A perfect 5-day itinerary in Snowdonia

by Jan

In this post, we want to share our 5-day itinerary in Snowdonia National Park, North Wales.

With jaw-dropping landscapes, stunning coastline, and a unique heritage, there’s no shortage of things to do on a getaway to Snowdonia National Park.  The problem is deciding what to do first!

We’ve just spent a week in North Wales, spending 2 nights near Machynlleth, followed by 5 days in Snowdonia.

When planning our visit we included a mix of family-friendly activities to see the best of Snowdonia.  We went hiking, to the coast, to castles and did an underground adventure in the slate mines. Plus, we took trips out to Portmeirion and Anglesey.  Unfortunately, we didn’t climb Mount Snowdon (for medical reasons), but you could easily swap a day to include it.

So, to find out what we got up to, read on for our perfect family-friendly 5-day itinerary in Snowdonia.

Know before you go

What is Snowdonia National Park?

Covering a total of 823 square miles Snowdonia National Park is Wales’ largest National Park.  You can find it in the North of Wales.

Snowdonia is home to 9 mountain ranges and Wales’ highest peak, Mount Snowdon (Yr Wydda).  It is the perfect place for hiking, adventure, history, and connecting with nature.

How many days do you need for Snowdonia?

To make the most of all that Snowdonia National Park has to offer, you need to spend between 5 and 7 days in the area.  This will allow time for some fantastic hikes, to explore some towns and villages and head to the coast.

When is the best time to visit Snowdonia?

We went at the start of June and had a good mixture of rain and sunshine.  It was pleasant temperature for hiking, but on other days it was sunny enough to hit the beach.

Snowdonia is the wettest area in Wales, with over 3000 mm of rain a year.  You should expect some rain whatever the season and pack a waterproof.  Summer (June to September) is probably the best time to go, but obviously you’ll get more crowds then.

Accommodation in Snowdonia

You’ll find plenty of choice of accommodation in Snowdonia to suit all budgets.  We booked a self-catering cottage in Betwys Garmon, on the A45 between Waunfawr and Rhyd-Ddu .  Although this tiny hamlet doesn’t have many facilities in the village, it is an ideal location for exploring Snowdonia.

How to get to Snowdonia National Park

Snowdonia is in the northwest of Wales but is fairly easy to get to from the rest of the UK.  We arrived from the South, via the M4.  However, we left on a more direct route towards Liverpool on the A55/M56.  We then returned towards London on the M6/M40 via Birmingham.  The journey to Surrey took about 5.5 hours.

If you are coming by train, head for the station at Betws-y-Coed.

Getting around in Snowdonia National Park

The easiest way to get around Snowdonia is by car.  There is a bus service, but you will have the restrictions of timetables.  Plus, the buses will only go to the major destinations.

2 days in a luxury treehouse near Machynlleth, near Snowdonia

treehouse view from sky, Machynlleth, Wales, UK

Before starting our 5-day Snowdonia holiday, we spent the weekend in a luxury treehouse near Machynlleth, Powys.  This treetop eco-retreat is one of six Living-Room treehouses on the private estate belonging to the Bryn Meurig Farm.  This is on the outskirts of Snowdonia.

It was an amazing rustic experience, which allowed us to connect with nature for a couple of days.  We visited Aberystwyth and Machynlleth, did several hikes as well as some long soaks in the hot tub.

On the Sunday morning we packed up and set off for our Snowdonia adventure.

Click here for more details about treehouse weekend near Snowdonia.

Our perfect 5-day itinerary in Snowdonia

Hopefully we have helped with some basic information for your trip planning.  So, without further delay, read on for our family-friendly 5-day itinerary in Snowdonia.

Day 1: Portmeirion and Carnaerfon

Portmeirion

The first day of our Snowdonia itinerary is about exploring Portmeirion in Gwynedd.  Portmeirion is by the coast on the outskirts of Snowdonia and was an ideal stop on our journey from Machynlleth.

When you think of North Wales, you probably conjure up images of mountains and lakes.  So, you might be rather surprised by a visit to this Italianate tourist village.

View of Portmeirion building, Wales, UK

Portmeirion, with its colourful buildings, sunken piazza, giant chess set, and ornate architecture looks like something out of a fairy tale.  It is about as un-Welsh as you can get!  It was designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1975.  The Welsh architect was keen to prove you can develop a naturally beautiful location, without spoiling it.

