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Shielded by the biggest mountains outside Scotland, North Wales is proud and protective of its heritage and its language – more than 60% of its inhabitants speak the native mother tongue, the highest proportion in the country. To the delight of the hundreds of thousands of visitors who flock to the area every year, there is a tangible Welsh feeling wherever you go.
Stretching 50 miles north to south and 35 miles east to west, Snowdonia became Wales’ first national park in 1951. Mount Snowdon itself is the focal point, with 350,000 people either walking, climbing or taking the mountain-side train the 1,085 metres to its summit each year.
The park itself, 75% of which is used for raising sheep and cattle, is full of rivers and coastal areas and is home to the biggest natural lake in Wales. Like the country’s other national parks it is very much lived in, with Bala, Dolgellau, Harlech and Betws-Y-Coed the main populated areas.
The little stone village of Betws-y-Coed has a fabulous Alpine feel and is the perfect base for exploring Snowdonia, while the charming market town of Dolgellau has the highest concentration of listed buildings in Wales. Bala is famous for its water sports and Harlech its spectacularly intimidating grey-stoned castle.
There is an incredible amount to see and do in Snowdonia so you need to spend your time there wisely. As well as Harlech Castle, must-see sights and attractions include the Gwydr Forest, the National Slate Museum in the cheery town of Llanberis and the Llechwedd Slate Caverns, where you can descend into the depths of a Victorian mine.
To the west of Snowdonia lies the former slate port of Porthmadog, which enjoys some of the finest views in north Wales. It is also home to the quirky but fabulous Italianate folly of Portmeirion and two famous narrow-gauge steam railways.
The Ffestiniog Railway is the finest line in Wales, winding its way up 650ft over 13 stunning miles from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog. The Welsh Highland Railway connects Porthmadog with Caernarfon, a full round trip giving you five unforgettable hours on the train.
Set at the southern entrance to the Menai Strait, Caernarfon is renowned for its incredible castle, the most impressive link in the chain of 13th Century fortresses across North Wales. When you are done there take your pick from the island of Anglesey and its handsome town of Beaumaris, cosmopolitan Bangor, Conwy and the Victorian seaside resort of Llandudno.
North Wales is home to two UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Pontcysyllte Aquaduct and Canal and, collectively, the “Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd”. These include those at Caernarfon, Beaumaris, Conwy and Harlech.
Located in Ewloe, this spa hotel is within 9 mi (15 km) of Deva Stadium, Chester Cathedral, and University of Chester. Chester City Walls and Chester Town Hall are also within 9 mi (15 km).
Situated in Denbighshire, this spa hotel is within 20 mi (32 km) of Valle Crucis Abbey, Llangollen Scenic Railway, and Llangollen Bridge. Llangollen Canal Trail and Llyn Brenig Visitor Centre are also within 20 mi (32 km).
Nestled on the beach, this Cwm Cadnant guesthouse is 1.6 mi (2.6 km) from Menai Bridge and 3 mi (4.7 km) from Beaumaris Castle. Bangor University and Penrhyn Castle are also within 9 mi (15 km).
Situated in Dwyran, this eco-friendly lodge is within 16 mi (25 km) of Menai Bridge, Bangor University, and Penrhyn Castle. Beaumaris Castle and Caernarfon Castle are also within 20 mi (32 km).
Located in Llandudno, this beachfront hotel is in a shopping district and within 1 mi (2 km) of Llandudno Swimming Centre, Bodafon Farm Park, and Llandudno Tourist Information Centre. Llandudno Museum and Home Front Museum are also within 1 mi (2 km).
Situated in Llandudno, this hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Llandudno Museum and Llandudno Pier. Great Orme Tramway and Home Front Museum are also within 10 minutes.
Located in Llanberis, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Dolbadurn Castle and National Slate Museum. Caernarfon Castle and Menai Bridge are also within 12 mi (20 km).
Located in Beddgelert, this hotel is 4.8 mi (7.7 km) from Mount Snowdon and within 12 mi (20 km) of Portmeirion Central Piazza and Portmeirion Sands. Criccieth Castle is 11.3 mi (18.2 km) away.