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Snowdon Mountain Railway, Snowdonia, Wales
Snowdon Mountain Railway, Snowdonia, Wales

Things To Do In Snowdonia

When Bear Grylls refers to somewhere as his "ultimate adventure destination" then you know it is a place where you can get your adrenaline rush! Snowdonia is more than a thrill seeker's paradise, it is a complex blend of history and innovation, Celtic culture, romantic poetry and music and breathtaking views of an ancient landscape. Snowdonia will captivate you, and you will happily submit to its charm.

Set Your Sights On Snowdonia

Snowdonia is the oldest national park in Wales, home to the country's highest peak and biggest lake, but it is as much about the people and history as about the landscape. There is nowhere else in the world like Snowdonia with its plethora of castles that still intimidate centuries after being built, hidden lakes, delicious food and a population with a strong love for the region. Snowdonia is both ancient and utterly relevant for 21st Century visitors. Come and see why.


Discovery Days

Caernarforn Castle, Snowdonia
Caernarfon castle, Snowdonia

Every day is a discovery day in Snowdonia if you are a visitor and maybe even if you are a local! You do not need to be superstitious to feel the magic that winds its way through every part of this beautiful corner of Britain, with centuries of history layered over each other to create somewhere unique and wonderful.

Storm the Gates

King Edward I, also known as Edward Longshanks for above average height, left a legacy across north Wales that remains visible more than 800 years after his armies defeated Welsh fighters and placed the country firmly under English rule. So keen was he to show his power and defend his ruling status that he implemented a programme of castle building unlike anywhere else in the world. Three of the most significant of these, Harlech, Caernarfon and Conwy, are within the borders of the Snowdonia National Park and, together with the fortified towns of Conwy, Caernarfon and Beaumaris Castle on Anglesey, are part of a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Caernarfon has unusual octagonal towers, while the multiple layers of walls of Harlech helped it withstand a seven-year siege between 1461 and 1468 - the longest siege in British history. Conwy Castle is in incredible condition considering its age and purpose, while Beaumaris is so large that it required an entire village to move 12 miles away so that there was enough room to build! Other castles in Snowdonia National Park worth visiting include those at Criccieth, Dolbadarn, Penrhyn and Rhuddlan.

These castles may not have been of Welsh creation, but they are as much a part of Welsh history as the mountains and the language, representing the ability of Welsh culture to survive and flourish despite adversity.

Beautiful Barmouth

Barmouth, or to use its Welsh name, Abermaw, is a fantastic place. The seaside resort has long been a popular holiday destination not only for its beautiful beaches but also for the nearby mountains which offer plenty of walking and cycling opportunities. If you see the prefix "Aber" in any place name in Wales, it refers to the location at the mouth of a river. Abermaw, therefore, is by the mouth of the River Maw. Now a pleasant spot for lunch, the Barmouth Harbour was once busy not only with fishing vessels but also with boats exporting wool and slate. The Barmouth Trail is a self-guided walking route introducing visitors to the history of the town and you can collect a map from the Visitor Information Centre at the train station.

Barmouth Beach, Snowdonia
Barmouth Beach, Snowdonia

Barmouth is beautiful and serene, with a sandy beach and waters popular with surfers and sailors. There is a good variety of independent shops and places to eat and drink, so regardless of your budget and taste, you will find something here to suit you. The two-mile track between Fairbourne and Penrhyn Point that carries a vintage steam train is a favourite with engine buffs, while nature lovers of all ages will appreciate the peace of the Mawddach Estuary and the wide variety of birds and fauna that thrive there. Another popular route is to walk or cycle along the Mawddach Trail which follows an old train line for eight miles to Dolgellau and gives fantastic views of the mountains and the sea.

All About Abersoch

When most people initially think of the Snowdonia National Park they may imagine mountains because the region is home to Wales's highest peak, Snowdon. What they discover on their arrival is that yes, there are breathtaking mountains to rival any alpine scene, but that there are also crystal clear rivers, deep and silent lakes and golden beaches as well. Abersoch is like a taster box of your favourite parts of Snowdonia with world-class beaches of the softest sand, lakes for sailing, rivers for fishing, mountains for climbing and everything in between. It's no wonder that the locals are so friendly - who wouldn't be happy living somewhere this beautiful!

