Self-Catering Cottage Holidays in North Wales
Our holiday guide to North Wales
If you are looking for a reason to take a holiday, North Wales is it. Do you like beaches? It has some cracking ones whether you're after a deserted stretch of sand or a Victorian pier. Fancy climbing a mountain? The Snowdonia National Park has 90 peaks to scale, including Wales' highest: Snowdon. The castles are imposing and majestic, the food is delicious and the welcome is genuinely warm and friendly. What are you waiting for?
Made up of North Snowdonia, South Snowdonia and the Llyn Peninsula, Gwynedd was an independent kingdom until it was brought under English rule in the late 1200s. Edward I may have left his mark all over the region in the form of incredible castles, but despite his best efforts, he couldn't erase the Welsh language or strong sense of identity which exists today. Towns in Gwynedd include Bala, Dollgallau, Betws y Coed, Aberdyfi, Corris, Porthmadog and Phwelli. It also contains Snowdonia National Park.
Snowdon is, if not the biggest reason to come to North Wales, certainly the highest. The Snowdonia National Park is one of three national parks in Wales and covers more than 820 square miles of mountains, lakes, farmland and villages. More than half the population speaks Welsh, which is testament to how strong the sense of Welsh identity is.
Outdoor activities include mountain biking, hiking, canoeing, fishing and golf. There's a steam train that runs up Snowdon all year round and a sherpa bus which collects and drops walkers at the start of the most popular walking routes. Blaenau Ffestiniog was once the heart of Welsh slate mining, but is now a mecca for mountain bike enthusiasts who come to pit their skills against superbly designed and built trails in the area, including the Antur Stiniog mountain biking centre.
Snowdonia National Park has 200 miles of protected coastline. Clean waters and safe beaches attract families, particularly to Barmouth and Nefyn. Abermouth hosts an annual wakeboard music festival every summer and Dinas Dinlle is good for kite boarding.
Don't miss seeing some of the best preserved castles in Britain, including the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Harlech, Caernarvon and Conwy.
Separated from mainland Wales by the Menai Strait, Anglesey is an island haven and a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (ANOB). Wildlife flourishes in the undeveloped landscape, which ranges from beaches and sand dunes, to marshes, lakes and shaded woodland. It's a genuine pleasure to sink into a relaxed chair and admire the view, which walkers can appreciate up close from the Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path and numerous other trails.
Anglesey is a very family friendly area. As well as clean, safe beaches there is a superb marine aquarium, opportunities to go diving or sea-kayaking, museums, castles, parks and attractions like Llynnon Mill, the only working windmill in Wales. Beaumaris has been a popular seaside resort for generations and boasts a long Victorian pier, a UNESCO World Heritage listed castle and lots of cafes, pubs and restaurants serving fantastic local food. Remember to have your photo taken next to the sign at Llanfair-pwllgwyngyll-gogery-chwyrn-drobwll-llan-tysilio-gogo-goch, commonly referred to as Llanfair. It has the longest single world place name in Europe and the second longest in the world.
Conwy's enormous medieval castle dominates the town. It's one of Edward I's finest fortresses and still has the ability to invoke a sense of awe more than 700 years after it was constructed. The town itself is surrounded by nearly a mile of thick wall, which once afforded views of approaching enemies, but which you can now use to appreciate stunning sea and mountain views. The quality of the castle, battlements and towers, has led to the town being designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The people in Conwy know that size doesn't matter because as well as looking after the huge Conwy Castle, they are also the caretakers for Britain's smallest house which is just 1.8 metres wide! While you're in town, be sure to visit Plas Mawr, a beautifully preserved Elizabethan town house on High Street and the Conwy Suspension Bridge which was designed by Thomas Telford.
Denbighshire is in the North East of Wales. It has a fantastic array of attractions to keep you happy no matter what the weather. If it's nice, head north to the coast at Prestatyn and Rhyl. You could white water raft along the River Dee, or take a more gentle tour of the canals in a barge drawn by a horse walking on the tow path. Getting to the ruined castle of Dinas Bran is a hike, but worth the effort for the views, while the Valle Crucis Abbey at Llangollen is wonderfully peaceful.
Bodelwyddan Castle Park is a great day out whether it's wet or dry and Dyserth Waterfall looks even better in the rain. Perhaps a visit to the Llangollen Motor Museum or Ruthin Jail is more your cup of tea.
Being located on the border between England and Wales has given Wrexham an interesting history, but make no mistake: this town is Welsh! The Romans were very active in the area and you can see their legacy around Holt and Ffrith. Sail or stroll along the River Dee and exhaust yourself shopping at Wales' largest market (every Monday) and in the many arcades. Ty Mawr Country Park and Caergwrle Castle both make for an enjoyable day out, especially if it's dry and you can take a picnic.
When you go on holiday it's likely you choose your destination because it offers an experience different to that of normal, everyday life. North Wales will let you shake off your stress and leave you with a sense of accomplishment that comes from discovering something new.