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20 Best things to see & do in Snowdonia National Park

  • Snowdonia National Park, Wales, United Kingdom (UK)

Last updated: 18 June, 2023
Expert travel writer: David Atkinson
  • Snowdonia National Park, Wales, United Kingdom (UK)

Ffestiniog Railway

Bucket List Experience

Ffestiniog Railway

A must for train lovers, the Ffestiniog Railway is the world’s oldest narrow-gauge railway. But even for non-train buffs, it’s an enjoyable and atmospheric way extraordinary way to see and appreciate some of Wales most beautiful landscapes.

The 13.5-mile journey from Porthmadog to Blaenau Ffestiniog snakes past lakes, waterfalls and the forests of Snowdonia National Park as it climbs 700ft into the mountains.

Adult price: £25

Good for age: 4+

Duration: 1-3 hours

  • Snowdonia National Park, Wales, United Kingdom (UK)

At 3,560ft (1,085m) above sea-level, Mount Snowdon is the highest mountain in England and Wales, rising out of idyllic Welsh countryside. A good full day’s hiking will climb you a mountain; better still, you reap views from the summit, earn a glowing sense of achievement, and can still be home in time for tea.

If you want the splendid views without the effort, the narrow-gauge Snowdon Mountain Railway offers a one-hour scenic ascent direct to the summit.

Whether you walk or take the train, you can refuel and enjoy the view at the Hafod Eryri cafe and visitor centre at the summit, named the UK’s ‘highest watering hole’.

Good for age: 13+

Duration: 3-7 hours

  • Snowdonia National Park, Wales, United Kingdom (UK)

Castles of the Ring of Iron

Bucket List Experience

Castles of the Ring of Iron

This group of late 13th-century castles is more than a set of medieval fortifications — it’s a metaphor for the military might of King Edward I.

The so-called ‘Iron Ring’ of four castles – Conwy, Caernarfon, Harlech and Beaumaris – were built to crush the Welsh rebellion, led by Llywelyn the Last, as the English King drove his troops across North Wales with brutal efficiency. Llywelyn was captured and executed in 1282 but the castles remained, a statement of a turning point in Welsh history.

Today this group of castles forms one of the four UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Wales.

Adult price: £8+

Good for age: 13+

  • Snowdonia National Park, Wales, United Kingdom (UK)

Located near Bangor in what once was the world’s largest slate quarry, Penrhyn Quarry is a multi-adventure site better suited to families with older children. There are four adventure options on site, including Quarry Karts, a three-wheeler descent down an obstacle-filled slate track (ages 15+).

It’s best known, though, as home to the death-defying Velocity 2 zip wire, the fastest zip line in the world and the longest in Europe. Strap in for speeds of up to 100mph.

For something less white knuckle, try the Penrhyn Quarry Tour, in army truck, to learn more about the history of the quarry and the Welsh slate industry. The heritage is now recognised by UNESCO as part of a wider World Heritage site.

Adult price: £12

Min age 3

Good for age: 13+

Duration: 2+ hours

  • Snowdonia National Park, Wales, United Kingdom (UK)

Welsh Highland Railway

Bucket List Experience

Welsh Highland Railway

The Welsh Highland Railway is the UK’s longest heritage railway line and an engineering gem for steam enthusiasts and sightseers alike.

It’s a stunning 25-mile route running from the station near Caernarfon Castle, via Beddgelert, onto Porthmadog. The journey builds to a dramatic crescendo through the Aberglaslyn Pass, the train edging along the rock shelf above the River Glaslyn. Head to the open-air carriage for the best views here.

The route is designed as a hop-on, hop-off service with regular stops along the way – make a stop at the village of Beddgelert, one of Snowdonia’s picture-postcard highlights, for coffee and ice-creams. You can walk along the river to Gelert’s Grave, a place of Welsh mythology. Also combine it with a visit to Caernarfon Castle.

If 25 miles is not enough, it also connects with the Ffestiniog Railway at Porthmadog to complete 40 steam-powered miles through the rural heart of Snowdonia.

Adult price: £25

Good for age: 4+

Duration: 2+ hours

  • Snowdonia National Park, Wales, United Kingdom (UK)

National Slate Museum

Bucket List Experience

National Slate Museum

Located on site of the former Dinorwig slate Quarry, the Museum celebrates the slate heritage of North Wales, which transformed the area from a patchwork of rural farmsteads to a hotbed of the Industrial Revolution.

The slate was used widely to roof industrial-heartland Wales and exported around the world for civic buildings from Copenhagen to Melbourne. The workshops and outbuildings today look as if the quarrymen have just downed tools for the end of their shift.

The Museum is also mooted as a gateway hub to a new slate-heritage project in response the region being named as the UK’s 33rd UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2021.

Good for age: 10+

Caernarfon Castle

  • Snowdonia National Park, Wales, United Kingdom (UK)

Caernarfon Castle

Experience

This imposing medieval fortress was originally built in the 11th century, then enhanced by King Edward I at the end of the 13th century. The scene of many a siege and sacking, and then increasingly unnecessary, it fell into disrepair so that only the shell walls remain today.

Adult price: £11

Good for age: 4+

Conwy Castle

  • Snowdonia National Park, Wales, United Kingdom (UK)

Conwy Castle

Experience

Originally built by the English King Edward I during his 13th-century conquest of Wales – one of the so-called ‘Ring-of-Iron’ castles – Conwy remained a refuge of kings and usurpers until it was finally ruined in 1665 by the English government to prevent further revolt. An evocative complex with all the castle ingredients – keeps, moats, towers and battlements you can walk around.

Adult price: £11

Good for age: 4+

Harlech Castle

  • Snowdonia National Park, Wales, United Kingdom (UK)

Harlech Castle

Experience

Picture-postcard Harlech is most fairytale of the four castles, its imposing towers set atop a 200ft rocky outcrop overlooking the Cambrian coastline. An exhibition in the visitor centre explores the story of the castle’s military history.

Adult price: £8

Good for age: 4+

  • Snowdonia National Park, Wales, United Kingdom (UK)

It’s a gentle 2-mile stroll, heading two miles west of Betws towards Capel Curig, to this popular gorge with its gurgling waterfall. The viewing platform has great views.

The walk delves into the woodland landscape of the Gwydyr Forest and is an example of why this small village became home to Britain’s first ever artists’ colony.

The landscape artist David Cox, a contemporary of Turner, first came to Betws in 1844. His students soon followed, establishing a popular retreat for artists during Victorian times. His best-known work, A Welsh Funeral, inspired by a funeral at the village’s 14th-century church, is today exhibited at Tate Britain.

Good for age: 4+

Duration: 1.5-2.5 hours