If you’re feeling the pinch after Christmas and fancy a weekend in Snowdonia to cheer yourself up, there’s no need to spend a lot of money… there’s plenty of things to do in Snowdonia that won’t cost you a penny.
January’s a miserable time of year, if we’re honest. Christmas, with its feasting, merrymaking and exchanges of gifts has gone, leaving behind seemingly endless cold, dreary weather and no public holidays to look forward to until Easter.
If you could do with a bit of cheering up on a small budget, a weekend in Snowdonia could be just what the doctor ordered. With so many accommodation providers in Snowdonia offering great rates at this time of year, you could grab yourself a real bargain. And when it comes to keeping yourself and your family entertained during your trip, there’s plenty of things to do in Snowdonia that won’t cost you a brass farthing.
Here are ten of our favourite free things to do in Snowdonia… and, of course, the miles of coastline, mountains, woodlands and open countryside in Snowdonia are free to explore all year round.
1. Quaker Heritage Centre
The Quaker Heritage Centre in Dolgellau tells the story of the persecution of the Quaker community in the 17th century which led to their emigration to Pennsylvania, and includes an audio visual presentation. During the winter the Centre is open 10am to 5pm, Thursday to Monday.
2. Trefriw Woollen Mills
At Trefriw Woollen Mills in the beautiful Conwy Valley, there’s a little museum that’s free to visit where you can see the machinery that turns wool into beautiful bedspreads, tapestries and tweeds. While the main museum is closed until April, you’ll still be able to see weaving and the water turbines (and the shop, of course) in the winter months.
3. Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw
Oriel Plas Glyn-y-Weddw is an art gallery housed in a Gothic mansion in Pwllheli that’s just as fascinating as the art exhibitions it houses. There’s always a great collection of works by Welsh artists in residence, and there are events throughout the year too.
4. Portmeirion Village
Portmeirion Village is one of Snowdonia’s best-loved – and most popular – attractions, and if you’ve never been before, November to March is a great time to visit as you can get in for free with a special winter season ticket. Pick up your season ticket at local supermarkets and tourist information centres – or download a ticket at the Portmeirion Village website for use throughout the winter season.
5. Glynllifon workshops and woodlands
The craft workshops at Glynllifon, just outside Caernarfon, are always worth a visit. Here you can see the craftspeople at work making jewellery and other goods, and then take a stroll through the acres of woodlands and see the bat trail, hermitage, Victorian follies and the slate amphitheatre. If you have a couple of pounds to spare, pop into the tea rooms at the mansion after your walk and enjoy a naughty-but-nice cream tea.
Caernarfon‘s not all about the castle. Long before Edward I set his sights on Caernarfon as his North Wales capital, the Romans had the same idea – choosing a raised area overlooking the Menai Straits as the ideal site for Segontium, one of Wales’ most important Roman forts. There’s a small on-site museum which is closed until the spring; but the fort itself is open all year round, with free entry to visitors.
7. Gwynedd Museum and Art Gallery
In the centre of Bangor near the Cathedral you’ll find Gwynedd Museum and Art Gallery, a free attraction that houses a fascinating collection of exhibits, including artefacts from Segontium as well as exhibitions of art created by talented local artists.
8. Conwy Town Walls
Conwy Castleisn’t free to visit, but the town walls are – and they’re almost as interesting as the castle. Climb the steps to the top of the walls and walk around the town from above, enjoying the glorious views (especially if the weather is clear) and wondering at the feat of medieval engineering that led to Conwy’s castle and town walls being awarded UNESCO World Heritage status.
9. Tre’r Ceiri
High atop Yr Eifl, the triple-peaked mountain that marks the start of the Llyn Peninsula, is Tre’r Ceiri, or ‘Town of the Giants’ – some of the best-preserved remains of an Iron Age hill fort in the whole of Britain. The walk might leave you a little breathless – especially on a windy day – but it’s worth the effort for the spectacular views and the chance to lay your hands on stones that were worked by the hands of our ancestors.
10. On the Quay at Barmouth
“On the Quay at Barmouth” is actually three free attractions in one: the Sailors’ Institute, Ty Crwn and Ty Gwyn, which range in age from medieval to Victorian. The buildings, and their interiors, have been faithfully preserved to give visitors a taste of life in bygone times, and there’s also an excellent exhibition of shipwreck artefacts.