How to beat the crowds in Snowdonia this summer

It may now be officially known by its Welsh name Eryri, but Wales’ most famous national park (formerly Snowdonia) means the same thing to most people whether it’s called in Welsh or English: high places (including the highest point in Wales and England) and many of them. Yet there is more to the region than its namesake, Snowdon/Yr Wyddfa.

Covering a total area of ​​2,142 square kilometers (approximately the size of the tropical island of Mauritius), the area’s total population of 26,000 swells during the summer months as a large percentage of the annual four million visitors descend on Wales’ first island (designated in 1951). ) National Park.

Many of course come for the hiking in the mountains and – after the recent BBC Pilgrimage TV program – flatter walking trails (interest in the North Wales Pilgrim’s Way, which passes through the lesser-known parts of the park, has increased dramatically since the broadcast). Most pubs, bars and cafes are proudly ‘mudboot friendly’, but there are plenty of other activities on offer. From mountain biking in the forests to whitewater rafting in the valleys, to stand-up paddle boarding on the coast or on the inland lakes, birdwatching along the estuaries and riding the rails up the mountains between the many beautiful towns and villages: there is plenty of adventure in Eryri’s waterfall-lined borders.

Even those who fancy a more sedentary exploration will be satiated by exploring the many castles, wandering among independent shops and art galleries, visiting slate mines, learning about Welsh legends (did you know that the top of Snowdon/Yr Wyddfa is the cemetery would be) hill of Rhitta Gawr, defeated by King Arthur?), or follow their stomachs to explore the tasty local food culture.


Snowdonia is home to some of Britain’s most dramatic mountains – Joe Daniel Price/Getty

The accommodation options are just as diverse – ranging from budget-friendly campsites and hostels to B&Bs, boutique guesthouses and five-star luxury country house hotels, with choices for both families and adults-only.

Whether you’re climbing the highest mountain or keeping your feet firmly planted at sea level, here’s how to avoid the crowds and reach new heights on your next holiday in Eryri.

Where is Eryri National Park (Snowdonia)?

The national park is located in the north-west corner of Wales, with Cardigan Bay to the west, the lakeside town of Bala to the east, the castle town of Conwy just off the northern tip and the quirky, eco-friendly town of Machynlleth to the east. its southern edge.

What is Eryri (Snowdonia) National Park famous for?

It is no coincidence that people associate the park with mountains. It was the training ground not only for mountaineer George Mallory, who attempted to climb Mount Everest in 1924, but also for Sir Edmund Hillary and the team that successfully reached the first summit in 1953.

It is also where Charles Darwin confirmed the theory of the Ice Age in 1831 while standing on one of the smaller peaks and visiting the scoured valley of Cwm Idwal (two boulders named after him are still visible today).

The rugged peaks also captured the imagination of non-mountain climbers and geologists in 1896, when the Victorians laid railway tracks to transport curious visitors from the town of Llanberis to the summit of Snowdon (1,085 metres), Wales’ highest mountain – the same journey This is still possible in the summer.

Snowdon RailwaySnowdon Railway

The Snowdon Mountain Railway has been climbing the mountainside from Llanberis for over 100 years – Shutterstock

What to do in Eryri (Snowdonia) National Park

Take a walk

Hill walkers are spoiled for choice with Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa), Tryfan, the Glyderau and the Carneddau to the north, and Cadair Idris to the south – not to mention the much less busy Rhinos, Arenigs and Arans. For walks in the shadow of waterfalls there are Swallow Falls near the central junction of Betws-y-Coed, Aber Falls near Abergwyngregyn in the north and Nant Gwernol in the south. For coastal bimbs you can’t beat Barmouth and for woodland walks Gwydir Forest Park.

Ride the rails

As well as the famous Snowdon Mountain Railway, which has been climbing up the mountain from Llanberis for over 100 years, there is the two-century-old Ffestiniog Railway, which transports visitors both back in time and along a 14 mile track between the port town of Porthmadog to the slate quarry in Blaenau Ffestiniog. The Welsh Highland Railway runs for 25 miles between Caernarfon and Porthmadog under the flanks of Snowdon (Yr Wyddfa).

Increase the adrenaline

Zip World offers both the longest zipline in Europe and the fastest in the world, as well as underground trampolines at Bounce Below and quarry karts, which freewheel around the slopes. For mountain biking, Coed-y-Brenin, near Dolgellau in southern Snowdonia, has specially designed trails for all levels. And for an unforgettable overnight adventure, there’s Go Below, in Blaenau Ffestiniog, where you can sleep 419 meters underground in an old Victorian mine in what is believed to be the deepest accommodation in the world.

zip worldzip world

Find the longest zipline in Europe and the fastest in the world at Zip World

Follow the foodie path

The Rhug Estate serves organic meat without food, including specialty bison burgers. Bodnant Welsh Food offers local wine, cheese, bread and more. Brasserie in Castell Deudraeth serves modern Welsh cuisine with an added dose of sightseeing (diners get free entry to Portmerion – the Italian seaside village). Welsh Tapas are tasty and delicious at Olif in Betws-y-Coed, and the Michelin-starred Palé Hall is perfect for special occasions.