Later, in the 1960s, Portmeirion became the filming location for the cult TV series, The Prisoner.  Today, it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in North Wales.

You do have to pay an admission charge, which isn’t that cheap, but it is one of the most unique places in Wales.

Coastal walk at Portmeirion, Wales, UK

To make the most of your visit to Portmeirion, make time for the two walks.  The coastal walk at Portmeirion leads past the hotel to a viewpoint overlooking a wide sandy estuary.  The tide was out when we were there, and the views were breathtaking.

The second of the two walks follow through the exotic woodlands at Portmeirion.  Here you’ll find an enormous collection of tropical trees, flowers, and a Japanese garden.  Plus you’ll find some more unusual features, such as the pet cemetery and the ghost garden.

After your walks head back to the village for some real Italian ice-cream in the gelateria and a quick browse round the gift shop, where you’ll see the famous pottery.

Caernaerfon

For the afternoon, head to the historic town of Caernarfon, on the north west coast of Wales.

Caernarfon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to one of Wales’s best-preserved- medieval castles.  It was once a royal residence and was the site for the investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales.

Caernarfon Castle, Wales, UK

King Edward I built the imposing Caernarfon Castle in 1283 and today it still dominates the town.  After a visit to the castle, you can explore the narrow, cobbled streets or take a walk by the waterfront.

Caernarfon isn’t huge, so is easy to explore by foot.  Afterwards, it is a good place to stock up on groceries if you are self-catering.

Day 2: Crafwlyn and Beddgelert

Day 2 of our 5-day itinerary in Snowdonia is about exploring the idyllic village of Beddgelert, in the heart of Snowdonia.  The day includes hiking, folklore, pubs, and a dragon or two!

Crafwlyn

Craflwyn, Wales, UK

The day starts at the National Trust car park at Crafwlyn, on the outskirts of Beddgelert.  From here you have a choice of two family-friendly trails.  The trails will lead to ancient woodland, a waterfall, and the remains of an ancient tower.  According to legend, the summit of the Dinas Emrys walk is the original home of the Welsh red dragon.

Beddgelert

Beddgelert Bridge, Wales, UK

In the picture-postcard village of Beddgelert, you’ll discover the story of another Welsh legend, the faithful hound Gelert.  One of the must-do attractions is a short walk to Gelert’s Grave and the nearby bronze statue.

Beddgelert is a pretty village with stone buildings, a woodcraft shop, an ice-cream parlour, and several pubs.  You can also visit the Sygun Copper Mine and do a self-guided tour of the historic copper mines.

Day 3: Go Below, Conwy Falls & Betwys-y-Coed

Go Below Adventure

Entrance to Slate mine, Go Below mining adventure, Wales, UK

Day 3 of our itinerary in Snowdonia involves an underground adventure with Go Below.  If you’re visiting Snowdonia with kids, this is a fantastic attraction, which all the family enjoyed.

The 5-hour Go Below adventure takes you on a series of mini adventures in an abandoned slate mine.  The activities include boating, zip-lining, climbing, and abseiling, deep below the mountains.

It is suitable for children over 10 years old, but there is a 7-hour extreme version for adults.  For more details you can see the Go Below website.

There’s a fantastic choice of adventure activities in Snowdonia for kids, but some can be extremely expensive.  We gave our teenagers the choice of Go Below mining adventure or the activities at Zip World.  They thought the mining adventure sounded more fun and would last longer!

Conwy Falls (Rhaeadr Y Graig Lwyd)

The meet point for the Go Below adventure is at the café in Conwy Falls Forest Park, so the next stop is a visit to the waterfall.  A circular woodland walk leads from the car park to the River Conwy, where you’ll see the spectacular Conwy Falls.

Conwy Falls, Wales, UK

Conwy Falls runs through a natural gorge and plunges over the boulders into a deep pool.   You can watch the waterfall from a viewpoint.  It is possible to climb down, but it’s quite precarious and a steep climb up. If you go in August, you may see salmon, travelling upstream to lay their eggs.

Before you set off it’s worth stopping at the Conwy Falls Café.  The café was designed by Clough Williams-Ellis, the mastermind behind Portmeirion and has the same style architecture. More importantly, it also serves a delightful selection of homemade cake!

