A traveller's guide to Snowdonia, North Wales

It’s all about the outdoors in this wild Welsh region, whether you’re climbing Snowdon itself or paddling on rapids.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019,
By Nicola Trup
National White Water Centre
Making a splash at the National White Water Centre.
Photograph by Getty

Covering a huge swathe of North Wales, Snowdonia National Park is home to some of the country’s most dramatic landscapes. Spiked with mountains, lakes, pretty slate villages and the odd castle, it’s ideal hiking territory, and alongside well-trodden routes you’ll find quieter tracks where sheep are your only company. It’s ripe for road trips too, with scenic drives connecting the best hikes, bike routes and restaurants. Visit in autumn, just as the leaves are turning, and you’ll find ‘fall colours’ to rival New England’s.

What to do

Of the many peaks in this area, Snowdon is the one that really calls out to be scaled. There are several hiking routes to the summit (the Miners’ Track is perhaps the most picturesque) but the narrow-gauge Snowdon Mountain Railway will take the weight off your feet.

Where to eat

On the southern edge of the national park, restaurant-with-rooms Ynyshir serves a fine-dining menu that celebrates Wales’ landscape and changes with the seasons. Look out for local ingredients including Welsh wagyu beef. 

Where to stay

Betws-y-Coed, in northeast Snowdonia, is an ideal base for outdoor adventures. Upstairs in the town’s train station are five Alpine Apartments, which aren’t just eccentric in location — expect brash colours and one-off artworks. One-bed flats from £450 a week, self-catering. 

We like

Purple Moose Brewery made its first ale in 2005, and has become so popular it even has its own merch. Tour the brewery in Porthmadog, where the beers are made with Welsh mountain water. 

Don't miss

Pembrokeshire may be Wales’ coasteering capital, but Snowdonia is canyoning country. Climb, scramble, jump and swim in a river gorge with the National White Water Centre — or try paddling the rapids of the Tryweryn river instead. 

Follow @nickytrup

Published in the September 2019 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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