The Llŷn Peninsula peninsula stretches 30 miles (50km) into the Irish Sea in North West Wales. It forms part of Snowdonia (it’s often called “Snowdon’s arm”) and is easily reached on the Snowdonia 360, a 360-mile route through the best of Snowdonia, Anglesey, Llŷn Peninsula, and the North Wales Coast.
It’s a stunningly beautiful place, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, that promises visitors culture, heritage, adventure, beaches, bays and sea-cliffs. It’s rugged and wild peppered with fishing villages and farmsteads and is brilliant for families.
There is lots to do in this corner of North Wales from walking and water sports to wildlife spotting, beautiful short coastal walks and a good range of sandy beaches. Plus, staying in the Llyn Peninsula (also written Lleyn Peninsula) gives you easy access to Snowdonia National Park. We were based in the Llyn Peninsula as part of our Snowdonia itinerary.
It’s also filled with stories. Like much of Wales, the Llyn Peninsula, enjoys its fair share of myths, legends and folklore. In fact, the Welsh culture and identity of this corner of the Snowdonia region has been significantly influenced by stories of giants, monsters and magic from King Arthur to the tale of Rhys and Meinir (more on them later).
This is a wonderful place to visit with kids and one that I can’t believe I haven’t visited before. If you’re planning a family holiday to Snowdonia then I highly recommend visiting (and staying in) ‘Snowdon’s arm’. And if you need more persuading, then here are some of the best things to do in Llyn Peninsula.
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.
Map of Llyn Peninsula
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We spent a brilliant morning at Glasfryn Parc Activity Centre while staying on the Llyn Peninsula. This adventure centre has dozens of activities on offer and is a great place to visit with kids.
Activities offered include go-karting, wakeboarding, clay pigeon shooting, archery, mini-golf, fishing, bowling, and more. It also has an Aqua Park, which we tried on one (still chilly!) April morning.
If you haven’t been on an Aqua Park before then it’s a giant inflatable obstacle course placed out in water, normally the middle of a lake. There are wobbly bridges to clamber over, towers to climb up, slides to slide down, a jumping off point, and more. I’ll be honest, it was cold when we visited the Aqua Park at Glasfryn but it was still a lot of fun.
The parc provide wetsuits, lifejackets and safety helmets and there are some (fairly basic) changing rooms available (apparently these are about to be updated).
In addition to the Aqua Park inflatable course, there’s an additional obstacle course and The BLOB. The BLOB is a giant inflatable bag that propels participants up in the air and into the water, much like a catapult.
We also tried go-karting, which was great fun. There are two go-karting tracks at Glasfryn, a junior and a senior track. All equipment is provided including a race suit and a helmet.
Kids must be aged between 8 – 13 to drive solo on the Junior track; teens aged 14+ can drive on the Senior circuit. Children aged 3 and up can still take part as there are double-seated karts available where they can drive accompanied by an adult (aged 18 or over).
Glasfryn Parc is great fun and my kids loved their time there. It’s not the newest or shiniest adventure park but the activities are great fun and the staff are excellent. There’s also a cafe on site – handy for when you want to warm up with a hot chocolate after the Aqua Park!
See the Glasfryn Parc website for more information.
Nant Gwrtheyrn is a Welsh Language and Heritage Centre, located near the village of Llithfaen on the northern coast of the beautiful peninsula.
It was once a mining village with a long history stretching back 2,000 years (not all mining, obviously). But it was then abandoned and only brought back to life 2011 with the opening of the Welsh Language and Heritage Centre.
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. By the 1950s the quarries had closed and the village was slowly abandoned.
Nant Gwrtheryn is a fantastic place to visit, particularly if you have good weather on your side. The Welsh Language and Heritage Centre shares the history of Nant Gwrtheyrn through photos, text and some memorabilia.
It also shares some Welsh legends including the story of Rhys and Meinir, a tragic love story of a young couple who met as children and fell in love.
On their wedding day Meinir hid from her groom as was tradition. No matter how hard Rhys searched, however, he could not find his bride-to-be. He searched for months and it was only during a storm, when a lightning bolt hit the oak tree where the couple would play as children, that the tree split in half to reveal a skeleton wearing a wedding dress. There’s a statue on site honouring this tragic tale.
If the weather is on your side then wander down towards the beach, past the remnants of what was once a port. You can pick up the Wales Coastal Path here which runs through ancient coastal woodland to Penrhyn Glas Quarry on the opposite headland of the bay.
Be aware that the road leading down to Nant Gwrtheryn is very steep and winding!
Learn more about Nant Gwrtheryn on their website.
