Best places to visit in Snowdonia

Best Places to Visit in Snowdonia

Snowdonia, also known as Snowdonia National Park, covers 832 square miles and is best known for its mountains, forested hillsides and sparkling lakes.

However, the region also extends to the coast at the beautiful seaside resort of Harlech. In between, there are traditional Welsh villages and peaceful valleys, rich heritage from slate mining to historic railways that now operate for scenic train rides.

Yet, Snowdonia really is the place for adventure. How about climbing a mountain, a gentle lakeside walk beside Llyn Padarn, cycling through Gwydir Forest or zip-wiring across a slate quarry for starters?

Conwy Castle

Conwy Valley

Absolutely breath-taking, the lush Conwy Valley is a must whilst visiting Snowdonia. From the North Wales coast and the town of Conwy with its spectacular medieval castle, the Conwy Valley takes in the River Conwy, rolling hills, moorlands, the Carneddau Mountains and quaint villages, before reaching the forested foothills of the Snowdonia National Park.

For a bite to eat, there’s a popular pub in the tiny, picturesque village of Rowen, or grab a piece of cake and sit beside the river at the famous Virginia Creeper-covered tea room (Tu Hwnt I’r Bont)  in Llanrwst.

When you’re ready to start your adrenaline-inducing adventure, head to Adventure Parc Snowdonia in the village of Dolgarrog. Home to an inland surf lagoon, where waves roll every 90 seconds and there are different zones to suit all levels of ability, there’s plenty of fun to be had.

Adventure Parc Snowdonia also offers zip-lining over the lagoon, indoor and outdoor climbing walls, a ninja assault course, high ropes and even an artificial caving system. If all that isn’t enough, off-site activities including gorge-walking and coasteering can be also booked. Dolgarrog is also a good base for walking in the Carneddau mountain range. 

River Conwy In Betws-y-coed

Betws-y-Coed and Gwydir Forest

If you’re travelling from the north, the village of Betws-y-Coed is the gateway to Snowdonia National Park. Full of charm, many of the buildings in Betws-y-Coed are Victorian and a pretty bridge spans the part of the River Conwy that runs through its centre, whilst beautiful scenery can be found in every direction.

Popular with tourists and day-trippers, there are plenty of cafes, pubs and restaurants, as well as craft shops and outdoor clothing retailers. It’s a great place for a riverside walk, hiking, mountain biking and much more.

That’s thanks to Betws-y-Coed being surrounded by Gwydir Forest that is beautiful at any time of year and full of old miners tracks. You can begin exploring the forest with a walk from Betws-y-Coed to the spectacular Swallow Falls. However, the waterfall can also be accessed from the road where a small fee is required to use the steps down to the viewing area.

Mountain bikers should head to the Llyn Elsi Reservoir Trail, or for a real challenge, to the exhilarating Marin Route. The forest is also home to Zip World Fforest, where you can enjoy activities including the Skyride and the Fforest Coaster. 

a small train carriage in the mountains in Llanberis


Llanberis is a village near the foot of Mount Snowdon and is popular with tourists. There are plenty of places to eat and drink, and running parallel to the town’s High Street is Llyn Padarn lake which is a lovely place for a walk.

You can also take a ride on the Llanberis Lake Railway which uses locomotives that once pulled slate wagons in the local quarry. The route passes by Dolbadarn Castle, Llyn Padarn and Llyn Peris and through Padarn Country Park before joining the 1845 slate railway line from where you can catch sight of mighty Mount Snowdon.

If you’d prefer to be on the water, head to Padarn Watersports Centre in the Padarn Country Park. The centre runs a host of adventure activities including canoeing and kayaking, as well rock-climbing and gorge-scrambling.

Meanwhile, sites in the area that are well worth a visit include Electric Mountain which is a huge hydroelectric power station; the slate mines at the National Slate Museum; and the ruined 13th-century Dolbadarn Castle built by Welsh Prince Llywelyn ap Iorwerth that overlooks the lake.

A picture of Mount Snowdon on a foggy day


At 1,085 metres tall, Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa in Welsh) is the largest mountain in Wales and Edmund Hillary trained here before he conquered Mount Everest.

If you wish to make the climb up, there are six main paths to choose from: the Llanberis path (classed as the easiest, but the longest at 9 miles there and back), Pyg Track, Miners’ Track, Watkin Path, Rhyd-Ddu Path (connected to Beddgelert by a walking/cycling path) and the Snowdon Ranger Path. Whichever you choose, do check your route and the weather, and pack and plan accordingly to minimise your risk of running into any difficulties.

