PORTMEIRION: This unique Italianate village is a must and is suitable for all ages. Situated just beyond Porthmadog the village is beautiful but the day would not be complete without exploring the woodland and coastal walks through the gardens. If you are feeling adventurous ask us for directions for the route “over the top” through Cwm Penmachno, stunning views but in places sheer drops border the narrow road.
SCENIC DRIVE: Take the A5 through Betws-y-Coed and carry on until you reach the left turn for Llanberis. Continue down this road and take a right at the Pen-y-Gwyryd Hotel to Llanberis. You will now pass as close as possible to Snowdon by road. Continue following signs to Caernarfon. On reaching Caernarfon (which has a lovely castle, by the way, where Prince Charles was inaugurated as the Prince of Wales) follow signs to Beddgelert. This will then take you back to the Pen-y-Gwyryd Hotel past some of the most spectacular scenery Snowdonia has to offer. Of course, you can actually go to the top of Snowdon and see even better scenery. For the less energetic amongst you there is a train that will take you there, and, even better, when you get to the top you can enjoy refreshments in the spectacular surroundings of Hafod Eryri. For the fitness enthusiast there is ample opportunity to climb and walk up all kinds of peaks in this area – please let us know where you intend to go for the day and what time you expect to be home.
WATERFALLS: We are lucky to have 3 fantastic waterfalls within 10 minutes drive. Conwy falls (Penmachno), Swallow falls (Betws-y-Coed) and the Fairy Glen (take the turning to Dolwyddelan on the A5). With a little patience at the right time of year it is possible to spot salmon leaping up the falls.
LAKES: There are 11 lakes in the vicinity. We would recommend Llyn (Welsh for lake) Gerionydd, Crafnant and Elsi as the most beautiful. The former two can be reached via Trefriw (turn left over the bridge at Llanrwst). Gerionydd is very popular for water sports and therefore can get quite busy. Crafnant is renowned for its fishing; licenses available from the lakeside café (wonderful selection of cakes!). Llyn Elsi is accessed from Betws-y-Coed and is best reached on foot via the footpath behind St. Mary’s Church.
BEACHES & COAST: From experience, by far and away the best beach is Newborough Warren on Angelsey. There many other beaches much closer but this one tops them all. Another good place to go is Shell Island off Barmouth – only accessible when the tide permits. Don’t miss a visit to Llandudno; The epitome of a British seaside town but tasteful (on the whole!). Rides on the tram and cable car are worthwhile and a drive around the Orme is a must. Eating chips on the prom is a good idea for lunch but please do not feed the seagulls – they can be a nuisance.
CASTLES: Loads of them. Beaumaris (on Angelsey) is lovely, also Dolwyddelan, Conwy, Caernarfon, Criccieth, Harlech and many more! If you’re castle people then this is the place to be.
BODNANT GARDENS: On the A470 towards Llandudno. Wonderful gardens with ponds (boasting some enormous fish– great fun for the kids!), house, streams, garden centre and café. See the famouus laburnum arch in June – we will tell you if it is in flower.
HERITAGE STEAM RAILWAYS: At least 8 heritage railways are found in the area (at least that is all we have found to date!). Our favourite is the Welsh Highland Railway that runs from Caernarfon, past the foot of Snowdon to Beddgelert and through the spectacular Aberglaslyn Pass to Porthmadog.
MINES: Blaenau Ffestiniog has two slate mines – our kids know that Father Christmas lives down one of them because Llechwedd offers fantastic Father Christmas tours with subterranean Grotto (warm punch and mince pies for adults and a pressie for the kids – lovely!). We are reliably informed that it’s nearly as good the rest of the year as well! Sygun Fawr in Beddgelert is an old copper mine and nice to visit especially combined with spending some time in that area – this is a very personal recommendation since we lived in Beddgelert for some years before moving here. The Great Orme bronze age mines in Llandudno are worth visiting too.
A Penmachno based venture called "Go Below" offers half day guided underground tours through disused mines. Miles & his team will collect you from our front door and take you on an adrenaline-filled trip with abseiling and boating in underground lakes.
CAPEL GARMON: The Neolithic burial chamber, Ty’n Coed Farm. This has been dated at about 2500BC and is well worth a visit if not only for the views afforded over the Snowdon Mountain Range (and we should know, we lived in Capel Garmon for 10 years). The White Horse Inn is currently closed whilst undergoing renovations.