You’ll find beautiful plants and trees from all over the world at this wonderful botanic garden in the Conwy Valley. Created by five generations of one family, the 80-acre garden is superbly located, with spectacular views across Snowdonia.
With expansive lawns and intimate corners, grand ponds and impressive terraces, a steep wooded valley and stream, as well as awe-inspiring plant collections, this is a glorious place to visit all year round.
There’s an excellent garden centre and shop where you can buy a wide range of plants and gifts. And if you’re on holiday with your dog then you can visit with your four-legged friend from 5pm on Wednesdays, May to August and 10am until 3.30pm on Thursday, Fridays and Saturdays, November to February. Alternatively, a nearby kennels will look after your dog whilst you visit. Check the website for details.
Nominated by BBC Good Food Magazine as the UK’s No. 1 farm shop in 2014, the excellent Bodnant Welsh Food Centre is a wonderful place to stock up your holiday larder. Located close to Bodnant Garden in the beautiful Conwy Valley, the 18th-century farm estate has been lovingly restored as a well-stocked farm shop, tea room, restaurant, cookery school and wine cellar.
The farm shop features a wealth of local produce from in-house and artisan producers. You’ll find locally-reared meat, delicious cheeses, dairy products, fruit and veg, honeys, breads, ciders and beer. At the Bodnant Wine Cellar, the knowledgeable staff will help you find the perfect wine to accompany your food.
You can even order a hamper of treats to collect or have delivered direct to your holiday cottage. Check the Bodnant Welsh Food website for details.
Bounce Below is a sister attraction to Zip World and you’ll find it at Zip World Titan in Blaenau Ffestiniog. It’s a unique underground playground set within a historic disused slate cavern which is just about twice the size of St Paul’s Cathedral.
Your journey to the centre of the earth (well, actually just 100ft underground) starts with a short train ride which will take you down to the belly of the cavern. Once you’re off, get ready to bounce on what will almost certainly be the biggest trampoline nets you have ever seen.
The nets are strung at different levels within two vast chambers, linked together by walkways and a succession of tubular slides. The caverns are lit by an LED light show; expect much-delighted squealing as you bounce around this crazy rainbow coloured adventure.
You need to be aged 7 or over to take part, and all bouncers must wear a jumpsuit and helmet which are provided for you.
The mighty colossus of Caernarfon Castle is the biggest of Edward I’s fortresses in Wales. It was designed not just as a military stronghold, but as a seat of government and a royal palace. It’s where King Edward and his family lived when they visited Wales.
Caernarfon Castle still packs a powerful punch. It’s a brute of a fortress and its tall, imposing walls dominate the streets below. It would have been like an ever-watching eye over the medieval townsfolk. You certainly wouldn’t have wanted to pick a fight with it.
Its banded walls and polygonal towers echo the architecture of Constantinople, which Edward had visited on Crusade. It’s fantastically well preserved, and you can still visit many rooms, towers and passageways which wind their way through the castle.
Look out for the imperial eagles on the top of the Eagle Tower: this is where tradition says that Edward’s wife Eleanor gave birth, in 1284, to the future Edward II. Edward declared that his son was the first Prince of Wales. It’s a tradition that the British monarchy still carries to this day – in 1969 the investiture of the current Prince of Wales, HRH Prince Charles, took place at Caernarfon Castle. Maybe one day it will see the investiture of Princes William and George, too.
You’ll find frequently changing exhibitions at the castle, as well as the Regimental Museum of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Opening times vary according to the season, check here before you visit.
Conwy Castle is a fantastically well-preserved medieval fortress which, along with the castles of Beaumaris, Caernarfon and Harlech, is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s easy to see why.
Built on the orders of King Edward I, it’s one of the finest examples of 13th-century military architecture in Europe. It is enormously impressive and formidable. Hard to believe it was completed in just six years.
Edward built Conwy as part of his fearsome ‘iron ring’ of fortresses which were designed to help him crush resistance to his conquest of Wales. It was designed to convey some powerful messages – strength, power, permanence and absolute dominion. Those messages still hold firm today. It’s hard not to feel just a little bit awe-struck by the castle’s soaring curtain walls and huge stone towers as you approach it.