Rocks on Porth Ceiriad beach
Porth Ceiriad near Abersoch

Abersoch has several beaches, including two close to the town with excellent amenities. If you dream of sandy solitude (and can cope with there being no public toilets) then add Porth Neigwl to your itinerary. We are pretty sure someone named this place to keep it to themselves because, although it means Hell's Mouth in Welsh, this beach is close to heaven on Earth. Spend the day there in summer or take a flask of hot chocolate to warm yourself up after a winter walk along the sand. It's perfect all year round.

Ogwen and the Nant Ffrancon Valley

The Ogwen Valley shows another side of Snowdonia, one which is well known to climbers and walkers but not so to many other tourists. Whether you opt to climb the craggy rock face of Cwm Idwal or sit in solitude as you watch the reflections of the mountains in the glacial lakes, you will cherish the memories of your time here.

Adventure Days

Walker on Gylder Fach
View from Gylder Fach, Snowdonia

You don't have to be a professional daredevil to appreciate the staggering variety of adventure days in Snowdonia.

Survive in the Wild

You might be staying in a comfortable holiday cottage in Snowdonia, but that doesn't mean you can't rough at least a little of your holiday. Book a space on one of the regions survival skills courses and challenge yourself against nature and learn some valuable skills at the same time. The Dragon Raiders Activity Park runs the half day Bear Grylls Survival Academy Course, teaching participants to find shelter and light a fire, while the Wild Bushcraft Company runs half and full day experiences. You may be surprised at how resourceful you can be.

Scale the Heights of Snowdon

You don't have to be a mountaineer to climb Snowdon, or Yr Wydda to use its Welsh name, although you will need to allow yourself at least six hours. There are six routes to the top of the 1,085-metre peak, ranging from the Llanberis Path which is a 9-mile return route to the challenging Crib Goch and Watkin Path, neither of which are suitable for beginners. Thankfully for the less able or energetic, you can take the train to the visitor's centre in the clouds.

Snowdon Train
Snowdon Mountain Railway

The Snowdon Mountain Railway has been carrying passengers to the peak since 1896. You can book a return journey, or take the train up and walk back down. Seats on the train regularly book up in advance, especially during the summer months, but the downside in doing this is that you may be committed to going up on a cloudy day when the view is not as impressive as on a sunny day. It is possible to take your mountain bike up the Llanberis Path as long as you avoid the peak times of 10am - 5pm from 1 May to 30 September. A longer, arguably more fun ride is via the Ranger's Path, which was named Trail of the Year by MBR magazine.

Try a New Activity

Snowdonia is well served with centres offering a wealth of activities in the air, underground and on the water as well as in the mountains. Why not try your hand at archery, caving or mountain climbing and abseiling. Alternatively, you could kayak along the white water rapids, jump off a cliff while coasteering or walk under a waterfall. The National Whitewater Centre in Bala is a favourite choice, while those with a head for heights should consider Ropeworks Active in Padarn Country Park.

Walker on Grib Groch
Scale the heights of Grib Groch, Snowdonia

4WD Expedition

Off-roading may be fun but it can be hugely damaging for the environment and is understandably banned in many parts of the national park. Get your 4WD kicks on a safari with 4x4 Adventure Tours, who operate around Llangollen, or jump aboard the Quarry Explorer at the Llechwedd Slate Caverns Blaenau Ffestiniog, where you can also go underground and explore these historic mines which were carved by hand over more than a century ago.

Rainy Days

Hill Walking in Snowdonia
Hill Walking in Snowdonia

It's Wales, so you can assume that you'll see at least a few spots of rain on your holiday. You can put your brolly away even if it buckets down because Snowdonia has plenty of wet weather days out.

