Snowdonia travel guide

Snowdonia travel guide

2 minute summary

The name Snowdonia evokes different things for different people. Mountains usually come first, what with the pater of all peaks, Snowdon, Wales’ highest at 3,560 ft (1,085 m) overlooking this magnificent National Park, like a grand eagle protecting its nest. Indeed, the Welsh word for eagle is Eryr and it is sometimes thought that this is the ancient origin of the region’s Welsh name, Eryri. However, Snowdonia feels like a bit like a giant BOGOF. Buy one get one free that is. If you go hiking you can take in a bit of river gorging en route. Go cycling and swap saddle for paddle as you discover Snowdonia from water level. There is so much more here than you expect. And the icing on the cake, a bit like the dusting on its most famous peak, is that it has a coastline too.
And all of Snowdonia’s lakes, forests, rivers and mountains are in safe hands, with Snowdonia National Park having having been a protected landscape since 1951. Or landscapes really, with mountains, lakes, woodland and coast; Snowdonia is not only an evocative Eryri, it is an eclectic one.

Snowdonia quote
Snowdonia is...

for those who seek silence but also a little silliness in nature.

Snowdonia isn’t...

just about mountains. With coast, lakes and forest you can dip and dive ‘til your heart’s content.

What we rate & what we don't

Our guide to the best and worst of Snowdonia


I can see the sea Slate is the new cool Autumn warmth

I can see the sea

Few people associate Snowdonia with the sea, but there are twenty kilometres of coastline within the National Park, with Harlech being the salty hub.

Slate is the new cool

Don’t overlook the quarries. Although they are not picture postcard, they have an industrial beauty, the likes of which we celebrate in derelict power stations, transport museums or canal systems around the world. Visit the quarrying villages too for real Snowdonia.

Autumn warmth

Snowdonia has native woodland which explodes with the seasonal change. Check out the Woodland Trust and National Trust websites for spots to embrace the seasonal change.


Zip World Train up Snowdon Electric Mountain

Zip World

Is out of this world. Not only can you go flying at speeds of up to 100 mph, but you also get to support a now revitalized quarry Penrhyn Quarry which is nestled amongst the mountains of north Wales.

Train up Snowdon

Might seem cheesy, but it’s actually cheese-tastic and a fine legacy to the engineers who installed it. You also have the stunning Hafod Eryri building on the summit as its terminus. Train geeks gone chic.

Electric Mountain

Yep. They put a power station into the mountain. Just like that. So cool, they have turned it into a visitor experience. This is no hydro hype, but an almost Orwellian marriage of machines and nature.


Charity climbs The package holiday English castles

Charity climbs

Great for the charity, but not so great for Snowdonia as most events only involve people staying for a night, leaving loads of waste and going home. Come for longer and take in all of the Park, not just the peak.

The package holiday

Snowdonia is so not package. More of a pass the parcel, where you have to unwrap all the layers carefully to discover the treats that await. It is rawer than, say, the Lake District. Less fudge, more fun.

English castles

The English still upstage the Welsh when it comes to castles, with Harlech and Caernarfon always top of the tourist maps. But check out the famous creations of the Welsh Princes of Gwynedd, as stunning architecture plays a huge part of their legacy. Visit Castell y Bere , Castell Dolwyddelan and Castell Dolbadarn to delve more deeply into Snowdonia’s history. See for more information.

Food, shopping & people

Travel like a local with our Snowdonia travel guide

Eat & drink in Snowdonia

Lamb is very local, with farmers like award-
winning Aran Lamb going strong.
Local ales run through Snowdonia’s veins. Look out
for names like Purple Moose, Snowdonia Ale, Cader Ales or Big Bog.
Conwy Mussels which you can buy straight off the pier in this lovely medieval town.
Oh, the cheese. It’s everywhere. Addicts have ample space to walk it all off though. Discover the Little Black Bomber from Snowdonia Cheese and you are doomed.

Any doubts that Welsh is a living language? Check out their National Eisteddfod Festival, taking place in a different place every August.

People & language

Snowdonians have a real link with their landscapes. Historically they farmed the land or worked the quarries and slate underground. So, when you tell them you loved your walk or cycle and the secret corners of Snowdonia you discovered, they appreciate it. Not just because they want to please visitors, but because there is an innate link between people and place here.
Snowdonians are also Welsh (Cymraeg) speakers, with over half of the population speaking it as their first language.
Bore da – Good morning (pr bor-er dah)

Hwyl – Goodbye
(pr. who-ill)

Diolch – Thanks
(pr. dee-olck)

Iechyd da – Cheers
(pr. Yah-key-Dah)

Gifts & shopping

Traditional 'Cartheni' blankets are made by young designers such as at Trefriw Woollen Mills but vintage ones can be found in antique shops too.
Buy some Snowdonia slate now produced as table mats, coasters and custom made signs.
Snowdonia’s local chocolate maker Cathryn Cariad has droolworthy treats, like Welsh cider truffles.
The Purple Moose is far from endangered in Snowdonia. Porthmadog’s locally brewed ale is omnipresent and thriving.
Snowdonia is falling down with local artists inspired by landscape. Local wild swimmer Vivienne Rickman Poole is one of our favourites.

Fast facts

Snowdon is the tallest mountain in Snowdonia, standing at 1,085m above sea level and attracting half a million visitors a year.

How much does it cost?

Entry into National Park: Free
Hire a kayak on Lake Bala: £12 per hour or £28 for half a day
Train up Mount Snowdon: £20 one way or £27 return
Round of Little Black Bomber cheese: £4
Snowdon Sherpa bus ticket: from £1 single
Photo credits: [Llyn Mwyngil: Kevin Richardson / Visit Wales] [Harlech Beach: Kevin Richardson / Visit Wales] [Quarry: Visit Wales] [Autumn woodland: Ben Salter] [Zip World: Zip World] [Train: Andrew Farquhar] [Electric mountain: © Crown copyright (2014) Visit Wales] [Charity climb: Pete Birkinshaw] [Castle on the lake: Les Haines] [Welsh castle: Denis Egan] [Lamb: DeepBluC] [Weaving: net_efekt] [Sheep: net_efekt] [Kayaking: Visit Wales]
Written by Catherine Mack
Snowdonia self catering accommodation, Wales

Snowdonia self catering accommodation, Wales

Cottage on Lake Padarn with wonderful views of Snowdonia

From £325 per cottage per week (sleeps 4-5)
Snowdonia Bed and Breakfast accommodation, Wales

Snowdonia Bed and Breakfast accommodation, Wales

Carbon Neutral 1883 guesthouse 700ft up in Snowdonia

From £45 per person per night
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