretch of beach too? Little (and big) kids will love the opportunity to explore the shoreline while the rest of the family relax with a refreshing drink close by. 

The menu is small but perfectly formed and boasts all the pub favourites including light bites and the ubiquitous Sunday roast. With live music, BBQs and events during weekends throughout the summer, the pub is popular with locals and visitors alike – something which only adds to the atmosphere! If you love the location too much to board the train, the Gazelle has several coastal-themed guest rooms (three of which are dog-friendly).    

The Valley Hotel – Valley 

Just a short walk from the station, the Valley Hotel offers a warm Welsh welcome and hearty pub grub in the recently-renovated bar and restaurant. But if the weather’s good, the jewel of this establishment’s crown has to be its expansive outdoor area. With an excellent play area for the kiddies and plenty of space for doggos (of course, they’re very welcome here too), you can soak up the sun on the lawn or chill near the Garden Bar on the lovely terrace. Choose from all the pub classics on the Valley’s Main Menu or opt for something lighter from the Garden Menu, the choice is yours!

With 19 newly-refurbished guestrooms, the Valley Hotel also makes a great base from which to explore the island. Valley’s location at the heart of Anglesey means that all the major attractions of the island are within easy reach by train and other public transport.