If you’ve convinced yourself that a visit to Snowdonia will be expensive, you’re in for a pleasant surprise… there’s actually plenty you can do for free! Here are ten ideas to get you started.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that visiting attractions in the UK can be expensive; some can definitely leave a dent in your pocket, especially if you’re visiting as a family. But you may be surprised to learn that Snowdonia has plenty of attractions and activities to offer that won’t cost a penny… here are ten suggestions for things you can do in Snowdonia for free.
1. Nant Gwrtheyrn
Nant Gwrtheyrn is best known as a place to learn Welsh in a local, residential setting. But what you may not know is that it’s also a visitor attraction, with plenty to see and do. The Nant, as it’s affectionately known, has a heritage centre with an exhibition about the history of the area and the development of the site, and you can take a look inside an old quarryman’s cottage that’s been reconstructed to show how a quarryman would have lived in 1910. There are some interesting folklore installations for the kids too, like Meinir’s Tree.
2. Castell y Bere
The ruins of Castell y Bere, a medieval castle near Tywyn that was a stronghold of the Princes of Gwynedd, are very atmospheric and a great place to explore – especially for children, who will be able to give their imagination a real workout while they clamber over the old stones. Dogs are also welcome, as long as they’re kept on a lead.
3. Narrow Gauge Railway Museum
The Narrow Gauge Railway Museum can be found at the Talyllyn Railway‘s Wharf Station at Tywyn. At the museum you’ll see a number of fascinating exhibits, including a horse-drawn wagon from the year 1800 and Welsh slate quarry locomotives. There’s a collection of about a thousand railway artefacts spanning a period of 200 years – plenty to keep you entertained for a couple of hours, and completely free!
4. Coed y Brenin Forest Park
It’s free to visit Coed y Brenin Forest Park, whether you’re there to ride your bike or simply enjoy a pleasant few hours’ walking and enjoying the abundant wildlife and nature. For children there’s an adventure playground for added fun.
5. National Slate Museum
Head over to Llanberis for a visit to the National Slate Museum, where you can find out all about life as a quarryman and the Welsh slate industry generally. There are plenty of talks and demonstrations to watch, you can look around a quarryman’s cottage, explore the workshops and much more – easily a whole day’s entertainment, and entry is free!
6. Conwy Water Gardens
You’ll find Conwy Water Gardens in the Conwy Valley. It’s a great place to go for a nature walk or just to feed the ducks (there are lots in residence, alongside plenty of other wildlife including otters, pheasants and capybaras). There’s also an aquatic centre and reptile centre on-site – these are interesting places to do some window shopping, and if you do feel like spending some money during your visit you could even go home with your very own reptile or tropical fish!
7. Dolbadarn Castle
Another stronghold of the Princes of Gwynedd, Dolbadarn Castle is a gem of medieval Welsh architecture. All that remains is a tower and some ruins, but the views of the lakes and surrounding countryside are outstanding – do pack a camera if you visit, as the castle and its surroundings are extremely photogenic.
8. Ty Hyll
Ty Hyll – The Ugly House – has its own fascinating history, somewhere between fact and local legend. The house is now largely dedicated to bee preservation, and there’s plenty to be learned about bees by visiting Ty Hyll’s bee room. The gardens and woodlands are open all year round if you’d like to spend a couple of hours on a nature walk, but there’s also a lovely tea room serving drinks and delicious cakes; this and the bee room are closed from 1st December to 6th February but open throughout the rest of the year.
9. Bodnant Welsh Foods
Bodnant Welsh Foods is a great place to visit if you’re at all interested in food… or bees! On site you’ll find a selection of farm shops, restaurants, tea rooms and the like, but there’s also a cookery school and wine school if you don’t mind paying for courses. Although not strictly an ‘attraction’ in the traditional sense, and only ‘free’ if you don’t buy anything in the shops, it’s still well worth a visit. Bodnant Welsh Foods is also home to the National Beekeeping Centre Wales visitor centre, where you can learn even more about bees and why they’re so important.
10. Go for a walk
Is there a better free activity than simply going for a walk? In Snowdonia, we’d say the answer is a resounding ‘no’! With all these beautiful beaches, mountains, rivers, lakes, country lanes, cycle paths and forests, there’s plenty to explore in Snowdonia if you enjoy a bit of a stroll. They say the best things in life are free, and what better things are there in life than the beautiful Snowdonia countryside? Not many, we’d wager, so put your purse away and put on your walking boots!