The views from the battlements, across mountain and sea, are breath-taking. It’s a place to allow your imagination to enjoy a little wander. Maybe you’ll indulge in a little make-believe sword fighting or dragon slaying, or imagine cooking up a feast fit for a king in the medieval kitchens. Opening times vary according to the season, check website for details.
Who can resist the romance and excitement of a day out on a steam railway? The Ffestiniog Railway is the oldest independent railway company in the world and its line runs for around 13.5 miles from the harbour at Porthmadog to the historic slate mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog.
It’s a stunning journey through beautiful Snowdonia landscapes. The historic trains climb over 700 feet from sea level into the mountains, passing tranquil pastures and magnificent forests lakes and waterfalls on their way. You’ll pass through areas that are completely inaccessible by road, undisturbed by the sights and sounds of modern life. There’s an at-seat buffet service as well as a fully licenced bar featuring locally brewed award-winning beers.
Have a wander around Blaenau (it’s a buzzing little mountain village) before you make your return journey. No one comes off the steam train without an enormous smile on their face. A magical experience whatever your age.
This family-friendly adventure park features the world’s only people-powered roller coaster, den building, mini tractor rides, a barefoot trail and forest theatre. All the rides and activities are designed to have minimal environmental impact and whilst generating maximum fun!
Children big and small can test their skills and coordination with the Crocodile Maze, the WildWeb and longbow archery. Based on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park it regularly gets voted as the best family friendly attraction in North Wales.
Check the Greenwood Forest Park website for the What’s On calendar as well as information on opening times and prices.
The battlements of this fortress spring out of a near-vertical cliff face overlooking the sea. Built on the orders of King Edward I, it’s one of the finest examples of 13thcentury military architecture in Europe. It took an army of 1000 skilled labourers 12 years to construct. The castle boasts two rings of walls and towers, and was impregnable from almost every angle. Its secret weapon was a 200-foot long stairway which still leads from the castle to the cliff base which meant besieged inhabitants of the castle could be kept fed and watered. Along with the castles at Caernarfon, Conwy and Beaumaris, Harlech is a fantastically well-preserved medieval fortress which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. An atmospheric and memorable day out.
The delightful narrow-gauge Llanberis steam train will take you on a five-mile journey along the edge of Lake Padarn, right in the heart of Snowdonia. It’s a wonderful way to enjoy the stunning landscapes of the region without breaking too much of a sweat, and a great activity for wet-weather days, too.
Your journey will take you past the 12th-century Dolbadarn Castle, across what is possibly Britain’s shortest river and past Llanberis’s twin lakes. From Llanberis, the train runs non-stop through the Padarn Country Park to Penllyn and on to Cei Llydan, a beautifully tranquil place which is ideal for a lakeside picnic. At Gilfach Ddu you can get off to visit the National Slate Museum.
There are themed rides throughout the year including Santa trains, Halloween trips and Easter Egg Hunts.
The five-mile return trip takes around one hour, and the service varies according to the season. Check the website for details
At Llechwedd Slate Caverns you get to experience life as it was for a Victorian mining family. Tours start with a ride on the UK’s steepest cable railway which will take you 100s of feet underground to explore the old mine workings. On your way, you’ll hear tales of the miners’ family life – children as young as 12 would work down in these dark caverns. They helped make North Wales the slate capital of the world in the 19th century.
Make sure you’re wearing stout footwear as after descending into the mine the tour underground is around half a mile long and includes over 100 steps. Once you’ve enjoyed your underground adventure you can visit the Llechwedd Slate Workshop and see craftsmen splitting slate and making a range of slate goods – from table mats to wine racks to plant pots.
If you’re staying close to Porthmadog you can travel here on the Ffestiniog Railway. There’s just a short connecting bus ride from Blaenau Ffestiniog railway station.
This museum, in the pretty mountain village of Llanberis, tells the story of the Welsh slate industry. And what a story it is. 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.
Victorian workshops are presented as though quarrymen and engineers have just put down their tools and left the courtyard for home, and an array of talks and demonstrations, including slate-splitting, give you a real insight into quarry life.
Fron Haul, a row of four quarrymen’s houses shows you just how the mining families used to live. Entry to the museum is free, check here for visiting times.
