Straddling the border between Gwynedd and neighbouring Conwy, Snowdonia National Park is undoubtedly the region’s main draw. Established in 1951 (as Wales’ first national park and the UK’s third), this is where you’ll find Wales’ tallest mountain (Snowdon, 1085m), countless hiking trails, glistening lakes, heritage railways and crumbling castles. Pack your walking boots and come prepared – there’s so much to see you’ll never squeeze it into one trip.
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Encircled by the park, Blaenau Ffestiniog makes a great base for your Snowdonia adventures. The town was once known as the ‘slate capital of the world’ – indeed, you’ll still see towering screes of the stuff spilling down the mountains nearby. In 2021 the slate landscapes of Wales (including Blaenau Ffestiniog) were even designated Unesco World Heritage Status.
Learn more about the area’s mining history at Zip World Llechwedd, where you can tour local quarries and venture deep underground to see what life was like for the people who once worked here. The site is also geared for family fun and includes a subterranean trampoline park (Bounce Below) and ziplines and mountain biking trails.
For a slice of the Italian Riviera, head to Portmeirion, the quirkiest village in Wales. More of a tourist attraction than a true working village, this candy-coloured Italianate marvel is a joy to wander and has beautiful views of the Dwyryd Estuary – book an overnight stay to enjoy the place without the crowds.
Think Wales, think castles? You’re in the right place. Gwynedd boasts two castles that form part of a Unesco World Heritage Site, along with others in Conwy and Anglesey. Caernarfon Castle is perhaps the most impressive, thanks to its mighty towers and riverside location, while Harlech offers fabulous views of Snowdonia’s rugged mountains and Cardigan Bay – it’s just a mile from the four-mile long Harlech Beach.
Another ‘castle’ worth visiting is Penrhyn – although it’s actually a country house. This early 19th-century National Trust property near Bangor houses an incredible collection of artwork, intricate internal stonework and expansive grounds, ideal for wandering.
Gwynedd is littered with an abundance of vast windswept bays and tiny hidden coves. Barmouth is a lovely spot to spend a sunny afternoon – the traditional seaside resort features a pretty boat-filled harbour and family-friendly beach backed by grand Victorian houses and cloud-skimming mountains. But if you’re serious about your sandy adventures, don’t miss the Llŷn Peninsula, the narrow finger of land jutting towards Ireland, just south of Anglesey. Here you’ll find the likes of Abersoch – a cute resort with multicoloured beach huts and calm, swimmable waters – and Porthor, otherwise known as the Whistling Sands Beach, due to the sound made underfoot as you walk along it.
Our 101 team have been working with local tourism, business, community and Council initiatives to bring you some of the best ways for you to live your connection to Gwynedd.
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