Experience the best of North Wales' rugged highlands, beaches, and historic villages on this eight-day self-guided walking tour through Snowdonia National Park, the Llyn Peninsula, and Anglesey Island. Stay in heritage hotels, visit historic castles, learn about ancient battles, and climb the highest peak in Wales. Choose from a variety of walks, take the train, or go for a drive: we provide suggestions and background information, so you can tailor your Wales self-drive walking tour to suit you (and the weather)!

Highlights

  • Explore the Breathtaking Snowdonia National Park
  • Climb Wales' Highest Mountain, Mount Snowdon
  • Check Out the Beautiful Wild Beaches on Anglesey Island
  • Discover Fascinating Medieval Castles & Prehistoric Settlements
  • Wander Through Historic Welsh Towns & Picture-Perfect Villages

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival in Snowdonia Betws-y-Coed
Day 2 Snowdonia National Park Betws-y-Coed
Day 3 Explore Conwy Castle or Hike Carnedds Mountains Betws-y-Coed
Day 4 Southern Snowdonia Portmeirion
Day 5 Southern Snowdonia Portmeirion
Day 6 Summit Mt Snowdon Portmeirion
Day 7 Anglesey Anglesey
Day 8 Anglesey  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Snowdonia

Stay in Betws-y-Coed in the Conwy Valley
Stay in Betws-y-Coed in the Conwy Valley

Travel to North Wales by train. On arrival in Bangor, pick up your hire car and drive to your first night's accommodation in a beautiful 4-star hotel in the picturesque and lively village of Betws-y-Coed in the Conwy Valley.

Spend the afternoon exploring the village and the surrounding area, including Gwydir Forest Park and the scenic Swallow Falls just a mile from the village.

Driving time: 40 mins
Driving distance: 21 miles (34 km)

Day 2: Snowdonia National Park

Take a walk around the beautiful Lake Idwal, Snowdonia
Take a walk around the beautiful Lake Idwal, Snowdonia

It's time to head out and explore the breathtaking Snowdonia National Park! There are a few different hiking options in this rugged and wild landscape, depending on the weather and what you would like to see. Crossing the Glyder Peaks is not recommended in bad weather—it's easy to get lost on this rock-covered lunar plateau.

After breakfast at your hotel, drive out to Llyn Ogwen and walk from there to the picture-perfect Llyn Idwal Lake and Devil's Kitchen—a huge fault in the cliff-face—where you can enjoy the views, the Alpine flora, and watch climbers tackle the huge cliffs. If you're feeling especially energetic, then the walk around the lake is also beautiful.

After you return to the path, if you go back down past Devil's Kitchen you'll find a path to the isolated summit of Y-Garn.  In good weather, there is a choice of two trails that bring you to the Glyder's, with their two mythical peaks guarded by spectacular rock castles. After crossing the mountains, you can either climb up to the summit of Y-Garn, or head straight back down from there.

Walking distance: 3- 10 miles
Altitude: up to  3120 feet (950+ m) 

Day 3: Explore Conwy Castle or Hike Carnedds Mountains

Wonderful views over the Welsh mountains
Wonderful views over the Welsh mountains

Depending on how you feel today, you can go and explore the superb medieval Conwy Castle and Wales' beautiful north coast or head out to the Carnedds and hike up Wales' second-highest peak—Carnedd Llewelyn.

If you choose to head to Conwy Castle, then you can also stop by the beautiful Bonant Gardens in the Conwy Valley, or do an easy local walk from the hotel in Betws-y-Coed to Llyn Elsi, a lake in a forest above the village. This walk is approximately 2.5 miles (4 km) long, with only 650 ft (200 m) in height gain, and leads to a clearing with beautiful views across to Moel Siabod.

Alternatively, you can hackle the longest of our mountain walks in Snowdonia, the Carnedds. Perfect for those who love quiet trails and wild and isolated mountains, you'll start the day by driving out to the Ogwen Valley—between the Glyders and Carnedds Mountains. After a challenging climb up to Pen yr Ole Wen, your first summit, the path across the ridges between the rugged peaks of the Carnedds to Carnedd Llewelyn is a little easier, with breathtaking views. If you're feeling especially energetic, you can also increase the distance of the route by adding on a round trip to Yr Elen.

Please note:
if the weather is bad, we don't recommend attempting to hike the Carnedds due to its mountainous nature and isolation. Fog can descend quickly and impair visibility, and people get lost climbing here in bad weather every year, so it's not worth the risk.

Walking distance: up to 11 miles
Elevation: over 3938 ft (1200 m)

Plan your trip to Wales
Customize your trip with help from a local travel specialist.

Day 4: Southern Snowdonia

North Wales has a lot of beautiful beaches, like this one in Barmouth
North Wales has a lot of beautiful beaches, like this one in Barmouth

After breakfast, check out of your hotel and head south to explore the south of the beautiful Snowdonia National Park. You can either drive straight to your hotel in the quaint village of Portmeirion, the 4* aptly-named Hotel Portmeirion, which was designed by Sir Clough William-Ellis and built in the style of an Italian village, or go off exploring first.

There are a few different walks to choose from again today, including the Mawddach Trail, which follows an old railway line along the Mawddach estuary to the Barmouth seaside resort. It's an easy walk with beautiful landscapes and is perfect for spotting native wildlife.

