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The 14 best things to do in North Wales

From adrenaline-filled adventures to absolute tranquillity on the beach, these are the best things to do in North Wales

Katherine Lovage
John Bills
Written by
Katherine Lovage
John Bills

It doesn’t get any more Welsh than North Wales. Don’t believe us? Hit the road and explore the villages, and come back to apologise afterwards. North Wales is an absolute treasure trove of magic, from the glittering coastline to the top of the country via incredible libraries, fascinating history and a Mediterranean village. No, that isn’t a typo. Wales doesn’t do typos.

The best things to do in North Wales cover lots of ground, from extreme sports to quaint fishing villages and more. Natural beauty, buckets of character and poetry around every corner. It doesn’t get any more Welsh than North Wales.

Best things to do in North Wales

Climb to the very top of Wales

1. Climb to the very top of Wales

Where is it? Yr Wyddfa, Snowdonia National Park

What is it? Only the highest mountain in all of Wales

Why go? The beating heart of Snowdonia National Park, Yr Wyddfa thrusts 1,085 metres into the sky, making it the highest peak in Wales and the third highest in the UK. Conquering the peak sits somewhere between a doddle and a real challenge, although underestimate this hike at your peril. It takes anywhere between five to seven hours to climb, although the less adventurous can always take the scenic one-hour train ride to the top of Wales.


Transport yourself to a quaint Mediterranean village
Photograph: chrisdorney / Shutterstock

2. Transport yourself to a quaint Mediterranean village

Where is it? Portmeirion, Gwynedd

What is it? A tourist village constructed in the style of sleepy Italy.

Why go? Sir Clough Williams-Ellis should be plenty proud of his work. Built between 1925 and 1973, Portmeirion is the brainchild of the Welsh architect, a man who wanted to show that a naturally beautiful location could be developed without spoiling it, and this gorgeous collection of architecture and atmosphere is proof that he was correct. The end result can be construed as a sort of Welsh Disney minus the kitsch, a quaint village that exists for those who come to visit and those alone: a homage to the serenity of Mediterranean fishing villages found just a couple of miles from Porthmadog in North Wales.


Marvel at an iconic piece of civil engineering
Wrexham County Borough Council

3. Marvel at an iconic piece of civil engineering

Where is it? Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Llangollen

What is it? An 18-arch aqueduct that deservedly joined the Unesco World Heritage list in 2009

Why go? Another piece of magic from the mind of Thomas Telford, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct is much easier to admire than it is to pronounce (pont-kuh-sithl-tuh, or thereabouts). Opened in 1805, this 18-arch beauty is the highest navigable aqueduct in the world, a gorgeous piece of architecture that allows the Llangollen Canal to safely navigate the River Dee below. A footpath leads along one side of the canal for those after a bird’s eye view of the surrounding scenery, although the aqueduct itself is arguably best enjoyed from afar.

4. Sink a pint before walking the pier

Where is it? Bangor, Gwynedd

What is it? The second-longest pier in Wales handily placed next to one of the finest pubs in North Wales.

Why go? It might not be quite as long or idyllic as Llandudno’s pier, but Bangor’s walkway is well worth a ramble, especially as the sun edges closer to the horizon. Officially known as Garth Pier, the promenade has seen its fair share of problems over the years but is fighting back, with public support and goodwill aplenty. The Tap and Spile Pub is perfectly placed at the entrance to the pier and is as genuine as old pubs get, with a great beer list, better pub grub and no shortage of pub-centric activities.


Explore a gorgeously isolated peninsula
Photograph: WikiMedia/skinsmoke

5. Explore a gorgeously isolated peninsula

Where is it? The Llŷn Peninsula

What is it? An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that attracts walkers, hikers and all the rest

Why go? Of the five AONB in Wales, something about the Llŷn Peninsula draws deeper breaths than the rest. Maybe it is the serenity, the tranquillity, the unbroken peace of the place, a part of Wales that is every bit as unspoilt as the description suggests. Criccieth is the ideal base for exploring the peninsula, a rugged land best enjoyed on foot and at a leisurely pace. In great contrast, nearby Abersoch has developed a vibrant reputation for wakeboarding and other water-based adventures.


Pay the toll at Conwy Suspension Bridge
Photograph: John Bills

6. Pay the toll at Conwy Suspension Bridge

Where is it? Conwy, Clwyd

What is it? A stunning suspension bridge connecting Conwy Castle to all who enter

Why go? Conwy Suspension Bridge was constructed by Thomas Telford in the early dawns of the nineteenth century, and its picturesque compatibility with Conwy Castle is no coincidence. The bridge (one of the first road suspension bridges in the world, no less) was designed with its neighbouring fortress in mind, making for a combined aesthetic that is as sumptuous as North Wales gets. The bridge is now open only to pedestrians, and walking across it before exploring charming Conwy is a must.