Betwys-y-Coed

The final stop on day 3 of the itinerary in Snowdonia is at the picturesque town of Betwys-y-Coed.  Known as the “Gateway to Snowdonia,” this popular village is a hub for walkers and visitors to the National Park.

From Betwys-y-Coed you can walk to Swallow Falls or the enchanted Fairy Glen.  However, if you’ve had enough walking, you can explore the village and browse craft and outdoor gear shops.  Oh and of course, if you’re with kids, stop for an ice cream!

Day 4: Holy Island & Anglesey

On day 4 in Snowdonia take a day trip to Anglesey and Holy Island, on the northwestern coast of Wales.  With an area of 261 square miles, Anglesey is the largest island in England and Wales.

Anglesey is separated from mainland Wales by the Menai Strait.  It is easy to get to from Snowdonia by using the A5 road link over the Menai Suspension Bridge.  Built by Thomas Telford in 1826 this is the first modern suspension bridge in the world.

South Stack Lighthouse

south stack lighthouse, Wales, UK

One of the must-see attractions in Anglesey is the South Stack Lighthouse on Holy Island.

You can park at the RSPB car park and walk to Ellin’s Tower, now home to the RSPB Visitor Centre.  This area is a nature reserve and important breeding ground for many seabirds, including guillemots, razorbills, choughs, and kittiwake.

The Visitors Centre provides binoculars, so you can book out at the birds nesting on the South Stack sea cliffs. If you’re lucky you might even spot puffins, seals, or porpoises.

From the RSPB Visitor Centre, it is a 10 minute-walk to the lighthouse.  Built in 1809, South Stack Lighthouse stands on its own little island.  There are 400 steps to get to it, but once there you can climb to the top of the lighthouse.

Trearddur Bay

Trearddur Bay, Wales, UK

There’s plenty of choice for things to do with kids in Anglesey, including some fantastic beaches.

Trearddur Bay Beach has a long wide stretch of sand, so is very popular with families.  As well as paddling, you’ll find activities such as kayaking and supping.

The tide goes out a long way, leaving rock pools at each side.  You’ll find a couple of cafés at Trearddur Bay beach and public toilets.

Day 5: Llanberis & the North Wales Slate Country (UNESCO)

Llanberis

On the final day in Snowdonia, head to the village of Llanberis.  Nestled at the foot of Mount Snowdon, Llanberis is a popular starting point for a climb to the summit.  The Llanberis route is one of the easiest in terms of gradient, so is ideal if you fancy the challenge.

However, if you don’t fancy the steep climb up the mountain, Llanberis is also the departure point of the Snowdonia Mountain Railway.

In peak times you should book your ticket on the mountain railway.  Click here for the Mountain Railway website.

Llanberis Lake, Wales, UK

Padarn Country Park (Parc Gwledig Padarn)

Unfortunately, a poorly foot meant that we couldn’t climb Mount Snowdon.  Instead, we spent day 5 of our Snowdonia trip exploring Padarn Country Park in Llanberis.  The biggest attraction is Llanberis Lake (Llyn Padarn), one of the largest natural lakes in Wales.

The walk around Llanberis Lake (Llyn Padarn) is about 5 miles (8km) and takes just over 2 hours.  The route is flat, apart from the start, where the path heads up past the Quarry Hospital and through the woods.

Llanberis Lake Views, Wales, UK

You could spend all day at Padarn Country Pak as there’s plenty for kids to do.  As well as a walk round the lake, it is popular for watersports, including kayaking, supping, and diving.

Alternatively, you could take a ride on the steam train which runs beside the lake.  Younger children will love this, as it looks like Thomas the Tank Engine!

National Slate Museum

One of the best attractions at Padarn Country Park is the National Slate Museum.  In 2021, the slate landscape of Northwest Wales became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.   Admission to the museum is free and gives a fantastic insight into Wales’s mining heritage.

Slate Museum, Wales, UK

Dolbadarn Castle

If you enjoy history, there’s also a 13th century castle at Padarn Country Park.  Welsh Prince Llewelyn the Great built Dolbadarn Castle to defend the ancient kingdom of Gwynedd.  Only the round tower remains,  but you can climb up the spiral case for fantastic views over Llanberis Lake.

Admission to Dolbadarn Castle is free.

Dolbadarn Castle, Wales, UK

We hope this helps you plan your own Snowdonia itinerary?  We would love to hear your questions or comments below.

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