North Wales is known for its landscapes and al fresco adventures. But even the hardiest outdoor enthusiast might want a day off sometimes (perhaps during one of our infamous rainy days). Luckily for them, the region is also home to many compelling museums; places that will appeal to visitors young and old, covering everything from slate to soldiers, railways to rations!
Here we showcase ten of our favourite North Wales museums…
1. National Slate Museum, Llanberis
A piece of living history, the National Slate Museum is a fantastic option for a fun and educational family day out.
Craftsmen demonstrate the art of slate-splitting, while a daily programme of workshops and talks further reveals the fascinating story of Dinorwig Quarry. While here you’ll also be able to see mainland Britain’s waterwheel! Explore the buildings here and be transported back in time; wander through the forges, brass foundry and Chief Engineer’s house, and marvel at Una – a working steam locomotive!
Children will find plenty to entertain them, from the zipwire to the visitors’ passport, and there are plenty of events on during school holidays.
2. Electric Mountain, Llanberis
Home to the First Hydro Company’s Visitor Centre, Electric Mountain is a fantastic choice for a fun-filled day out.
Combining science with adventure, here you’ll be able to tour the Dinorwig Power Station deep within Elidir Mountain. In addition to learning more about the pumped generator which converts water power into electric energy, there are plenty of subterranean escapades to be enjoyed here, as well as the excellent Visitor Centre to peruse.
Those aged over 4 are welcome to be kitted out with a helmet and embark on a guided tour through the magnificent cavern. Younger visitors can play in the wheelchair-accessible Den play area while the grown-ups watch on with a cuppa to recharge!
Admission: (for tours) Adults £8.50, Child £4.35, Concession £7.65
3. Royal Welsh Fusiliers Museum, Caernarfon Castle
Telling the story and inspiring history of Wales’s oldest infantry regiment, the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum can be found within the grand walls of Caernarfon Castle.
Among the fascinating items on show here are authenticated hand-written letters, poems, cards and other personal items belonging to soldiers from the regiment throughout its existence. Housed within the castle for over 50 years, the museum’s display of photographs shines a light on the proud history of the soldiers who have represented this famous regiment around the world and in several conflicts.
Explore the exhibits alone or discover more on a museum walk-through with staff (held daily at 11am, 1pm and 3pm).
Admission: Free with the price of admission to Caernarfon Castle
4. Airworld Aviation Museum, Caernarfon
Founded in 1988, the Airworld Aviation Museum is set upon the former site of RAF Llandwrog.
Llandwrog was once used as a training base, and it was here that the RAF Mountain Rescue Service was founded. Today this land is the base for Wales Air Ambulance, Flying School and an Aviation Engineering Company. This is a truly interactive museum that will thrill plane enthusiasts with its large and varied collection of historic aircraft.
Even those with no more than a passing interest in aviation are likely to enjoy the hands-on approach here – visitors can clamber into the cockpit of most aircraft and imagine yourself a fighter pilot!
Admission: Adult £6.50, Children £5
5. Welsh Highland Heritage Railway, Porthmadog
A fun day out for the whole family, a trip on the Welsh Highland Heritage Railway will take place on either steam trains (Gertrude or Russell) or heritage diesel engines (Emma or Glaslyn), so this a great experience for history buffs too.
After the first portion of your journey you’ll disembark at the Engine Sheds, where you can get a real insight into how the railway worked and meet Beano the horse.
Tickets to the railway last for the whole day, so you can make the most of the scenic views along the line before returning and making a beeline for the Russell Tea Room!
Admission: (return tickets) Adults £8.95, Children over 3 (£4.50)
6. Porthmadog Maritime Museum, Porthmadog
Porthmadog still has a busy harbour, but it used to be even more lively. The Porthmadog Maritime Museum transports visitors back 150 years, and tells the story of freighting, sailing and more that has long taken place here, including the construction of the famous Western Ocean Yachts.
The museum is housed in an original outbuilding on the quay that was once used to store slate for shipping – the last one standing today. This small museum is absolutely packed with information and is an unmissable attraction for those interested in maritime history and shipping; well worth a stop on a visit to the lovely town of Porthmadog.
Admission: Adult £2, Child £1
7. Great Orme Copper Mines, Llandudno
The Great Orme is one of Llandudno’s most famous attractions, but did you know about the incredible secret that was unearthed here in 1987?
During a landscaping project, magnificent copper mines dating back over 4,000 years was discovered, and teams of archaeologists and engineers have been making countless priceless discoveries ever since. Walking through the tunnels and caves on the tour is fascinating for visitors of all ages; one of the original excavators will be on hand to answer all your questions about what is thought to be the world’s largest prehistoric mine.
For anyone not keen on venturing below the surface, the view deep into the 145-metre mining shaft is quite an experience, too.
Admission: Adult £7, Child £5
8. Home Front Museum, Llandudno
Ever wondered what it was like to live through the second World War? Experienced history buffs and simply curious visitors alike will find this an immersive experience.
Visit the Home Front Museum and you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped back in time; the museum was devised in 2000 to offer a real and authentic insight into what life was like in Britain during WWII. On a self-guided tour you’ll walk past reconstructed shop fronts, streets and dioramas adorned with plenty of fascinating historical artefacts. From gas masks and ration books to the story of the ‘kitchen front’, this is a truly educational experience.
Admission: Adults £3.50, Children £2.10, Senior Citizens £3.25
9. Llandudno Museum, Llandudno
In 1927, artist F.E. Chardon bequeathed his fantastic art collection to Llandudno, and the museum was born! The collection contains pieces from around the world, and today is joined by fascinating exhibits on Llandudno’s history, dating back to prehistoric times.
Collections on Roman, Medieval and World War history are fascinating, and the section on Llandudno’s history as a resort town is particularly engaging. Compelling for adults and fun for little ones, this is a great stop on your day out in Llandudno.
The museum is a five-minute walk from the seafront Promenade – perhaps spend the morning wandering the town before heading to the museum for an educational afternoon!
Admission: Adults £2.50, Children £1
10. Yr Ysgwrn, Llan Ffestiniog
Hedd Wyn is one of Wales’s most famous and celebrated sons, and at Yr Ysgwrn visitors can visit the home of the internationally renowned poet and learn more about his life.
The house has been kept largely as it was during the poet’s short life, and as well as Hedd Wyn’s legacy, there’s plenty to explore and learn about here. Immerse yourself in the Bardic tradition, the history of the Welsh language, the legacy of WWI and all about sustainable farming. Watch the educational film, tour the farmhouse, read some of Wyn’s poems on what is sure to be a moving visit.
Admission: Adults £5.75, Children £3, Concessions £4.50
The Royal Victoria Hotel is conveniently located for visiting many of the museums on this list. Start planning your adventure-packed North Wales holiday today.
Images courtesy: National Slate Museum by Samwalton9, from Wikimedia Commons. Great Orme Copper Mines © Copyright Steve Daniels and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence. Yr Ysgwrn by Alan Fryer, via Wikimedia Commons. Airworld by [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.