Eryri (Snowdonia) is truly one of the most extraordinary corners of Britain. This beautiful part of Wales has towering mountains and a wild coastline, offering every kind of outdoor activity, wet or dry. There are also brilliant beaches, lovely old towns, and lots to do in this area for an unforgettable family adventure holiday.
Explore Eryri's (Snowdonia's) mountains
We start in the Carneddau and Glyderau in the heart of the mountains. Here in the Ogwen Valley, Tryfan is the spur on which Edmund Hillary trained for Everest in 1953 and with stamina and nerves of steel, you can stand on its vertiginous summit after two hours. Teenagers love climbing Tryfan, partly because it looks like a giant stegosaurus at the side of the A5! A note of caution though, Tryfan is technical in nature and should only be tackled by experienced mountaineering families, or with a guide. From a car park by the lake, pick up the path by Gwern Gof Uchaf farm but please be mindful of parking responsibly whilst visiting this area.
Cwm Idwal walk is just as rewarding, but requires far less effort! Starting from the car park at the far end of Llyn Ogwen, after a stiff 20-minute ascent you will reach Cwm Idwal, a glacial lake ringed by peaks fit for an Arthurian blockbuster. Afterwards, drive into the U-shaped Nant Ffrancon valley for the most beautiful glacial geography lesson in Wales.
It's the most famous walk in Wales as well as the highest mountain – everyone should experience the thrill of standing on the summit of Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon) at least once in their lives. Choose your challenge from the six routes to the top, most of which are manageable for all the family if you’re all reasonable fit. However, we wouldn’t recommend the famous Crib Goch arête, which is more advanced. Make sure you take heed of the Eryri National Park safety advice before heading out. For families who aren't experienced, Edge of Wales Walk provide bespoke walking holiday packages to meet individual requirements.
You don’t actually have to walk to reach the top of Yr Wyddfa - you can take the Snowdon Mountain Railway. It runs all the way to the summit over the summer and part of the way, to Clogwyn, during winter. The path to the top is open all year, if conditions allow, so experienced climbers can follow the path from Clogwyn to the summit. Here the Hafod Eryri visitor centre opens from late Spring to October, so you can enjoy a well earned cup of tea along with complimentary views all the way to Ireland on clear days.
There are plenty of other family-friendly peaks to choose from in and around Eryri. Cader Idris is another beauty, an extinct volcano that looms up between the twin estuaries of the rivers Dyfi and Mawddach.
Aberdyfi – ‘aber’ means ‘mouth of a river’ in Welsh – is a classy fishing village that marks the southern edge of Eryri's (Snowdonia's) coastline. From here, it heads north through family-friendly resorts Tywyn and Barmouth, past Mochras, also known as Shell Island whose beach, as the name implies, is a great place to enjoy the splendour of its shells.
Climbing in Eryri (Snowdonia)
Another way to explore is through climbing and where better to enjoy the sport than Sir Edmund Hillary's training ground. Accredited activity providers can provide beginners with taster sessions or short courses.
In the shadows of Yr Wyddfa, slabs in the Llanberis Pass beneath are a cradle of British climbing. Accredited operators like RAW Adventures will show you the ropes (literally) and provide a primer in mountain safety. Alternatively, park at Pen-y-Pass to ascend the highest peak in Wales and England. The return trip on the Miners’ Track or Pyg Track is at least five hours.
Hang out at Zip World or hit the bike trails
Once the world's largest slate quarry Penrhyn Quarry, near Bethesda is now home to the longest zipwire in the northern hemisphere at Zip World Penrhyn Quarry. Velocity 2, is the fastest in Europe reaching speeds of over 100mph - hurtling down the mile long wire 500ft above a lake it's the nearest thing to flying.
For a shared outdoor adventure, continue south to Coed y Brenin. Welsh princess once hunted in King’s Forest but now families can hit the trail in Wales’ mountain bike mecca, with bike hire and family-friendly trails. Mountain bike trails are also available at Antur Stiniog, Llechwedd which cater for all abilities dependant on your riding skills!
Catch air at Bounce Below
Nearby, deep inside the Zip World Llechwedd complex, in a massive underground chamber, there’s the world’s most extraordinary bouncing experience - Bounce Below. Three huge trampolines have been set up, one above the other, in a space that’s like an alien cathedral, all connected with slides and ladders, and lit by psychedelic multi-coloured lights.
Test your bravery at Go Below Xtreme
If you’re a fan of zip lines and underground attractions, then you will love the Go Below Xtreme experience at Go Below Underground Adventures. Located in an old Victorian slate mine near Blaenau Ffestiniog, 1,300ft down in the ground, it's the longest and deepest underground zip ride in the world! Featuring nine zip lines and 14 traverses, it’s a personally guided extreme underground challenge, finished with a 70ft free fall jump. Scary stuff for an exhilarating adventure activity.
Pick up a paddle
It’s striking how quickly the landscape softens as you leave the central National Park towards Bala. The River Tryweryn tumbles down in Eryri's (Snowdonia’s) National Park eastern foothills, canopied by oaks and home to more otters than anywhere else in Wales. Your best chance to see one is at the National White Water Centre on a Tryweryn Safari. It’s a lovely trip, slipping through the lower Tryweryn Valley for 3.7 miles (6 km) on a family-friendly adventure. A dam releases the water, rapids fire and everyone whoops down a short whitewater rollercoaster. Book in advance and bring spare underclothing for your wetsuit and a towel for a shower.
There's also opportunities to paddle at Llyn Padarn near Llanberis beneath the steep cliffs of its old slate mines, nudging onto lovely beaches. The grander Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake) is Wales’ largest natural lake, four miles long with the narrow gauge steam trains of Llyn Tegid | Bala Lake Railway travelling along its banks in summer. The beautiful Llyn Gwynant near Beddgelert also attracts many kayaking enthusiasts, and offers great outdoor activities for all of the family against a backdrop that was a location for Hollywood blockbuster Tomb Raider 2.
Afon Conwy, Afon Glaslyn and Afon Llugwy also provide white water opportunities for the experienced kayaker. The shores of Eryri (Snowdonia) are packed with sea kayaking possibilities and experienced instructors at Snowdonia Watersports have a range of exciting options to develop your paddle skills, from sea kayaking to white water.
Go off-road with Snowdon Safaris
You’ve walked, climbed and paddled. It’s high time someone else did the hard work so that you can enjoy the scenery. The experienced guides at Snowdon Safaris can give you the 'low down' with their insider information and offer a range of road trips to suit your interests, with tours including 'Lost Quarries and Villages' and 'Tombs and Views'. Being the passenger will give you time to 'drink in' the horizon-busting panoramas of peaks. Speaking of which, there are few better ways to round off a mid-summer activity break than with a stop-off at the pub!
Canyoning in Eryri (Snowdonia)
Eryri (Snowdonia) with its deep gorges terrain of the mountains is ideal for a canyoning adventure. This adrenalin-fuelled activity can be experienced with qualified guides who will provide full safety briefings to safeguard the adventure seeker, whilst ramping up the fun.
Exploring the outdoors is fantastic fun, but please read up on the risks and make sure you are prepared.