Think of north west Wales and many people think of Mount Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa in Welsh) in Snowdonia National Park. Standing tall at 1,085m (3,560 feet) high, this is the highest mountain in Wales and England and is part of a family of mountain peaks that sit in the heart of this corner of Wales.
It’s one of the most famous and recognisable landmarks in the area and one that’s well worth visiting. However, it is not the only highlight to discover in this magical region.
To help visitors make the most of this area of Wales is the Snowdonia360. This touring route – covering 364 miles – aims to make this corner of the UK more accessible showcasing the best places to visit in Snowdonia, Anglesey, Llŷn Peninsula, and the North Wales Coast.
It’s hoped that the driving route will introduce visitors (both local and from further afield) to this spellbinding corner of the world year-round and the myriad attractions, adventures and activities that there are to do.
The Snowdonia360 was originally launched just weeks prior to lockdown in March 2020 and sadly – like travel around the world – ground to a quick halt. Now that travel is back to normal, however, the route has re-launched and we were lucky enough to spend time exploring a part of it.
As we only had a limited time, our Snowdonia itinerary concentrated on the Llyn Peninsula and Snowdonia National Park. We unfortunately didn’t have time to explore Anglesey and the North Wales Coast on this trip but you can find out more about them on the Snowdonia360 website (and we hope to be back soon to explore them ourselves).
Disclosure: I worked with Snowdonia 360 for the purpose of producing this guide. All opinions are entirely my own. For more information, please see my disclosure policy.
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The Snowdonia 360
The Snowdonia 360 is aimed at all travellers from families and couples to cyclists, food lovers, caravan enthusiasts, and more. The interactive website allows visitors to create their own itinerary according to their interests and passions.
So, rather than having to do the entire 364 mile route, visitors can dip in and out, finding the sights and activities that they are most interested in, and that fits into their schedule. The website is available in both English and Welsh and it’s hoped that local tourists will be as excited about discovering new places to go in north west Wales as those travelling from further afield.
5 Days in Snowdonia: When to Go
It’s possible to visit Snowdonia at any time of year. When you choose to go depends entirely on what you want to do but the beauty of this region is that there’s something to do every month.
Summer: June – August
In terms of weather, summer is the best time of year to visit Snowdonia and it’s certainly the most popular. It is the warmest season in Wales and, if you’re lucky, you’ll experience temperatures of up to 28C. Summer also enjoys long days and it is often still light at 11pm.
However, the summer months do get very busy and you will have to book accommodation, activities and restaurants well in advance. The small town of Abersoch in the Llyn Peninsula or Anglesey are very popular summer holiday spots.
Autumn: September – November
Visit Snowdonia in Autumn for the beautiful colours. This is when the parks, mountains and forests transform into a canvas of reds, yellows and orange. If you visit towards the end of autumn you might even see some snow.
Weather is unpredictable during this season – and rain is common – so come prepared with layers and a good waterproof. The benefits of visiting during this time are fewer visitor numbers, beautiful scenery and still lots to do! You can still go surfing at the Snowdonia Adventure Parc until the end of November or even early December.
Winter: Late November – March
Winter is a beautiful time to visit Snowdonia however be prepared for challenging weather (although days can be clear and crisp if you’re lucky) as well as challenging hiking and walking conditions. You won’t have to deal with any crowds, however, and the snowy mountains are stunning.
Spring: April – May
We travelled along the Snowdonia 360 at the start of April and had beautiful weather one day (blue skies and sunshine), overcast weather the next and some drizzle on the third and fourth.
Spring is a great time to visit as most attractions are open again but visitor numbers are still low. The downside is that some attractions and restaurants are still on skeleton hours. Plus, you might get rain. But let’s face it, this is Wales and rain is always possible so just make sure you pack appropriately!
5 Days in Snowdonia: Our Route
The above map is marked as follows: Day 1 with yellow markers; Day 2 with green markers; Day 3 with a red marker; Day 4 with blue markers; and Day 5 with a purple marker.
We were based in the Llyn Peninsula for our during our time in Snowdonia, staying at the Wern Fawr Manor Farm near the town of Pwllheli. We actually spent four days but there is so much to do that I have created this five day itinerary, to better showcase all the attractions.
It worked well for us being in the Llyn Peninsula for the duration of our stay but another option would be to split the trip and also spend a couple of nights in Snowdonia National Park itself (we’re particular fans of the town of Beddgelert). The Snowdonia360 website has a lot of really good accommodation options.
Day 1 in Snowdonia
One of the things we love about Snowdonia is how much there is to do in the Great Outdoors – no matter the weather. Case in point, we spent our first day in Snowdonia at Glasfryn Parc Activity Centre.
