To paraphrase that wonderful Romantic Poet William Blake, great things happen when men and mountains meet. And what better place for man to happen upon greatness than in Snowdonia?
The national park in North Wales is home to some of Britain’s most dramatic and intriguing landscapes, many of which have barely changed for thousands of years. It’s the ideal holiday location for anyone who takes pleasure in the beauty, exuberance and boundless potential of the Great Outdoors.
It’s the UK’s adventure capital for family-friendly outdoor activities. Take your pick from mountain biking, gorge scrambling, canyoning, kayaking, wild swimming, climbing, abseiling, horse riding, or fishing.
You could fly high over moor, mountain and old slate mines on a zip wire – Zip World at Bethesda boasts the longest and fastest zip line in the world – or travel deep underground for a subterranean adventure at 'Bounce Below', where giant trampoline nets are strung across vast caverns in a disused slate mine.
Head to the coastline to take part in any number of water sports. And if you like surfing you’re in for a treat: North Wales is soon to be home to the UK’s first surf lake, Surf Snowdonia, at Dolgarrog, in the Conwy Valley. We can’t think of a more beautiful place to catch a wave.
And few places can rival this region for golf, with its challenging cliff tops, dramatic links, beautiful heathland and mature parklands. It’s the diversity and quality of the courses that draws golfers to North Wales.
Snowdonia is a place where you can paddle in the sea at breakfast and be on top of the world, or at least England and Wales’ highest peak, by teatime. Set against a magnificent mountainous backdrop, it’s a dramatic and diverse coastal landscape which takes in beautiful wooded estuaries, wild cliffs, big sweeping expanses of golden sands as well as secluded bays and coves. Oh, and some really remarkable wildlife too. Take a look at our favourite Snowdonia beaches here.
We probably don’t need to tell you that Snowdonia is a wonderful place to walk. If you’d prefer to walk as part of a group then why not consider taking part the Snowdonia Walking Festival? There are plenty of specialist local walking guides who can show you around too. If you’d like to test your climbing skills why not book in with one of our local climbing centres?
Snowdonia is proud of its heritage and traditions, and it’s no surprise that it’s a place where steam railways have continued to thrive. At almost 200 years old the Ffestiniog Railway is the world’s oldest narrow gauge railway. It will huff and puff you along a beautiful journey from the harbour town of Porthmadog, climbing over 700ft into the heart of Snowdonia and the slate-quarrying town of Blaenau Ffestiniog. Once you’re in Blaenau why not get off and explore the excellent Llechwedd Slate Caverns? Tours start with a ride on the UK’s steepest cable railway which will take you 100s of feet underground to explore to explore life as it was for a Victorian mining family.
A second steam railway line, the Welsh Highland Railway is the UK’s longest heritage railway and runs for 25 miles from Caernarfon, skirting the western slopes of Snowdon, through the stunning Aberglaslyn Pass and onto the harbourside at Porthmadog. You’ll find equally charming steam railways at Llanberis and Talylln, near Barmouth. And the Snowdon Mountain Railway will take you right to the top of Snowdon! Look out for year-round seasonal events and special family days out on all these brilliant railways.
If you want to see something totally unexpected, it doesn’t get more wonderfully incongruous than an Italianate village on the edge of Snowdonia. Portmeirion, Sir Clough Williams Ellis’s iconic fantasy village was the filming location for cult 1960s television series ‘The Prisoner’. It sits on the beautiful Dwyryd estuary, just a couple of miles south-east of Porthmadog. Its amazing architecture, beautiful sub-tropical woodlands and gardens draw visitors from around the world. Portmeirion is now home to the excellent annual Festival No.6 music and arts festival. It’s well worth a few hours of your time.
There’s no shortage of towns and villages for you to explore in Snowdonia – from bustling harbour towns like Caernarfon and Porthmadog to pleasant little rural villages like Nantlle and Maentwrog with their charming quarrymen’s cottages set against the great hulking mountain backdrop. Larger mountain villages are bursting with things to do no matter what the weather - from the Sygun Copper Mine at Beddgelert to the fascinating Electric Mountain near the pretty mountain village of Llanberis.
If you’re planning a day out to Llanberis it’s worth taking some time to visit the National Slate Museum, which you’ll find right in the heart of the village. It tells the story of the Welsh slate industry, which has profoundly shaped the landscape and the history of this region. North Wales was once the slate capital of the world and people have been quarrying slate here for over 1,800 years. Slates were used to build parts of the Roman fort in Segontium in Caernarfon, as well as for parts of Edward I's castle at Conwy.
Betws y Coed is another busy little town full of cafes, pubs and shops and with some beautiful easy walks close by; popular routes near the town take in the Conwy Falls, Fairy Glen and Swallow Falls. Many of the walks around the town are wheel and pushchair friendly.
If you want to see something totally unexpected, it doesn’t get more wonderfully incongruous than an Italianate village on the edge of Snowdonia. Portmeirion, Sir Clough Williams Ellis’s iconic fantasy village was the filming location for cult 1960s television series ‘The Prisoner’. It sits on the beautiful Dwyryd estuary, just a couple of miles south-east of Porthmadog. Its amazing architecture, beautiful sub-tropical woodlands and gardens draw visitors from around the world. It’s well worth a few hours of your time. Portmeirion is now home to the excellent annual Festival No. 6 music and arts festival.
Any trip to North Wales just wouldn’t be complete without a visit to at least one of Edward I’s great medieval ‘iron ring’ castles at Caernarfon, Conwy, Beaumaris and Harlech. These enormously impressive fortresses are fantastically well-preserved and atmospheric. They rank amongst some of the finest examples of 13th-century military architecture in Europe, and are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites.
As well as building his great forts Edward seized many of the Welsh princes’ castles during his campaign, including Criccieth Castle on the edge of the Lleyn Peninsula, Castell y Bere just south of Dolgellau, Castell Dolwyddelan at Betws y Coed and Castell Dolbadarn which looks out over Llyn Padarn close to Llanberis. All of these castles, albeit in various states of ruin, retain their own uniquely captivating atmosphere and are well worth a visit.
You’ll find beautiful plants and trees from all over the world at the wonderful Bodnant Gardens in the Conwy Valley. Created by five generations of one family, the 80-acre garden is superbly located, with spectacular views across Snowdonia. It’s a glorious place to visit all year round. And whilst you’re at Bodnant, don’t miss the thoroughly delicious Bodnant Welsh Food Centre – packed full of delicious local produce it is an ideal place to stock up your holiday larder.
We're passionate about Snowdonia and North Wales, and we’d love to share that passion with you. There is so much to see and do, and so many memorable days out to be had. Take a look at our range of superb holiday cottages here or just give us a call to see where Menai Holiday Cottages could take you.