The principal village of the Snowdonia National Park, Betws-y-Coed is known as the ‘Gateway to Snowdonia’. The village sits in a valley where the River Conwy is joined by the Afon Llugwy and Afon Lledr, surrounded by some of Snowdonia‘s most spectacular scenery.
Betws-y-Coed is an attractive village in the Conwy Valley, easily accessible by road (the A5 passes through the village, while the A470 is just across the river), and by train via Llandudno Junction. Betws-y-Coed is a popular destination among outdoor enthusiasts, families, artists and photographers, and although the village isn’t very large (at the last count, the population was about 530) there’s plenty to do in Betws-y-Coed itself, as well as in the surrounding areas.
1. Ty Hyll
The true origins of Ty Hyll – ‘Ugly House’ – aren’t known, but legend says it was built in 1475 in accordance with the ancient ‘ty un nos’ (house in one night) law, which decreed that anyone who could build a house in one night and have smoke coming out of the chimney by sunrise the next day would be granted freehold. Now the home of the Snowdonia Society, Ty Hyll is open to the public throughout the summer.
2. Conwy Valley Railway Museum
A fabulous attraction for visitors of all ages, Conwy Valley Railway Museum houses a fascinating collection of anything and everything to do with railways. As well as the museum there are further attractions including a model scenic railway, model shop, and a miniature steam railway that will take you on a one-mile trip around the model village.
3. Swallow Falls
It’s all about power and drama at Swallow Falls, where the Afon Llugwy tumbles through ancient rocks and thrashes around in a frothing maelstrom before snaking its way through the Snowdonia countryside. Positioned on the A5 between Betws-y-Coed and Capel Curig, the much-photographed Swallow Falls is very easy to get to, with ample parking for visitors.
4. Alison Bradley Gallery
Working in oil paint and charcoal, Alison Bradley’s works are inspired by the landscape and animals of Snowdonia. Visit the gallery and you’ll see a regularly changing selection of Alison’s works, and have the opportunity to buy or commission artworks to take home with you. If that’s a little out of your price range, there’s also a good selection of Alison’s prints and greetings cards, with an on-site framing service should you need it.
5. Plas y Brenin
The more active among Snowdonia’s visitors flock to Plas y Brenin, the National Mountain Centre, at Capel Curig to enjoy residential and non-residential courses in a huge range of outdoor activities. Courses cover everything from hillwalking and navigation to canoeing and kayaking – via mountain biking and road cycling – as well as practical subjects like first aid.
6. Trefriw Woollen Mills
Trefriw Woollen Mills is a lovely attraction with free admission, where you can see all the machinery that turns raw wool into the beautiful bedspreads, tapestries and tweeds that are available to buy in the shop after you’ve finished touring the museum. During the summer months you can see demonstrations of hand spinning and even have a go at weaving on a small hand loom.
7. Tree Top Adventure
With a name like Tree Top Adventure, you’d be forgiven for thinking this attraction is all about the high rope courses. Well, they’re a big part of the Tree Top Adventure experience, of course – but you can also try a number of other exhilarating activities, like abseiling, Coasteering and gorge scrambling.
8. Seren Ventures
Another activities provider that’s based in Betws-y-Coed but takes you exploring all over Snowdonia, with Seren Ventures you can enjoy all sorts of energetic outdoor activities like climbing, mountain walking, abseiling and gorge walking. Possibly not for the faint hearted, but ideal for those who are in touch with their adventurous side.
9. Go Below Underground Adventures
One of the most unusual things to do in Betws-y-Coed is taking a tour of what lies beneath Snowdonia, instead of the usual above-ground stuff. With Go Below Underground Adventures, you’ll have lots of fun exploring abandoned mines by any means possible – which may include abseiling, shaft climbing, boating, scrambling and climbing a waterfall. Phew! If you fancy yourself as a bit of an Indiana Jones or Lara Croft, this is definitely one of the best Snowdonia attractions for you!
10. The Fairy Glen
Popular with photographers and artists, the Fairy Glen is a secluded, picturesque gorge on the River Conwy at Betws-y-Coed that looks as if it was dropped onto the landscape straight out of the pages of Tolkien. Easy to get to but still very peaceful, the Fairy Glen is wonderful for nature walks; species you may encounter on a walk through the Fairy Glen include early purple orchid, pied flycatcher, and if you’re lucky, the odd otter or two.