I’m lucky to have spent most of my life in North Wales. When people ask me where my favorite place in the world is, I always say North Wales. People often look at me in disbelief. Will my favorite place be something more exotic, like the Caribbean or Southeast Asia?
No, my heart is in North Wales and by the end of this post, yours will be too!
A colorful fishing village. A long rocky coastline and soft white sandy beaches. The historic steam locomotive offers panoramic views of the mountains and coastline. He has not one, but six UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The tallest mountain, the smallest house, the fastest zipline, and the longest place name. It’s finally time for everyone to discover exactly what North Wales has to offer!
It may come as a surprise, but this region is one of the most exciting and varied in the UK. Whether you’re a beach lover, mountain goat lover, culture buff or adrenaline junkie, you’ll find it all in North Wales.
can’t believe it? Here are 25 must-dos in North Wales. There’s no doubt that this beautiful part of the UK has plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy.
25 things to do in North Wales
1. Climb Mount Snowdon
Start with one of the most popular activities in North Wales. The highlight of Snowdonia National Park is Mount Snowdon. At 1,085 meters/3,560 feet, it is the highest mountain in the country.
As long as you are in reasonably good health and fitness levels, there is no reason why you cannot climb and summit Snowdon. There are around six different routes to choose from starting from different towns, but the most popular is from Llanberis.
But if that doesn’t appeal to you, you can take the train from Llanberis station and go directly to the top (weather permitting!). There was also a cafe at the top of the mountain. You don’t get that kind of service on Scafell Pike!
Read more: What to wear to climb Snowdon
2. Portmeirion Fishing Village
It’s hard to imagine an Italian Riviera-style village existing in North Wales, but it’s true. Welsh architects Sir Clough Williams and Ellis built Portmeirion on his own private estate in the mid-20th century. He wanted to prove that beautiful places could be built without destroying the beauty of the natural landscape.
And he was right! The village’s brightly colored cottages, shops, galleries and other buildings blend seamlessly into the forest behind the town and the coastline in front.
Read more: Visit Portmeirion, an Italianate village in North Wales
3. Conwy Castle
Conwy Castle is one of four castles in North Wales that make up the UNESCO World Heritage Site ‘King Edward’s Castle and Walls of Gwynedd’. These are very well-preserved medieval castles, built between the 13th and early 14th centuries.
Conwy Castle is one of the most popular castles for tourists. People are drawn to Conwy not only because of the well-maintained castle, but also because of its walls, suspension bridge and overall beauty. You can also climb to the top of the castle tower and enjoy stunning panoramic views along the River Conwy.
Read more: 20 best castles in Wales to visit
4. Pontcysyllte Aqueduct & Llangollen Canal
We have already arrived at the next UNESCO World Heritage Site, North Wales. Dating back to 1805, Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is an 18-arch bridge built to carry coal barges during the Industrial Revolution. Today it is mainly used by canal boaters and walkers enjoying a fun day out.
Apparently, this is the highest navigable aqueduct in the world (how many aqueducts are there really?). Whether you walk or sail along the aqueduct yourself or admire it from a distance, you will undoubtedly be impressed by the size and scale of this structure.
Read more: How to spend the perfect weekend in Llangollen
30 things to do in Llangollen
5. Garth Pier in Bangor
There’s a lot to like about Bangor. It is a university town, the oldest city in Wales, and is full of wonderful green spaces and wildlife reserves. Much better than your average coastal city. But one of the best things about Bangor is walking along Garth Pier.
The pier is a 1,500ft Grade II listed pier dating from the early 20th century. What’s so unique and cute are the little rainbow-colored huts that line both sides of the pier. Each one is a tiny little cafe, restaurant, or shop. You can’t help but explore each one.
6. Caernarfon Castle
North Wales’ next UNESCO castle is Caernarfon Castle near Anglesey. It’s also a miraculously preserved castle considering it’s about 80 years old. Like Conwy Castle, it is located on a beautiful coastline next to a charming seaside town.
One of the reasons visitors love these castles so much is because they exceed expectations and look much larger in person than they do in photos. You won’t be disappointed, as you’ll learn a lot about Caernarfon’s history along with the fascinating exhibits.