If you wish, you can book an experienced guide to show you the way, or, if mountain-climbing isn’t for you at all, travel up the slopes on the Snowdon Mountain Railway instead – booking a ticket is highly advisable.

At the summit, it’s time to get your camera out and snap those views before popping into the visitor centre, cafe and gift shop. It’s worth noting that car parks in the area can be full by 7 am, especially in the summer months and at weekends, so you might want to consider using the Sherpa bus service that operates around the base of Mount Snowdon.

River running through Beddgelert, Snowdonia


Beddgelert is another beautiful village amongst beautiful villages in Snowdonia and at its heart is a lovely bridge where the River Glaslyn and River Colwyn converge. The village has a number of restaurants, pubs and delightful shops, including a National Trust shop housed in a Grade II-listed building that dates to the 17th century.

Surrounded by unspoilt walking country, it would be a shame not to venture for a gentle walk beside the river or along the old railway track. Meanwhile, the nearby Aberglaslyn Pass and the Nant Gwynant Valley offer scenic hikes that pass through woodlands, past rocky slopes and beside mountain lakes.

Attractions in the local area include the Sygun Copper Mine where you can get a feel for the life of a Victorian miner and kids can enjoy the adventure playground. Or, hop aboard the Welsh Highland Railway that runs a scenic route between Caernarfon and Porthmadog.

There’s also a local legend to ponder. Prince Llewelyn ap Iorwerth left his infant son with his faithful hound, Gelert. When he returned, his son was nowhere to be seen and Gelert was covered in blood. He slew the dog, before finding his son beside a dead wolf and realising that Gelert had in fact saved his son. However, it’s thought to be a story made up by local traders years ago to attract more visitors.

Blaenau Ffestiniog

Blaenau Ffestiniog

Blaenau Ffestiniog nestles between the Moelwynion mountains and was once the slate capital of the world. Today, it is a haven for thrill-seekers but is still very much connected with its past. There’s no better place to experience this than at Zip World Llechwedd.

Start with the award-winning Deep Mine Tour that uses cutting-edge enhanced reality technology to tell the story of a 19th-century slate miner. Then, take the challenging underground activity course through the slate caverns, along tunnels and across rope bridges – it’s great for testing team working skills! There’s also the Bounce Below underground trampoline activity.  For adventures above the ground, there’s Big Red where two zip wires side by side allow you to ride with a friend, or there’s Titan 2 which carries four people.

Meanwhile, Blaenau Ffestiniog is also a very popular place for mountain bikers and if you really take the sport seriously, Antur Stiniog Mountain Bike Centre is a great place to go. It is predominantly a downhill and free-ride centre with blue, red, black and double black trails. Back in the town centre, you’ll find a host of shops, as well as places to eat and drink.

Harlech Castle


Harlech nestles in the foothills of the Rhinog mountain range at the south edge of Snowdonia National Park and overlooks Cardigan Bay.

Standing tall over the town is the medieval Harlech Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At the foot of the castle is Harlech’s long, golden, sandy beach, which is a popular place with families in the summer months. It also has a natural sand dune system that’s been recognised as a National Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest that’s home to wildlife including skylarks and stonechats.

For coastal walks, the area is a real treat and you can initiate yourself by taking the short but steep, ‘zig-zag’ walk from the top of the town, across the Cambrian Coast railway line, to the beach.

At the beach, you may be able to spot the wreck of an American fighter plane that crashed here during WWII and is partly buried beneath the sand. If you’d like to get out on the water, stand-up paddleboarding, sea kayaking and canoeing are available locally, while golfers can book a tee time at the renowned Royal St David’s links golf course.



Dolgellau’s history includes a thriving wool industry in the 18th century and a minor gold rush in the 19th century. To this day, gold is mined at the Clogau mine and used for high-end jewellery including royal wedding rings.

The market town is peppered with listed buildings and has plenty of quaint pubs, restaurants and shops to keep visitors content, However, it’s the area’s natural features that are the star attraction. Starting with Cader Idris, a mountain that’s a few hundred feet shorter than Snowdon but arguably offers equally spectacular views and the bonus of there usually being fewer walkers.

There are plenty more walks in the area such as the Precipice Walk that passes through woodland and meadows and offers views over the Mawddach Estuary. Another popular walk is the Mawddach Trail that runs along the disused Great Western Railway line for 9.5 miles and follows the estuary to the coastal resort of Barmouth. It’s popular with cyclists, horse-riders and birdwatchers too.

If you’re really into mountain biking, Dolgellau is the nearest town to the world-class Coed y Brenin biking centre where there are a variety of trails to test your skills.

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