The home of outdoor pursuits, a holiday in North Wales is perfect if you’re into hiking, sailing, cute pubs and hate guaranteed sunshine. OK, that last one is a stretch. In all seriousness though - the land of sheep, leeks and mountains is a joy, and there is a genuine treasure trove of things to do in North Wales. Strap on your hiking boots and head up the highest peak in the UK, delight in the epic scenery of the area, and make friends with the locals. Here at Plum Guide, our expert Home Critics have taken their 150-strong checklist ahead of you and found the best places to stay in North Wales, too. You'll be coming back all 'the air seemed different you know, fresher? I feel much more wholesome now and I hate the thought of holidaying somewhere hot.'
Spend a night at Gladstone's Library
Sleeping in a library is the stuff of a bibliophiles dream. Gladstone's Library is the only residential library in the UK and it’s packed with 150,000 dusty tomes (they might not be dusty FYI, just sounds mysterious). After a day ensconced in a squishy armchair with a new favourite read, guests can simply roll into bed in one of the boutique bedrooms. Many of the books come from the personal collection of founder William Ewart Gladstone, and contain his musings and notes in the margins.
That’s right. You’re on holiday and looking for things to do in North Wales, and the one thing everyone talks about is a massive uphill walk. Sounds
painful fun, don’t you think? The UK’s highest peak can take up to seven hours to hike so head out from your chosen home early. We promise it'll be worth it, because walkers are rewarded with sprawling views of surrounding peaks and glistening lakes. On the clearest of days, you can wave to Ireland and the Isle of Man. Make sure to plan your route and wear the correct gear. It is a popular tourist walk but can be dangerous, so probably better to have some idea of what you are doing.
Stop by Portmeirion Village
Colourful houses in Portmeirion Village, Wales, UK
All hail the man who decided to build an Italian village in the middle of Wales. Here at Plum Guide, we love a vision, and back in 1925 Sir Clough Williams-Ellis had just that. Find a distinctly Mediterranean vibe and unique buildings in this very unusual spot. A day trip will take a couple of hours and you’ll feel like you’re
absolutely freezing in Italy if you visit the gelateria and wear your best summer clothes. Certainly one of the more unique places to visit in North Wales, this.
You’ll have no regrets when you drive out of your way to take a photo next to the sign for Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. Not an enthusiastic typo, instead the longest place name in Europe with a smashing 19 syllables. We’re not sure what else there is to do in the area, it is probably nice though. Really you’re just there for the photo. We’ll add this to our list of untranslatable travel words...
Head to St Winefride’s Well
If you’re in the market for miraculous cure or just some general wellbeing, forgo the green smoothies and 6am yoga class. Instead, head to the shrine and well of St Winefride’s in Holywell and sip on the healing water. Legend has it that the well magically appeared way back in the 7th century. We’d say go on a hangover day to feel the greatest benefit.
Walk along the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct
Pontcysyllte Aqueduct surrounded by green trees, Wales | Image by Sou'wester is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
This is Britain’s longest and highest aqueduct. We know, very cool. The spot is a delight really - you can walk along the aqueduct if you fancy, or hire a boat or paddleboard and make your way underneath it. Either will provide good travel stories, which is the only reason you do stuff like this anyway.
Frolic around Anglesey
Person on the beach in front of the sea and a large rock at sunset in Anglesey, Wales, UK
If your list of things to do in Wales must include dramatic landscapes and miles of seaside, Anglesey is the place for you. Known as the ‘breadbasket of Wales’ (what an utterly joyful nickname) thanks to its fertile lands, the island of Anglesey is better known these days for beaches and ancient sites. Who doesn’t love an ancient site on holiday? Make sure to sample the local delicacy of Halen Môn - Barack Obama is said to be a fan of the salt, and you know he is a man of taste. There are outdoor pursuits aplenty on the island if that’s your bag.
Eat traditional welsh cuisine
North Wales may not be the first destination on the culinary map but if all your holidays are about eating (just us?) then there is plenty of local delicacies to sample. First up; you can’t go to Wales and not tuck into the famous Welsh Rarebit. No rabbits involved but there is cheese and beer. Some genius decided to mix the two together and put it on toast. Next up is Bara Brith, Wales’ answer to fruitcake, best eaten halfway up Snowdon we think. The native produce and eclectic national dishes mean there are some fantastic restaurants - we like Sosban & The Old Butchers. And there you have it - the best things to do in North Wales.