Must see attractions in Snowdonia National Park (Parc Cenedlaethol Eryri)

  • Top ChoiceSights in Harlech

    Harlech Castle

    Edward I finished this intimidating yet aesthetically pleasing castle in 1289, the southernmost of his 'iron ring' of fortresses designed to keep the Welsh firmly beneath his boot. The grey-sandstone castle's massive twin-towered gatehouse and outer walls are still intact and give the illusion of impregnability even now. Entry is through a well-equipped visitor centre, with interactive displays, kids' activities and films detailing the castle's history.

  • Sights in Dolgellau

    Mawddach Estuary

    The Mawddach Estuary is a striking sight, flanked by woodlands, wetlands and the mountains of southern Snowdonia. There are two Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) nature reserves in the valley, both easily reached on foot or by bike from Dolgellau or Barmouth via the Mawddach Trail. Arthog Bog is 8 miles west of Dolgellau on the access road to Morfa Mawddach station, off the A493, while Coed Garth Gell is 2 miles west, on the A496.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Betws-y-Coed

    Gwydyr Forest

    The 28-sq-mile Gwydyr Forest, planted since the 1920s with oak, beech and larch, encircles Betws-y-Coed and is scattered with the remnants of lead and zinc mine workings. Named for a more ancient forest in the same location, it's ideal for a day's walking, though it gets very muddy in wet weather. Walks Around Betws-y-Coed (£5), available from the National Park Information Centre, details several circular forest walks.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Llanberis

    National Slate Museum

    Even if you're not enraptured by industrial museums, ignore the dull-sounding name and check this one out. At Dinorwig Quarry much of the slate was carved out of the open mountainside – leaving behind a jagged, sculptural cliff face that's fascinating if not exactly beautiful. The museum, occupying the Victorian workshops beside the lake (Llyn Padarn), features video clips, a huge working water wheel, workers' cottages (progressively furnished in period decor from 1861 to 1969, when the quarries closed) and demonstrations.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Blaenau Ffestiniog

    Llechwedd Slate Caverns

    Blaenau's main attraction takes you into the bowels of a Victorian slate mine. You descend the UK's steepest mining cable railway into the 1846 network of tunnels and caverns, while 'enhanced-reality technology' brings to life the harsh working conditions of the 19th-century miners – be prepared to duck and scramble around dark tunnels. There's also a tour of the quarry in a military truck (£20 per person). The first tour each day is half price; check the website for times and prebooking.

  • Top ChoiceSights in Blaenau Ffestiniog

    Cellb

    Recently opened in the Edwardian-era police station (hence 'Cell B'), this multifunction centre hosts everything from yoga to live bands to screenings in a 40-seat cinema. It's also the town's most appealing dining and drinking space, with a cafe and cocktail bar making clever use of original fittings. The final feather in Cellb's cap is hostel accommodation in three small dorms (created from the old magistrate's office and interview room; £22 per night), with a kitchen and stylish lounge.

  • Sights in Barmouth (Abermaw)

    Barmouth Bridge

    You're unlikely to miss Barmouth's foremost landmark: in fact, you'll probably arrive on it, by train, on foot or on two wheels. Curving scenically into town, spanning 700m of the Mawddach Estuary mouth, it was built in 1867 for the new railway and is one of the longest wooden viaducts in Britain. Originally incorporating a drawbridge, it now has a swing bridge to allow tall shipping into the estuary.

  • Sights in Beddgelert

    Sygun Copper Mine

    This mine dates from Roman times, although extraction was stepped up in the 19th century. Abandoned in 1903, it has since been converted into a museum, with a half-hour self-guided underground tour containing dioramas that evoke the life of Victorian miners. You can also try your hand at metal detecting (£2.50) or panning for gold (£2). It's located a mile northeast of Beddgelert, along the A498.

  • Sights in Llanberis

    Electric Mountain

    More than just Dinorwig Power Station's public interface, Electric Mountain is a tourist hub incorporating a gallery, cafe and souvenir shop. It also has interactive exhibits on hydropower and is the starting point for a fascinating guided tour into the power station's guts, 750m under Elidir mountain. The centre is by the lakeside on the A4086, near the southern end of High St.

  • Sights in Betws-y-Coed

    Ugly House

    The Ugly House isn't actually ugly at all. This unusual cottage is constructed from huge boulders and is home to a characterful tearoom and, upstairs, the Honeybee Room, with displays devoted to the beleaguered insect. Visitors can wander through the grounds and gardens, even when the house is closed. It's located half a mile past Swallow Falls on the A5.

