Whatever your age, your fitness level or your interests, there’s something in Snowdonia for everyone. What type of break will you choose?
Snowdonia is one of those rare destinations that’s perfect for just about every type of break. Whether you’re an adventurer looking for an active break, a family that wants a holiday packed with child-friendly activities and attractions, or you’re planning to connect with the past by visiting sites of historic interest, Snowdonia is the destination for you!
Here are three very different types of break you can enjoy in Snowdonia. Will you choose one, or try them all?
How active is ‘active’? In Snowdonia, activities can be as gentle or adventurous as you like – so whatever your fitness levels or abilities, there’s an activity for you; we’re not called “the UK’s number one activities centre” for nothing!
Walking is an all-time favourite activity of many Snowdonia adventurers, from tiny tots in pushchairs to octogenarians in wheelchairs and everybody between. From gentle strolls to mountaintop hikes, there’s a walk for everyone in Snowdonia. There are several official walking routes like the Llyn Coastal Path, the Wales Coast Path, the Mary Jones Walk, the Slate Valleys Paths and the six walking paths up Snowdon. Walk them alone, as part of a group, or hire an experienced guide to show you the best the region has to offer.
Golf is popular in Snowdonia; there are several excellent golf courses in the area, many of which are included on the James Braid North Wales Golf Trail (play all courses on the trail and receive a certificate at the end). With so many courses offering accommodation and meal deals, taking a golf break in Snowdonia is understandably a popular way to enjoy a weekend away.
There are plenty of cycling options in Snowdonia for those that prefer to get about on two wheels. Mountain biking is extremely popular – Coed y Brenin Forest Park and the Antur Stiniog downhill centre at Blaenau Ffestiniog are two big MTB attractions in the area. Recreational routes criss-cross the region, enabling cyclists of all ages to cycle away from cars or in areas with only light traffic, and really take in those spectacular views.
If you’re planning an active break in Snowdonia, your itinerary could include any of the above as well as ziplining, underground exploration, treetop adventures, climbing (mountains, bouldering, climbing walls), horse riding, go karting and archery, fishing, and a variety of water sports including white water rafting, coasteering, surfing, wakeboarding, boating and many more. This list of activities may sound exhausting, but it’s by no means exhaustive!
From days at the seaside to people-powered rollercoasters, Snowdonia is ideal for family holidays, any time of year.
Let’s look at those days at the seaside first. Visitors to Snowdonia are often surprised to learn that as well as its generous covering of mountains, it also has a 200-mile coastline. And that means sandy beaches, pebbly beaches, wide beaches, long beaches… it means sand dunes and sand castles, rock pools and paddling, beach games and relaxing in the sun.
Let’s look at some of those beaches in more detail.
Abersoch is popular for its beautiful sandy beaches, water sports and trendy shops (surfer culture is very much in evidence here – in fact, every year Abersoch is host to Wakestock, Europe’s largest wakeboard music festival).
Barmouth has a vast sandy beach, and plenty of the traditional British seaside elements that we in the UK love so much (promenade, ice creams, mini funfair, gift shops and the like). It also has some great indoor attractions for days when the weather’s not so beach-friendly, in the shape of the On The Quay at Barmouth attractions.
Dinas Dinlle has a long promenade and a large, sand and shingle beach that’s great for swimming, rock pooling and beach games. There’s an excellent ice cream parlour and chip shop, gift shops and a children’s playground. At one end there’s an Iron Age hill fort; at the other, an air museum and small airport where you can take a pleasure flight and see Snowdonia from above.
Porth Oer – or ‘Whistling Sands’ as it’s known locally – is a beautiful, sheltered beach on the Llyn Peninsula. Where did it get its unusual nickname? Try stamping on the sand and you’ll soon find out… it squeaks! The walk down to the beach is pretty steep (the walk back feels steeper) but it’s worth the effort – this is a really beautiful place to spend a warm summer’s day.
Apart from its beaches, Snowdonia has plenty more to offer younger visitors. There are so many child-friendly attractions it’s difficult to know where to start! GreenWood Forest Park is a real favourite – it’s an eco-friendly amusement park where the top attraction is a people-powered rollercoaster. Gypsy Wood is a magical place where fairies live… go for a splashy welly-walk in the woods and see if you’ll spot one (if you don’t, all’s not lost – other activities include a fantastic model railway and plenty of animals to pet). Animals are also the star of the show at two other popular attractions, Children’s Farm Park and Dwyfor Ranch Rabbit Farm and Animal Park.
There’s plenty to keep kids active in Snowdonia, too. How about some high wire fun in the trees at Tree Top Adventure? Or climbing frames, ball pools and giant slides at The Fun Centre? Cycling and an adventure playground at Coed y Brenin, collecting shells at Shell Island, nature walks at Padarn Country Park… take your pick!
Snowdonia’s history is long and, most visitors agree, pretty fascinating. From prehistoric communities to 20th century statesmanship – and everything between – there are dozens of sites of historic interest in Snowdonia.
There are numerous hill forts and burial chambers in the region. One of the best known is Tre’r Ceiri, a mountaintop village that was in use from the early Bronze Age. Remains of some 150 round buildings can still be seen there today – well worth the effort of the walk to the top of the mountain!
The Romans were active in the area too. Segontium, a fort founded by Agricola in about 77AD, can be seen on the outskirts of Caernarfon, and Tomen y Mur, near Trawsfynydd, was established at about the same time.
The medieval period was the time of the Princes of Gwynedd, and there’s plenty going on in Snowdonia to commemorate the events of this era. The English king Edward I built an ‘iron ring’ of castles and walled towns in the area at this time, including Caernarfon and Conwy – but there were Welsh castles too, like Criccieth and Dolbadarn.
Industrial heritage is well-represented in Snowdonia, too. Trefriw Woollen Mills offers a hands-on glimpse into the world of textile production, while the National Slate Museum shows visitors exactly what life as a quarryman was like (including a fully equipped Victorian hospital). Slate, of course, features heavily in Snowdonia’s history and you’ll find a lot of the local industrial heritage attractions are connected with slate in one way or another. Inigo Jones Slate Works offers self-guided tours and workshops, while Llechwedd offers a unique insight – underground at that – into life as a twelve year old miner in Victorian times.
Snowdonia’s railways play an important role in local history – steam trains carried slate around and out of the region, where it would eventually roof houses all over the globe (Blaenau Ffestiniog was actually known as ‘the town that roofed the world‘, such was the popularity of its slate). Today, the steam railways – which include the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways, the Fairbourne Railway and the Talyllyn Railway, among many others – carry passengers rather than slate, and remain among the best-loved attractions of Snowdonia.
Which brings us to modern times, and that 20th century statesman we mentioned earlier… who could that be? David Lloyd George, of course, who was Prime Minister of Britain from 1916 to 1922 and whose accomplishments include laying the foundations of the welfare state. He grew up in Llanystumdwy, and his childhood home is now a museum celebrating his life and achievements through a series of interactive exhibits, including a Victorian school room, audio visual displays and a shoe making workshop.
With so much to see and do, whatever your interests and whatever your age, Snowdonia is the perfect destination for a relaxing weekend, a family getaway or an activity-packed holiday. Have you #PackedForSnowdonia?