If you'd prefer something a little more scenic, then you might want to try the Barmouth Scenic Walk, a beautiful and varied hike with some of the best views in Snowdonia. It's a fairly easy hike, even if there are steep sections. It's perfect for a half-day trip, especially if the weather is bad. Climb up above the Mawddach estuary for great views over the estuary, the Cader Idris massif, and Cardigan Bay.

Last but not least, head out along the coastline to see one of Wales' historic castles and enjoy beautiful scenic views over the ocean. Although it was abandoned long ago, the 13th-century Harlech Castle is considered by UNESCO to be one of Europe's "finest examples of late 13th century and early 14th-century military architecture in Europe", and the striking ruins are still well worth visiting. 

The castle was originally built atop cliffs that plunged straight down to the ocean, but water levels have receded so much that the ocean is now two-thirds of a mile away. It has also been the site of several important battles and Celtic legends that you will discover during your walk.

Walking distance: up to 6.2 miles (10 km)
Elevation: + 656 ft (+200m)

Driving time: 40 minutes
Driving distance: 22 miles (35 km)

Day 5: Southern Snowdonia

Enjoy the scenic views on the Beddgelert circuit
Enjoy the scenic views on the Beddgelert circuit

Enjoy beautiful views of Snowdon on a picturesque walk from the nearby village of Beddgelert, before following the Glaslyn Stream through the Aberglaslyn Pass.  At the bridge, you'll leave the valley to climb Cwm Bychan and pass through the ruins of the old copper mines. Stop at the summit to enjoy the views over Snowdon before continuing down to Llyn Dinas Lake. Complete the circuit by following the Gwynant Valley back to Beddgelert for a well-deserved ice cream and stop in one of the historic village's beautiful pubs. 

If that seems like a bit too much walking today, then you could also take the Highland Railway to Beddgelert from the port town of Porthmadog, or even catch the train all the way through Snowdonia National Park to Caernafon to visit its wonderful medieval castle.

Walking distance: 8 miles (13 km)
Elevation:  +984 ft (+300m)

Day 6: Summit Mt Snowdon

The views from the top of Snowdon are spectacular
The views from the top of Snowdon are spectacular

Today, we'll be summitting Mount Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales and the highest point in the British Isles outside of Scotland. From Pen-y-Pass you can opt to take an easier track taking you to Lake Llyn Llydaw or a more rocky path on the eastern slopes of Crib Goch where you can reach a ridge where you will find amazing views over the lake and Lliwedd.  From there, head up to the Llyn Glaslyn Lake, where a trail leads up to the final ridge where you will meet the Llanberis Trail and then you can follow it to the top.

In clear weather, the views from the top of Mount Snowdon are absolutely amazing. You can see 18 lakes, 14 peaks over 2950ft (900 m), and over the ocean—sometimes even as far as Ireland.  If you want to walk further, you can also hike up to other nearby peaks like Crib y Disgal and Lliwedd.  

Alternatively, if you don't feel like hiking up the mountain then you can head to Llanberis and take the train from there up to the summit or half-way to the top. From there, you can either walk down or take the return train.

Walking distance: 4-10 miles (6-16 km)
Elevation: 656-3445 ft (200-1050 m)

Day 7: Anglesey

Explore the beautiful Anglesey coastline
Explore the beautiful Anglesey coastline

After exploring the stunning Snowdonia National Park, today we head to the nearby island of Anglesey. This beautiful island has over 125 miles (200 km) of coastal pathways and countless places to visit, including one of the largest collections of archaeological sites in Britain. Nature lovers will enjoy spotting a variety of rare birds, while history buffs will be intrigued by visits from notable figures such as Oliver Cromwell and Charles Dickens.

We recommend you do a section on the island called Holyhead, walking from South Stack to Rhoscolyn. The defining feature of the landscape here is the dramatic, rocky coastline. There are huge cliffs, numerous inlets, coves, and small offshore islands, including the south stack with the South Stack Lighthouse and Ynysoedd Gwylanod—Seagull’s island—and the Rhoscolyn Beacon.

The Rhoscolyn coast is known for the two striking natural arches that the sea has carved out of the cliffs—Bwa Du (the black arch), and Bwa Gwyn—the white arch. If you feel up to it, head to the southern tip of the Rhoscolyn coast to see Borthwen beach with its golden sheltered sands.  From here, you can take a transfer back to your car.

Walking distance: 7 miles (11 km)

Driving time: 1 hour
Driving distance: 43 miles (69 km)

Day 8: Anglesey

Spend your last day enjoying the beaches on Anglesey Island
Spend your last day enjoying the beaches on Anglesey Island

Spend your last day in north Wales exploring more of the breathtaking Anglesey island. Visit some of the many prehistoric sites scattered across the island or head out to Llanddwyn Island, one of the most picturesque locations in all of Wales. The ruined church here was once home to Saint Dwynwen—the 5th-century Welsh patron saint of lovers.  The legend goes that she moved there after her true love Maelon was turned to ice.

You can also visit the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Beaumaris Castle—the last great castle built but never completed under King Edward I in the 13th—and swing by the village with one of the longest names in the world: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch

In the afternoon, drive to Bangor to return your rental car and travel onward via train.

Driving time: 30 minutes
Driving distance: 16 miles (26 km)

Map

Map of Walking in Beautiful North Wales: Snowdonia & Anglesey - 8 Days
Map of Walking in Beautiful North Wales: Snowdonia & Anglesey - 8 Days