Named after Mount Snowdon, Snowdonia (Eryri in Welsh) is a mountainous region and national park in the northwest of Wales. Its wild landscapes and rugged peaks are steeped in history, and there are lots of things to do in Snowdonia.
The area was designated a national park (covering 823 square miles) in 1951 and is a popular destination for tourists, attracting over 6 million visitors each year. Apart from its historical sites, it is known for its excellent hiking, thundering waterfalls, serene lakes, and picturesque villages. Here are 11 exciting things to do in Snowdonia.
At 1,085 metres, Mount Snowdon is the highest peak in Wales. It is famous for its challenging hikes, associations with the Arthurian legend, and breathtaking views (you can see all the way to the Isle of Man, Scotland and Ireland on a clear day). Those not up to making the seven-hour-long hike up to the summit, can take the Snowdon Mountain Railway, and experience the stunning views from authentic Victorian-era carriages. The summit is also home a café and visitor centre, Hafod Eryri.
Walking in the mountains is free, but the Snowdon Mountain Railway charges £29 for adult and £20 for children’s return tickets.
Built for King Edward I in 1283, to solidify English rule in Wales, Conwy Castle is one of the best surviving medieval fortifications in Europe. Built by Master James of St George, its high towers, fortified gates, and curtain walls are built on a narrow rocky outcrop. The castle’s battlements offer spectacular views across the mountains and sea.
Tickets cost £9.50 for adults and £5.70 for children
3Llechwedd Slate Caverns
Located at Blaenau Ffestiniog, the Llechwedd Slate Caverns allow visitors to explore the underground world of a slate miner. Slate mining was one of the most prominent industries on North Wales between the early 1800s and the 1960s. The Miners’ Tramway Tour explores the skills needed to extract slate in the late nineteenth century, while the Deep Mine Tour lowers visitor 500 feet into the mountain to look at the vast underground caverns and a beautiful underground lake.
Both tours at the Slate Caverns cost £16.30 for adults and £12.10 for children
There are many impressive waterfalls in Snowdonia. However, the most stunning are Conwy and Swallow Falls (pictured). Both are set amidst lush woodlands full of wildlife and are close to Betws-y-Coed. Conwy Falls is at the confluence of the Conwy and Machno, while Swallow Falls is set on the river Llugwy.
Swallow Falls is free to visit; but, there is an entrance charge of £1 per person at Conwy Falls.
Constructed on order of Edward I in 1283, Caernarfon Castle was built to be an imposing symbol of the then new English rule in Wales. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the world’s finest surviving medieval castles. Caernarfon is also among the most important castles in the country.
Tickets cost £9.50 for adults and £5.50 for children
This small yet vibrant Mediterranean-style village was built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1975. Located near the River Dwyryd, it has a hotel, spa, restaurant, tea-room, beach, and numerous shops. It is one of the region’s most popular attractions, and is known for its peaceful atmosphere. Port Meirion was also featured on the TV show The Prisoner.
Entrance costs £9 for adults and £6 for children.
Harlech is located on the western edge of the Snowdonia National Park. It is a summer hotspot, offering great accommodation, interesting antique shops, and access to the serene Tremadog Bay. Harlech is also home to the Harlech Castle. Like Caernarfon and Conwy Castles, it too was built on the order of Edward I and completed in 1289. Made of grey sandstone, it consists of a large gatehouse, four corner towers and various fortifications.
Tickets cost £4.25for adults and £3.20for children
Glyder Fach and Glyder Fawr (together known as the Glyders) are two of the finest mountains in the UK. Home to spectacular lakes, such as Llyn Ogwen, Llyn Idwal, and Llyn Bochlwyd, they are famous for their difficult hikes. One of the most famous paths is the Front Ridge of the Carnaddau. Both peaks offer spectacular views of the nearby Mount Snowdon.
Access to the Glyders is free.
Located in the Conwy Valley, Betws-y-Coed is a small and picturesque village. Consisting mainly of a church, as well as a few hotels, tea rooms, and outdoor shops, it is best known for the Conwy Valley Railway Museum and the Motor Museum. The Railway Museum is filled with railway artefacts and a 1-mile long miniature steam railway. The much smaller Motor Museum displays interesting cars from the past few decades.
Entrance to the Railway Museum costs £1.50 for adults and £1 for children. The Motor Museum charges £2 for adults and £1.50 for children.
At 893 metres, Cadair Idris is one of the most beautiful peaks in Snowdonia National Park. Like the rest of the region, it too is steeped in legend. Its name means “the Chair of Idris,” and the mountain is said to have been the chair of Welsh giant Idris star-gazing. There are also several beautiful bottomless lakes and an 11-kilometre ridge along its summit.
Access to Cadair Idris is free.
11The Electric Mountain
The Electric Mountain (or the Dinorwig Power Station) showcases cutting-edge hydroelectric technology. Located near Dinorig, Llanberis, it was built between 1974 and 1984 inside the mountain Elidir Fawr. It was initially used to store power capacity during periods of low usage and to generate hydroelectric energy at times of high demand. Now, it is used as a power reserve to compensate for sudden increases in power demand or loss of other power stations. It is also known for its miles of tunnels and massive man-made cavern.
Entrance costs £7.75 for adults and £3.95 for children.