Days out in Snowdonia
Snowdonia is one of the most rewarding places to visit. It has outstanding natural beauty, scores of worthwhile outings, mountain lakes, rugged peaks, thundering waterfalls, not to mention the lush scenery.
The area offers a comprehensive experience not only to mountaineers but also to the tourists that come to visit the park. There’s no shortage of sites to see or activities to take part in while here. Which makes this list of top things to do in Snowdonia even more important to ensure you don’t miss some of the best sites, activities, and events while in the region.
|2.||Snowdonia National Park|
|4.||Snowdon Mountain Railway|
|9.||Llechwedd Slate Caverns|
|14.||The Welsh Highland Railway|
|15.||The Electric Mountain|
|16.||National White Water Centre|
|19.||Sygun Copper Mine|
|20.||Llanberis Pass and Village|
The highest peak in Wales is one of the busiest mountains globally, receiving hundreds of thousands of visitors at its peak. It’s one of the places you shouldn’t miss when you visit Snowdonia.
Snowdon is not only known for its towering size but also its historical and mythical stories. The mountain was formed over 450 million years ago. It is believed to be the burial site of a giant ogre called Rhita that was slain by King Arthur.
Most of the summit paths are clearly marked, and the views from the summit are spectacular, especially on a clear day. You get to see the neighbouring mountains, lakes, and valleys, among other incredible landmarks in the area.
Snowdonia National Park
Snowdonia is known for its monstrous mountains. Most of them are within the Snowdonia National Park, which covers about 823 square miles. The park is serviced by the Snowdon Mountain Railway, which takes its visitors through the most scenic areas of the mountain.
You can take a ride on the train at Llanberis and be part of the exhilarating ascent, considered the steepest and most popular ascent in the world. The park is diverse in sites, animals, and flora. While here, you get to see over 50 lakes, a rich cultural heritage that includes everything from Roman ruins to prehistoric circles, and traditional stone walls. It’s a great place to be for both mountaineering lovers and lovers of nature.
Hafod Eryi is Britain’s highest visitor centre. Be prepared for some mountain walking to get to this famous tourist spot. Luckily, there are well-marked trails that branch out and give you a chance to experience the scenery, the fauna and flora, and the geology of the region.
Most of the routes to the top of the mountain are quite safe and easy, making the walk to the summit less challenging. If you’re looking for a challenge, you can take the Beddgelert and return through the Pen-y-Pass route. Since Hafod Eryi is at the summit of the Snowdon, you can catch views of North Wales and the Irish Channel. The granite building has huge windows offering panoramic views from the comfort of the shelter.
Snowdon Mountain Railway
It seems like you have to work hard to enjoy the excellent views and experience that Snowdonia offers however the 100-year old Snowdon Mountain Railway can give you a break. The narrow-gauge railway was first opened in 1896 and snakes around five miles to the summit of Snowdon, crawling at about 5-miles per hour. It might feel slow, but you will need every second to take in the scenery and appreciate the diversity and beauty of the region.
The train has the main station at Llanberis, where you can enjoy some snacks and refreshments and even watch a movie about what to expect on your journey up. There are movies for kids as well.
Get into the minds of the 13th– century architects who built these fortified and survival medieval fortifications for King Edward I in 1283. The castle was the work of Master James of St. George. It features high towers, curtain walls, and fortified gates built on a narrow rocky outcrop.
On the battlements of the castle, you can enjoy stunning views of the mountains and sea.
If castles tickle your fancy, you can follow up your visit of the Conwy Castle with that of the Caernarfon Castle. Just like the Conwy Castle, this castle was also built on the order of King Edward I in 1283.
It was designed to be an imposing symbol of the new English rule in Wales. The castle has since become a UNESCO World Heritage Site and remains one of the world’s finest surviving medieval castles.
Snowdonia has many impressive waterfalls. The best time to visit these thundering waterfalls and feel their full power is after heavy rains.
While there are many waterfalls you can visit while here, the most notable are the Swallow and Conwy falls. Both are close to Betws-y-Coed and Aber falls.
