North Wales is surrounded by a beautiful coastline on one side and borders England on the other. It is home to Snowdonia National Park and is easily accessed by most of the UK. With stunning countryside and multiple beaches, North Wales is the ideal place to buy a Willerby holiday home.
There is an abundance of medieval castles in the north of the country as well as seaside towns and quaint villages.
If you’re deciding where to go in North Wales, there are plenty of mountain walks or you could explore North Wales beaches. Discover the rich history and visit popular tourist towns in North Wales such as Conwy, Caernarfon, Betws-y-Coed, Llangollen, Bangor, Rhyl, Llandudno and Anglesey.
Things to do In North Wales
If you're looking at buying a holiday home in North Wales, there is plenty to keep you entertained. From traditional towns to historical places of interest and thrilling adventures, you will find lots of ideas for days out in North Wales.
Who would have thought you'd catch a glimpse of Italy in North Wales? The stunning Italian style village of Portmeirion is awash with pastel colours, subtropical gardens and award-winning restaurants. Portmeirion was designed by Welsh architect Sir Clough Williams Ellis between 1925 and 1975 and is popular with tourists. It is open daily between 9.30am and 7.30pm, with shops and cafes closing at 5.30pm. Visit the private coastline for beautiful views in all directions and if the tide is low, walk across the estuary with caution. Adult entry is £12, children under 5 are free and dogs are not permitted, in an effort to preserve natural habitats and the beauty of this quaint village.
Accessible by train, car, bus.
Llanberis is just 17 miles from Betws-y-Coed and 8 miles from Caernarfon. Visit Dinorwic Quarry to discover the old slate mines and National Slate Museum. The mine and museum are free to enter and you can see workshop demonstrations from craftsmen and learn about the history of the site. Take a walk through the disused quarry, past ruins of outbuildings, up to the old Parc Gwledig Padarn quarry hospital and see how it would have looked when it was used for miners. Alternatively, Vivian Dive Center is close by and is set against the beautiful backdrop of the quarry with almost perfectly clear waters. You can also take the traditional steam train around Llyn Padarn lake. The 5-mile round trip travels from Llanberis to Penllyn with adult tickets costing £9, children’s tickets for £4.50 and family rates available.
Accessible by train, coach, car, bus.
If you enjoy being outdoors, Bodnant Garden is a plant lovers paradise. The world-famous garden was developed in the late 1800’s and is filled with plants from all over the world, collected by global explorers. Edward Milner was the landscape designer of this beautiful garden which is home to national collections and champion trees. This Grade I listed gem is nestled in the Snowdonia foothills and the array of worldly plants make this a garden for all seasons. On-site facilities include a tea room, picnic areas, bespoke gifts and crafts and dogs are allowed to enter at certain times. This National Trust attraction is free for members or costs £13.20 for adults and £6.60 for children, depending on the season. There are also seasonal opening times between 10am and 8pm throughout the year.
Accessible by car, train, bus.
For a traditional seaside day out in North Wales, head to Llandudno. On the longest pier in Wales, stretching 2295ft over the sea, you can enjoy arcades, fair rides, cafes, bars, ice cream and fishing from the platform. On a sunny day, you may want to take a walk along one of the best beaches in North Wales or the prom and enjoy fish and chips or a spot of sunbathing. Alternatively, you can walk or take the cable car up the Little or Great Orme for views of the coastline. With limestone cliffs and stunning wildlife, you should definitely take the opportunity to tackle the Great Orme. Whilst exploring the Orme, take the exhilarating toboggan ride, try skiing or snowboarding or explore the interactive visitor centre. With a number of bars, restaurants and cafes in Llandudno, you certainly won't go hungry and there is something to suit everyone.
Accessible by car, train, coach, bus.
