History, horses and island hopping: fun things to do on your summer holiday in North Wales

The landscape and scenery of North Wales are a major appeal for tourists from near and far, and this summer there are plenty of sights to see in the area. But the lure of North Wales goes far beyond its surroundings and we’re also home to some of the best-loved and most popular tourist attractions in the UK.

If you’re planning a visit over the summer holidays, we’ve come up with a few ideas for keeping young and old entertained all day long. Smiles all round!

Princes of Gwynedd Trail

The ambitious Princes of Gwynedd project is one way to explore several locations around North Wales and learn a thing or two about our turbulent history. Led by Conwy County Borough Council, with help from the National Trust, Snowdonia National Park Authority and Gwynedd Council, it’s a unique heritage trail guaranteed to fire the imaginations of the young and not so young.

The trail takes in several historic landmarks across the region, including Beddgelert and Deganwy Castle, but the main Princes of Gwynedd Exhibition can be found at Conwy Tourist Information Centre. We recommend you start by visiting the exhibition to get the most out of this thrilling trail.

Gypsy Wood Park, Caernarfon

If you’ve had your fill of history change the tempo and immerse yourself in some well-loved folk tales instead. A theme park in the gentlest sense of the word, Gypsy Wood offers a fun family day out inspired by fairies and fairytales.

Children under 5 will enjoy this wonderful place most but everyone will be charmed by the cute attractions and farm animals. Hop aboard Woody’s Railway, visit the petting zoo, scale the adventure playground or explore the magic wood – there’s plenty here to keep you busy for an afternoon.

Puffin Island, Beaumaris

Puffins are extremely cute but rare British seabirds. Notoriously shy, they are rarely seen along our coastline and, for all but the most dedicated of twitchers, catching a glimpse is almost impossible.

Here in North Wales, the aptly named Puffin Island, off the coast of Anglesey, is a puffin paradise. This uninhabited island – real name Ynys Seiriol– is a designated Special Protection Area for wildlife and is home to a huge variety of seabirds, including the ubiquitous puffins, plus cormorants and razorbills.

Although you cannot set foot on the island, a boat trip can get you close enough to see the birds, without endangering the nesting pairs or their chicks. Several local charter companies run boat trips from Beaumaris throughout the summer season – it’s a unique experience, and highly recommended!

Plas Newydd

National Trust property, Plas Newydd House and Gardens, is a wonderful place to visit whether you’re a fan of architecture or landscape, as the mansion is set against the stunning backdrop of Snowdonia.

Plas Newydd is also a great day out for families and, like many National Trust properties in the area, runs a comprehensive programme of child-friendly events during school holidays. The estate also has a fantastic adventure woodland (suitable for toddlers and older children) and Frisbee golf (it has to be seen to be believed) but, if that’s not enough, they do absolutely delicious ice cream too!

From 2016 onwards, this is also a great attraction for parents of fur babies. Plas Newydd now allows visitors to walk dogs on leads through the estate woodlands and most of the formal gardens too.

Foel Farm Park

Foel Farm Park is another family-friendly option and offers a great-value day out for the whole family; simply pay for entry and all rides and attractions are free once inside; choose from pony rides, tractor tours and a quad bike mini-trailer ride. There’s also a fun park with giant sandbox and bouncy pillow, and loads of friendly farm animals (there is a small charge for bags of animal feed).

The staff are very knowledgeable and pleasant, plus there is a good onsite cafe and souvenir shop. Visitors with a sweet tooth should visit Foel’s chocolate shop, where you can see hand-made soft-centres and moulded chocolate animals lovingly prepared.

For a truly memorable visit, we recommend you grab a farmhouse ice cream and enjoy the mouthwatering views across the Menai Strait to the Snowdonia Mountain Range.

Caernarfon Castle & Segontium, Caernarfon

Majestic Caernarfon Castle is within easy reach of our hotel and is among the most impressive fortifications in Wales – and beyond, for that matter. This thirteenth century castle was at the heart of Edward I’s infamous Ring of Steel, designed to keep the Welsh out while putting the fear of God into them!

A busy summer of events includes an exhibition of aerial photography by the celebrated Aerofilms, the centenary celebrations of the bloody Mametz Battle, and a weekly immersive history production called 1295 and All That!

Finally, on the outskirts of Caernarfon town, you’ll find Segontium, a Roman fort dating to around 80 AD. Here you will find the remains of the commander’s lodgings, the garrison bathhouse and the treasury, among other things. It’s open daily from 10am to 4pm, with free admission – there’s plenty of parking on the adjacent street, and wheelchair access via a side gate by prior arrangement.

Image: © Copyright Jeff Buck and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.