See the sites

Llechwedd’s Deep Mine uses a steep cable car to access the underground slate quarry and the park’s mining history. Visitors should also visit the affectionately named Tŷ Hyll/Ugly House near Capel Curig, the legendary Gelert’s Grave in Beddgelert and the lonely Dolbadarn Castle.

the legendary Gelert's Grave in Beddgelertthe legendary Gelert's Grave in Beddgelert

The legendary Gelert’s Grave is located in Beddgelert – Shutterstock

How to get there

Driving to Eryri is a simple affair, with the M56 and A55 taking you easily to the northern and western edge of the national park. From the Midlands and the south, the M6 ​​and M5 connect road trippers.

Avanti West Coast trains run direct to Bangor and Llandudno Junction from Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and London. From the former, take the picturesque Conwy Valley Line through the national park and alight at Betws-y-Coed or Blaenau Ffestiniog, from where local buses can take you anywhere. For the southern end of Eryri, the Cambrian Line is the best option. This runs from Shrewsbury along the edge of the park, stopping at Machynlleth before following the coast north and stopping at Barmouth (to connect with Dolgellau and the peaks around Cadair Idris). as well as Porthmadog.

From Ireland, both the Irish Ferries and Stena depart several times a day and travel to Holyhead, from where a train can take you to Snowdonia.

Once in the park, the Sherpa bus is the best way to get around as it connects the different towns and starting points for many mountain trails. If you decide to bring your car, please note that most car parks are run by Gwynedd Council and all charge a fee. Don’t be tempted to park on the side of the road as vehicles not in the designated areas will be removed very quickly.

Where to stay

The best for mountain lovers

The Victorian Pen y Gwryd Hotel (or PYG – reportedly the name of neighboring Snowdon’s Pyg Track) was home to members of the 1953 Everest expedition before their successful journey to Nepal, making it the ideal base to start your journey to make your own mountain memories.
From £112 per night;

The best for families

Families wanting to take advantage of Treetops Nets and Zipworld’s ziplines, ‘fforest rollercoaster’, bouncy nets and slide at Betws-y-Coed can stay on site at one of the new Forest Lodge Basecamps. They have a glass facade and are located among the trees. They can accommodate up to 2 adults and 3 children and feature an outdoor hot tub and a dining area on the spacious balcony.
From £107 per night;

pale hallpale hall

Palé Hall is located on the edge of Bala Park

Best for luxury

For the ultimate luxury experience, the five-star country house hotel Palé Hall is located on the edge of the park near Bala. It has 18 opulent and individually decorated bedrooms, four garden suites and acres of land, perfect for strolling the verdant Michelin star meals you will sample.
From £314 per night;

Find more of the best hotels in Snowdonia National Park in our guide.

How to visit on a budget

For cheap accommodation, the YHA hostels in the park are great value and clean (with private rooms available) and placed in key areas: for Snowdon/Yr Wyddfa there’s Pen y Pass (opposite the Pyg and Miners Tracks for early access); Llanberis (for the path of the same name), Snowdon Ranger (for the little-used Ranger Path). For Tryfan, the Glyderau and Carneddau range there is Idwal Cottage and for Cadair Idris there is Kings in Dolgellau. Some are exclusively self-catering, but others have restaurants with a surprisingly varied range of meals. Prices start from £20 per night.

Camping is another cheap option in Snowdonia – for tents, Snowdon Base Camp offers million-dollar views for £14 a night next to a huge lake for swimming or paddling. Campers or glampers should try Graig Wen, which offers easy access to Cadair Idris and Barmouth beaches, and has yurts, bell tents and a shepherd’s hut, as well as vehicle connections.

Craig WenCraig Wen

Glampers must try Graig Wen – Roy Riley

To get around, the Sherpa bus is travellers’ frugal friend and saves the high cost of parking – all-day tickets cost from £6.50 (£14.20 for two adults and up to three children). Don’t forget that enjoying the view and walking doesn’t cost you anything…

When to visit

The weather in Eryri is often better in high summer (June – August) – however this coincides with the UK school holidays when the park is at its busiest. Avoiding this period is the most obvious way to avoid the crowds – also remember that schools in Wales sometimes have different school dates than in England.

arnedd Moel Siabod Daear Ddu eastern edgearnedd Moel Siabod Daear Ddu eastern edge

If you time it right you can easily avoid the crowds in Snowdonia – Pearl Bucknall/Alamy

There are other ways to beat the peak season crowds. For starters, avoid Saturdays and holidays. When you’re there, start your day early or take a late afternoon/evening walk (take advantage of the longer daylight) and use public transportation to avoid parking issues and tourist traffic.

If you’re going walking, consider swapping Snowdon, Tryfan and Cadair Idris for hills in lesser-known Carneddau, Rhinogs or the Moelwynions. Even if you want to reach the top of Snowdon, there are plenty of paths: for example, half of all visitors use the Llanberis Path, while only three percent use the Rhyd Ddu path.

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