Wrexham (Welsh: Wrecsam) is a city in Clwyd in North Wales. It's industrial, but has lost its former trades of coal-mining and brick-making. It was granted "city" status in 2022, but this is ceremonial and doesn't affect its governance. In 2021 the population of Wrexham was 44,785.
When the Romans arrived in 48 AD they encountered a tribe based in the Wrekin hillfort above Wroxeter. That tribe may have had an outpost here, thus Wrocansaetan the settlers from Wrekin or Wroxeter. The Romans laid into them all then marched on to Deva, their encampment on the Dee that is now Chester.
This area is a borderland, but largely peaceful since Wales was conquered by England in the 13th century. Owain Glyndŵr rebelled in the 15th century and re-established an independent Wales, but was overthrown and his realm suppressed. Wrexham then became part of Denbighshire, nowadays Clwyd. It was a small market town until the 18th century, then industrialised with leather trades, lead and coal mining, brick-making, breweries and iron works.
These industries scarred the landscape, while Wrexham grew to govern a ring of grubby villages. During the 20th century the industries withered - lead mining ceased in 1914, and coal mining during the bitter disputes of the 1970s. (The Gresford colliery disaster claimed 266 lives in 1934.) The mines also caused subsidence damage to many fine old buildings - Erddig Hall was on the brink of being demolished. The colliery sites have now been refurbished into light industrial and business parks.
Town centre is mostly modern but many 18th and 19th century buildings remain, with the grime scrubbed off. In 1989 the main road A483 was re-routed to the west and upgraded to a fast dual carriageway. This reduced traffic pressure through town and slashed travel times north to Chester and south beyond Oswestry.
1 Wrexham General is the main station. Trains run from Birmingham International (for airport) and New Street every two hours, taking 1 hr 40 min via Wolverhampton and Shrewsbury, and continuing to Chester, North Wales coast and Holyhead (for Irish ferries). They also run from Cardiff every two hours via Newport, Abergavenny, Hereford and Shrewsbury, and likewise continue to Holyhead. From London Euston, Liverpool or Manchester Victoria, change at Chester for the hourly local train. Wrexham General is off Mold Rd half a mile northwest of town centre. It has a staffed ticket office and machines, and toilets but no waiting rooms. There is step-free access via lifts and footbridge to all platforms.
2 Wrexham Central is the terminus of a branch line from Bidston near Birkenhead. Hourly trains meander across the Wirral, and also stop at Wrexham General, so the connection might save you a walk. It's a single platform (with step free access from the retail park) with a ticket machine but no other facilities.
For long-distance routes change at Chester. Neither National Express nor Megabus run to Wrexham.
Arriva Bus 1 runs from Chester every ten minutes 06:00-23:00, taking 45 min via Pulford, Rossett and Gresford. English and Welsh concessionary bus passes are only valid for their own part of this cross-border route.
3 Wrexham Bus Station is central, on Lord St.
Town is walkable, but you really need wheels to explore further out. Bus 42 (M-Sa hourly) runs to the southern suburb of Hightown: get off at Stockwell Grove to be within walking distance of Erddig.
- 1 St Giles' Church, Church St LL13 8LS, ☏ . Daily 10:00-16:00. Splendid Gothic church, built from the 1460s when its predecessor burned out. It's mostly late Perpendicular style, with a richly decorated tower of 135 ft / 45 m. Notable in the chancel is a mural of the Last Judgement. Just west of the tower is the grave of Elihu Yale (1649-1721), benefactor of Yale University so his devious finances and slave-trading came to a good end. St Giles' remains active as an Anglican parish church.
- Town centre retains its medieval street pattern radiating from St Giles, with higgledy-piggledy thoroughfares, arcades and alleyways.
- 2 Xplore! Science Discovery Centre, Henblas Street LL13 8AE, ☏ . F-Su 09:30-16:30. Large interactive science museum for children. Adult or child £8.50.
- Wrexham County Borough Museum, Regent Street LL11 1RB (just north of Central station), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 10:00-17:00, Sa 11:00-16:00. Museum of local history: notable exhibits are "Brymbo Man" from 1600 BC, the Bronze Age Rossett Horde, and the tumults of England versus Wales. A new museum of football is being developed alongside. Free.
- St Mary's Cathedral is RC, built in neo-Gothic in 1857. It's on Regent St 200 yards north of Central Station.
- Bellevue Park is a pleasant green space a quarter mile south of Central station.
- Acton Park is larger, with a fishing lake, at the northeast edge of town.
- 3 Erddig Hall, Erddig LL13 0YT, ☏ , email@example.com. Apr-Oct daily house 12:30-15:30, garden 10:00-17:00. Grand 18th century home of the Yorke family - they never threw anything away, and carefully depicted their servants, a unique archive. The house was neglected in the 20th century but this meant Georgian features were preserved. There are extensive grounds, with a Dutch-style walled garden, and one lump in the park is probably Wristlesham Castle, a Norman motte-and-baily of 1090. Erddig is now in the keeping of the National Trust. Adult £9.50, child £4.75, NT free.
