A guide to Snowdonia National Park

Days out, The Great British Outdoors

Posted by Clare Willcocks on 4th August 2021

Snowdonia National Park

Where is Snowdonia? Snowdonia in Wales is a region centred around Snowdonia National Park, which dominates the north-west coast of Wales. Charming visitors with its beautiful mountains and unspoiled coastal landscapes, it is a hub for walkers, outdoor enthusiasts, adrenaline junkies and foodies. Its impressive natural landscapes make it the ideal base for adventure, and there are no shortage of Snowdonia attractions and activities to entertain all ages and abilities.

Home to the highest mountain peak in Wales, there are 823 square miles of wild countryside to explore in Snowdonia, which is also blessed with picturesque villages and a sandy coastline. It is one of three national parks in Wales. Things to do in Snowdonia range from action-packed days out, to gentle walks through stunning scenery. Hop on a vintage steam railway; take to the water in a canoe or sea kayak; enjoy thrilling mountain biking or strike out on the hunt for cascading Snowdonia waterfalls. With turbulent rivers crashing through the landscape, there are opportunities to try adrenaline pursuits such as white water rafting on the Tryweryn River, or appreciate the scenery from an aerial perspective as you zoom along the longest zip line in Europe at Penrhyn Quarry.

Spend the morning on a sunny, sandy beach followed by a climb up one of Snowdonia’s mountains in the afternoon. The region is also studded with iconic castles to discover; there’s no shortage of historical places for an enjoyable outing in Snowdonia National Park. Whether you’re looking for things to do in Snowdonia with the family; walks to take in the awe-inspiring scenery; or hunting for the best of Snowdonia’s beaches, our top suggestions below should help you plan a memorable trip. And if you’ve already got your heart set on a Snowdonia holiday, take a look at our selection of Snowdonia holiday cottages.

Holidays in Snowdonia


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The best walks in Snowdonia National Park

Beautiful views walking up Snowdon

Climb Mount Snowdon

Rising 1,085 feet above sea level, the walk up Mount Snowdon has to be one of the best, if not most iconic, walks in Snowdonia National Park. There are numerous paths to the top (Llanberis Path, Pyg Track, Rhyd du Path, Snowdon Ranger, Miners Path and Watkin Path), a variety that ranges from moderate to strenuous in grade, but no matter which trail you pick, gorgeous views are almost guaranteed (weather permitting). Enjoy unrivalled views across the national park as far as the coast, with many Snowdonia lakes visible from the top. And if you don’t fancy the walk, but would love to see the views? Hop on the Snowdon Mountain Railway which takes you right to the summit in around 45 minutes.

Distance: 5km to 7km, depending on route

Difficulty: Llanberis Path is the most straightforward route, good for families, yet still steep in places – moderate difficulty

Good to know: Parking at the base, WCs, disabled access to the train, no dogs on the train (except for assistance dogs), café and restaurant. Postcode - Mount Snowdon, LL55 4TD


River rushing through Fairy Glen near Betws y Coed

Betws-y-Coed, Fairy Glen

Betws-y-Coed is referred to as the gateway to Snowdonia. Occupying a lush location on the confluence of four mountain rivers, high peaks and rushing waterways characterise this lovely little Snowdonia village. Betws-y-Coed was also home to Wales’ first artist colony, and it's easy to see why it’s still a place of pilgrimage for creatives. There are plenty of walks to enjoy right near the town. A beautiful, easy Snowdonia walk is at nearby Fairy Glen, a secluded gorge with waterfalls and cascades on the Conwy River. Hiking boots are recommended, and the walk is well worth it for the magical experience. If this walk piques your interest, you can then head off to the spectacular waterfalls of Swallow Falls which are close by.

Distance: 1 mile

Difficulty: Moderate

Good to know: Car park with honesty box, walk includes steep descent down slippery steps.


