One of the most important roads in Wales, the A55 is second only to the M4, providing a lifeline to the densely populated North Wales coast and connecting the port of Holyhead to the trunk road network across the English border.

Until relatively recently Holyhead was a remote and difficult place to reach. The A5 formed the better road out there and negotiating the coast road was a day out in itself, passing through the sort of geography that surpasses the word 'rugged'. The worst point was always that around Penmaenmawr, where the A55 negotiated several tricky headlands (only made truly motorable in the 1930s with extensive rock-cutting) and passed through Conwy itself, meaning a crawl along single-file streets and several passes through the town walls. Crossing the Menai Strait to Anglesey was by Telford's Menai Bridge, all but impassable by goods vehicles.

Extensive improvements since then have provided a fast dual carriageway route, almost entirely grade-separated, from the M53 at Chester right up to the port at Holyhead. In the early 1980s the worst part was finally alleviated with the construction of a new urban route bypassing Colyn Bay and Conwy, with a tunnel under the river to avoid Conwy's town centre, narrow bridge and castle. The two headlands either side of Penmaenmawr have been improved with new tunnels westbound, leaving the 1930s cliffside route for eastbound traffic. And access to Anglesey was made simpler, first with a new crossing provided when the Britannia Bridge was rebuilt following fire damage, and then in 2001 with the opening of about 25 miles of new expressway from the Menai Strait to Holyhead.

The Colwyn Bay section is particularly interesting because it is a very rare "secret motorway". It was built using special road powers, the same legal orders used to create a motorway, but was never declared as one. This creates the unusual situation where it is not a public right of way and not a motorway, and therefore the National Speed Limit does not apply to it. Motorists driving through from the NSL sections on either side will see a 70mph sign, and at the end, another NSL sign - yet the speeds permitted are no different along the entire stretch. It's made even more strange by the fact that it was built in two sections, and the point where one ends and the next begins is marked with another 70mph sign, ending the previous limit and starting a new, identical one.

Legal anomalies aside, the result of the hard work put in by engineers since the 1930s is one of the most spectacular high-speed roads in the UK, as varied and unique as it is picturesque.

Start
Holyhead
End
Chester
Passes
Bangor, Conwy, Llandudno, Queensferry
Connects to
Length
88 miles

Exit list

Junction   Westbound               Eastbound  
Stryd
Canol y Dref
Town Centre
Ferry Terminal Vehicle Ferry
Railway Station
Roman Fort
(A5)
WEST







A55
(A5)
N/A
LanesLanesLanesLanes SignsSigns LanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
0.2 miles, 2 lanes 0.2 miles, 2 lanes
1 Bae Trearddur
Trearddur Bay
B4545
Kingsland


B4545
Bae Trearddur
Trearddur Bay
B4545
Kingsland
LanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
0.5 miles, 2 lanes 0.5 miles, 2 lanes
2 Bae Trearddur
Trearddur Bay
A5153 (B4545)
Parc Cybi
Bae Trearddur
Trearddur Bay
A5153 (B4545)
Parc Cybi
LanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
3.5 miles, 2 lanes  
River or canal Beddmanarch Bay
Causeway
River or canal Beddmanarch Bay
Causeway
  3.5 miles, 2 lanes
3 Y Fali
Valley
A5
A5 A5 Y Fali
Valley A5
Caergeiliog
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 2 lanes 1 mile, 2 lanes
4 Caergeiliog
A5
Bodedern
A5 A5 Bryngwran
A5
Bodedern
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
2.5 miles, 2 lanes 2.5 miles, 2 lanes
5 Rhosneigr
Aberffraw A4080
Bryngwran (A5)
A4080 A4080
(A5)
Rhosneigr
Aberffraw A4080
Gwalchmai (A5)
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
5.5 miles, 2 lanes 5.5 miles, 2 lanes
6 Rhostrehwfa
A5
Llangefni
A5114
A5 A5