- Bersham Ironworks 2 miles west of town remain closed in 2023.
- 4 Minera Lead Mines, Minera LL11 3DU (off B5426). This was once the focus of a lead-mining area. Medieval miners were thwarted by flooding, but from 1845 steam-powered pumps were installed, and drainage shafts were driven from lower down the valley. The enterprise folded in 1914 when the price of lead and zinc fell and the cost of steam-coal rose. The area has been landscaped into a country park, open free daylight hours. Features include the beam engine house, winding engine, boiler houses, and areas for processing the ore, but there's no interior access.
- Cinema: Odeon in Eagles Meadow Shopping Centre shows mainstream releases.
- Tŷ Pawb, Market St LL13 8BB (facing Xplore!), ☏ . M-Sa 09:00-17:00. The name mans "Everyone's House" and it's a performance venue, market hall, art gallery and food court.
- Grove Park Theatre, Hill Street LL11 1SN, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Amateur theatre staging drama and panto.
- William Aston Hall, Mold Road LL11 2AW, ☏ . 900-seater venue on Glyndwr University campus, but managed by Theatre Clwyd in Mold, with events throughout the year.
- Catrin Finch Centre is the University's own performance venue, adjacent on the campus.
- Football: 1 Wrexham AFC (Clwb Pêl-droed Wrecsam), Mold Road LL11 2AH. As of the current 2023–24 season, the "Red Dragons" play in EFL League Two, the fourth tier of English football (Wrexham is one of a few Welsh teams that have historically played in the English league system). Their home ground The Racecourse (Welsh: Y Cae Ras), capacity 10,770, is half a mile north of Wrexham General station. In 2021 the club became famous when it was bought by Hollywood stars Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney: Welcome to Wrexham is a US TV documentary series following the club's fortunes.
- Rugby Union: Wrexham RFC play the 15-a-side game away down in the amateur leagues. Their home ground is on Bryn Estate Rd, 3 miles east of town.
- Rugby League: North Wales Crusaders[dead link] played in Wrexham to 2021 but then relocated to Colwyn Bay.
- Waterworld Leisure & Activity Centre, Holt St LL13 8DH, ☏ . M-F 06:30-09:30, Sa Su 09:00-17:00. Gym, 6-lane pool and fitness classes.
- Tenpin Bowling, Unit B14, Eagles Meadow LL13 8DG, ☏ . M-F 10:00-00:00, Sa Su 10:00-00:00. Popular bowling alley in Eagles shopping centre. £3 per game.
- Wrexham Tennis Centre, Plas Coch Rd LL11 2BW (University campus, north of football stadium), ☏ . M-F 08:00-21:00, Sa 08:00-16:00, Su 10:00-16:00. This has indoor and outdoor courts and coaching.
- Golf: Wrexham GC is three miles northeast on A534 Holt Rd. White tees 6131 yards, par 70, visitor round £50.
- Clays GC is another mile west. Moss Valley GC is three miles north in Pentre Broughton.
- Horse-racing: 2 Bangor on Dee racecourse, Althrey Court, Bangor-on-Dee LL13 0DA (5 miles southeast on B5069), ☏ , email@example.com. Jumps racecourse, which also stages occasional point-to-point races.
- Focus Wales showcases new music from Wales. The next is 4-6 May 2023 at several venues across town.
- Wales Comic Con in May is nowadays held in Telford.
- Wrexham Walking Festival has volunteer-led walks. The next are 3-11 June 2023.
- Wrexham Feast is a food and drink festival. The next is 23-24 Sept 2023.
- Retail strips in town centre are Bank Street, Henblas Street, High Street, King Street, Regent Street, Overton Arcade, Hope Street and Queen Street.
- Island Green is the mall around Central station, Eagles Meadow is east side of the centre with Border Retail Park further east, and Central Retail Park is by General station.
- Town centre has the usual fast food chains.
- La Baguette, 62 Regent St LL11 1RE, ☏ . M-Sa 08:00-17:00. A popular independent sandwich shop.
- Jones' Fish and Chip shop is a takeaway chippy at 43 St Georges Cres, open M-W, Sa 09:00-14:00, Th F 09:00-19:00.
- Rock Suite Cafe at 15 Hill St serves traditional and American cuisine M-Sa 09:30-15:30.
- Kristina's Cafe at 56 Chester St serves trad food M-Sa 09:00-16:00.
- Caffi Cwtch on Chester Rd supports the work of Nightingale House Hospice. It's open M-Sa 10:00-16:00.
- Other cafes include Cafe de Galles, Heaven Coffee Shop and Bank Street Social.
- Anise, 1 Smithfield Rd LL13 8EN, ☏ . Daily 17:30-22:30. Consistently good Bangladeshi restaurant.
- Black Peppers, 18 Yorke St LL13 8LW, ☏ . Su-Th 17:00-22:00, F Sa 17:00-23:00. Good Indian cuisine with slick service.
- The Fat Boar, 11 Yorke St LL13 8LW, ☏ . Daily 11:00-22:00. Pub bistro serving trad fare.
