Wrexham: The spirited north Wales city that’s more than its A-list football club

Wrexham: The spirited north Wales city that’s more than its A-list football club

A former industrial town in north Wales isn’t an obvious destination – but Wrexham is having a moment. When actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney bought the local football club in 2020, it was a story worthy of Hollywood for the third-oldest football club in the world, dating from 1864.

Wrexham first made its name during the Industrial Revolution for its mining; the industrial-heritage sites are now visitor attractions, independent businesses are reviving closed-down shops and match days draw new-found fans from across the pond.

Wrexham was granted city status in 2022 as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee City Status competition. The new Football Museum for Wales is coming to the former Wrexham Museum (now closed) in 2026 and, having narrowly lost out to Bradford to host the UK City of Culture 2025, Wrexham is bidding for City of Culture 2029.

More imminently, the Christmas market and festival runs until 28 December and the panto Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is on at the Stiwt Theatre until 31 December. For more, see thisiswrexham.co.uk.

Getting there and around

The main station is Wrexham General, with connections to Merseyside, Birmingham and Cardiff via Transport for Wales (tfw.wales).

The city centre is very walkable, but a car is essential to explore the wider countryside. Parking at city-centre Ty Pawb costs £3 a day, and is free at council-run car parks after 11am.

There are services from Wrexham bus station to places such as Trevor for the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Llangollen.

Drop your bags

Accommodation is at a premium in Wrexham, although new openings are mooted. The Lemon Tree is an independent, three-star restaurant with rooms, located close to main attractions — book ahead for match-day stays. The comfortable rooms and cooked breakfast will set you up for the day (try the miner’s eggs Benedict with black pudding), while the restaurant serves dinners and Sunday roasts. Doubles from £95 B&B, including breakfast (thelemontree.org.uk).

Heading out of town, the border-spanning road to Chester boasts a couple of country-house hotels set in grounds, notably The Grosvenor Pulford Hotel with its stylish Palm Court dining area and popular spa. Doubles from £120, including breakfast (grosvenorpulfordhotel.co.uk).

Wrexham Victorian Christmas Market Credit: Joe Bickerton Provided by jbickerton1980@gmail.com
The Victorian Christmas Market in Wrexham
(Photo: Joe Bickerton)

Browse the shops

The Victorian arcades are again buzzing, with places like Abode Above for bric-a-brac and the traditional butter and butchers’ markets undergoing transformation. Ty Pawb, the “People’s Market” (closed Sunday), is a multi-function collection of cafés, live events and quirky independents.

Look out for Welsh-language gifts at Siop Siwan, House of Retro for nostalgic computer games and ReVibed for second-hand vinyl.

Cosy cafés

Bank Street Social is a friendly coffee and craft ale shop with frothy cortados, toasties and local ales from Polly’s Brew Co (closed Sundays, bankstreetsocial.co.uk). The same passageway houses historic Marubbi’s, Wrexham’s oldest café and a former temperance bar.

Locals love Lot 11, a friendly (dog-friendly) café with hearty hot lunches, afternoon teas and cakes (lot11cafe.co.uk).

But the quintessential Wrexham experience is the Match Day special — pie, mash, peas, Yorkshire pub and gravy for £6 — from the Rescue Café at the Wrexham Miners Project. Enjoy no-fuss food then visit the exhibition about the injustice of the 1934 mining disaster (wrexhamminersproject.co.uk).

Rainy day refuges

Opposite the new Wrexham Visitor Information Centre on Chester Street, science discovery centre Xplore! (£7) is great for kids, with lots of hands-on exhibits — open weekends and weekdays during school holidays. The main heritage attraction is St Giles Parish Church, a medieval gem listed as one of the Seven Wonders of Wales for its 135ft tower, dating from 1506. It is the resting place of local lad Elihu Yale, who went on to be one of the main benefactors of Yale College (now University) in the US.

A drink by the fire

The Turf Pub in Wrexham Image taken from https://the-turf.co.uk/gallery/ with permission from hello@the-turf.co.uk
The Turf Pub in Wrexham is perfect for a football fan (Photo: Zoe Bennett/The Turf)

The Turf, a pub tracing its sporting history to the 1840s, is located by the Racecourse Ground, where Wrexham play home games. It has become a place of pilgrimage after the landlord, Wayne Jones, took a star-turn role in the documentary series, Welcome to Wrexham. Think Rob and Ryan memorabilia, plus atmosphere aplenty.

The Wynnstay Arms is a sprawling pub on the corner of the High Street. Despite the modernist glass doorway, it is a period building and best known for its footballing heritage, a blue plaque explaining the Football Association of Wales was founded here in 1876.

Dinner time

Contemporary bar-restaurant, The Fat Boar, is the favourite place for the Wrexham squad to celebrate the latest victory. It’s a stylish independent, serving classic modern British mains and some international flavours, such as katsu chicken curry. A mural of goal-machine striker Paul Mullin graces the rear façade, one of several new footballing murals around the centre.

Located in a suburb near the National Trust property Erddig Hall, the newest restaurant opening is Hickory’s (hickorys.co.uk/venue/wrexham), a southern-fried sports bar with a sister place in Chester.

Winter walks

Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, a world Heritage site, at sunrise.
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct at sunrise (Photo: AlasdairJames/Getty/iStockphoto)

Local Green Badge guide Pete Evans leads a new match-day walking tour to uncover hidden Wrexham attractions. It starts at noon at the visitor information centre and finishes near the Welcome to Wrexham mural and club shop by the football ground. £10pp, bookings via email, [email protected].

Further afield, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, built in 1805 by the Victorian engineer Thomas Telford, is one of four Unesco World Heritage sites in Wales. The 11-mile site offers canal-side strolling and country park trails.

Further into the Dee Valley, the market town of Llangollen is home to a heritage railway and the annual musical Eisteddfod. Hike to the rambling ruins of 13th-century castle Dinas Brân for spectacular views across the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley.

Three things you might not know about Wrexham…

1) Wrexham brewed the UK’s first lager, in 1882; it was the only lager served on the ill-fated Titanic.

2) The Victorian civil engineer and Wrexham benefactor William Low, celebrated at Wrexham’s Argyll Arch, was the first person to design a tunnel under the English Channel.

3) Wrexham’s oldest resident is some 3,500 years old. Brymbo Man was unearthed in a suburb in 1958, laying low since the Bronze Age.