Land of ancient myths and Celtic legends, North Wales is a small and compact region boasting a diverse landscape, from lakes and mountains, rivers and valleys to beautiful coastlines and rolling wooded countryside.
This is an outstanding region for camping and caravanning with so much to explore: the mountain trails, the epic beaches, the imposing mountains and loads of outdoor pursuits.
Caravanning and camping in North Wales
Find yourself a campsite or caravan park in North Wales. There are plenty to choose from, in wonderful locations, with many around Rhyl, Prestatyn or Harlech and more on the west coast.
The campsites here will welcome all-comers. Whether you have a tent, a caravan or motorhome, you’ll be welcomed and there are options too for those without their own camping kit. Perhaps a chalet or static caravan? Maybe glamping appeals, with a range of accommodation available from yurts to tipis, many with extras like hot tubs, en suite facilities and barbecues.
The Llyn peninsula is a revelation. The peaceful havens on its southern side are great for sailing and windsurfing, especially at places like Pwllheli and Abersoch. The more rugged beaches of Hell’s Mouth and Aberdaron are popular with surfers while the north is untamed coastline, peppered with little bays and inlets and the Whistling Sands of Porth Oer.
Of the many highlights inland, one is stunning Betws-y-Coed, considered by many to be the gateway to Snowdonia. It has long been a destination with plenty of appeal for outdoor activity enthusiasts. The world’s fastest zip wire anyone? Experience 100 mph at Zip World near Bethesda. Or perhaps some white water rafting at the National White Water Rafting Centre in Bala.
There are more serene activities such as the little tourist railways that seem to be a feature of this region. Try the one at Talyllyn or the Rhyl miniature railway. The famous Snowdon Mountain Railway will even take you to the top of Snowdon.
Did you know?
The oldest living tree in the world
Over 4,000 years old, the Llangernyw Yew is in the churchyard of St Dygain’s in Conwy. Believed to have been planted in the Bronze Age it is magnificent and, depending on various opinions, it is thought to be the second or third oldest living thing on the planet. Incredible to think it was already 3,000 years old when Jesus Christ was born.
Easy for you to say
Welsh is one of the world’s oldest living languages. Unpronounceable to most non-native visitors it has a fascinating history of its own. Famously, and to the terror of newsreaders and public announcers everywhere, the UK’s longest place name is in north Wales: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. There are a lot of Scrabble points in that one!
Castles in north Wales
When camping in North Wales you’ll quickly learn that it is knee-deep in colourful and turbulent history. There are many castles, in various states of repair. Big name ‘A’ list castles like Conwy, Harlech and Caernarfon are on every visitor’s bucket list but there are others.
One of the most famous castles in Wales, and the largest, it has well preserved walls from where there are amazing views.
Spectacularly situated above the river and dominating the town, Conwy is truly impressive among medieval fortifications.
Built in 1277 this was the site of the treaty signed in 1284 that finally brought Wales under English rule.
A hefty slab in design, this castle looms over the encircling landscape and would have been a significant deterrent in its day.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site on Anglesey was the last great castle (never completed) begun by Edward I in the 13th century. Regarded as almost perfectly designed and built.
Snowdonia National Park
Covering some 10% of Wales, this is a wonderfully wild and untamed area of natural beauty, combining glowering mountain scenery with glacial valleys, large lakes and bubbling streams. Around Mt Snowdon this unadulterated, rugged landscape features popular places like Bala, Llanberis and Beddgelert, as well as Porthmadog and Bangor outside the park. As if the sublime scenery were not enough, Snowdonia offers another dimension: since 2015 it has been officially recognised as an International Dark Sky Reserve. So prepare for some amazing night skies and pack binoculars.
The Menai Bridge was the longest bridge in the world when it opened over the Menai Straits in 1826. That record has long since been exported, but it remains the link to the mainland for this distinctive island.
Anglesey is a historic place, with plenty of wild places and a busy programme of cultural, musical and foodie events. Stroll the 125 mile Coastal Path, savouring magnificent sea views. Fans of rare geological rock formations and rare birds are never disappointed.
There are many gorgeous beaches on the island of Anglesey. At spots like Lligwen Bay seals and dolphins are regular sightings, and the wide open sandy expanses can often be empty. Enjoy the sense of being far from the crowds, splash in the azure, almost tropical, waters of the tidal pools, gather mussels and cook them in their shells.
Designed in the early 20th century in the Italianate style, Portmeirion’s elegant buildings in muted but colourful hues are a joy to visit. Inspired by the French Riviera, Portmeirion is a neat but jumbled collection of buildings with an ornamental garden, Gothic pavilion, Bristol Colonnade and campanile.
The original intention was for it to be a private village that would be both attractive and ‘propaganda for good manners’. Steam railway buffs and day trippers enjoy the Ffestiniog Railway which is just a mile from the town.