After a long, dark and very wet winter we’re really looking forward to the brighter, warmer days ahead. In the last couple of weeks we’ve been delighted by the swathe of spring flowers carpeting the shores of Llyn Padarn and the sound of spring lambs calling to one another across the hillsides. Yes, spring has well and truly sprung here in Snowdonia and that means very soon all the fantastic attractions that make North Wales an amazing place to visit will be open for business (if they aren’t already).
We think Llanberis is one of the best places anywhere in North Wales to take a short break – there’s so much to do within a stone’s throw of the hotel you don’t need to go far to enjoy yourself! If you’re taking a break here this spring or summer, why not take a look at the variety of attractions on offer right here?
1. Snowdon Mountain Railway
No visit to Llanberis is complete without a trip on the ever-popular Snowdon Mountain Railway. This historic railway has been carrying tourists to the summit for over a century, completing the 5 mile journey to the top of Mount Snowdon – Wales’s highest mountain – 1085 metres above sea level.
The rail service, and the visitor centre at the summit, open for business each year in March, ready for Easter weekend, but it’s worth double-checking the exact dates before arrival if you coming soon – the unpredictable Welsh weather doesn’t care for dates and we’ve had some serious snowfall at altitude this year!
As the train pulls you gently up the mountain, give a thought to what lies beneath, including (reputedly) the vanquished ogre Rhita, and the knights of King Arthur, who defeated the grumpy ogre in battle.
2. Dolbadarn Castle
Possibly the most picturesque castle in Wales, Dolbadarn Castle is within short walking distance of the Royal Victoria, and its sturdy round tower remains as strong as ever thanks to its thick walls.
Dolbadarn is in a true picture-postcard location and is loved by photographers who usually snap it from its landward side – showing it as a silent sentinel watching over the glacial lake of Llyn Padarn.
The lake itself is one of the largest natural bodies of water in Wales, and with its mountainous backdrop the scenery is as stunning as you can expect to find anywhere.
3. Tour the lake
Llyn Padarn’s shores are perfect for a gentle walk, and you can complete a lap of the lake in around three hours at normal pace. We think it will probably take longer, however, as there are so many delightful spots to pause and enjoy the breathtaking views of the valley and the mountains beyond. Take your time, it’s not often you witness scenery as stunning as ours!
Alternatively, jump aboard the Llanberis Lake Railway, a narrow-gauge steam train route that covers five miles of the shore, taking in views of Electric Mountain, Snowdon and Dolbadarn Castle. The railway is a firm favourite with our younger visitors, and it hosts several family-friendly events every year, including an Easter Egg Hunt and a special Father’s Day trip (book to avoid disappointment).
4. Waterfall walk
Head down from the castle to the Snowdon Mountain Railway station for the start of a walk to Llanberis Falls, which can be seen from the railway viaduct too.
The two-stage falls of Ceunant Mawr are over a hundred feet high in total, and the walk of about a mile and a half is quite gentle, with a clearly signposted footpath.
Enjoy the spectacle of the falls from the designated observation point, before making the return journey back down the hill to Llanberis.
5. National Slate Museum
Open all year round with free entry, the National Slate Museum is housed in the buildings of the Dinorwig Quarry, which closed in 1969, and tells the history of Welsh slate mining.
Step through its doors and you are instantly transported back through time – the interiors of the buildings are laid out as though the workers have just left for the day.
Outside, the landscape is as spectacular as anywhere else in the region, with the quarry and its buildings nestled in the shadow of Elidir Mountain.
6. Electric Mountain
A rather more modern experience is Electric Mountain, the visitor centre at First Hydro’s Llanberis-based ‘pumped storage’ power station, Dinorwig.
Dinorwig Power Station is the largest of its kind in Europe, with 16 km of underground tunnels and 12 million tonnes of material excavated. It has one of the world’s fastest start-up times from standby, reaching output of 1,728 MW within just 90 seconds.
Entry to the visitor centre is free and you can pass a pleasant and informative couple of hours in here alone. But, for an unforgettable experience, book a tour and head into the mountain to witness first-hand the power station at work. It’s fascinating, educational and unique – not one to be missed!