The Swallow Falls are on River Llugwy and are the longest continuous falls in Wales. The Conway Falls are on the Machno and Conway confluence. These falls have a fish pass that allows the salmon and sea trout to swim upstream to their breeding grounds. Both falls are extremely powerful but are found in peaceful wooded gorges with plenty of wildlife to enjoy as you experience the thundering water.
Glyder Fach and Glyder Fawr are two of the finest mountains the UK has to offer. From their summit, you can enjoy views of the surrounding mountains, the famous ‘Adam and Eve’ boulders, and the cantilever stone.
Tourists chasing an adrenalin rush and some adventure can take the optional grade 1 scramble over the Tryfan. The circular route should take you about five hours. At The Glyders, it’s not just the mountains and the unique formations you get to enjoy. The mountains are also home to spectacular lakes like Llyn Ogwen, Llun Bochwlwyd, Llyn Idwal.
Be prepared to work for these exceptional sites. The Glyders have some of the most difficult hikes, but the effort to the top of the summit is worth your trouble.
Llechwedd Slate Caverns
The slate mining industry was popular from the 1800s to the 1960s. In the Llechwedd Slate Caverns, you can explore the underground world of a slate miner. From the Miners’ Tramway Tour, you can learn about the skills required to extract slate, complete with the sights and sounds that miners would experience while in the mines.
There’s also a Deep Mine Tour that lowers you 500-feet into the mountain, where you explore ten expansive underground caverns and a remarkable underground lake. Take advantage of your time here to visit the National Slate Museum. The museum is set up as an operational workshop and features the Foundry, steam locomotive, and forge as well as one of the largest working waterwheels in the country.
You can also visit the Snowdonia Slate Trail that was launched in 2017. The route is 83 miles long and ideal for serious walkers taking about five to seven days.
Port Meirion is a great place to break away from the nature and historical activities that Snowdon offers. This Mediterranean-style village was built between 1925 and 1975 by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis. It’s located near River Dwyryd. The village features a hotel, spa, tea room, beach, a restaurant, and numerous shops.
The location is best known for its peaceful atmosphere and attracts a vast majority of tourists. While here, you get to enjoy the green gardens and vibrant colours. You can start by wandering around the cobbled streets towards the central park and visit the numerous viewpoints and balconies.
Port Meirion is a great distraction away from mountain climbing. It’s also a nice place to relax after the hard work of climbing mountains and completing walking circuits.
Betws-y-Coed is a picturesque village located in Conwy Valley. It is made up of various hotels, tea and coffee rooms, the pretty St. Mary’s Church, tourist attractions, and outdoor shops. The village is surrounded by the Gwydyr Forest, which further bolsters its beauty.
Don’t forget to visit the Conwy Valley Railway Museum, where you can enjoy various railway artefacts and a one-mile-long miniature steam railway, or the Motor Museum, which displays the most interesting cars from the past few decades.
Also known as Cader Idris, this 893-metre high peak is one of the most beautiful peaks Snowdonia National Park has to offer. Like the other mountains in the region, this one is also soaked in folklore. Its name means “the Chair of Idris,” the mountain is said to have been the chair the Welsh giant Idris used for star-gazing.
The mountain has an 11 kilometre summit ridge, which also features the smaller peaks of Mynydd Moel, Mynydd Pencoed, and Pen-y-Gader.
The mountain is also rumoured to have bottomless lakes, and many believe that anyone who spends a night on the mountain either wakes up as a poet or a madman. Cadair Idris is ideal for climbing at any time of the year while observing the usual mountain precautions. However, inexperienced walkers should only attempt the mountain in good weather.
You can find the Harlech Castle on the western edge of the Snowdonia National Park. It is an excellent summer hotspot offering exceptional accommodation, antique shops, with access to the Seren Tremadog Bay.
Like the Conwy and Caernarfon Castles, this too was built on the order of King Edward I in 1289. At the time, the imposing castle cost £8,190 and was the southernmost of the four fortifications that were designed to allow the king to subdue the Unruly welsh.
The castle is made from grey sandstone with a massive gatehouse, a wide variety of fortifications, and four corner towers.
