Gateway to the natural paradise of the Llŷn Peninsula. Whether you're a family with kids in tow, a couple after a little peace and relaxation or an adventure-addict looking for some watery activities, there's lots to do right on the doorstep. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.
Stretch your legs a little
The Wales Coast Path extends right around the Welsh coastline and the sections close to Criccieth are easy to access. Trains and buses connect nearby towns so you can walk one way and train or bus back. A stroll round the bay to Porthmadog will take you to secluded coves like Samson's Bay and the summit of Moel y Gest with sparkling views out to sea.
Porthmadog is a bustling harbour town set on the Glaslyn estuary. You can do an easy circular walk here taking in local Parc Y Borth nature reserve and the nearby hamlet of Tremadog. In the opposite direction towards Pwllheli, the coast path has boardwalks through wetlands and wild dune-backed sands. Keep your eyes peeled as you walk. These shores are home to dolphins, porpoises and all manner of birdlife.
Read more: Exploring the Llŷn Peninsula.
Be a time traveller
Like much of Wales, this area is steeped in history. You can't miss craggy Criccieth Castle, high on its headland looking proudly out to sea. The views from up here are tremendous. Down the road towards Pwllheli, you can step back to the 15th century at the unique medieval hall house of Penarth Fawr. It's small but brilliantly preserved with a remarkable series of massy timber beams supporting the hall roof.
You could easily combine this with a visit to the holy site of St Cybi's Well. Its waters are said to have healing properties and there's a real sense of magic to the place, tucked beneath ancient trees. And to travel back to some of the earliest known traces of mankind in Wales, head to the vast Iron Age hill fort of Tre'r Ceiri. A sprawling series of stone roundels and walls perched high on an dramatic hillside, its name means 'town of giants'.
Search for places to stay near Criccieth.
Expand your mind
There's a brace of interesting museums where you can learn more about the area's rich history. The Lloyd George Memorial Museum in nearby Llanystumdwy charts the life of one of the UK's most famous prime ministers. This was his childhood home but he also spent his last days in this picturesque village at stately Tŷ Newydd, which now hosts writers' retreats. You can also discover our rich ship building history at the Porthmadog Maritime Museum. From the harbourside here splendid tall ships once set out to far-off lands.
A short drive to the north coast of the Llŷn Peninsula, you'll find the romantic 'forgotten village' of Nant Gwrtheyrn. A huddle of former quarry cottages tucked close to the shore, it's now a fascinating heritage centre. It's also a centre for Welsh language learning, so you can pick up a few new phrases too. It's very close to Tre'r Ceiri hill fort and there's an amazingly scenic day-walk from here up and back.
Read more: Discover historic North Wales.
Let your hair down
If you're in need of a bit more adventure, there's plenty to keep you happy near to Criccieth. Pwllheli is home to a busy marina. Along with sleek-looking yachts, you'll find Plas Heli, the new National Sailing Academy. Here kids over 14 and parents too can have a go at sailing or stand up paddleboarding. A short hop from here is Glasfryn Parc Activity Centre where there's literally something for everyone - wakeboarding and kayaking, bowling, archery, go karting and clay pigeon shooting.
There are all sorts of sea-borne adventures to be had elsewhere around the Llŷn Peninsula too. At buzzing Abersoch and Aberdaron you can have a go at sailing, kayaking and windsurfing. Or why not hop on a boat at Port Meudwy for a wildlife spotting expedition to Ynys Enlli (Bardsey Island) famous for its seals, porpoises and myriad birdlife?
Read more: Huw Brassington on Pen Llŷn’s outdoor adventures.
Hit the beach
This part of Wales has some really lovely beaches. Criccieth's extend on either side. Although both are a little pebbly, they're sheltered, so great for kids to potter. There are rock pools and some sandy stretches too. Otherwise, take a stroll along the promenade, ice cream in hand. (If you're feeling more hungry, the Art Deco curves of top notch eaterie Dylan's might tempt you inside too.)
On the hunt for miles of silky sand? You only need to drive a short distance in either direction. Towards Porthmadog is Black Rock Sands. It's vast - perfect for sandcastles and junior body boarders. Similarly lovely stretches in the opposite direction towards Pwllheli are Abererch and Llanbedrog. Both are nicely sheltered so ideal for kids and they're great spots to windsurf and kite surf.