  • Sights in Bala (Y Bala)

    Llyn Tegid

    Llyn Tegid was formed during the last Ice Age when glaciers blocked the valley of the River Dee with debris. The resulting rectangular lake is 4 miles long, three-quarters of a mile wide and, in places, more than 42m deep. It's also the only home of the gwyniad, an endemic fish isolated in the glacial lake.

  • Sights in Barmouth (Abermaw)

    Dinas Oleu

    Rising behind Barmouth, rocky Dinas Oleu (258m) made history in 1895 by becoming the first property ever bequeathed to the National Trust, kick-starting a movement dedicated to preserving Britain's best landscapes and buildings. A network of trails covers the 4.5 gorse-covered acres of the 'Fortess of Light', including the popular Panorama Walk (signposted from the A496 on the eastern edge of town), which has the best views of Mawddach Estuary.

  • Sights in Betws-y-Coed

    St Michael's Church

    The name Betws is thought to be derived from 'bead house', meaning a place of prayer ( y coed – in the woods). It's likely that 14th-century St Michael's Church, the town's oldest building, stands on the site of that early sanctuary. The main item of interest inside is a stone effigy of Gruffydd ap Dafydd Goch, possibly the grandnephew of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, the last native Prince of Wales. If it's locked, ask for the key at the Railway Museum.

  • Sights in Dolgellau

    Tŷ Siamas

    Dolgellau has been a Welsh folk-music hub since holding the first national folk festival in 1952. The town's former market hall now houses the volunteer-run National Centre for Welsh Folk Music, named after Dolgellau-born Elis Sîon Siamas, harpist to Queen Anne and the first Welshman to build a triple harp (now known as the 'Welsh harp'). There's a recording studio, workshops and lessons on traditional instruments and a cafe and shop. Check the website for upcoming performances.

  • Sights in Llanberis

    Dolbadarn Castle

    Built before 1230 by the Princes of Gwynedd, the keep of Dolbardarn rises like a perfect chessboard rook from a green hilltop between the two lakes, Llyn Padarn and Llyn Peris. If it seems spartan, spare a thought for Owain ap Gruffydd, imprisoned here for 20 years in the mid-13th century by his younger brother Llewellyn the Last. It's a brief stroll from town and you'll be rewarded with wonderful views of the lakes, quarries and Snowdon itself.

  • Sights in Betws-y-Coed

    Conwy Valley Railway Museum

    If you're the sort who's fascinated by dioramas and model train sets, this tiny museum is for you. In which case the model shop you have to pass through in order to enter might pose an unfair temptation. The big attraction for kids is the miniature steam-train ride (the 1-mile round trip through manicured gardens costs £2, and is sometimes diesel-powered) and there's a cafe in a full-sized carriage.

  • Sights in Penmachno

    St Tudclud's Church

    After 12 years of closure, little St Tudclud's reopened in 2009 after the community rallied to save it. It isn't particularly old (1859), but inside are five Latin-inscribed stones dating from the 5th century, a 12th-century font, and a 13th-century gravestone which may have belonged to the father of Llywelyn the Great. It's usually open; call in and help yourself to a cup of coffee.

  • Sights in Tywyn

    Narrow Gauge Railway Museum

    At Tywyn Wharf Station, the terminus of the Talyllyn Railway, this museum is one for steam-locomotive buffs. Its 1000-plus artefacts date as far as 200 years back, telling the stories of British narrow-gauge railways and the volunteers who fought to preserve Talyllyn. There are regular temporary exhibitions, and opening hours are coordinated with the train timetable.

  • Sights in Betws-y-Coed

    Swallow Falls

    Betws-y-Coed's main natural tourist draw is located 2 miles west of town, alongside the A5 on the River Llugwy. It's a beautiful spot, with the 42m torrent, Wales' highest, weaving through the rocks into a green pool below. Outside seasonal opening hours, bring coins for the turnstile (no change is available).

  • Sights in Llanberis

    Quarry Hospital Museum

    Built in 1860 to minister to workers injured in rockfalls and the other mishaps inseparable from slate mining, this museum provides a vivid insight into the sometimes gruesome medical care provided in Victorian times. The hospital is part of Padarn Country Park, on the northeastern shore of Llyn Padarn.