A5114
Pentre Berw
A5
Llangefni
A5114
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 2 lanes 3 miles, 2 lanes
7 Gaerwen
Pentre Berw
A5152 (A5)
A5152
(A5)
Gaerwen
Llanfair Pwllgwyngyll
A5152 (A5)
Star
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 2 lanes  
7A Llanfair Pwllgwyngyll
A5
Star
(A5)
LanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 2 lanes 4 miles, 2 lanes
8 Benllech
Amlwch
A5025
A5025
(A5)
Porthaethwy
Menai Bridge
Amlwch
A5025
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
0.5 miles, 2 lanes 0.5 miles, 2 lanes
8A Llanfair Pwllgwyngyll
Porthaethwy
Menai Bridge
A5
Beaumaris (A545)
A5 A5
LanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
1 mile, 1 lanes  
River or canal Afon Menai
River or canal Menai Strait
River or canal Afon Menai
River or canal Menai Strait
  1 mile, 1 lanes
9 Bangor
Caernarfon
A487
A487 A487 Bangor
Caernarfon
A487
LanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanes Signs
1 mile, 2 lanes 1 mile, 2 lanes
10 Bangor
Caernarfon
A4087
A4087 A4087 Bangor
A4087
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 2 lanes 2 miles, 2 lanes
11 Betws-y-coed
Bangor
A5
Bangor Services
A4244


A5
A5 Betws-y-coed
A5
Bangor Services
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 2 lanes 2 miles, 2 lanes
12 Tal-y-bont Tal-y-bont
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1.5 miles, 2 lanes 1.5 miles, 2 lanes
13 Abergwyngregyn Abergwyngregyn
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 2 lanes 1 mile, 2 lanes
Wig
LanesLanesLanesLanes
  1 mile, 1 lanes
14 Llanfairfechan Llanfairfechan
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1.5 miles, 2 lanes 1.5 miles, 2 lanes
15 Llanfairfechan Llanfairfechan
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 2 lanes  
Pen-y-clip Tunnel Pen-y-clip Tunnels
  2 miles, 2 lanes
15A Penmaenmawr
LanesLanesLanesLanes
  1 mile, 2 lanes
16 Penmaenmawr
Dwygyfylchi
Penmaenmawr
Dwygyfylchi
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
0.5 miles, 2 lanes  
16A Penmaen-bach
LanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 2 lanes  
Penmaenmawr Tunnel Penmaenmawr Tunnels
Signs
  3.5 miles, 2 lanes
17 Conwy
A457
A457 Conwy
A457
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
1.5 miles, 2 lanes  
Conwy Tunnel Conwy Tunnel
  1.5 miles, 2 lanes
18 Conwy
Tywyn
Deganwy
(A547)
(A547) Conwy
Tywyn
Deganwy
(A547)
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 2 lanes 1 mile, 2 lanes
19 Llandudno
Betws-y-coed
A470
A470
B5381
A547
A547


A470
Llandudno
Betws-y-coed
A470
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 2 lanes 2 miles, 2 lanes
Signs Signs
0.5 miles, 2 lanes 0.5 miles, 2 lanes
20 Penrhyn
Rhos-on-Sea
Llandrillo-yn-Rhos
B5115
A547

(B5113)
A547
B5115 Penrhyn
Rhos-on-Sea
Llandrillo-yn-Rhos
B5115
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 2 lanes 1 mile, 2 lanes
21 Bae Colwyn
Colwyn Bay
B5113
B5113 B5113 Bae Colwyn
Colwyn Bay
B5113
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
0.5 miles, 2 lanes 0.5 miles, 2 lanes
22 Hen Golwyn
Old Colwyn
(A547)
Hen Golwyn
Old Colwyn
(A547)
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 2 lanes 1 mile, 2 lanes
Signs Signs
1.5 miles, 2 lanes 1.5 miles, 2 lanes
23 Llanddulas
A547
A547