Located in the town of the same name, Criccieth Castle sits on a rocky headland overlooking two beaches with spectacular views over the town and Cardigan Bay.
It was built by Llywelyn the Great, taken over by Llywelyn the Last and later invaded by Edward I. With each successive ruler came improvements and modifications to the castle – Edward I added a stone-throwing machine to the north tower in order to deter Welsh attacks!
In 1404, when it was still controlled by the English, the towers were burnt down by Owain Glyndŵr and the town once again became entirely Welsh and was given the name Criccieth.
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.
There is a small exhibition next to the gift shop at the castle.
Discover more about Criccieth Castle on the website.
Located two miles off the tip of the Llyn Peninsula is Bardsey Island (Ynys Enlli), a small island rich in wildlife and dramatic scenery. The island measures just 1.5miles long and is just over half-a-mile wide at its widest point.
For such a small island, Bardsey has a colourful history largely as a place of pilgrimage since the early years of Christianity – it’s often called the “island of 20,000 saints” owing to its popularity for visiting pilgrims. Today the remains of the thirteenth century Augustinian Abbey of St. Mary can be seen on the island.
Of more interest for kids, perhaps, is the wildlife that call Bardsey Island home. The island is a designated National Nature Reserve and is an important migratory route with an observatory established to monitor the birds. The waters surrounding the island are home to grey seals, dolphins and porpoises.
Even more exciting are the claims that Bardsey is the real Avalon, where King Arthur was buried.
Bardesey Island can be visited on a boat trip from Aberdaron. If you don’t have time to visit the island itself (it’s a good day trip out) then you can get good views of the island from Uwchmynydd.
Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways
One of our favourite day’s out while in the Llyn Peninsula was on board the Woodland Wanderer, one of the journeys run by the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways.
This 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 – the train itself arrived in town on a horse and cart!
Today the Ffestiniog Railway is a major tourist attractions with visitors coming from all over the world to ride along the narrow-gauge heritage railway. There are, in fact, two railways that share the same track gauge and meet at Porthmadog station.
There are various journeys to choose from, each one as atmospheric as the other. We took a 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.
Looking like something out of Harry Potter is the Mountain Spirit, a wonderful steam train that takes passengers along the entire length of the Ffestiniog Railway.
Although there’s no doubt that the countryside is best enjoyed when bathed in sunshine, a trip along the Ffestiniog Railway is also a great option on rainy days.
Take a look at the various options on the Ffestiniog Railway website. The trains depart from Porthmadog, which is located at the top of the Llyn Peninsula, on the edge of the national park.
The beaches of Llyn Peninsula
The Llyn Peninsula is home to some stunning beaches, long sweeps of golden sand backed by seas that, thanks to the gulf stream, are warmer than other parts of Snowdonia. The peninsula enjoys a unique micro climate too, meaning that it may well be sunny here when it’s pouring with rain elsewhere.
We managed to visit a handful of beaches during our time exploring the Llyn Peninsula but there are many more that we didn’t get the chance to see. These are some of the best for families.
The Blue Flag beach of Abersoch is a short walk from the town. The large, sheltered sandy beach sits on the southeast facing side of the peninsula and is popular with families owing to the lack of severe currents or rip tides. There’s also a motor boat exclusion zone, which means safe swimming for kids (and adults!). Colourful beach huts line the beach and are available to rent by the day or the week.
Boat trips run from Abersoch to St Tudwal and Bardsey Island.
Toilets, pay parking. Dog restrictions apply April – end September.
Located just 5 minute drive or 30 minute walk from Wern Fawr Manor Farm (see below for details) is Llanbedrog beach. This wide stretch of sand is perfect for families with shallow paddling water and colourful beach huts. There is a National Trust car park on site and a beach cafe. We also spotted a mobile book library when here.
Porth Neigwl, or hell’s mouth as its more commonly called, is a south west facing beach popular with surfers thanks to its consistently good – and large – waves. Expert surfers should head to the north end of the beach.
Swimmers, on the other hand, should be careful of the strong currents and undertows. There are no facilities at the beach. Small car park (no charge) with 200m footpath to the beach. Dogs are allowed.
We happened upon Aberdaron Beach and I’m really glad that we did. This mile-long strip of golden sand is ideal for families – and there were plenty there when we visited.
It’s a popular spot for watersports including sailing, kayaking, windsurfing or surfing. Boat trips also set off form here to explore the surrounding area.
The town of Aberdaron is equally charming with plenty of cafes and restaurants.
The beach has disabled access too.
