Days Out In Snowdonia: Ten Things To Do In Llanberis
Snowdonia has been described as "the UK's number one activity centre". But there's one village in Snowdonia that seems to have more than its fair share of things to see and do. That village is Llanberis, at the foot of majestic Snowdon. Here we explore the top ten things to do when you visit Llanberis.
But Llanberis isn't just for outdoor adventurers; there's a wealth of things to see and do in Llanberis that are great fun for the whole family.
Here are our top ten things to do in Llanberis.
1. Ride a steam railway
Take a trip on the narrow gauge Llanberis Lake Railway, taking in the village, Dolbadarn Castle, the Padarn Country Park and the shores of Llyn Padarn. Enjoy breathtaking views of Snowdon, and have a lakeside picnic at Cei Llydan. The vintage steam engines which pull the trains were rescued from the nearby Dinorwic slate quarries.
2. Climb some trees
At Ropes and Ladders, set in the beautiful woodland of Padarn Country Park, you can enjoy a thrilling treetop adventure. Climb, leap, swing and zip your way through the trees while enjoying spectacular views of Snowdonia's lakes and mountains. Each group of visitors is accompanied by an instructor, and there's a children's course suitable for children aged 4 to 8 years.
3. Learn about Snowdonia's slate heritage
Visit The National Slate Museum in the Victorian workshops of the old Dinorwig Quarry and learn about slate quarrying in Snowdonia. Tour the workshops and buildings, hear the story of slate, and watch demonstrations of slate-splitting. Visit the old quarrymen's cottages and learn about all the dramas, suffering and community of a quarryman's life. This is a unique opportunity to learn about Snowdonia's industrial heritage, and a fascinating day out for the whole family.
4. Explore inside a mountain
Electric Mountain is the visitor centre of the First Hydro Power Station in Llanberis. Entry to the visitor centre, with its gift shop and cafe, is free; but for a very reasonable fee you can take a bus tour through the inside of ancient Elidir Mountain and see the power station's massive pumps and turbines at work. The tour includes an underground film show explaining the building and commissioning of the power station.
5. Take a walk in the park
Padarn Country Park is set in some of Snowdonia's most spectacular scenery and is open all year round. The 800-acre nature reserve is home to two Sites of Special Scientific Interest - Coed Dinorwig Woodlands and Padarn Lake - and there are five themed nature and heritage trails to follow, as well as extreme sports including rock climbing, orienteering, scuba diving, rowing, canoeing and sailing.
6. Explore an ancient castle
Dolbadarn Castle was the stronghold of Llywelyn the Great, Prince of Wales from 1201 until 1240. The masonry of Dolbadarn Castle is considered among the finest of the remaining Welsh castles, and Dolbadarn's round tower - the first in an independent Welsh castle - still stands today, although most of the other buildings have been reduced to faint traces over the centuries. Atmospherically set in the lakes and mountains of Llanberis, Dolbadarn Castle is a must-see when you visit Snowdonia.
7. Go boating
Motorised craft aren't allowed on Llyn Padarn Lake, but you're welcome to bring your canoe or sailboat for a day of watery fun. You'll need a launching permit, which you can get from the park wardens or from the information kiosk at Gilfach Ddu. If you don't have your own canoe or boat you can still enjoy a trip on the lake, on the Snowdon Star cruiser.
8. Get some retail therapy
There are some excellent shops in Llanberis. As well as the many outdoor shops selling everything you'll need for climbing, walking and camping, Llanberis is home to some excellent gift and craft shops. Look out for the craft outlets and workshops at Padarn Country Park, selling locally-crafted pottery and slate goods.
9. Visit the Quarry Hospital Museum
An attraction with a difference, the Quarry Hospital Museum at Padarn Country Park gives a tantalising glimpse of the horrors that could befall 19th century quarrymen. Features a restored ward, operating theatre, mortuary and gruesome Victorian medical instruments.
10. Go up Snowdon
No visit to Llanberis would be complete without a trip up Snowdon. There are several routes to the summit, where you can celebrate your ascent with a cup of tea at the new Hafod Eryri visitor centre. If you're feeling brave you can walk it in a couple of hours. But if you want to get to Snowdon's summit the easy way, there are regular trains from Llanberis Station on the Snowdon Mountain Railway.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Steven Jones is Senior Tourism Services Officer at Cyngor Gwynedd Council, a Welsh local authority whose not-for-profit Snowdonia Mountains and Coast website provides visitors to Snowdonia with a wealth of useful information about the region. Visitors to the website can also find out more about things to do in Snowdonia.