- Vasco da Gama, 19 Lord St LL11 1LS, ☏ . M-Th 09:00-21:00, F Sa 09:00-22:00, Su 11:00-17:00. Good Portuguese food.
- Ijazz, 25 Egerton St LL11 1NA, ☏ . Daily 17:00-23:00. This Indian place gets mixed reviews.
- Sleepy Panda, Farndon St LL13 8DA, ☏ . Su-Th 17:00-23:00, F Sa 17:00-00:00. Excellent Chinese food.
- The Lemon Tree: see Sleep for this restaurant with rooms, serving all day.
- 1 Pant-Yr-Ochain, Old Wrexham Rd, Gresford LL12 8TY, ☏ . Daily 11:00-23:00. Charming 16th century pub with cask ales and good food.
- The Beeches in Gresford is a Whitbread Inn with food next to Premier Inn Wrexham North.
- 2 Croes Howell, Straight Mile, Llay LL12 0NY, ☏ . Daily 12:00-21:00. 400 year-old building with bright modern decor and good food. Dog-friendly.
- 3 The Boat Inn, Erbistock LL13 0DL, ☏ . M-Th 11:00-22:00, F Sa 11:00-23:00, Su 12:00-22:00. Excellent 17th century pub-restaurant on the banks of the Dee.
- 4 The Ffrwd, Ffrwd Rd, Cfyn-y-Bedd LL12 9TS, ☏ . M-W, F Sa 17:30-22:00, Su 12:30-18:30. Grand country pub with meals.
- The Hollybush nearby in Cefyn-y-Bedd village gets mixed reviews.
- Horse & Jockey at 32 Hope St is a friendly trad pub open M-Th 09:00-22:30, F Sa 08:00-02:00, Su 12:00-22:30.
- The Elihu Yale, 44 Regent St LL11 1RR, ☏ . Su-Th 08:00-00:00, F Sa 08:00-01:00. Reliable JD Wetherspoon, named for the benefactor of Yale College, with value-for-money ale and food. Their other pub "North & South Wales Bank" closed down in Jan 2023.
- Golden Lion at 12 High St is a snug place with karaoke, open Su-Th 11:30-23:00, F Sa 11:30-00:00. Cash only.
- Wrexham Cwtch or Crafty Dragon at 29 High St serves food and is open Th-Su 12:00-22:00.
- The Bank is a wine bar and tapas restaurant at 43 High St, open W-F 12:00-22:00, Sa 12:00-23:00.
- Cross Foxes at 15 Abbott St is a welcoming place open daily 10:00-01:00.
- Old Swan at 6 Abbott St is a small pub with karaoke, dog-friendly. It's open daily 12:00-01:00.
- Nags Head on Mount St has a beer garden and is open daily 11:00-23:00.
- Wynnstay Arms: see Sleep for this hotel bar. In 1876 the Football Association of Wales was founded here over a pint or three.
- Saith Seren, 18 Chester St LL13 8BG, ☏ . M-F 16:00-23:00, Sa Su 11:30-01:00. A community-owned pub that promotes Welsh language and culture, so get practising. Serves food, live music at weekends, cash only.
- Ironworks at 7 Town Hill has large burgers and a friendly dog. It's open Th-Sa 13:30-01:00.
- 1 to 5 is a nightclub on Town Hill open Tu-Th 19:00-00:00, F-M 12:00-00:00.
- Plas Coch on Plas Coch Rd just north of the football stadium serves steak and pizza. It's open daily 12:00-22:00.
- 1 Lemon Tree, 29 Rhosddu Road LL11 2LP, ☏ . Restaurant with rooms, which are somewhat small, but great dining.
- Premier Inn Wrexham Town Centre, Jacques Way LL11 2BY (west flank of Wrexham General station), ☏ . Good reliable budget chain. Parking is £5 extra. B&B double £100.
- 2 Wynnstay Arms, Yorke St LL13 8LP, ☏ . Charming Georgian townhouse with 47 rooms, run by Marston Inns. High scores for comfort and service. B&B double £100.
- 3 Premier Inn Wrexham North, Chester Road, Gresford LL12 8PW, ☏ . Another Premier branch, clean and comfy. B&B double £110.
- 4 Ramada Plaza, Ellice Way LL13 7YH, ☏ . Well-run place west edge of town by A483 bypass, handy for motorists.
- 5 Travelodge, Wrexham Road, Rhostyllen LL14 4EJ (Exit 3 of A483), ☏ . Kinda tatty, not great value for the price. B&B double £100.
Wrexham and its approach roads have 4G from all UK carriers. As of April 2023, 5G has not reached town, but is getting close.
- Chirk has an imposing 13th century Castle.
- Llangollen has many well-preserved old buildings.
- Pontcysyllte Aqueduct near Llangollen soars across the River Dee.
- Glyn Ceiriog is the village at the foot of scenic Ceiriog Valley.
- Offa's Dyke Path is a coast-to-coast trail passing 7 miles west of town, through the dramatic valley of World's End.
- Chester is a must-see, a charming walled city.
- Liverpool is a lively rejuvenated city needing a few days to explore.