For the ultimate thrill seekers day out in North Wales, head to Zip World. From treetop adventures to quarry tours, there are lots of exhilarating adventures to enjoy across North Wales. Try Velocity 2, the fastest zip line in the world, or take quarry tour to discover the rich history of Penrhyn Quarry in Bethesda. At Zip World Fforest in Conwy Valley discover Europe’s longest net walkway, with Tree Top Nets or take the gravity-driven Fforest Coaster. You could also try the Sky Ride swing, treetop Zip Safari or Tree Hoppers obstacle course for the kids. Alternatively, go underground at the Slate Caverns in Blaenau Ffestiniog, Bounce Below in the underground sprung adventure playground or take on Titan, Europe’s largest zipping zone. Prices range from £10-£89 and height, weight and age restrictions may apply.
Accessible by car, train, bus.
The Best Walks in North Wales
North Wales is abundant in scenic countryside and stunning coastlines. Whether you want a mountain hike, a walk along the beach or dog walks in North Wales, there is something for everyone. Some walks are fine for all abilities whereas others are more suited to experts due to the challenging nature, therefore it is important to plan ahead and choose a route suited your ability.
Enjoy some of the best walks in North Wales and don’t forget to plan ahead. Prepare for your walk by taking the right equipment, wearing comfortable clothes and walking boots, having enough food and drinks and most importantly, checking the weather before you set off.
Snowdon - Llanberis Path
Time: Approximately 6 hours
Length: 9 miles
Rating: Moderate to challenging. Suitable for most.
Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales and there are 6 different routes to the summit. The easiest of the 6 routes is the Llanberis path which is the longest but most gradual route towards the summit. There are some steep slopes which can be dangerous in winter so check the weather and prepare for any changes before beginning your walk. There is also a train which takes you to the summit so if you are too tired to walk down once you have reached the top, you can take the train instead.
The Dingle Nature Reserve
Time: 1-2 hours
Length: 3.22 miles
Rating: Easy. Suitable for all.
The Dingle Nature Reserve has a flat boardwalk path, making it suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs. Entrance into the 25-acre wooded valley is free and there is a pay and display car park at the Art Gallery and Museum at Llangefni. The nature reserve has been enhanced over the years through community involvement and you will find 3 huge wooden sculptures, bridges and picnic benches along your walk. The path meanders through the woods and along the riverside so there are plenty of opportunities to spot local wildlife.
Time: 2 hours
Rating: Easy. Suitable for most.
For a spectacular view of Aber Falls, park at Bont Newydd for a moderate walk to the beautiful waterfall. There are cafes in Aber, toilets at the start of the walk and the trail to one of the best waterfalls in North Wales is pretty straightforward. Pass through beautiful mountain and woodland scenery but be aware that it can be rocky and slippery in places. It is best to visit the falls after a period of heavy rainfall, although it is usually busy, and make sure you take your waterproofs as the spray from the falls can be powerful!
Time: 30 minutes - 1 hour
Length: 1.2 miles
Rating: Easy. Suitable for everyone.
The Montgomery Canal walk is flat and family friendly. This short section of the canal is level and great fun for kids. Park in Welshpool and make sure you have a QR scanner app on your phone as there are 10 codes along the route with lots of information about the canal. This nature conservation hosts a variety of aquatic plants and otters and water voles have been seen in the area. You can also download a children’s activity sheet for your walk and stay safe by keeping away from the edge of the water.
Daear Ddu Ridge to the Moel Siabod Summit
Time: 3-4 hours
Length: 6 miles
Rating: Challenging. Suitable for experienced climbers.
Not for the fainthearted, the hike to the Moel Siabod Summit is quite a challenge, but will certainly be satisfying when you reach the top. Start at Pont Cyfyng where there is free parking to begin the steep uphill climb. You will pass ruined buildings, reservoirs and lots of beautiful scenery along your walk. The path is steep in places and may be unsuitable in wet weather due to slippery rocks so prepare for the weather and allow for stoppage time. The route also involves some scrambling so it is only recommended for experienced climbers.
