Northwest Wales, United Kingdom
300 – 1085 m
From rugged ridges and lush green pastures to exposed and rocky summits, pristine beaches and dense natural forest; Snowdonia National Park is a land of beautiful contrasts.
Snowdonia in northwest Wales is one of Britain’s wildest, most stunning and expansive national parks. Home to the UK’s highest mountains south of Scotland, Wales’ largest lake, thousands of miles of breathtaking trails, rolling woodland and a stunning stretch of pristine, Caribbean-like coastline, you can truly do it all here — whether you come to hike, ride or relax.
Snowdonia National Park
This mountainous region is both the third largest and third oldest national park in England and Wales. It’s home to hundreds of hills, 9 different mountain ranges, over 90 peaks and around 100 lakes. At the heart of the Welsh culture and language, Snowdonia is also one of the last remaining strongholds of an authentic ‘Welshness’, the likes of which is almost impossible to find anywhere else in the British Isles.
Snowdonia National Park offers its visitors dozens of different activities, such as hiking, mountain biking, road cycling, climbing, kayaking and windsurfing. Starting at the lake Afon Tryeryn, white water rafting is also popular. The water adventure will take you through the exciting rapids of the River Dee. For hikers, the numerous mountain ridges offer endless adventure for visitors of all skill levels. Leisure hikers can enjoy mile after mile of stunning trails through woodland, over mountains and across ridges. Meanwhile, eager alpinists can head to Edmund Hilary’s training grounds for his famed 1953 Everest expedition: the steep slopes and scree fields surrounding Mt. Snowdon.
If you’re looking for a more relaxed experience, follow one of the easier paths uphill. Alternatively, take a seat on the Snowdon Mountain Railway. The rack-and-pinion railway takes you to the summit and back in practically any weather, beginning and ending its exciting journey in the pretty village of Llanberis. Uniquely, mountain bikes are also permitted on Snowdon, being restricted only between 10 am until 5 pm from May to September.
Wherever you go, however, be sure to always pack a waterproof jacket. Snowdonia National Park is one of the wettest places in Britain.
Wherever you’re coming from in the UK, driving to Snowdonia National Park is fairly simple. Prepare for fairly long travel times due to the lack of any major roads in the area.
If you’re traveling on public transport, the main train station in Bangor (just outside the park) serves as an easy connection. Trains run regularly to the larger cities of Liverpool, Chester, Manchester, Shrewsbury, Birmingham, London and Cardiff. From Bangor, regular bus services will take you into the park.
Wildlife and plants
Snowdonia National Park is home to numerous indigenous animal and plant populations not found anywhere else in the world. Keep an eye out for the Snowdon Beetle, a colourful insect that can be found in numerous parts of the park, including on Snowdon itself. Otters, polecats and feral goats are also common in the park throughout the year.
As the park is so diverse, containing woodlands, high summits and a coastline, the birdlife in the park is particularly interesting. Peregrine falcons, twites, choughs and ravens are common sights year round. Glimpses of the rarest bird in Wales, the osprey, can be enjoyed at the designated nesting sites in Glaslyn in the summer. Red kites, recognisable via their unique forked-tail feathering, have also returned to the area thanks to the efforts of the park authorities. You can spot these at numerous feeding sites in the park.
Being one of the wettest regions in the UK, Snowdonia National Park is also bursting with beautiful plant life. For a special treat, look for the Snowdon Lily, which blooms between early May and late June. Don’t pick, disturb or trample on one. They are protected by law in order to ensure the plant’s survival in the park. In the many forests and woodland in the park, you’ll come across oak, alder, wych and elm trees.
Where to stay
Within Snowdonia National Park itself, hiking hostels and youth accommodation offer affordable options for a good night’s sleep, especially if you don’t plan on spending that much time in bed. In the larger villages within and around the park, you’ll find also ample bed and breakfasts. The park itself also houses dozens of affordable campsites. Wild camping is strictly prohibited.
Activities in the park
kayaking / rafting
When is the best time to visit the park?
The park is open and accessible year round, but visiting between May and September increases your chances of experiencing dry, clear weather. Don’t forget: Snowdonia is one of the wettest regions of the UK. Heavy rain can fall at any time during the year.
Do you need to stick to trails?
Much of the park falls under the Right to Roam laws, so you can walk freely. Maps denoting specific areas where these rules do not apply are visible at the National Park Offices.
Is wild camping allowed?
Wild camping is prohibited within Snowdonia National Park. Camping on private land is allowed as long as you’re first granted permission from the landowner.
Are dogs allowed in the park?
Yes, but they have to remain on a lead due to the extensive livestock grazing throughout Snowdonia. There are also no dog-waste bins anywhere in the park.
Is the park wheelchair accessible?
Many trails and attractions in the park are wheelchair accessible. The Snowdon Mountain Railway is also wheelchair accessible, but book your tickets for this attraction well in advance. Click here for more information.
Where do I park?
If you’re arriving by car, you can park in one of the numerous car parks available throughout the park. Parking costs around £4 for the day. Many machines only take coins, so bring enough. It’s not possible to get change in many parts of the park.
Is the use of drones permitted?
The non-commercial use of drones lighter than 20 kg is permitted. No specific license is required, although you should be aware of the principle rules denoting drone use in Snowdonia and it must always remain within your line of sight.
National Parks in Wales
There are three stunning national parks in Wales: Brecon Beacons, Snowdonia and Pembrokeshire Coast.
In total, Great Britain counts 15 national parks: Brecon Beacons, Broads, Cairngorms, Dartmoor, Exmoor, Lake District, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs, New Forest, Northumberland, North York Moors, Peak District, Pembrokeshire Coast, Snowdonia, South Downs and Yorkshire Dales. The national parks cover an area of almost 2 million hectares. Within continental Europe, only Norway surpasses this.