Cliffs of Craig y Bera

Rhosgadfan and Moel Tryfan, Gwynedd

A challenging mountain walk for adventurers who want to take on the epic scenery of Snowdonia, discovering the landscapes which inspired Welsh author, Kate Roberts. Beginning at her childhood home, you’ll walk through heather-clad hills, spotting peregrine falcons wheeling overhead and hearing the echoes of industry as you pass through old slate quarries, leaving you feeling truly immersed in the Welsh landscape. Fabulous views including Holyhead Mountain, Snowdon, the Eifl Range and Nantlle Ridge reward you on this hilly ramble – one for serious walkers.

Distance: 8.5 miles 

Difficulty: Challenging

Good to know: Starts at Kate Roberts' former home, Cae’r Gors, LL54 7EY. Tours can be arranged prior to your visit.

More walks in Snowdonia National Park


The best things to do in Snowdonia National Park

National Slate Museum

National Slate Museum

Telling the story of the Welsh slate industry on the site of Dinorwig Quarry which closed in 1969, the National Slate Museum reveals tales of hardship, industrial unrest, strikes, suffering and gives a fascinating insight into the daily life of those involved. Walk through the workshops and buildings, which are laid out as if the workers have just downed their tools; see the fully operational steam engine, Una; witness the water-powered machinery in motion and learn about quarry life during one of the talks or demonstrations.

Cost: Free entry, book online

Best for: History and culture enthusiasts

Stay nearby: Yr Onnen | Sleeps 4


Various views of Harlech Castle in Wales

Visit Harlech Castle

Harlech Castle was built as an important component in Edward I’s Ring of Iron in the 13th century. His fortresses around the coast of Wales are still standing to this day. Harlech Castle comes recommended for its sheer beauty, its position above the village and its unforgettable views. You can see Mount Snowdon and the ranges of the Llyn Peninsula from the castle ramparts. Harlech is a lovely place for beach lovers too, as the long sandy beach is a great place to wind down, or you could let your kids play to their hearts’ content, building sandcastles or paddling in the shallows.

Also visit North Wales’ other fortresses and estates: Bodnant, Conwy Castle and Caernarfon Castle too. Read our guide to Wales' castles.

Cost: Adult £6.90, child 5-17 £4.85, family (2 adults and up to 3 children) £22.60, senior £6.40, concessions £4.85, disabled free. 

Best for: Coast and mountain views

Stay nearby: Hafan yr Haf | Sleeps 4 and 1 dog


Man on a zipline

Llechwedd Slate Caverns

Delve into an underground world which was once only experienced by brave miners working in the slate mining industry. Llechwedd Slate Caverns is now home to a thrilling array of attractions and adrenaline activities. Enjoy a magical audio-visual show as you descend into the depths of the mountain on the Deep Mine Tour, take a bumpy ride in an ex-military truck around the huge quarries, soar above it all at Zip World Titan or bounce around in the strange, subterranean world of Bounce Below. You can even try the challenging underground adventure course through the caves – with via ferrata, rope bridges, zip lines and tightropes.

Cost: Prices vary, see website for details

Best for: Thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies

Stay nearby: Llenfa | Sleeps 4 and 2 dogs

More things to do in North Wales


The best beaches in Snowdonia National Park

Barmouth

A vast sandy beach, overlooking Cardigan Bay to the south of Snowdonia National Park, Barmouth is a top choice for bucket and spade days and sunset watching. The most popular seaside resort in the national park, it boasts a pretty harbour backed by rocky hills, and offers traditional seaside fun in abundance, including donkey rides and amusement arcades. With fun for all the family, this is one of Snowdonia’s beaches where you’ll want to spend the day filling up on fish and chips, trying your hand at water sports and finishing your evening watching the sun sinking below the horizon with a glass of something chilled in hand.

Lifeguards: No

Dog friendly: A section of the beach is dog-friendly year round. Dogs banned between leisure centre and river from 1 April to 30 September.

Other information: Cafes, restaurants and takeaways, shops, amusements, public toilets, several pay and display car parks.