If you’re visiting Snowdonia with kids then Glasfryn Parc is the perfect place to go. Activities offered include go-karting, wakeboarding, clay pigeon shooting, archery, mini-golf, fishing, bowling, and more. It also has an Aqua Park, an inflatable obstacle course in the middle of the lake. The Aqua Park has an additional ‘Wipeout’-style course and The BLOB, a giant inflatable bag that propels participants up in the air and into the water, much like a catapult.
We tried the Aqua Park (all wetsuits, life jackets and helmets are provided) as well as go-karting (again, all equipment is provided). We spent a happy morning at Glasfryn but you could easily spend all day here and there is a cafe on site.
Driving Time: From Wern Fawr Manor Farm – or the nearby towns of Abersoch or Pwlhelli – it’s a 20-30 minute drive to Galsfryn Parc.
From Glafryn Parc it’s a 10-minute drive to Nant Gwrtheyrn, a former mining village and now the Welsh Language and Heritage Centre. The coastal location is spectacular, particularly if you have good weather on your side. Just be aware of the road – it’s a scenic drive but a steep one!
The quarry named Nant Gwrtheryn opened in 1861 and the village (named Porth y Nant) grew up around it. Houses were built for quarry workers and their families, with men coming from as far away as Scotland to mine the three quarries on site.
The village was made up of two rows of 24 cottages as well as a manager’s house, an office, a shop, and a chapel. There’s a replica Victorian house onsite that you can visit today. There are also holiday cottages available to rent. By the 1950s the quarries had closed and the village was slowly abandoned.
The Welsh Language and Heritage Centre shares the history of Nant Gwrtheyrn through photos, text and some memorabilia and shares some Welsh legends, including that of Rhys and Meinir.
There’s a cafe on site with views over the coat making it a great place to stop for lunch or afternoon tea (we can vouch for their delicious cakes!). Do take a wander down to the beach and, if you’re feeling active, you can join the Wales Coastal Path and walk to Penrhyn Glas Quarry on the opposite headland of the bay.
If you’re visiting during the spring or summer months then it’s worth taking advantage of the longer days and driving the Snowdonia360 route around the peninsula. The scenic roads wind their way along the coast and through pretty villages, showcasing just how beautiful this corner of Wales really is.
One option is to head for Uwchmynydd, where you’ll see some spectacular sea stacks as well as spy Yny Enlli (Bardsey Islan) in the distance.
Another option is to travel to Aberdaron, a charming fishing village peppered with cafes and restaurants and with a lovely sandy beach. The beach is popular with families as well as for watersports including sailing, kayaking, windsurfing or surfing. Boat trips also set off form here to explore the surrounding area.
There is a National Trust car park near the beach.
Day 2 in Snowdonia
Day two in Snowdonia is all about enjoying a part of Welsh history. The Ffestiniog & Welsh Highlands Railway is the oldest independent railway in the world, first established in 1832 to ferry slate from the mines to the port at Porthmadog to be taken around the world. Originally the slate was transported on carts pulled by horses before the first steam train was employed.
Ffestiniog & Welsh Highlands Railway
There are a number of heritage train journeys to choose from depending on whether you want a half day or a full day train experience. We took a morning ride on the Woodland Wanderer, which runs through the heart of the woodlands of the Snowdonia National Park. It’s a beautiful route, taking around 45 minutes to reach Tan-y-Bwlch where there’s a Tea Room and a nature trail if you feel like stretching your legs. The train stops for about an hour before making the return trip.
For a longer trip, the Mountain Spirit runs the full length of the Ffestiniog Railway to Blaenau Ffestiniog, the former ‘slate capital of the world’.
All train journeys depart from the town of Porthmadog and it’s well worth booking your journey in advance, particularly during peak season.
Drive time: From Wern Fawr Manor Farm – or the nearby towns of Abersoch or Pwlhelli – it takes approximately 40 minutes to reach Porthmadog.
Black Rock Sands
Just 10 minutes away from Porthmadog is Black Rock Sands, a sandy beach with rocky areas (although not black!) and some great rock pooling opportunities. The beach is backed by a dune system, which has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
On a clear day you can see Snowdonia National Park in the distance.
There is no dedicated car park but a slipway allows vehicle access to the sands meaning that you can park on the beach.
As you travel back towards the southern part of the Llyn Peninsula it’s worth stopping in Criccieth, a seaside village famous for its impressive castle. Criccieth Castle sits on a rocky headland overlooking two beaches with spectacular views over the town and Cardigan Bay.