Learn to say ‘Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch’

7. Learn to say ‘Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch’

Where is it? Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, Anglesey

What is it? The longest town name in the UK and a popular train station photograph

Why go? There isn’t much to do in this famous Anglesey village outside of taking a photo of the sign at the train station, but that doesn’t stop Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch from being one of the most popular niche tourism destinations in Wales. For the record, the name translates as ‘St Mary’s Church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of Saint Tysilio of the red cave’, if you were wondering.


Get lost in a book at the UK’s finest residential library

8. Get lost in a book at the UK’s finest residential library

Where is it? Gladstone’s Library, Hawarden, Flintshire

What is it? A national memorial to former prime minister William Gladstone and a gorgeous residential library, all in one

Why go? Gladstone’s Library is more than just a library, although it is very much a place where literature takes charge. There are more than 250,000 books here, so there’s no shortage of words to get lost in, but this beautiful Grade I-listed building is also a memorial to four-time PM William Gladstone, the man who founded it way back in 1894. There is also an on-site restaurant and plenty of comfortable rooms for when the heady mixture of history and fiction becomes too much.

Support the oldest football team in Wales
Photograph: WikiMedia/David Powell

9. Support the oldest football team in Wales

Where is it? Wrexham, Clwyd

What is it? The third-oldest football club in the world and the oldest in the country, with celebrity owners.

Why go? Interesting times lie ahead for long-neglected Wrexham. Once the largest town in Wales and an industrial powerhouse, Wrexham has long been a town in need of some good news, but nobody would have guessed that it would come in the guise of Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney. The two comedians took over the oldest football club in Wales in early 2021, proving once again that anything is possible in the wacky world of professional football. Head to the Racecourse Ground for a match before stopping for lunch at the gorgeous Grade II-listed Lemon Tree hotel and restaurant.

Sample world-beating salt

10. Sample world-beating salt

Where is it? Halen Môn, Brynsiencyn, Anglesey

What is it? An independent company producing salt that has been enjoyed by Barack Obama, among others

Why go? Salt is integral to the story of humanity, and the story is just one of the reasons why Halen Môn Anglesey Sea Salt is an absolute must-visit in North Wales. Established in 1997, the family company has since won awards and provided salt for presidents and sporting events alike, but there is a down-to-earth quality to its tours and products that is enduringly charming. Head to the on-site shop and pick up some culinary gold before trying out one of the many recipes posted on Halen Môn’s website.


Learn about faithful Gelert in a gorgeous village
Photograph: John Bills

11. Learn about faithful Gelert in a gorgeous village

Where is it? Beddgelert, Gwynedd

What is it? A beautiful village of fewer than 500 people that is home to one of the nation’s most beloved folk tales

Why go? Beddgelert is well worth a visit in its own right: it’s a toy-town village of stone buildings and verdant scenery at the confluence of the Glaslyn and Colwyn rivers. According to legend, the village is named after the folktale of the faithful hound Gelert, Llywelyn the Great’s protective dog, who met a most unfortunate end. Beddgelert literally means ‘Gelert’s Grave’, although there are differing opinions on the accuracy of the town’s name. Even so, Beddgelert is packed with darling cafés and makes a great starting point for climbing nearby Moel Hebog, another peak in the Snowdon mountain chain.


Follow the White Rabbit in Llandudno
Photograph: Flickr/Peter Hughes

12. Follow the White Rabbit in Llandudno

Where is it? Llandudno, Clywyd

What is it? An Alice in Wonderland-themed way to discover a royal Victorian resort

Why go? Llandudno was where Alice Liddel spent her summer holidays, and there is plenty of speculation that family friend Charles Dodgson was inspired enough to write a book about it all. Of course, Charles Dodgson is better known as Lewis Carroll, and the book in question has become one of the most popular on the planet. The legitimacy of the connection is continually up for debate, but that didn’t stop the town from making the most of it, devising a White Rabbit trail that traverses the many sights in the centre of Llandudno.


Get the adrenaline pumping in the underworld

13. Get the adrenaline pumping in the underworld

Where is it? Blaenau Ffestiniog

What is it? Extreme, subterranean bouncy-castling.

Why go? Bounce Below has set up shop with a Goonies-style kidulting adventure in a vast cavern in Blaenau Ffestiniog. As you step inside, colourful lighting illuminates the towering slate walls. Then, you’ll bounce across web-like nets and slide down six different levels -–the tallest of which is comparable to two double-deckers. Good luck if you’ve got an aversion to heights. 

Conquer the Ring of Iron
Photograph: Caernarfon Castle

14. Conquer the Ring of Iron

Where is it? Various locations on the north coast and Anglesey

What is it? A collection of Edwardian castles that represent the beginning of English rule over Wales

Why go? The Welsh relationship with its famous castles is notoriously complex, but that doesn't change the aesthetic majesty of these twelfth-century fortresses. Built by King Edward I to solidify his conquest of Wales, the castles in Conwy, Harlech, Caernarfon, Beaumaris and the rest are among the most visited and photographed structures in the nation. The fortifications also act as a handy itinerary for exploring the best that North Wales has to offer.


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