Food and drink to try in North Wales
There are lots of places to eat, especially near beaches in North Wales, in the countryside and in bustling seaside towns. Try Pen-y-Ceunant Isaf, a quaint walkers cafe at the beginning of the Llanberis path, for a snack or a drink after walking up Snowdon. Dogs and muddy boots are welcome along with packed lunches and don’t miss the chance to taste a Welsh Cake. For a traditional pub meal, head to The Black Boy in Caernarfon which has been serving food for over 5 centuries. Feast on pub classics, seafood or try Welsh Rarebit or a Welsh cheese board. Finally, if you prefer fine dining, head to the Hotel Portmeirion Restaurant. There are stunning views across the Dwyryd Estuary and you can enjoy Sunday lunch, seafood dishes or try Welsh beef or lamb, amongst other things.
Whilst you are on holiday in North Wales, try some of the tastiest snacks and dishes that Wales has to offer.
Welsh cakes were once favoured by coal miners as they are the perfect size to fit into a coat pocket. These delicious sweet treats are resourceful, practical and wholesome and were originally made with just flour, butter, milk and eggs. Over the years they have been known as griddle cakes, tea cakes or miner cakes and are cooked on a grill rather than baked in the oven. They bear similarities to a scone and recipes have adapted to include ingredients such as dried fruit or cinnamon.
While you might have had cheese on toast before, it doesn't quite compare to Welsh Rarebit. The traditional recipe includes melted cheese mixed with beaten eggs on toasted laverbread, seasoned with salt and pepper. Over the years, variations of the recipe have evolved to include ale, mustard, worcester sauce, cayenne pepper or paprika. Whichever recipe you get to try, we're almost certain you'll love this delicious comfort food.
Homely, delicious and filling, this Welsh classic is a great winter warmer. Welsh Cawl, or ‘lobscows’ in some areas of North Wales, is a meat and vegetable stew, traditionally served with bread and Welsh cheese. It was originally made with meat and whatever vegetables were available and typically includes lamb or beef, leeks and other root vegetables.
Is it a cake, is it a loaf? Whatever it is - it’s delicious! Bara Brith is a fruit loaf, or cake, also known as ‘speckled bread’. It was traditionally made at the end of the week with leftover bread and dried fruit that had been soaked overnight in tea. This ensured nothing went to waste and resulted in a deliciously sweet bread. Most regions have their own versions of Bara Brith and this Welsh favourite has even made its way to Argentina.
Welsh cheese can range from deliciously creamy and soft to crumbly and strong or lemony and blue. The Snowdonia cheese company produce Red Devil cheese in a red wax coating, which is like a fiery version of Red Leicester with chilliest and crushed pepper. Or if you'd prefer a mature cheddar, try the Little Black Bomber. Welsh cheese is a delicious savoury snack and the wax coating gives it an extended shelf life, making it a great gift to take home.
Fun Facts About Wales
The longest-running show of Punch and Judy in the world is on Llandudno Pier and has been there for over 150 years.
A small town in Wales has the longest place name in Europe. But can you pronounce Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch?
There are 3 times more sheep than there are people in Wales which has a human population of 3 million and a population of sheep of over 9 million.
The first ever larger brewery in Britain opened in Wrexham.
Cardigan Bay is home to the largest dolphin pod in the UK, which travel along the coast of North Wales.
Castles in North Wales
North Wales is rich in history and there is a multitude of castles which are some of the best places to visit in North Wales. Many castles were built under the reign of King Edward I to keep the Welsh under English control in the 13th century.
From medieval forts with dungeons to grand castle's, rich with artefacts, no two castle's are alike. If you’re trying to decide what to do in North Wales on a rainy day, you can’t go wrong by visiting a castle. The castles in North Wales are well preserved and are in beautiful settings, so head off and explore the fascinating past hidden within the castle walls.
