The Southern Snowdonia town of Bala oozes character. Nestled alongside Wales’ largest natural lake and surrounded by breathtaking mountain scenery, Bala is a popular holiday destination all year round.
Set in an area that’s often been called the Welsh Lake District, as you’d expect there’s a lot of emphasis on watersports in Bala – especially on the lake, of course. But there are all sorts of other things to see and do in Bala, too; here are ten of the best.
1. Canolfan Tryweryn
The National White Water Centre at Canolfan Tryweryn welcomes adventurous souls who don’t mind getting a bit of a soaking. This is the place to be if you fancy trying your hand at exciting watersports like white water rafting, canoeing and kayaking. And there are other outdoor activities to try too, like bushcraft, quad biking, pony trekking and clay pigeon shooting.
The Urdd (the Welsh League of Youth) was created 90 years ago to encourage young Welsh speakers to preserve the language. The Urdd’s outdoor education at Glan-llyn sits on the shores of Llyn Tegid, offering a wide variety of activity courses, watersports and activity holidays for groups and families. Activities at Glan-llyn include canoeing, kayaking, sailing, ten-pin bowling and high ropes.
3. The Glassblobbery
The Glassblobbery is owned by David and Wendy Pryce-Jones, who make and sell gorgeous gifts made from glass which they’ve blown right there on the premises. The Glassblobbery is a cross between a shop and a tourist attraction, and well worth a visit; with so many beautiful glass dragons, cats and other stunning wares on sale, we bet you won’t come away empty-handed!
4. Bala Lake Railway
All aboard the Bala Lake Railway for a trip around Llyn Tegid! Whatever the weather, there’s no nicer way to see the lake than taking a relaxing ride around it on the steam train, and of course as you won’t be driving, you’ll be able to take in all the breathtaking scenery that you’d otherwise miss!
5. Canolfan Cywain
Canolfan Cywain is Bala’s rural heritage centre, and it’s an attraction that’s a little bit different because it combines art appreciation with agricultural education. Both indoors and outdoors at Canolfan Cywain you can see exhibitions, concerts, workshops and country fairs. There’s also a children’s play area and cafe, so it’s a great place to relax with the family while enjoying some pretty wonderful views.
6. Caerau Uchaf
If you’re keen on gardening – or even if you’re not, but like to enjoy other people’s gardens – you can’t go wrong at Caerau Uchaf. This is a private garden that’s open to the public, and at a thousand feet above sea level it’s the highest publicly-accessible private garden in Wales. Caerau Uchaf features some stunning landscaped gardens including a wildlife garden, a vegetable garden and a willow maze. The on-site nursery gives you the opportunity to bring a little piece of Caerau Uchaf back to your own garden, so you can enjoy it whenever you like!
Bala is a “Walkers are Welcome” town, which means it’s part of a scheme that promotes areas of Britain with something special to offer walkers. In the Bala area there are many great walks to enjoy; with the mountains and lakeside you’ll have plenty of great outdoors to explore, and if you’re feeling adventurous you could try the Mary Jones Walk (PDF download, opens in new window), which follows the route of a young girl who in 1800 walked 25 miles to buy a bible.
8. Monster hunting
No trip to Bala would be complete without attempting to spot the elusive Teggie. And just who is Teggie? Well, she’s a gigantic, crocodile-like monster that lives in Llyn Tegid. She’s the Welsh equivalent of the Loch Ness Monster, but we reckon she’s much friendlier!
9. Tan yr Hall Gallery
Now we do appreciate that not all of you are quite as enthusiastic as others about the great outdoors and all the hard work it entails, so we’d like to give you some cultural and educational options to consider when you visit Bala! At Tan yr Hall Gallery, right there in the town centre, you can spend a very civilised afternoon browsing the works of an impressive array of Welsh artists. Whether you’re after a Huw Jones original or a Kyffin Williams print – or simply browsing and admiring the talent – you’re sure to have a ball at Tan yr Hall!
10. Just explore!
Bala is an exceptionally attractive little town. With its wide, tree-lined pavements, pretty buildings, its great variety of tea shops, gift shops and all sorts of other shops, it’s a great place to while away the hours with a gentle stroll and a bit of a browse. There’s no rush… take your time and enjoy all that beautiful Bala has to offer!