North Wales Holiday Guide

Epic in scale, jaw-dropping in its beauty and steeped in history, North Wales will awaken your senses and provide you with a whole host of unforgettable memories. Whether it’s because of world-famous Snowdonia, its coastal splendour or rich culture, the region is one of Britain’s most popular tourist destinations.

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.

Snowdonia - the Heart of North Wales

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.

Out and About

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.


Guide to Exploring North Wales

Beddgelert

Beddgelert is a small picturesque village in the region of Gwynedd, Wales. It sits at the confluence of the Rivers Glaslyn and Colwyn, in the heart of the Snowdonia National Park. The unspoilt beauty of the village, with most of the buildings made of local stone, is matched by the breathtaking scenery of Snowdonia around it. Mount Snowdon itself dominates the skyline to the north, and there are forests, mountains, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, valleys and gorges in all directions as far as the eye can see.

Conwy

Wales has many market towns, but you’ll be stuck to find any that compare to Conwy. The immense fortress built here by Edward I of England back in the 13th Century is probably the best-preserved medieval structure in all of Wales. Located on the North Wales coast, this medieval town is literally one of a kind.

Prestatyn

Sunny Prestatyn is the archetypal North Wales seaside resort. It sprang into national consciousness in the 19th century when the railways brought its fresh, sea air and restorative sea waters into the reach of holidaymakers from the north of England. Today the resort continues to offer amusements, beaches, ice cream and family fun but it is also working hard to reinvent itself as a stopping off point for walkers exploring the region.


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