The UK has many beautiful places to visit. Apart from London, we had so far visited the Lake District, Scotland (twice) and the Cotswolds. Wales had been pending for a while and we finally made a trip there when the kids had a week’s vacation. We were lucky with the weather and spent a lovely 3 days driving around the Snowdonia National Park, taking in its stunning landscape, and enjoying the charming villages.
As is the case with almost anywhere, there is a lot to see in Wales. We picked the Snowdonia region, probably 1/5th of Wales, and really only covered the top half of that region over the three days that we were there. It was a driving holiday with children so we didn’t do any long walks. There are numerous walks, with widely varying levels of difficulty, so one can spend as many days as one likes exploring Wales. We stuck to a few prominent mountains, lakes, passes, and villages. This post covers some of our favourites.
I have listed below some of the places we visited. In my opinion, it is best to plot these on a map, choose a route for the day, and explore whatever comes along. No one place is a destination by itself but each place adds to the magic. To paraphrase a well-known saying, “Wales is greater than the sum of its parts”. Here is my Google Maps List to make the plotting easier.
We arrived at the Holyhead Ferry terminal around 11:40am and had to go buy some clothes for our son as we forgot to pack any for him. Luckily we found an inexpensive store quite near the ferry terminal and were able to get everything we needed, and a small bite at the KFC next door. After that brief detour, we set off towards our hotel.
Llyn (Lake) Ogwen (map) – beautiful lake on the way to our hotel from the ferry terminal. The map reference above is also the carpark for walks to Tryfan, which are very popular but require some amount of skill in mountain climbing (as opposed to hiking) and map reading. There is also a nice walk around the lake that goes along the hills on one side and then back through the other side on the road.
Pen-y-Pass (map) was our next stop. There are some great views from the car park and it is also a starting point for a couple of hikes up to Snowdon. The hikes are 4-6 hours long (round trip). We just walked a short distance for views, took many pictures, and then walked back.
Snowdon View Point (map) – just a short distance down the mountain from Pen-y-Pass on our way to the hotel was this view point with views of the mountains and of the valley beneath.
LLyn Gwynant (map) – this is a small clearing with access to the lake which is easy to miss. The map reference is almost the exact map location so best to slow down when nearing the point. We were gifted this view.
This was the last halt for the day and, after a short 10 min drive, we arrived at our hotel – Aberdunant Hall Holiday Park & Hotel (map). It’s a large holiday home park beautifully nestled in the hilly forest. One part of the larger holiday home park is the hotel. They have rooms in the main building and cabins near the main building. We stayed in a cabin which was perfect for a family of four. The cabin was not too large but quite spacious and cosy.
It had been quite a packed day and the hotel bar was the perfect place to unwind over a few local ales. We also had dinner at the hotel restaurant which wasn’t too great an experience. We had to wait a long time, despite making a reservation, and the food was ok.
It was another beautiful day and we woke up to the warm sun-bathed colours of autumn.
Unlike the dinner the night before, the breakfast was splendid and got us off to a great start for the day.
Day 2 took us to FFos Anoddun (Fairy Falls – map location for access to falls), Swallow Falls (map), Penrhyn Castle (map) and then to the town of Caernarfon (map) for dinner. We had dinner at a Spanish Place called Ty Castell (map) that was excellent.
We also attempted to visit Aber Falls earlier in the evening but first Google Maps took us to a strange location and then we reached the correct place (map) only to realise that it would have been a 2-3 hour walk to the falls. It was getting close to sunset so we gave it a miss. The dinner at Ty Castell was an excellent way to finish the day. Then back to the hotel and to the bar to relive the day over a few ales.
The Weather continued to be our friend on Day 3 as well. The day was spent ambling around the town/village of Betws-y-Coed (pronounced something like Betus-o-Cord – map), and visiting the village of Portmeirion (map), a tourist village designed and built by Sir Clough Williams-Ellis between 1925 and 1975 in the style of an Italian village. We then dropped-in to Caernarfon again for the sunset and dinner, this time at a Welsh Pub/Restaurant called Four Alls (map).
And with that we wrapped up this holiday. We drove back to Holyhead the next day and took the ferry back to Dublin. We did try to visit a lighthouse at Ynys LLanddwyn (map) but could not get to it because the tide was in, cutting off the narrow strip of beach that connects to the island in low tide. It was still a nice short hike though.
Goodbye Wales, we hope to be back.