Thanks to the iconic beaches, the stunning mountain ranges and the local culture; North Wales has attracted visitors from across the UK for well over a century. Major financial investment in recent years has resulted in a number of pioneering attractions being created and redeveloped in the area – leading to tourist numbers achieving a record high in 2016.
To cement the region’s reputation as a first-class tourist destination, travel website and travel guide publisher – Lonely Planet, named North Wales as one of the top 5 destinations to visit in the world, amongst the likes of South Australia and Taranaki in New Zealand.
We take a look at some of the top things to do in North Wales and examine why it has become one of the most alluring travel destinations in Europe…
North Wales’ Beaches
North Wales is well known for its range of captivating coastal scenery and golden sandy beaches. Newborough Beach in Anglesey is regarded as one of the most beautiful in the UK, combining the sand & sea with a stunning mountain backdrop. At the end of the beach, you will also find Llanddwyn Island and the remains of St. Dwynwen’s church. St. Dwynwen is the Welsh patron saint of lovers and for centuries religious folk would make a pilgrimage to the island, in order to make offerings to the holy well found there.
Talacre Beach is popular with families and people travel from all across the North West of the UK to enjoy the vibrant, friendly atmosphere and the trademark system of sand dunes that provide miles of enjoyable walks sheltered from the coastal winds. At Talacre, you’ll also find the iconic lighthouse, the North Wales Coastal Path and an energetic seaside vibe. It’s also ideal for dogs, who can make the most of the beach all year around.
North Wales’ Waterfalls
North Wales has waterfalls large and small scattered across the area. Aber Falls in Abergwyngregyn, is conveniently located about 30 minutes’ walk from the local car park – which costs £2 at the time of writing, to park there all day. The path itself offers great views out to the sea and you are rewarded at the end with the stunning waterfall itself.
Dyserth Waterfall near Rhyl, is less well known but equally as beautiful. Located conveniently near the town centre, it is certainly worth a visit if you are in the area.
Mountains in North Wales
If there’s one thing that North Wales is famous for, it’s mountains. With Mount Snowdon alone attracting over 10 million visitors from across the world each year, if you love a hike and a long walk, you’ll love North Wales.
Snowdonia is the iconic landmark of North Wales, but there are a number of other smaller, equally beautiful hills and mountains in the area. Conwy Mountain for example, offers a shorter yet equally enjoyable walk.
Known locally as Mynydd y Dref, there is a car park located right near the base of the mountain – use postcode LL34 6TB to find the approximate area. From the summit of the mountain you should be able to take in views of Anglesey, Puffin Island, the Great Orme, Llandudno and of course – Conwy. Although the summit is rewarding, the walk to the top is equally interesting. With a range of wildlife to see – including wild horses, a number of old fort ruins and beautiful jagged rock-faces and flowers; the walk is a must for any avid hiker, or anyone staying in the area.
There are many more mountains and hills to be discovered in North Wales, with Moel Famau – the highest in Clwydian Range, providing a range of easy-going and challenging routes to the fort at the top. It also provides a stunning sunrise on winter mornings.
Lakes & Reservoirs of North Wales
Llyn Brenig in Conwy (postcode LL21 9TT ), is a beautiful body of water that boasts a comprehensive visitor’s centre and offers a range of activities including cycling, fishing, sailing and walking. There are also a number of events and activities held at the reservoir including bush craft workshops and running festivals.
On the way to Mid Wales is the stunning Lake Vyrnwy. According to our friends at Visit Wales – this is the best lake in Wales for bird watching. It’s also a great lake for scenery, especially in the snow!
The lake itself has been created thanks to the huge Victorian reservoir, which is the oldest of its kind in the world. The lake is flanked by woodlands which are managed by the RSPB as a nature reserve.
There are a range of other beautiful lakes around North Wales, created by the mountainous landscapes and deep valleys. Conwy is again no exception, with the beautiful Llyn Crafnant one of their many idyllic lakes. The lake is a 30 minute drive from our Aberconwy Resort & Spa.
North Wales’ Restaurants & Eateries
North Wales boasts a number of Michelin recommended restaurants, including of course, the double rosette winning Signatures Restaurant. A wonderful fine dining experience, with free parking right outside it offers a friendly atmosphere in between the beach and the Conwy Mountain. It’s certainly worth a visit if you are in the area.
Hidden in the beautiful village of Tremadog, in Porthmadog is North Wales’ best fish & chip shop as voted for in 2016 – Chippy Dre-Sglod a Cod, or Chippy Dre for short. Previous winner of the coveted award from the Daily Post include Les and Rita’s Fish Bar in Rhyl, and O My Cod! in Bangor.
Heading towards Wrexham and only 20 minutes from Chester, the Pant Yr Ochan in a beautiful village called Gresford offers fantastic ales, a large pub garden and a range of freshly prepared meals. Perfect for families and couples alike.
Adrenaline-Fuelled North Wales
North Wales is ridiculously well equipped to cater for adrenaline junkies. With dozens of well known bouldering spots, hair-raising ridges such as Snowdon’s Crib Goch to (carefully) conquer and more water sports than you can shake a leek at, it’s the place to be if you like action sports.
North Wales is the perfect destination for mountain bikers. Llandegla near Wrexham, is open Tuesday to Sunday 9am to 5.30pm and til 8.30pm on a Wednesday.
For the brave hearted, there are a number of off road downhill trails, including The Snowdon Big Mountain Descent. Getting yourself and your bike to the summit is half the battle.
Other attractions for action and sports lovers, include Surf Snowdonia – a stunning man-made surfing lagoon and Zip World Penrhyn Quarry in Bangor – boasting the longest zip line in Europe and the fastest zip line in the world.
For those of you that enjoy ascending rock faces without any safety equipment, North Wales is also a hotspot for bouldering fans. With a number of well known boulders to ascend in Bethesda, the Great Orme and the Llanberis Pass, to name but a few.
Puppy Ted Taking in the View from Hope Mountain near Wrexham – One of the Region’s Hidden Gems
Where to start? With a plethora of stunning mountains, beautiful valleys and historical landmarks; North Wales is a fantastic place to visit all year round. Whether you enjoy mountain biking, relaxing on the beach or rubbing shoulders with the locals over a cup of tea and a slice of Bara brith, it’s a fantastic place to visit and explore.
Snowdonia National Park is the icon of North Wales, and rightly so – but there is so much more that the area has to offer, with beautiful walks and sights waiting to be found if you are happy to do a bit of exploring!
With four locations in North Wales, Darwin Escapes can offer you the perfect place to base yourself while you explore this picturesque and exciting region!
Photo Credits: Stuart Madden.