Coast and mountain combine in this park, home to castles, craggy peaks, and lakeside campsites.
Made up of nine separate mountain ranges (including Wales’ highest peak, Mount Snowdon), magical waterfalls, the Llŷn Peninsula, and miles of public footpaths—Snowdonia National Park is a must for walkers of all abilities. Dominating North Wales as one of Britain’s largest national parks, the landscape is made up of more than 800 square miles of both scree-strewn mountain peaks and a coastline of sandy beaches that run just 10 miles from Snowdon. The sprawling national park has no shortage of outdoor appeal, from whitewater rafting and horseback riding to nudist beaches and the mountain bike trails at Coed-Y-Brenin Forest Park, as well as campsites galore. Camping in Snowdonia provides the genuine outdoor experience, and while the weather is predictably unpredictable, we can still guarantee both campers and glampers are well-catered for in the campsites of Snowdonia.
There’s something truly special about watching the setting sun cast shadows across mountains, with their peaks retreating to become inky blue silhouettes against a starry sky. In our opinion there’s no better way to witness such natural drama than from the comfort of a perch by a campsite’s campfire. And what about waking up and unzipping the tent to views of towering peaks and crags? If you’re in the area to reach the summit of Wales’ highest mountain, bear in mind which of the routes up the mountain you intend to tackle, then choose a Snowdon campsite nearby. If you can forget about the car and set out on walks from the place where you’ve pitched your tent, even better. Snowdon campsites are all about stunning backdrops.
Snowdonia National Park includes 23 miles of coast, but with the Llŷn Peninsula (sometimes called “Snowdon’s Arm”) and the northwest corner of Wales included, the region touts an impressive 200 miles of shoreline. From seaside resorts and towns to quiet nature-rich sites, there’s a bit of beach for everyone, plus plenty of beachside campsites to choose from. Put up your own trusted tent, choose a glamping yurt, or hire a bell tent near the beach in this part of North Wales, and you’ll find that there’s nothing quite like waking up to the sound of waves lapping the beach. For the best of both worlds, find a seaview pitch that’s still within easy reach of the mountains.
Summer is both the most popular and warmest time to stop by Snowdonia and its sandy beaches, with lots of seasonal activities springing up between May and September—especially watersports. Fair weather walkers are well-suited from spring through autumn, so visit in May or September for a quieter but pleasant experience. Skip winter entirely, unless you have the relevant experience and gear for such inclement climbing, hiking, and camping conditions. Many Snowdonia camping sites are open year-round though.
Choosing an adventurous location like Snowdonia can work as well for families with tiny tots as it can for parents of teenagers. Many campsites are set up with baby-changing facilities and some larger sites may have kids’ play equipment, but it’s likely that the great outdoors itself will provide enough entertainment. There are streams to dip in, trees to climb, and trains to wave at—and days out are easy too, with lots of fun spots to visit, from the seaside to the mountains. And some of those mountains, Snowdon among them, are accessible enough for teenagers and hardy kids to conquer. Families with four-legged friends can come too—Snowdonia has plenty of dog-friendly campsites and nearly all Welsh beaches allow dogs. Whether you are looking to go glamping or camping in Snowdonia, you’ll find places that are perfect for the whole family.
No matter how idyllic your Snowdonia campsite is, you’ll want to get out and explore some of the amazing spots outside your tent flap.
1. Climb Snowdon
Six paths run up Wales’ highest mountain, each offering a round-trip of about eight miles and an average of six hours. Many campers make their way up the 1,085-metre peak to enjoy the spectacular views and a sense of achievement. If you’re fit and able, it’s well worth the walk—but if a climb doesn’t sound like your idea of a holiday, you can always take the train instead.
2. Explore the national park
There’s much more to Snowdonia National Park than its most famous mountain. There are, in fact, 15 other peaks, all of which will be a little less busy. With 823 square miles of protected landscape, the park offers almost endless opportunities for walking, hiking, mountain biking, and climbing—plus streams, waterfalls, and lakes to meander along.
3. Take a train
Wales is criss-crossed with heritage railways, some built to serve mines, and others constructed for tourists. All offer a great way to relax and enjoy the scenery, as well as get a taste of life in times gone by. How about a ride through 40 miles of countryside on the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway? Or, if you’re not keen on trekking up Snowdon, ride the Snowdonia Mountain Railway from Llanberis to the summit.
4. Go to the beach
Snowdonia National Park claims some 25 miles of coastline, but spread your wings a little further and you’ll find 200 miles of waterfront, much of it great for walking, watersports, and paddling. If you’re not camping near the beach in Snowdonia, it’s still worth taking a day trip out to the water. Head to Barmouth for seaside fun, to the waves at Tywyn for surfing, or to the Traeth Lafan Nature Reserve for a bit of quiet birdwatching.
5. Visit a mine
The slate mining industry shaped North Wales, as slate has provided tiles for houses, created a number of jobs, and left scars across the landscape. See what life was like for miners at the Llechwedd Slate Caverns at Blanneau Ffestinniog, where travellers can go far underground. Alternatively, you can also head underground to learn about the smaller copper mining industry with a visit to the Sygun Copper Mine in the heart of Snowdonia.
6. Ride a zipline
Dare yourself to ride the fastest zipline in the world—or perhaps the longest in Europe—at Zip World. Opened in 2013, this adrenaline-fuelled activity centre has quickly made Wales the ziplining capital of the UK. When else can you “fly” (or more accurately, zip) headfirst at 100mph over a former slate mine and come out unscathed? Where else might you get the chance to bounce around on a trampoline that’s suspended way above the floor of a subterranean slate cavern?
7. Explore a castle
It’s always good to have wet weather ideas tucked up your sleeves on a Wales camping holiday, and a castle visit does just the trick. Within Snowdonia National Park, check out the 13th-century Dolwyddelan Castle, built by Prince Llywelyn Fawr and worth the trip for the views alone. A little further afield on the banks of the River Conwy is the better-known Conwy Castle, while further west is the imposing Caernarfon Castle.
8. Go surfing
The Snowdonia beaches mean there’s plenty of spots to surf Atlantic waves. Try Tywyn beach, with its five miles of golden sands, or if you’re a beginner, how about some lessons at the world’s first inland surf lagoon? Surf Snowdonia is a man-made, artificial wave pool (on a big scale) where you can have lessons in the art of surfing in a place where the waves can be predicted.
9. Discover a waterfall
Wales certainly has a lot of water, which means it’s likely you’ll come across a few waterfalls. Some are so enchanting, however, that you might want to make a special trip. Swallow Falls on the River Llugwy is highlighted as one of the most romantic falls in the country, as is Dogloch Falls, which can be reached via a lovely 4-km woodland walk. In the southern part of the national park, there’s also Rhaeadr Ddu, which can be visited on a walking route promoted by the National Trust.
10. Tuck in to Welsh produce
With so much coast and country, it’s no surprise that North Wales has some amazing food on offer. Tuck in to a hearty cawl (soup or broth) made with Welsh lamb at a country pub; try some laverbread (seaweed) or shellfish from the coast; or pick up a Welsh cake and piece of bara brith (fruit loaf) as a tea-time treat.