Read more: Staying in a bath towel on the walls of Caernarfon Castle
7. Llyn Peninsula
The Llyn Peninsula is a huge area, so it would probably be an injustice to include the entire area as one of the best things to do in North Wales. But it’s an official ‘Area of Natural Beauty’, which just goes to show how amazing North Wales is.
Almost no town on the peninsula is more than a 10-minute drive from the coastline. There are also plenty of hiking trails, including the Ll?n Coastal Path. The four-mile Porth Nagle Beach and Traes Portaw Beach are particularly beautiful.
Read more: My two favorite beaches on the Llyn Peninsula are Porth Iago Beach and Llanbedlog Beach.
8. Holyhead in Anglesey
Anglesey is Wales’ most northwestern island. There is so much to do on this island, but if you haven’t visited before, you should definitely check out Holyhead. It is the largest town on Anglesey and is full of wonderful museums, restaurants and monuments.
One of the most picturesque places in Holyhead is South Stack Lighthouse. It’s a pure white building on a hill with nothing but the ocean, and guided tours are held during the peak summer season.
Read more: Glamping on Anglesey with Wonderful Wild
9. Adventures at Zip World
Gypmas was a truly unique Christmas event
If leisurely hikes and charming seaside villages aren’t enough for you, North Wales has you covered. Zip World offers ziplines, underground trampolines, go-karts and more at five locations including a quarry, slate cave and forest.
zip World at Penrhyn Quarry in Snowdonia is the world’s fastest zipline. It is over 1.5 km long and can travel at speeds of over 100 mph!
Read more: An adventurous road trip around North Wales (including a hike to Snowdon and a massive zipline at Zipworld!)
10. Llandudno Pier
But who doesn’t love a charming seaside resort town?! One of the best things to do in North Wales is Llandud, with its pastel seaside buildings, two large beaches and Victorian features. It is to visit no. You can still catch a Punch and Judy show on Llandudno Promenade or ride a Victorian tram that dates back to 1902.
But the main attraction in Llandudno is the pier. The city definitely looks exactly like it did in the Victorian era, complete with novelty shops and food stalls.
Read more: A day visiting Gworth Castle, Llandudno and Conwy
11. Beaumaris Castle
If Conwy or Caernarfon didn’t satisfy your desire for a medieval castle, check out Beaumaris Castle. Located on the east coast of Anglesey overlooking the Menai Straits, it is no less impressive than its UNESCO sibling.
Beaumaris Castle also hosts lots of fun activities and events during the peak summer season.
Read more: Weekend glamping at Wonderful Wild (located in Beaumaris
12. Erddig Hall in Wrexham
Eldig Hall, owned by the National Trust, is a huge 17th-century manor house about two miles outside Wrexham. Not only is the house and its interior beautiful, but the 12,000 acres of gardens alone are worth a visit.
Interesting fact: The York family owned the property for 240 years after the original owners built it and went bankrupt. And all the owners had the name Simon or Philip. Christmas dinner must have been very confusing for the family.
Read more: 10 must-see National Trust attractions in North Wales
13. Longest Place Name in Europe
Can you visit Anglesey without visiting the village with the longest place name in Europe? Absolutely not! Pilgrimage to this tongue-twister town and taking a selfie with the station sign should be on every Brit’s bucket list.
The village of Llanfairprgwyngilgogerishwindrobwulurlantisiliogogogoch didn’t always have this comically long name. In 1860, they decided to combine the names of several towns as a PR ploy. And it worked! There are some shorter versions, but they’re not as fun.
So what does it say in English? Something like “the church of St. Mary in the hollow of the white hazel near the whirlpool of the rapids, and the church of St. Tysilio near the red grotto.”
14. Bodnant Garden
Just outside Snowdonia National Park is Bodnant Garden, an 80-acre garden filled with plants from around the world. Plenty of paths provide easy access to well-kept lawns and flowerbeds.
With so many plants and evergreens, there’s plenty to see in any season.
