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Chances are, if you’re already planning a trip to Snowdonia National Park, you already know that this outstanding area of natural beauty is home to the highest mountain in Wales; Mount Snowdon.
Over 10 million visitors descend upon Snowdonia each year, with the majority attempting at least some of the walk up Snowdon or hopping on board the 100-year-old Snowdon Mountain Railway to the summit.
But while almighty Snowdon may be the biggest draw to the region, there are plenty of other things to do in Snowdonia too, from exploring epic waterfalls and beautiful mountain lakes to flying through the sky on the world’s fastest zip line.
So to help you plan your trip to Snowdonia National Park, these are some of the other fantastic attractions Snowdonia has to offer…
Things to do in Snowdonia National Park
1. Explore the many pretty towns and villages of Snowdonia
While Snowdonia National Park may be most well know for its stunning natural landscapes, that doesn’t mean you should skip the area’s many charming towns and villages during your visit.
A few of the best places to visit in Snowdonia are:
Llanberis is one of Snowdonia’s best-known towns, being the starting point of Snowdon’s Llanberis Path, but there’s plenty more to it than this. You can take a wander around the town’s many cafes, restaurants and shops (if you forget any of your walking gear, this is the places to buy it!), ride the Llanberis Lake Railway for spectacular views of the surrounding mountains or take a walk up to 13th-century Dolbadarn Castle.
Beddgelert is a tiny village named after a dog named Gelert (Bedd means grave in Welsh – you’ll have to visit yourself to discover the full story). As well as several lovely little craft shops, a couple of hotels, and a handful of quaint pubs and restaurants, there are many great walking routes from Beddgelert along the rivers Colwan and Glaslyn.
Betws-y-Coed is another popular village with holidaygoers. Don’t miss a visit to the Ugly House tearoom. Known as the gateway to Snowdonia, Betws-y-Coed is also the starting point of many great walking trails to explore the surrounding rivers and waterfalls.
2. Ride the world’s fastest Zip Line
Soar over Penrhyn Quarry on Zip World’s Velocity 2, the longest zip line in Europe and fastest in the world.
Velocity spans 1.5km over the quarry lake below and can reach speeds up to and beyond 100mph! Not only will you experience amazing views over Snowdonia National Park, but you’ll also get an adrenaline rush like no other. Plus, with four zip lines running parallel, you can enjoy the experience alongside friends and family and see who reaches the other side of the quarry first.
Address: Zip World Penrhyn Quarry, Bethesda, LL57 4YG.
3. Trampoline through an underground cavern
Another of the best things to do in Snowdonia for those looking for something a little bit different is bouncing through the caverns of a disused mine at Bounce Below.
Also a member of the Zip World family, Bounce Below is a series of trampoline-style nets built into a cavern twice the size of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Each of the huge trampolines is connected by staircases and spiral slides… just like a real-life game of snakes and ladders. Kids and big kids at heart can jump, bounce and slide their way around the unique underground playground in what has to be one of the most unusual attractions in Snowdonia.
Address: Zip World Slate Caverns, Blaenau Ffestiniog, LL41 3NB.
4. Visit the largest natural lake in Wales
Snowdonia may be best known for its mountains, but the national park is also home to the largest natural lake in all of Wales; Bala Lake, or Llyn Tegid in Welsh. The long lake sits at the bottom of the Penllyn mountain ranges of Aran, Arenig and Berwyn in eastern Snowdonia.
There’s something to do around Bala Lake for everyone, whether you’re looking for relaxation or an adrenaline rush. You can enjoy the lovely market town of Bala, sit on the edge of the lake with a picnic, ride the Bala Lake Railway along the shore or enjoy the lake’s many watersports including sailing, canoeing, kayaking and wild swimming.
Bala Lake even has its own monster known locally as ‘Teggie’ – so be sure to keep an eye out!
5. Give white water rafting a try
Located not far from Bala Lake you’ll also find the National White Water Centre, the first commercial white water rafting and kayaking centre in the UK.
The centre offers exhilarating white water adventures on the world-class natural rapids of the River Tryweryn. You can book a more timid introductory session or a full-blown white water safari plus more. All activities are suitable for ages 12 and up.