The Harlech Castle is built on a 60 metre high rocky outcrop close to the waters of Tremadog Bay. That made it possible for the castle to be re-supplied using the Watergate when under siege.
The Welsh Highland Railway
In the 18th century, North Wales was in the industrial revolution age. Coal and slate mining were at their peak, and the Victorian steam railways were built to haul the coal and slate, and later on, the same railways were used to transport people.
The Welsh Highland Railways was the best of the bunch taking people through Caernarfon, Beddgelert, the Aberglaslyn Pass, and Porthmadog. The railway is intertwined with other slate railways. The line has since been rehabilitated but still uses a steam locomotive, offering a mouthful sensory experience that ensures nothing short of an excellent tour.
The Electric Mountain
The Electric Mountain, also known as the Dinorwig Power Station, is not just a popular destination because of its hydroelectric technology but also because it’s located inside Mount Elidir Fawr. The power station was built between 1974 and 1984 and was initially used to store power during periods of low usage and generate power during high demand.
The power station cost about £425 million, contains about 16 kilometres of tunnels, 1 million tonnes of concrete, and 4,500 tonnes of steel. The construction of the power station required 12 million tonnes of rock to be removed from the mountain. It is an engineering marvel, to say the least, and one that you must see to understand the gravity of the work that went into it.
National White Water Centre
When you’re looking to get wet and take part in some water activities, Snowdonia will take care of you. The National White Water Centre is an awesome place for kayaking the white water rapids. It’s located in the town of Bala where you can enjoy a range of paddlesport adventures for the young and old.
Most of the visitors that come here are interested in rafting, which lasts for two hours. It’s an excellent place for some family fun, complete with a four-mile adventure that features some challenging obstacles.
The Dolwyddelan Castle is the first castle on this list that wasn’t built on the orders of Edward I. it was constructed by Llywelyn the Great between 1210 and 1240. He was the most powerful medieval prince in Welsh history.
The castle was used in the wars between the Welsh and Edward I and fell to the English forces in 1283. The castle is surrounded by excellent views with magnificent walks around the countryside. There are a few hotels and a hostel, which makes this a great place to spend the night for hikers and tourists yearning for that countryside experience.
Bala Lake is at the foot of the Berwyn and Aran Mountains. It’s on the eastern edge of Snowdonia in the little market town of Bala. The four-mile lake, which is the longest in Wales, is the main attraction here.
Numerous activities take place here, among them fishing, sailing, kayaking, and there are family swimming areas, gentle walks, trails and canoeing perfect for families bringing children along. Like most of the other landmarks in Snowdonia, this one also has its own monster called Teggie.
Sygun Copper Mine
The Sygun Copper mine is unique in various ways. You wouldn’t expect to have fun in a mountain, but we can say without fear of doubt that this could be the first mine where you actually have some fun and adventure.
The award-winning mine is located in Beddgelertis and offers you the chance to explore the winding tunnels under the heart of Snowdonia. There are magnificent stalactite and stalagmite formations with numerous caverns well-lit so that you can see them in their full glory.
The mine hasn’t been used since 1903 but still offers a riveting experience and the condition that miners in those years faced through the informative displays at the visitor centre. The tours here are self-guided, so you can wander and take in as much of the scenery and history as you want.
Llanberis Pass and Village
The last must-visit place in Snowdonia is the Llanberis Pass and village. The village lies in the stunning Llanberis pass. It is a popular place among hikers who want to scale Snowdon along the Llanberis path.
This village also serves as the starting point of the annual 10-mile Snowdon Race. Not far from this location, you will find the twin lakes of Padarn and Peris and one of the largest pumping stations in Europe.
This is also a great place to take a break from all the action and sightseeing that Snowdonia offers. There are numerous accommodation options, including the classic Victorian boutique hotels to cosy hostels that are often frequented by backpackers.
From this list of things to do in Snowdonia, it’s easy to tell that the area has a lot going for it. There are tonnes of other things you can do while here. But whatever your itinerary is, you should take some time to make sure you visit some of the areas that we have highlighted here. Rest assured, it is the best decision you’re going to make during your journey, and it will be worth every bit of trouble and effort you make to get there.