Snowdonia, United Kingdom

Mount Snowdon’s lofty heights certainly hog the limelight: standing at 1,085 metres, this Arthurian legend is hard to ignore and offers unbeatable camera-baiting views for the intrepid. Marvel at the majestic vistas from the Snowdon Summit Café after a leisurely ascent on the Snowdon Mountain Railway but don’t let this behemoth distract you from Snowdonia’s more down-to-earth pleasures. At sea level, Roman ruins and mediaeval castles sit side by side with gastropubs, dainty cafés and welcoming Welsh watering holes. Amble through Portmeiron’s Italianate cottage-lined lanes, savour a spot of wild swimming in the Llŷn Peninsula’s sea caves and explore the wending coastlines and verdant valleys by bike, boat or kayak.

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Areas in Snowdonia

When to go

Snowdonia’s wet and wild throughout the year, but June to October offer the best climbing conditions and a chance of enough sun to lounge on the beach. In June, pick up a unique souvenir and listen to local musicians at the Snowdonia Arts Festival’s craft market (http://www.snowdoniaartsfestival.org.uk). Visit in October for the Snowdonia Walking Festival (http://www.snowdoniawalkingfestival.co.uk) when the region’s foot traffic reaches fever pitch.

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Getting there

  • Planes

    On the English side of the Welsh border, Manchester is a two-hour drive from Bangor and the closest international airport to Snowdonia. Alternatively, London Gatwick and Heathrow airports (a four to five-hour drive from Bangor and Snowdon) offer more transatlantic and intercontinental flights. Many visitors choose to change at Schiphol, Amsterdam airport, which flies to Cardiff airport, a four-and-a-half-hour drive to Bangor. Flights from the US and Europe also arrive at Birmingham airport, which is a three-hour drive from Bangor.
  • Trains

    Bangor is roughly a three-hour journey from the neighbouring city hubs of London, Liverpool, Birmingham and Manchester. In Snowdonia, travel by Arriva trains along the Conwy and Lledr valley routes, or hop on the Ffestiniog Railway, a charming narrow-gauge steam train travelling between Blaenau Ffestiniog and Porthmadog.
  • Automobiles

    You can drive to Snowdonia National Park from London (four hours via the M1), Birmingham (two hours via the A458 and M6), Manchester (two hours via the A483) and Liverpool (two hours via the A494). The scenic routes can turn a car jaunt into a tour of dramatic vistas, but take caution; inclement weather and steep roads can make conditions risky in the winter months.