The castle built by Llywelyn the Great, taken over by Llywelyn the Last and later invaded by Edward I. In 1404 Owain Glyndŵr attacked the castle, burning down the towers, and bringing the town back under Welsh control.
Today you can visit what remains of the castle, which is quite a lot considering it was first built in 1230. The twin towers of the gatehouse are arguably the most impressive part of the castle but there are also remains of castle walls to see (and clamber over!).
Day 3 in Snowdonia
One of our favourite places in north west Wales, and one that deserves a full day, is Adventure Parc Snowdonia. Located at the foot of Snowdonia National Park, this adventure centre is jam-packed with adventure activities.
Adventure Parc Snowdonia
The highlight is Surf Snowdonia, the world’s first inland surf lagoon that opened in 2015. The 300m-long lagoon is filled entirely by water that has “rained, snowed, drizzled and misted” its way into Snowdonia mountain reservoirs. It then passes through a hydroelectric plant that helps to power around 20,000 households a year before entering a filtration system and into the lagoon.
The lagoon then generates consistent waves that are suitable for everyone whether you’re a beginner or an expert – there are different points in the lagoon depending on your ability.
Lessons are available from the age of 5 years old and you can also just grab a board and try your hand (or, foot, rather) in the beginner waves. Wetsuits, gloves, boots and neoprene hoods are all available. It’s brilliant fun and well worth trying during your time in Snowdonia.
The Adventure Parc is also home to a bike track, some camping pods and their Adrenaline Indoors adventure centre. Indoor activities include climbing walls, leaps of faith and an extreme slide. They also have a netted aerial assault course, high rise bag jumps, and a ninja parkour floor trail. There’s also a zip line from the rooftop of the Adrenaline Indoors centre across the lagoon and the centre is home to one of the longest artificial indoor caving courses in the world.
Make sure to book all your activities well in advance.
Driving time: From the towns of Abersoch or Pwllheli it takes approximately 1hour 20minutes. You may choose to be based within Snowdonia National Park for this portion of the itinerary.
Day 4 in Snowdonia
Day four in Snowdonia is all about exploring Snowdonia National Park. There are lots of ways to enjoy this UNESCO World Heritage Site depending on your interests.
Snowdonia National Park
For those who like walking then there’s the opportunity to hike to the summit of Snowdon. As the highest mountain in Wales, climbing Snowdon is not for the faint hearted. It is a challenging hike and can be hard work.
It should only really be attempted if your children are used to walking (and enjoy it!). A hike will take anywhere between 5 – 8 hours to hike up and down the mountain.
This is a good post on hiking Snowdon with kids if you are considering it.
There are six different walking routes available to conquer the 1,085 metre-high mountain; the Llanberis path, Pyg Track, Miners’ Track, Watkin Path, Rhyd-Ddu Path or the Snowdon Ranger Path. Of these, the Llanberis Path is the easiest and longest of the six main paths.
If you would like to see the summit but can’t quite muster up the enthusiasm to trek then there is another option, the Snowdon Mountain Railway.
The Snowdon Mountain Railway is a narrow gauge rack and pinion mountain railway that typically travels from Llanberis to the summit of Snowdon. For 2022, however, the train is running to Clogwyn Station, which is 3/4 distance to the summit of Snowdon.
Described as one of the most scenic railway journeys in the world, this is a great way – and undoubtedly much easier way – way to travel up Snowdon.
Make sure to book train tickets well in advance.
Of course you don’t have to travel to the summit of Snowdon, there are lots of walks around the foot of Snowdon. One popular walk is through the undisturbed valley of Nant Gwynant to the lake named Llyn Gwynant.
Or you can choose to explore some of the picturesque villages and friendly towns that dot the area. One such village is Beddgelert, a stone-built village made famous by the tale of a dog.
Legend has it that Prince Llewelyn left his faithful dog Gelert to look after his baby while he went off hunting. When he returned, however, he saw his dog had blood around his muzzle. Fearing that his hound had harmed his baby he fatally wounded the dog only to later discover an injured wolf near to his infant son.
So traumatised was Prince Llewelyn that he named the town after his dog, Gelert. Beddgelert means ‘Gelert’s Grave’. Today visitors can visit Gelert’s grave near to the river and there’s a statue of Gelert nearby too.
The story, despite having become part of Welsh folklore, is entirely made up! Local traders conjured up the story in a bid to lure visitors to their village. This early-day marketing strategy worked! Today Beddgelert is one of the most popular destinations within Snowdonia National Park.
It’s a pretty village to simply wander around and makes a good base for exploring the classic sights and natural beauty spots nearby. Beddgelert is also one of the stop-off points on the Welsh Highland Railway from Caernarfon to Porthmadog. Something to be aware of if you’re hoping to get lunch when the train pulls in and all passengers disembark to the nearest cafe!