Conway Castle was built by King Edward I in the 13th century to dominate and intimidate. The medieval castle has no roof but the ruins are extremely well preserved and you can climb up the 8 giant towers. The castle is protected by 21 towers and 8 gateways and Conwy suspension bridge was once the main route for all traffic crossing the river. Opening times vary between 9.30am and 6.00pm and tickets cost £9.50 for an adult and £5.70 for a child. There are lots of places to eat and drink in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Conwy and plenty to explore in the town.
Another World Heritage site in North Wales, Caernarfon castle is another intimidating fortress built by King Edward I. It had been the site of castles for many years and is one of Wales most prized architectural treasures with sturdy walls, octagonal towers and colour coded stones. Caernarfon Castle has no roof, but this impressive fortress provides stunning views of the town from Eagle Tower and you can explore by climbing up and down the many spiral staircases. Adult tickets cost £9.50, children's are £5.70 and dogs are not allowed.
Chirk Castle, near Wrexham, is another 13th-century castle built by Roger Mortimer who served King Edward I. Chirk Castle sits in the Welsh marshes and was built to defend the Welsh-English border and keep the Welsh under English rule. It is the only one of Edward I’s castles that is still inhabited and visitors can explore dungeons, medieval toilets, murder holes and the stunning estate gardens. You could also play games, try on costumes or explore the castle’s history in the family activity room. This National Trust gem which is free to members, or adult tickets start at £6.30 and children's tickets are £3.15. The estate is open between 7am-7pm with different opening times for individual areas.
One of the newer castles in North Wales, Penrhyn was finished in the 1840’s in Bangor and is regarded as a ‘fantasy castle’. Built by Thomas Hopper for George Hay Dawkins Pennant, Penrhyn castle is much more unorthodox and it has a non-gothic style. The rooms have been restored and elaborately decorated and you can explore the library, drawing room and kings bedroom, amongst many others. Entry starts at £12.27 for an adult and £6.14 for a child and there is free parking, castle gardens, a railway museum, cafe and shop on site. Opening times are between 10.30am and 5pm.
Contrasting with other medieval castles built King Edward I built to celebrate his conquests in Wales, Powis Castle was built by a Welsh prince. Gruffudd ap Gwenwynwyn built the castle in the 13th century to establish independence and it was destroyed and rebuilt over time. Explore the medieval castle and gardens, great halls and quiet chambers and discover fascinating objects with unique stories. The rooms are furnished with paintings, sculptures and tapestries from across Europe. The multilayered gardens have Italianate terraces, yew hedges and dancing statues. Entry is free for National Trust members and starts at £13 for an adult and £6.50 for a child. Estate opening times vary between 10am and 6pm.
The closest major cities to North Wales include Liverpool, Manchester and Stoke-on-Trent. There aren't any main motorways running through North Wales but there are a number of A-roads, making the area easily accessible by car.
Getting to North Wales
North Wales is easy to access by car from other areas of the UK with motorway links from the M4, M5, M6 and M56. The North Wales Expressway follows on from the M53 near Chester and travels along the Welsh coast towards Holyhead.
There are plenty of ways to get to North Wales by train from the rest of the UK. You will probably have to make some changes on your journey, depending on where you are travelling from, but you can travel to stations in Bangor, Holyhead and Llandudno.
If you are travelling by air, there are flights from Cardiff to Anglesey airport, twice daily from Monday to Friday.
Getting around North Wales
There are beautiful scenic drives to take in North Wales including the North Wales Expressway along the coast. Most of the roads in North Wales are A-roads, rather than motorways, and there are plenty of country roads to meander around and enjoy the scenery.
Take the North Wales coast railway which runs from Holyhead to Crewe and passes through Prestatyn, Rhyl, Colwyn Bay, Llandudno, Conwy and Bangor. To get to Blaenau Ffestiniog and Snowdonia, you can take the Conwy Valley line from Llandudno.
There are lots of cross-country bus networks in North Wales. Most bus services are operated by Arriva and it is best to pay in cash once you are on the bus so make sure you have change.