If the idea of walking up Snowdon feels a little too much like an uphill struggle then the Snowdon Mountain Railway might just be for you. Between March and November, it runs daily services to the summit of Wales’ highest mountain from Llanberis. You can buy a return journey (you get a 30-minute stopover) or a one-way ticket so you can walk back down the mountain at your own pace.
It’s a journey like no other – an average gradient of 1 in 7 over the five-mile track gives you unique and breath-taking views of the Snowdonia National Park and beyond. A recorded commentary will give you an informative account of the geology, history and mythology of the mountain, and there’s visitor centre and café at the summit where you can enjoy a steaming mug of hot chocolate, tea and cake as well as the magnificent views.
The journey takes around 1 hour each way. Train times vary according to season, check here before you travel.
These beautiful Grade I listed gardens are a wonderful place to stroll around and enjoy an unhurried few hours. Eight miles of paths and trails wind you through 70 acres of rare trees and plant species – some of which were planted over one hundred and fifty years ago. The gardens are also a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) and are an important habitat to wildlife including rare horseshoe and whiskered bats, otters and water voles.
The gardens accompany a statuesque Regency mansion house (built in the 1830s and also Grade I listed) which was originally the seat of Lord Newborough. It is now a wedding venue. You’ll find craft and design workshops, a gallery and shop. There are some lovely picnic areas as well as the friendly Black Cat Café which serves hot and cold food.
Portmeirion is an iconic fantasy Italianate village located on the beautiful Dwyryd estuary, just a couple of miles south-east of Porthmadog. Designed by the visionary Welsh architect Sir Clough Williams Ellis, it is an internationally famous tourist attraction. It was the filming location for cult 1960s television series ‘The Prisoner’ and is now home to the annual ‘Festival No. 6’ music and arts festival.
You’ll find Portmeirion standing on a rugged cliff top on its own peninsula overlooking Cardigan Bay. It’s surrounded by 70 acres of sub-tropical woodlands and gardens as well as miles of sandy beaches and wonderful coastal walks.
There are several shops, cafes as well as a brasserie and dining room. The grounds at Portmeirion are open daily from 9.30am until 7.30pm, with reduced price for entry after 3.30pm. Check the website for details.
Sister to the wonderful Ffestiniog Railway, but by no means in her shadow, the Welsh Highland Railway is the UK’s longest heritage railway. It runs 25 miles from its start next to the awe-inspiring UNESCO World Heritage Site of Caernarfon Castle. From there it steams forth into the foothills of Snowdonia passing lakes, forests and stunning mountain scenery. You’ll descend into the pretty mountain village of Beddgelert before swooping through the Beddgelert Forest and crossing the remarkable Aberglaslyn Pass.
The journey ends at Porthmadog. The ride is an absolute joy – from the beautifully upholstered period carriages and first class Pullman luxury to the freshly-cooked food which you can have delivered to your seat. Another day out that’s guaranteed to generate big smiles.
How do you fancy the idea of flying 500ft above some of the most beautiful landscapes in the UK at speeds of up to 100mph? This adrenalin-fuelled attraction guarantees a completely unique and memorable holiday experience in North Wales.
Zip World Velocity won international acclaim when it opened at Bethesda in March 2013. It features a pair of zip lines, a mile long, where riders can experience something that is very close to flying. The birds-eye views across the Menai Strait to Anglesey and beyond are just stunning.
You’ll find Zip World Titan close to Llechwedd Slate Caverns near the historic slate mining town of Blaenau Ffestiniog. It’s the first four-person zip line in Europe and features 8km of zip lines to race down. Great for enjoying a thrilling holiday experience with your friends. The combination of Zip World Velocity and Zip World Titan makes North Wales the zip line capital of the world.
Take a look at our full selection of holiday cottages in one of Britain’s most dramatic and intriguing landscapes.
Whether it's a mountain hideaway or a coastal retreat, we've got the perfect place for you to stay.
12 Victoria Terrace Nantlle, Snowdonia "Written by a guest 'From the mountain view from the back garden and the lake view from all the bedrooms, stylish decor and wood burning stove. FANTASTIC!'"
Sleeps : 6
£385 - £700 per week
Changeover day : Fri