We heard great things about Porthor (also spelled Porth Oer), known in English as “Whistling Sands” owing to the squeak or whistle made when walking along the unique shaped sand particles in warm weather.
Whistling Sands is a lovely secluded beach where you can spot seals or maybe even dolphins. The beach is also home to Cormorants, Yellowhammers, Razorbills and other birdlife. In the right conditions, the break at Porthor is ideal for surfing and bodyboarding and is particularly popular with families during the summer school holidays.
Visit the town of Abersoch
Abersoch is a small village on the southern side of the Llyn Peninsula that’s a hugely popular spot with holidaymakers (and second-home owners). It’s a charming town filled with shops, cafes, restaurants and bars. It’s also close to a number of very good beaches.
At three miles wide, Porth Niegwl is the longest beach on the south coast but Porth Mawr is slightly closer to the heart of Abersoch. Abersoch itself is well known for its good sailing waters and there are two sailing clubs in town. Other activities include walking (there are six circular walks starting from Abersoch ranging from under one mile to over nine miles).
In August the town holds its annual Regatta with fun-spirited activities including dinghy races, competitive crab-catching, sandcastle-building and beach hut decorating.
We mostly enjoyed visiting Abersoch to wander around and to eat. We had an excellent dinner at Kin (dinners on Friday and Saturday only). Other restaurants serving tasty local food that come recommended include the Potted Lobster and The Dining Rooms.
One of our highlights in Abersoch, however, was ice cream from Two Islands Ice Cream. This cafe and ice cream shop are owned by a local couple who have done a fantastic job of creating a cool cafe that serves amazing ice cream and cakes. The coffee is very good too!
One thing to note, if you’re visiting during the holiday seasons then make sure to book restaurants in advance. This is a small village and the restaurants get booked quickly. Out of season, don’t be surprised if places are only operating skeleton hours. Finally, Zinc restaurant is peculiar about when they allow families to eat (not after 6.30pm) so be aware if you’re hoping to dine there with kids under the age of 13 years old.
See the Abersoch website for more information.
Ty Coch Inn
Located in the characterful fishing village of Porth Dinllaen, near Morfa Nefyn, is the Ty Coch Inn. This pub, which has been listed among the world’s best beach bars, can only be accessed by foot, a 20 minute walk from the nearest car park.
Ty Coch was first built in 1823 and was first a vicarage before being opened as an inn in 1842 to supply refreshments to the shipbuilders who worked on the beach.
Today it’s one of the best places to enjoy a summer’s drink. The beach at Morfa Nefyn is a two-mile long sweep of sand popular with surfers, windsurfers and kite surfers.
Where to stay on the Llŷn Peninsula
We stayed at Wern Fawr Manor Farm, a family-run farm with five holiday cottages located in between the towns of Pwllheli and Abersoch. Run by Alan, Helen and their children it’s a fantastic place to stay with everything you could need from self-catering accommodation in an ideal spot to explore the Llyn Peninsula.
The house, originally built in 1570, was once home to one of the most important families in north Wales, the Love Parry’s. It changed hands numerous times over the ensuing centuries until it was bought by Alan in 1997. Alan spent three and a half years restoring the main house and the outbuildings and, alongside Helen, has been running it as holiday lets ever since. Today it is Grade II listed building.
We stayed in Bragdy Wern, a four-bedroom cottage that sleeps 10 people. There’s a sunny conservatory, a generous-sized living / dining room with a multi fuel burning stove, a well-appointed kitchen and two very good bathrooms. There are two bedrooms downstairs and a further two upstairs. Plus, each cottage (ours included) is equipped with a ‘starter pack’ with eggs, milk, bread, butter, tea and coffee.
Bragdy Wern was a great place for us to stay. It was very homely, cosy and quiet, with only the horses in the next door field for company. The farm is also home to chickens and ducks – ideal for entertaining younger kids! Plus, there are woodlands for wandering in and the beach of Llanbedrog is not far away.
The other four cottages sleep from two people to six people. These are:
- Rose Cottage (sleeps 6)
- The Cottage (sleeps 5)
- Camellia Cottage (sleeps 2-4)
- The Forge (sleeps 2)
- Barnside Lodge (sleeps 4-6)
The property also has a handful of rooms within the manor house itself that they operate on a B&B basis. In addition to welcoming families with open arms, this is a very pet-friendly destinations!
What really makes Wern Fawr Manor Farm a great place to stay on the Llyn Peninsula, however, are the owners themselves. Helen and Alan are extremely hospitable and nothing is too much trouble. They went out of their way to make sure we had everything we needed for our stay. We can’t wait to go back!