Bounce Below & Zip World

Trampolines are always fun, but when you add in the unique underground setting, then it's no wonder that Bounce Below is one of Snowdonia's most popular all-weather attractions. Jump and slide your way through a path of nets, trampolines and high ropes, all fitted into a former mine that showcases innovation at its most fun! Bounce Below is right next to Zip World, which boasts "Europe's Longest Ziplines" that shoot participants over a disused quarry at astounding speeds, so if the weather clears up then you can keep the thrills coming.

King Arthur's Labyrinth

Step into Wales' mythical past at King Arthur's Labyrinth. The all-weather Snowdonia attraction starts with a boat ride through a waterfall. It is worth booking your slot by phone or online in advance, particularly if you have children who are impatient when waiting, but there is a variety of activities as well as a cafe with good food if a somewhat limited menu. A word of warning: take a jumper or jacket as the underground temperature is consistently cool all year round.

Go Karting

Redline Karting in Caernarfon has an indoor circuit, so the circuit stays dry regardless of the weather. The venue is very family friendly with things like booster seats and adjustable pedals for shorter drivers. The karts vary in power so if you are planning to race each other, let the organisers know so that they can put you in similarly powered karts. Prices are comparable to other karting venues. Drivers can get printouts of their lap times, and there is a variety of packages. Drivers need to be at least eight years old and 135cm tall. Redline Karting is another attraction where it is worth phoning to book your slot in advance, as it does get busy - particularly on rainy days during the school holidays.

Get Wet!

Kayaking in Snowdonia

If you're already wet, then a little more water won't hurt. A rainy day in Snowdonia can be a great time to try one of the many water-based activities on offer, especially as large outdoor attractions are likely to be quieter. We have already mentioned the National Whitewater Centre as one venue, and Surf Snowdonia is another, with a wave machine ensuring the perfect break every time.

Climb the Walls

Also in Caernarfon, the Beacon Climbing Centre is excellent for those aged 5 and over, regardless of climbing experience. If the rain has the kids climbing the walls, this is the perfect place for them! Beacon Climbing Centre is open every day except for Christmas Day and Boxing Day, and booking is required for all sessions. Good news for parents is that there is a cafe with decent coffee, snacks and free WiFi so you can relax with the papers while the kids burn off some steam.

Go Underground

The Sygun Copper Mine keeps the same level of humidity and temperature all year round so even if it is pouring outside, you can stay dry underground. Unlike King Arthur's Labyrinth, which is aimed more at children, the Sygun Copper Mine is less fantastical and more factual, so appropriate for any age. That said, the self-guided tour is interesting and informative, giving a good insight into how Victorian miners extracted the copper. Be warned! There is a steep flight of 186 open metal steps to be climbed, so although the venue is dog-friendly, the steps may not be. Wear warm clothing and sturdy shoes that you do not mind getting dirty.

Lazy Days

Conwy Castle
Conwy Castle

Relax and recharge your batteries with one of these laid-back suggestions.

Let Someone Else do the Driving

A sightseeing tour is both lazy and rewarding. You get to enjoy the beautiful views and history of Snowdonia thanks to an expert tour guide, without having to do anything more energetic than climbing on board a minibus. Contact a company like CELTICOS or Go North Wales to arrange a tour that has been tailored precisely to your interests whether they are related to mountains, history, your family background or even food.

Slow Cooking

Lazy days call for long meals with lots of chatting over a variety of courses, or sunny picnics where you have nothing to do but snooze and snack in between looking at the view. Some of the finest food producers in Wales are in Snowdonia, and you can try their wares at Blas ar Fwyd in Llanrwst. Not only do they have a sensational deli and wine shop, but they also have a fantastic cafe bar, Amser Da, that is open from 8.30am to 4pm from Wednesday to Saturday.

Around Snowdonia, great food is also available from the Rhug Estate which has an impressive arrange of organic produce from the estate as well as from other nearby suppliers, and which also has a cafe and sells pre-prepared meals for you to cook in your cottage, and the Bodnant Food Centre in Tal-y-Cafn near Conwy.