Sygun Copper Mine
Not far from Beddgelert is the Sygun Copper Mine, a Victorian copper mine that closed in 1903. It reopened in 1986 as a tourist attraction and today offers a fascinating insight into what life was like working in a historic copper mine.
Visitors can explore the mine on a self-guided tour that takes you through winding tunnels and into large colourful chambers. Guests are given hard hats to wear, which is handy given the low ceilings in many of the tunnels!
There were no natural caverns when the mine was first excavated and all the caverns that you see today were dug by hand using picks, shovels, hammers and chisels. All work was carried out by candlelight. Since being abandoned, impressive stalactites and stalagmites have formed in the caverns.
There are a handful of commentary stops along the way that tell you about life in the mine. Not surprisingly, it was a challenging place to work with the average life span for miners being 40 years. It was also common for women and children to work in the mines during Victorian times. ‘Copper Ladies’ were charged with sorting through the mined rock, which was brought to them by boys as young as 7 years old.
Other activities at Sygun Copper Mine today include the chance to pan for gold and try your hand at metal detecting for old coins (both these activities incur an extra cost).
A small exhibition next door to the gift shop has copper and bronze items on display, many of which were found in the local area. These include bronze brooches dating back to Roman times and arrowheads from Medieval times.
Betws y Coed
The pretty town of Betws-y-Coed is the gateway to Snowdonia. It’s very picturesque with stone houses, bridges and waterfalls in the town centre. Stop by the Snowdonia National Park Visitor Centre for information on good local walks and, of course, tackling Snowdon.
It’s a popular spot stop to do some shopping; there are lots of stores selling crafts, gifts and local homemade produce as well as outdoor gear shops and art galleries. Anna Davies is the flagship store of the village, having opened in 1956.
We had a great lunch at the Alpine Coffee Shop, which has quirky decor and great food. Their afternoon tea also looked very good. We also had dinner here one night at Hangin’ Pizzeria, a palm-oil free pizza joint that does very good pizzas.
Day 5 in Snowdonia
For your final day in Snowdonia, head to Zip World at Llechwedd. Located on the site of a former slate mine in Blaenau Ffestiniog, this adventure park offers five different adventures.
Zip World Llechwedd
These are Caverns, an underground adventure zip line and adventure course; Titan 2, Europe’s first four-person zip line; the Deep Mine tour that takes you 500ft below ground to learn all about Llechwedd’s fascinating past; Big Red, two side-by-side zip lines; and Bounce Below, an underground net adventure. They are currently building a new adventure, a subterranean golf course.
We tried Bounce Below and had a great time. Six trampoline-style nets have been erected in a cavern that’s twice the size of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. Music plays and lights illuminate the nets as you bounce, run and jump your way around for one hour. It is both bonkers and brilliant.
Zip World also have locations at Zip World Forest in Betws-y-Coed, Zip World Penrhyn Quarry, and Zip World Tower in Aberdare. Penrhyn Quarry is home to Velocity 2, the fastest zip line in the world.
What to pack for Snowdonia
Packing lists will depend on what time of year you choose to visit Snowdonia but there are some things that you should pack no matter the season:
Hiking shoes: Make sure to pack good walking shoes for both yourself and your kids. Even if you don’t plan on trekking up Snowdon, good walking shoes for exploring the many pretty trails are a good idea. Ideally pack waterproof hiking shoes.
Waterproof jacket: A good waterproof jacket is essential. The weather can change quickly in north west Wales and rain is not uncommon.
Swimsuit: If you plan on trying surfing at Surf Snowdonia, jumping off the Aqua Park as Glasfryn, or having a swim at one of the beautiful beaches then you’ll want to have your swimsuit with you. Make sure to bring a quick-drying towel. If visiting during cooler months then a DryRobe is a good idea. Flip flops are also handy.
Backpack: A good backpack for carting around your (and your kids’) stuff is helpful. Make sure you have one that’s comfortable to carry around all day.
Portable powerpack: I used my phone to navigate my way around so you’ll want to ensure you have a power pack to keep your phone charged.
Sunglasses and sunscreen: When the sun shines in Snowdonia it can be hot! Make sure to pack sunscreen, sunglasses and a hat for everyone.
Final Thoughts on Snowdonia
We loved our time in Snowdonia and are already looking forward to returning to explore more of the region. If you’re looking to plan a trip to Snowdonia then hopefully you have found this blog post helpful. For more ideas and information take a look at the Snowdonia360 website to help you plan that perfect itinerary for your north west Wales road trip.