A547
Llanddulas
A547
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
3.5 miles, 2 lanes 2.5 miles, 2 lanes
23A A548 A548 Abergele
Rhyl
A548
LanesLanesLanesLanes
  1 mile, 2 lanes
24 Abergele
Rhuddlan
A547
A547 A547 Rhuddlan
Prestatyn
A547
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
3 miles, 2 lanes  
24A Towyn
Llan San Siôr
St George
LanesLanesLanesLanes
0.25 miles, 2 lanes 3.25 miles, 2 lanes
Services Kinmel Park Services Kinmel Park
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
0.75 miles, 2 lanes 0.75 miles, 2 lanes
25 Bodelwyddan Bodelwyddan
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 2 lanes 1 mile, 2 lanes
26 Parc Busnes Llanelwy
St Asaph Industrial Estate
Parc Busnes Llanelwy
St Asaph Industrial Estate
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 2 lanes 1 mile, 2 lanes
27 Llanelwy
St Asaph
Rhyl
A525
A525 A525 Llanelwy
St Asaph
Rhyl
A525
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
0.5 miles, 2 lanes  
27A Llanelwy
St Asaph
(A525)
(A525)
LanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 2 lanes 1.5 miles, 2 lanes
28 Rhuallt
B5429
Trefnant


B5429

B5429
Rhuallt
Tremeirchion
B5429
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
2.5 miles, 2 lanes 2.5 miles, 2 lanes
29 Rhuallt
Tremeirchion
(B5429)
(B5429)


Marian Cwm
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 2 lanes 1 mile, 2 lanes
30 Tremeirchion Whitford
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1 mile, 2 lanes 1 mile, 2 lanes
31 Prestatyn
A5151
Caerwys
B5122
B5122 A5151


A5026
Treffynnon
Holywell
A5026
Caerwys
B5122
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
5 miles, 2 lanes 5 miles, 2 lanes
32 Treffynnon
Holywell
A5026
Rhosesmor
B5123



B5123
A5026





Rhosesmor
B5123
LanesLanesLanesLanes
LanesLanesLanesLanes
LanesLanesLanesLanes
2.5 miles, 2 lanes 2.5 miles, 2 lanes
33 Fflint
Flint
A5119
A5119 A5119 Yr Wyddgrug
Mold
Fflint
Flint, A5119
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
0.5 miles, 2 lanes  
33A Connah'
s Quay
B5126
B5126 B5126
LanesLanesLanesLanes
2.5 miles, 2 lanes 3 miles, 2 lanes
33B Yr Wyddgrug
Mold
A494
A494
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
0.5 miles, 3 lanes 0.5 miles, 3 lanes
34 Queensferry
A494
A494 Queensferry
A494
Manchester
(M56 Link)
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
LanesLanesLanesLanes
LanesLanesLanesLanesLanes
LanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 2 lanes 2 miles, 2 lanes
35 Bwcle
Buckley
A550 (A549)
Corwen
A5104




A550
(A549)
(A5104)
A550


Wrecsam
Wrexham
A550
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1.5 miles, 2 lanes 1.5 miles, 2 lanes
36 Pen-y-ffordd
A5104
A5104


A5104 Brychdyn
Broughton
Pen-y-ffordd
A5104
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
2 miles, 2 lanes  
37 Brychdyn
Broughton
(A5104)
(A5104)
LanesLanesLanesLanes
0.3 miles, 2 lanes 2.3 miles, 2 lanes
Croeso i Gymru
Welcome to Wales
Welcome to England
2.2 miles, 2 lanes 2.2 miles, 2 lanes
38 Chester (S)
Wrexham
Oswestry
A483
A483 A483 Chester (S)
Wrexham
Oswestry
A483
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
4 miles, 2 lanes 3 miles, 2 lanes
39 (A41) Whitchurch
(A41)
LanesLanesLanesLanes
  1 mile, 2 lanes
40 Whitchurch (A41)
Nantwich
Crewe
Chester (E)
A51
A51 A51
(A41)
Nantwich
Crewe
Chester (E)
A51
LanesLanesLanesLanes LanesLanesLanesLanes
1.5 miles, 2 lanes 1.5 miles, 2 lanes
M53 J12 N/A A56










M53 (M6, M56)
EAST
A56









Chester (N)
Hoole
Mickle Trafford
A56
Ellesmere Port
Birkenhead
Liverpool
Manchester & Airport
M53 Link (M56 Link, M6 Link)
LanesLanesLanesLanes Signs LanesLanesLanesLanes Signs
Routes

Picture credits

With thanks to Kieron, Rhyds, Kate Jones, Paul Martin, Iain Dobson and David Marsden for information on this page.