6. Have a world-first surfing experience
Adventure Parc Snowdonia is home to the world’s first inland surf lagoon. The outdoor lagoon features advanced technology that delivers perfect waves every 90 seconds, with various settings to cater for beginners all the way up to advanced surfers.
New surfers can opt for a surf lesson or a course, while more experienced surfers can surf freely in one of the dedicated ‘Just Surf’ zones.
The Snowdonia adventure park has plenty of other activities and experiences too, including indoor caving, high ropes, rock climbing, an assault course, stand up paddleboarding, swimming, an on-site spa and more.
7. Go gorge walking
We’ve covered the lakes, rivers and man-made lagoons… so now it’s time for the gorges. With its mountainous landscape, there are countless gorges in Snowdonia, making it an ideal place for the exciting outdoor adventure of gorge walking – the little brother of canyoneering.
If you’ve never tried gorge walking before, the term walking is perhaps a bit misleading. Gorge walking will actually have you scrambling, climbing, abseiling, rock hopping, jumping and swimming your way down a gorge, exploring caves and waterfalls along the way. All with an experienced guide and the right equipment of course.
Gorge walking is one of Snowdonia’s most thrilling outdoor activities and makes for a great adrenaline-fuelled day out for active families or groups of friends.
8. Discover Snowdonia’s most epic waterfalls
With its many waterways, it’s unsurprising that Snowdonia National Park is also filled with many amazing waterfalls. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love chasing waterfalls!?
Some the best waterfalls in Snowdonia include:
- Swallow Falls – the highest continuous waterfall in Wales.
- Aber Falls – one of the largest waterfalls in Snowdonia.
- Conwy Falls – picturesque falls hidden within ancient woodland, known as ‘the fairy glenn’.
- Ogwen Falls – series of cascading waterfalls along the Ogwen River.
- Afon Cwm Llan Falls – found along the Watkin Path up to the summit of Snowdon.
9. Spend a day in the Mediterranean
Okay, maybe not the Mediterranean. But it’s certainly the closest you’ll get in the UK.
Portmeirion is a colourful tourist village on the northwest coast of Wales which was designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis in the style of a village on the Italian Riviera.
Sitting on the edge of Snowdonia National Park, the picturesque Welsh town is known for its brightly coloured buildings and many quirky objects and statues collected by Williams-Ellis – don’t miss the giant chess set. It is also home to large woodland gardens and plenty of beautiful exotic plants which you can see on the free train ride around the estate.
The town has its own hotel, self-catering holiday homes, several Italian-style cafes and restaurants, shops, galleries and a swimming pool to enjoy.
Note: If you’re not staying in the town’s accommodation, you do have to pay an entry fee to visit.
10. Explore mighty Caernarfon Castle
There are hundreds of castles all across Wales – the country often gets called the ‘castle capital of the world’ – but mighty Caernarfon Castle has to be the most famous and most fascinating.
Located in the historic port town of Caernarfon, the 700-year-old Royal fortress is recognised around the world as one of the greatest buildings of the Middle Ages. The impressive castle was built by Edward I of England at a pivotal point in his conquest of Wales. The castle’s design was inspired by the architecture of Constantinople (now Instanbul), the imperial power of Rome at the time.
Today you can head inside the castle to admire its grand stature and learn about its long history of conflict and the many legends that surround it.
11. Take a tour of Electric Mountain
Dinorwig Power Station is a unique pumped-storage hydroelectric power station hidden away in the underground caverns of Elidir Mountain, on the site of a historic slate quarry. The station has been fittingly nicknamed Electric Mountain.
While you won’t be able to see much from the outside – that’s the whole point – the Electric Mountain Visitor Center allows guests of all ages to step inside the unusual power station and embark on a fascinating tour of the underground tunnels. You’ll be able to see the pumps and turbines at work and learn all about how the station generates sustainable energy.
Note, 2021: The Electric Mountain Visitor Center is currently undergoing a large renovation so is temporarily closed. Please check their website for any announcements on when the popular Snowdonia attraction will be reopening.
12. Take a day trip to the Isle of Anglesea
The Isle of Anglesea is located just off Wales’ northwest coast. A day trip to the small island is one of the best things to do near Snowdonia National Park.
Full post on the best things to do in Anglesea coming soon – be sure to keep an eye out!
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