×

The 6 most beautiful places in North Wales

Jessica Esa

Contributor

Thrilling mountain scenery, including some of the highest peaks in the UK, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, a stunning coast, and a long and ancient history are just some of the extraordinary elements that define North Wales. That’s not to mention a vibrant contemporary culture and exciting cities. Discover some of the most beautiful places to visit and what to see and do while you are there, from one of the UK’s most outstanding national parks to its most impressive medieval castles. There are so many reasons to explore this dynamic part of the country. Here are just some of them.

Snowdonia National Park

Escape into abundant nature which covers 823 square miles, with views of endless rocky landscapes and, on a clear day, even Ireland and the Lake District. The mountains are steeped in history, local heritage, and folklore, providing days’ worth of trails and peaks to conquer. This includes the highest peak in Wales: Mount Snowdon itself (known in Welsh as Yr Wyddfa). There are six routes to reach the top of Snowdon, with the most popular starting point being the majestic Llanberis Path. There’s also the 100-year-old Snowdonia Mountain Railway, which departs from Llanberis Station; this option is for those who want to sit back and enjoy the views of lakes, waterfalls, and the thick stone walls that mark the former homes of local residents. En route up towards Snowdon, you’ll also see Moel Hebog (meaning hill of the falcon) which is home to the peregrine falcon, the fastest animal in the entire world.

Portmeirion

The name is perhaps most famously associated with the floral Portmeirion ceramics, a local craft which began in 1960, founded by Susan Williams-Ellis, daughter of the Welsh architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, the man who designed Portmeirion Village itself. Here you can get lost in the fairy-tale, Italian-style pastiche wonder that makes up this coastal resort. Pastel buildings, cobbled paths, and tropical foliage lead the visitor towards The Central Piazza where sights such as the fountain pool, the Gothic Pavillion, and the Bristol Colonnade wait. In Hercules Hall, you can delve further into the arts culture of the area where you can view the Jacobean ceiling, panelling, and mullioned windows. The village also offers spa facilities, hotels, speciality shops, restaurants and cafes with beach and forest walks.

Beddgelert

A charming village in Snowdonia with a well-known Welsh fable at its heart. A short walk south of the village, along the banks of the Glaslyn, will bring you to the statue of a legendary dog and the grave of the faithful hound himself. Gelert supposedly protected the son of medieval Welsh Prince Llewelyn the Great but was killed after a tragic misunderstanding. Surrounded by mountains, the stone cottages of Beddgelert offer a picturesque scene and a perfect place to stay when exploring Snowdonia National Park and other nearby villages – William Wordsworth himself is said to have departed Beddgelert at dawn to traverse Snowdon. Two rivers, the Glaslyn and the Colwyn, meet here, marked by a stone bridge which is a perfect starting point to take the low-intensity riverside walking trails with myriad pubs and tea rooms waiting for your return.

Betws-y-Coed & Swallow Falls

Nestled in a valley in the Snowdonia Forest Park, this picturesque village offers a perfect nature retreat, and is an ideal base for outdoor adventure enthusiasts. The village has a long history and even hides one of the oldest churches in Wales: the 14th century St Michael’s church. Nearby Capel Garmon likewise hides its own Neolithic burial chamber. As Betws-y-Coed is a focal point at which several rivers meet, there are many stone bridges in the area, with Pont-y-Pair — which is the starting point of numerous walks — being a must-see. Swallow Falls is a major destination for hikers, in which the river Llugwy flows through a narrow chasm, creating an area of outstanding beauty surrounded by beech, conifer, and birch trees. Betws-y-Coed is a village with a lot to offer, whether you want to explore the craft and book shops or spend some time in the great outdoors.

Harlech Castle

Thanks to a turbulent history with the English, Wales has no shortage of well-preserved medieval castles to enjoy. The World Heritage Sites of Conwy, Caernarfon, and Beaumaris Castle in North Wales alone. However, not one of Edward I’s castles is as impressive as the coastal Harlech Castle which he had built in Harlech, Gwynedd. Sitting atop a big rocky crag, overlooking the ocean and Harlech town, and with an outstanding mountainous backdrop, this is a high defence structure with intact battlements. Taking you up and into the castle and grounds are 108 steps and a floating footbridge; the castle becoming more intimidating and impressive with every step.

Bodnant Garden

Tucked away in the Conwy Valley, and spanning an impressive eighty acres, the National Trust Bodnant Garden was shaped by the Victorian scientist and politician Henry Pochin and developed over generations into the magnificent space it is today. One of the great British gardens, it is world-famous for its wealth of rare botanicals from around the world. These are displayed in stunning arrangements, such as the whimsical Laburnum Arch which blooms in late spring along the Italiante terraces. Aside from Bodnant Manor itself, one of the most iconic shots of Bodanat Garden is of The Pin Mill where you can get a bird’s eye view of the terraces, classical statues, and furniture, as well as roses which bloom in the summer. The Poem — a sweet name for the mausoleum which is perched on a rocky outcrop — and The Old Mill are two other listed buildings to visit while taking walking the trails around the park.

Become a member to join the conversation!

Become part of the world's leading travel & lifestyle community!

Related articles