The Very Best Places to Visit in North Wales
Conquer the castles, aqueducts and beaches of North Wales.
As you make your way north from South Wales and Mid Wales, you’ll notice the mountains getting more imposing and dramatic, welcoming you to the proud land of Snowdonia and the rest of North Wales. You’ll find yourself driving or riding the train through unpronounceable towns and villages, while meeting a proud and friendly people who’ll take you through the traditions of rugby and… well, that’s the most important one, anyway. As for the countryside, it’s packed with nature trails, waterfalls and coastal cliffs.
Of course, it’s not all about aggressive mountains and strong Welsh dialects. Marking the rugged coastline is a range of holiday resorts and quaint villages, where you can experience the best of the British seaside. Soak up the eclectic culture and topography of the region and read up on the Plum Guide’s amazing (if we do say so ourselves) guide to the places to visit in North Wales.
It may sound like a kingdom from The Lord of the Rings, but Snowdonia is a real-life park centred around Mount Snowdon, the tallest British mountain south of Scotland. Climbing to the top of the mountain is one of the most popular things to do in North Wales. Hike up via one of its six paths for stunning views across the lakes and valleys of Wales’ most famous terrain. At ground level, walk along the beaches of its northern peripheries and go mountain biking up and down the trails. Embark on a fishing trip on one of the lakes and join the surfers. Llyn Tegid in Bala is the largest natural lake in Wales, and is often topped by sail boats, canoes and surf boards (as well as the people aboard these vessels - boats need people to control them...for now). Practice your swing at the Royal St. David’s or the Nefyn, where you’re bound to lose most your golf balls by hitting them into the sea. See some of the historic vestiges scattered across these hills, with the exhibitions of Betws y Coed TIC and the Cricieth Castle. Check in at the National Slate Museum to trace the history of the industry that was so important to the area and once ‘roofed the world’. It’s quite a claim.
This sweet farmhouse is a great base for exploring Snowdonia, complete with al fresco dining and a modern log-burner.
It’s the photo on all the postcards that you’ve not yet asked about, for fear of revealing your ignorance. Conwy Castle is the big medieval fortress with enormous turrets and towers that wouldn’t look out of place in a fairytale. It’s incredibly well preserved – we’d love to look as good after 700 years – and is framed by a backdrop of rugged mountains. Clamber up the staircases for some of the best views, as you learn about the battlements and the old medieval apartments here. Drop in at the exhibition, pick up a guidebook and browse the items on sale at the gift shop. If you fancy staying in a Welsh castle of your own, you'd do worse than booking a stay at Chevalier's Rest.
While you’re in the area, explore the rest of Conwy, which lies by the mouth of its namesake river and touches the Irish Sea. Among the biggest draws is the Smallest House in Great Britain, which dates back to the 1500s and, as you can imagine, is very small. It has a bright red façade and has a step-ladder on the bottom floor allowing you to peer into the upper part and imagine people living here centuries ago. Other highlights in the city include the Conwy Suspension Bridge, the Conwy Town Walls and the Conwy Quay.
The Great Orme
Great is an understatement and Orme is… we don’t know what an Orme is. Oh wait, yes we do: it’s Old Norse for sea serpent. You should have known that, but you’ve not been keeping up with your Old Norse, have you? Another dramatic landscape to add to your places to visit in North Wales, it is a mountainous headland extending out from the tip of the country. Needless to say, it’s pretty darn impressive. Rummage through the scenic gardens of the Happy Valley and spot goats grazing on the grassy hills. View the defunct Llandudno Lighthouse that was constructed back in 1862 and ride a vintage tram up to the peak of the promontory. It is covered in snow in winter, when you can ski and toboggan down the slopes.
The banks of this immense waterway make for a charming walk against the sound of the rushing water. You’ll encounter the impressive Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, a World Heritage Site along which you can ride on a boat… a horse-drawn boat at that. Say what? You’ll pass through tunnels and stunning scenery on the narrowboat on your way to Grindley Brook. Don’t miss the Horseshoe Falls and the Plas Newydd Historic House & Gardens.
While still in North Wales, ensure you check out the seaside resorts of Bangor, Holyhead and Anglesey. If you're wanting to see the rest of the country, we've compiled a list of the best things to do in Wales so you don't have to.
So now you know the best places to visit in North Wales, make sure you book your stay in Wales in one of Plum Guide's expertly vetted homes. We only list the top 3% of lodgings we inspect, so whether you're after a spacious family abode or a luxurious rural escape, you know you're in for a great night's sleep in a Plum Guide home.