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15. Harlech Castle
Harlech Castle is the last of the four medieval castles built by Edward I to form a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is the most southerly of the castles and, like the others, is in excellent condition.
Climb the castle walls for sweeping views of Snowdonia to the east and the coastline to the west. The castle staff will be dressed in medieval costumes, so the whole family can have a fun-filled day out!
Read more: Exploring Harlech and Harlech Castle
16. National Slate Museum
To be honest, visiting the National Slate Museum looks just as fun as admiring the Paint Drying Museum. However, slate quarries are very important to the history of North Wales and there are plenty of interactive exhibits that make learning about slate even more interesting.
The museum is actually a former Victorian slate quarry in Llanberis. So not only is the site full of old machinery and artefacts in places where it would have once been used, but it’s also located at the foot of Mt Snowdon.
17. Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways
I don’t know what the relationship between children and trains is, but for some reason children love riding on trains. Especially when it comes to classic steam locomotives like those on the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway.
North Wales has many steam locomotives and railway lines that are used as tourist attractions rather than public transport. But what makes this place stand out is its location. This journey covers 22 miles with stunning countryside views.
18. Smallest House in Great Britain
Can you live in a house that is 1.8 meters wide and has only two rooms? A fisherman from Conwy did so! Today, this 16th century cottage is open to tourists during the peak summer season.
Be prepared to say, “I can’t believe it’s this small!” as you prepare. “I don’t even have space to swing the cat around!” Now.
19. Great Orme Summit Cable Car
While you’re staying in Llandudno and enjoying the Victorian Pier, you can also take a short trip out of town and take a cable car up to the top of Great Orme. It opened in 1969 and has beautiful views of the coast and Llandudno.
20. Penrhyn Castle & Garden
It’s not North Wales’ fault that it’s full of amazing forts worth visiting. However, Penrhyn Castle only dates back to his 1820, making it very different from the medieval castles on this list.
This neo-Norman building has an authentic and surprisingly ornate interior. Beautiful gardens, a railway museum and an outstanding collection of art are also the gift that keeps on giving.
21. Traeth Abermaw (Barmouth) Beach
One of the most popular activities in North Wales is visiting the beaches. Any beach! There are literally hundreds of beautiful, pristine beaches in North Wales, and most of them won’t disappoint.
However, it would take several weeks to list them all, so let’s start with one. Traeshammaw in Barmouth is one of the most highly regarded and loved beaches thanks to its soft sand, clean water and local town.
22. Plas Newydd House and Gardens
This historic home is located on the coast of Anglesey, overlooking the Menai Straits, not far from Britannia Bridge. A beautiful and stately 18th-century mansion with modest, well-kept gardens and an extensive art collection.
Many of the properties on this list, including Plas Newydd House, are run by the National Trust. With membership you can enjoy days in North Wales without spending extra money!
23. Gelert’s Grave in Beddgelert
Want to enjoy a walk in Snowdonia National Park but don’t want to tackle Mt Snowdon? There are plenty of options, but one that retains a bit of local lore is near Beddgelert.
Simply put, the Gellert was the hunting dog of Prince Llewelyn in the 13th century. The prince mistakenly believes that his faithful dog has harmed and tragically killed the baby, but discovers too late that the baby is fine. Today, there is a monument and tombstone dedicated to the dog that bears Gellert’s name on the outskirts of town.
From the tomb there is a beautiful riverside walk, the first part of which is smooth so it is completely accessible.
24. Welsh Mountain Zoo
Wales Mountain Zoo in Colwyn Bay is the perfect day out for the whole family in North Wales. As well as its beautiful coastal location, it’s also home to rare animals you won’t find at other UK zoos, including red pandas, camels and snow leopards.
25. Aber Falls Waterfall and Distillery
Something a bit unusual in North Wales is visiting Aber Falls Distillery. Aber Falls is a beautiful waterfall and the nearby distillery is housed in a modern Scandinavian-style building with large windows overlooking the coastline.
Enjoy whiskey, gin and liqueur tastings on-site. If you’re driving, you can also purchase items from the gift shop to take home.
Read more: 10 things to know before visiting Aber Falls