Aberdyfi (Aberdovey) in Wales

Aberdovey (Aberdyfi)

An enchanting stretch of pristine sand extends from Aberdovey to the town of Tywen. Popular among sailors and leisure cruisers, it’s the perfect spot for water sports and people watching. Along the Dyfi Estuary is an important nature reserve with mudflats, sandbanks and saltmarshes – a haven for wetland birds. Tidal currents make this beach unsafe for swimming, but enjoying the beautiful surroundings is entertainment enough in this lovely little corner of Snowdonia National Park.

Lifeguards: No

Dog friendly: Part of the beach from the dunes is dog-friendly year round. Restrictions apply from 1 April to 30 September on the area in front of the car park.

Other information: Pay and display car part in Aberdyfi, public toilets, shops, cafes and restaurants.


Harlech beach at sunset

Harlech

Four miles of glorious golden sand roll out before you, backed by the majestic mountains of Snowdonia. Grass-topped dunes line the beach which is a haven for wildlife, including leatherback turtles and jellyfish. Keeping watch over the landscape is foreboding Harlech Castle, and for those who enjoy exercising their golf skills, Royal St David’s Golf Club lies just behind the nature reserve. The beach is accessed via a 400-metre path from the car park, where there are public toilets.

Lifeguards: A large part of the beach is dog-friendly year round. Restrictions apply on the section of beach in front of the holiday park.

Dog friendly: Thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies

Other information: Pay and display car park beyond the holiday park, public toilets, shop and eateries in Harlech town, golf club.


The best pubs in Snowdonia National Park

 Pub in Betws y Coed

Y Stablau – Stables Bar, Betws-y-Coed

A warm and welcoming atmosphere awaits at Y Stablau in the heart of the adventure centre of Betws-y-Coed. Pair that with delicious dishes cooked to order, and a fantastic selection of cask ales, wine, gin and more, not to mention tasty Teifi Coffee, and you’ve got a recipe for the best pub lunch!

Menu pick: The mouthwatering burgers are supplied by the local butcher – and when in Wales, it’s got to be ‘The Welsh’, no?

Are dogs allowed?: Yes

Good to know: Covered beer garden, no reservation needed, regular music events, open 7 days a week.


Scotch egg

Castle Cottage Inn, Harlech

An attractive inn at the top of the steepest street in the northern hemisphere, Castle Cottage Inn rewards any patrons who climb the hill to reach its doors with a tipple from its fully stocked bar to enjoy in its contemporary pub atmosphere. With wines from Welsh merchants and plenty of beers on draught, it makes a great stop after a visit to the foreboding Harlech Castle.

Menu pick: The menu changes, with themed dishes some days – all are guaranteed to be top notch! 

Are dogs allowed?: No, assistance dogs only

Good to know: Castle Cottage Inn is in the Michelin Guide 2021 – what’s not to love about that?


Y Meirionnydd, Dolgellau

If you’re looking for Snowdonia restaurants for a slap-up dinner, Y Meirionnydd is the one. It is set in Dollgellau, one of the best towns in Snowdonia for exploring the national park. Once a county jailhouse, now a contemporary restaurant serving British dishes with a Welsh twist, Y Meirionnydd is the perfect choice for a special meal. The menu is prepared from fresh and local produce where possible, and the cosy dining area is a lovely space to relax and enjoy some good food when you visit Snowdonia.

Menu pick: The steaks are divine!

Are dogs allowed?: No

Good to know: No children under 6. No parties larger than six people.

Food festivals in Wales


Find our Snowdonia top picks


Stay with us in Snowdonia National Park

Ripe for adventure, Snowdonia is also awash with wonderful places to stay. Rest up your feet in the evenings before heading out for a hike from Betws-y-Coed, base yourselves in the slate capital of the world, Blaenau Ffestiniog, head for the coast and hunker down near Barmouth, or make your way to the south of Snowdonia to beautiful Aberdovey. Wherever you set your sights, our holiday cottages in Snowdonia National Park make the perfect base for your trip.

Snowdonia cottages



Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.