The Snowdonia National Park in the UK encompasses magnificent lakes, mountains and forests, as well as miles of coastline and rivers. Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales, has been attracting hikers for generations leading to Snowdonia acquiring its National Park status in 1951.
The area's Welsh name is 'Eryri' meaning 'the place of the eagles', and it's not hard to see why. Home to an abundance of nature and some of the best landscapes in Britain, Snowdonia has been named an area of outstanding natural beauty. The park covers around 838 square miles and is crisscrossed with hiking trails, outdoor adventure activities, great pubs, and serene lakes and beaches.
Spend between three to five days exploring Snowdonia and you will get a small taste of everything it has to offer. This is enough time to hike in the imposing and rugged mountains and venture out to the wild coast.
You should also be able to try out an adrenaline-fuelled activity at Zip World or Adventure Parc, and get to know the local towns and try local delicacies.
Around four million people visit Snowdonia every year and many have one attraction firmly set on their to-do list. Mount Snowdon is a high but easy-to-reach peak at 1,085 metres, making it one of the most popular hikes in the UK. It attracts couples, families and day trippers from across the border, but can a beginner hike Snowdon?
There are six walking routes up Snowdon, all varying in difficulty, the easiest one most suited to beginners is the Llanberis Path. The 14.5km trail takes around 4 to 6 hours, but makes a gradual ascent, with plenty of views and opportunities to take a break.
More adventurous climbers can take the notorious Crib Goch or Watkin Path to the summit. Take a guided tour with a local mountaineering guide to take the hassle out of planning your ascent.
But the true reason Snowdon is one of the most accessible mountains in the UK is the Snowdon Mountain Railway. Take a traditional steam train from Llanberis to the summit, and stop for a coffee at the visitor centre, taking in some of the best views in Britain without any of the strain.
Llanberis is the home of all things Snowdon. Here you can find the National Slate Museum, Llyn Padarn Lake, Dolbadarn Castle, and of course direct hiking access up Mount Snowdon via the Llanberis Path.
But you don’t have to climb Snowdon for the best scenery, the drive over the Llanberis Pass offers glorious views of the summit of Snowdon and across the calm waters of Llyn Gwynant.
Another town in Snowdonia worth visiting is Betws-y-Coed. The Welsh name for the town translates to ‘the prayer house in the woods’, which is an accurate description of this peaceful settlement.
This is a great place to base yourself for a walking holiday; take the nearby Swallow Falls Trail through Gwydir Forest Park to visit one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Wales. There are plenty of hikes to choose from through Gwydir Forest Park depending on the time of year that you visit, but the best time to come is in early springtime when there is a blanket of bluebells carpeting the forest floor.
For something a bit more traditional, Dolgellau, pronounced dol-geth-lai, is a small Welsh village hidden in the shadow of the Cadair Idris mountain.
With around 180 heritage-listed buildings built in monochromatic grey stone and slate, it’s probably one of the most traditional and prettiest places to visit in Snowdonia.
The unusual tourist town of Port Merion is a bit like an artist's impression of an Italian village. Built between 1925 and 1975, it has since been the set of several films and TV series.
Its colourful houses, quirky shop-lined streets, and giant chessboard make for a fun day out. It’s not quite Florence or Venice, but there are some great walks by the sea and the coffee is pretty good.
There are plenty of options for adventurous nature loves in Snowdonia including hiking, river rafting, and canyoning. It's the perfect spot for a fun-filled multi-activity holiday. Aside from the above, here are some of the things you can do here.
Snowdonia has made quite the name for itself in the world of adventure tourism.
Head to Adventure Parc Snowdonia to hit the waves at the world's very first man-made surf lagoon. Or visit the largest zipline in Europe - and currently the fastest in the world, at Zip World Penrhyn Quarry.
Reach speeds of up to 100mph as you hurtle towards a disused slate quarry in this ingenious way of repurposing and revitalising an old mining site.
Zip World has several other activities at nearby Blaenau Ffestiniog including; a four-person zip line, an underground cave zip course, and ‘Bounce Below’ - a trampoline park housed inside an underground cave.
One of the best ways to see Snowdonia's true natural beauty is by camping under the stars. The park is one of the few Dark Sky Reserves in the UK, boasting very little light pollution and clear night skies.
On a clear evening, you can expect to see faraway constellations and galaxies like the Milky Way.
Make sure to spend some time discovering the history of Wales through its castles.
Harlech Castle, built by Edward I, was the site of the longest siege in British history, while Caernarfon and Conwy Castle boast impressive waterfront ramparts, and Welsh-built Castell Criccieth sits proudly on its own headland.
There’s a castle around every corner in Northern Wales, so make sure to fit at least a couple into your visit here.
It’s not just adventure that draws people to the Welsh mountains, there’s a more relaxed side to Snowdonia too, with quiet beaches and quaint seaside towns to relax in.
Visit the tranquil Isle of Anglesey - a small island with 125 miles of stunning coastline, for some of the best spots to soak up some sun and go for a swim in the Irish Sea.
Take a paddle board or kayak around Porth Trecastell, and take in views of Snowdonia National Park from the long sand beach at Traeth Llanddwyn on the edge of the Newborough Forest.
Make sure to stop at Llanfairpwllgwyngyll train station for a photo opportunity with the longest place name sign in Europe - ‘Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch’.
Although travel by public transport is possible, it’s best to hire a car to explore Snowdonia National Park. Towns are spread out and some of the top attractions are expensive to get to by taxi.
Walking is also one of the best ways to get around, whether it’s out on one of the beautiful hiking trails, strolling along the beach, or simply going for a wander around the quaint towns and villages in the park.
You can’t go anywhere in Wales without noticing that lamb is a big deal. Sheep cover every hillside, creek and valley in Snowdonia, and the fertile green grass makes for some of the best-tasting lamb in the world.
Head to the old coaching inn, Ty Gwyn, for grilled Pen Loyn Farm lamb fillet with brie, asparagus and Parma ham.
Other local delicacies to try include wild mussels in Conwy, local brews like Purple Moose and Snowdonia Ale, and the Best of British award-winner ‘Black Bomber’ Snowdonia cheese.
For a great lunch detour, Caffi Gwynant offers veggie brunches, crispy katsu burgers and loaded fries as well as iconic views over Mount Snowdon. And if you happen to get tired of pub food, Fu's Chinese restaurant in Caernarfon has some of the best Asian cuisine in North Wales.
Only accessible by a 20-minute walk, the remote Tŷ Coch Inn is probably the best beach cafe in Wales. Nestled in the beautiful fishing village of Porthdinllaen on the Llyn Peninsula, it’s a destination in itself offering perfect seaside views alongside local pub fare and traditional ploughman's lunches.
Whilst there are plenty of great places to stay in Bangor, Caernarfon and Anglesey, staying further south can make getting around a lot easier.
Porthmadog is a lovely little seaside town on the West coast of Snowdonia with all of the amenities you need for a short stay. Castle Cottage Inn is just 1.5 km from Harlech Beach, and you are guaranteed a warm welcome as well as bright airy rooms and a traditional home-cooked breakfast.
A little further south in Dollegaul, the Cross Foxes offers homely rooms in a traditional pub - breakfast is also included.
If you really want to stay in the heart of it all, camping is the way to go in Wales. Or for those of us that are a little more refined, glamping guarantees you a warm and dry bed for the night.
Llechwedd Glamping in Blaenau-Ffestiniog is surrounded by staggering mountain views. Enjoy the landscape as you cook your sausages on the barbeque in the morning, and at night cosy up around the wood burner fire while admiring the starry night sky.
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Last Updated 4 September 2023