Mooch around Conwy

Speaking of Conwy, the town is a top choice for a lazy day of browsing. Marvel at the scale of the enormous castle then stretch your arms out inside the smallest house in Britain (a mere 180cm wide) and step into one of the oldest homes in Wales, Aberconwy House. Stroll or cycle around the Conwy RSPB Reserve and admire the plants in Bodnant Garden. There are restaurants, cafes, shops and even a brewery. A day in Conwy is good for the soul, if not necessarily for your wallet!

Play a Round of Golf

Golf in Snowdonia

There are both 18 and 9-hole golf courses in Snowdonia National Park, with world-renowned course designer, James Braid designing ten of them. Three notable courses are the Royal St David's at Harlech, Nefyn and Aberdyfi, all of which are uniquely challenging and very rewarding. Bala and Betws-y-Coed are both nine-hole courses, as are Tyddyn Mawr and Criccieth. There is also a driving range at Treborth.

Treat Yourself to a Spa Day

There is no need to go to Switzerland if you want a break with mountains and spas because Snowdonia has both. Book a spa day, and you can throw yourself up (or down) mountains with abandon knowing that your tired muscles will be taken care of by skilful hands somewhere like the Waterloo Hotel in Betws-y-Coed. The Trefeddian in Aberdovey overlooks the water and also has an all-weather tennis court and 9-hole putting green, while The Spa at Bodysgallen is a child-free zone so you can enjoy the pool without interrupting a raucous game of Marco Polo.

Weekenders' Guide

Essential Guide to Snowdonia
A whirlwind tour!

Here are some suggested activities to ensure your Snowdonia holiday is one you will always remember. Even if you're only there for a weekend.

Walk over the Barmouth Bridge

The timber viaduct, which is one of the longest in Britain (at 700 metres) celebrated its 150th birthday in 2017 and is Grade II listed. It crosses the Mawddach Estuary and has stunning views of the Cadair Idris range. You can also cycle across it but doing so on foot allows you more time to enjoy the scenery (and prevents you having to jump on and off your bike to avoid pedestrians).

View Snowdonia from the air

We've talked about seeing Snowdonia from the bottom, the top and distant hills, but what about from the air? If your trip to Snowdonia is a holiday-of-a-lifetime event, then you deserve to see it from above as well. Sightseeing flights on helicopters and small planes leave from Betws-y-Coed airport and Llanbedr airport. Try Into The Blue or Whizzard.

Wild swimming at the Blue Lake at Golwern Quarry

It is not only the clarity of the water that makes this place so magical but also the way you access it through a short tunnel. A less well-known, and therefore more private, wild swimming spot is at Llyn Cau. You have to really want to swim here as the walk from the carpark takes at least 20 minutes and ascends 350 metres, but the effort is well rewarded.

View Snowdon from another mountain

There are two downsides to climbing Snowdon. The first is that the mountain views don't include Snowdon, and the second is how busy the path can be. Avoid the crowds and appreciate the majesty of the mountain by climbing Yr Arddu. At only 389 metres high it won't give you bragging rights, but you will get some incredible photos and probably won't have to share your picnic spot with anyone beyond a curious sheep.

Visit Snowdonia's magnificant Castles

Edward I's castles are magnificent, but their reason for existing is less so. Balance your history with a visit to Dolbadarn Castle, built by Llywelyn the Great in about 1215 CE. The enormous round keep is all that remains, towering over the stone layout of the castle footprint and overlooking Llyn Peris.

Last Minute Offers in Snowdonia

Thinking of a break in Snowdonia? Let us tempt you with a selection of our best last minute offers. Remember, we don't charge a booking fee, so the price you see is the price you pay.

Did you know?

....the National Trust, that great British institution that has been responsible for the protection and restoration of landscapes and buildings, was born in Barmouth. of the world's oldest trees is growing in a small village near Conwy. The Llangernyw Yew, which is in the churchyard at St Dygain's in Llangernyw, is an estimated 4,000 years old.

...the Welsh nickname for Snowdonia is Eyrie, named after the colonies of eagles who once lived there.

...the first recorded summit of Snowdonia was in 1639 when intrepid botanist Thomas Johnson climbed to its peak. Nowadays, around 350,000 people walk, cycle or journey to the top by train every year.