We don’t want to seem biased, but North Wales can be the most beautiful place in the world. When the sun shines or it’s breezy or there’s an atmospheric moody sky, it can’t be beaten. But when the heavens open, it can be pretty dismal (told you we weren’t biased). Here are our top picks for indoor and outdoor activities, to keep you happy in all weathers.
When the weather is on its best behaviour, make the most of the great outdoors by getting stuck into adventure activities.
With names like “Titan” and “Velocity”, you can rest assured that a zip on these wires won’t be a dull day out. The Titan zip wire, based at Llechwedd Slate Caverns near Blaenau Ffestiniog, is the first 4 person zip wire in Europe. Velocity, in Bethesda, is the longest zip wire in the Northern Hemisphere and boasts to be the fastest in the world. A peek at their Facebook page will tell you recent speeds reached 125mph!
Imagine rope courses, adventure courses and obstacle courses all set amongst a network of criss-crossing logs high up in the trees, and you’ll have the gist of Tree Top Adventure. With courses to suit all ages (and adrenaline levels!) it works as a great day out for families, couples and groups of friends. If you’re feeling particularly brave, why not fling yourself from the top of a 100ft high pole with a power fan strapped to your back? Exhilarating!
From mountain biking to Nordic walking, kayaking to stand up paddle boarding, these guys know a thing or two about turning nature into your playground. They offer all the usual outdoor pursuits you’d expect from an adventure company who know their onions, plus a whole host of rare and unfamiliar ones too. Make sure you ask them about how they fared in the World Bathtubbing Championships.
Nothing screams good, honest “competitive fun” like donning chequered overalls, squealing your way around a racetrack and squabbling for a better view of the leadership board. A firm favourite with big kids of all ages, there’s a separate track for little ones aged 3-8, meaning everyone can get involved. The guys at Cartio Mon are really friendly and if it’s not busy, they’ll let your group have the track to yourselves.
These fun activities will keep you firmly undercover, incase the weather decides to show its uglier side.
Zip World’s psychedelic, underground cousin, Bounce Below is based in the Llechwedd Slate Mines. Yes, in. Inside. Descend by mining train into the enormous cavern – twice the size of St Paul’s Cathedral – and discover three giant trampolines suspended within the mine itself, surrounded by sheer drops on all sides. There is a series of plunging 60ft slides to get you to each trampoline level and the whole thing is lit by eerie multicoloured lights. Sound like a bizarre dream? Watch this video of what happened when three free runners were let loose there.
A welcome break from the hardcore thrill seeking! This aquarium by the coast in Brynsiencyn is filled with incredible sea creatures, inventive activities for children and a healthy focus on conservation. You’ll learn without realising your learning, lost in the mesmerising flotation of the seahorses. There’s a cafe and a play park on site, if the drizzle subsides for long enough.
The slate mining industry has literally carved the landscape of North Wales and it would be a shame indeed if you were to miss out on learning about its rich history and cultural significance. The self guided workshop tours let you see the craftsmen in action and even give you the chance to try your hand at carving your own piece of slate to take home. If all that chiselling leaves you tired out, you can recharge at the Welsh Rock Cafe.
Fans of Horrible Histories will love the macabre past of this place. Stand in jury at the courthouse and imagine condemning your Victorian neighbour, or cower in the dock and receive your sentence! Tread carefully down the dimly lit hallways and visit the cells – and punishment rooms – as well as the clock which was cursed from the gallows. Fascinating – and creepy – stuff! Beaumaris is a beautiful town filled with welcoming cafes which is perfect for shaking off the gloom once you come out.
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If the weather can’t make up its mind, these attractions have plenty to see outdoors with the option to duck inside should it suddenly pour.
The National Trust-owned Bodnant Garden is one of the most spectacular in the country. Famous for its laburnum arch and constantly winning awards, you can find all kinds of beautiful and exotic plants and flowers here. It’s perfect for a stroll in the sunshine, but if the weather turns you can pop next door to the Welsh Food Centre. BBC’s Good Food Magazine has just named it as Britain’s No1 farm shop, and there’s a great cafe and restaurant here.
This Italianate village came to fame in the 1960s as the setting for the cult television series ‘The Prisoner’. Today it’s a muso’s paradise, home to the successful ‘Festival No.6’ – named with a nod to the town’s past. The colourful architecture is stunning and it would be easy to amble about all day here simply drinking it in. There are plenty of places to duck inside including restaurants, shops and a spa. Bellissimo!
The neo-Norman castle and its 60 acres of grounds combine to make a full and fascinating day out. Nestled between Snowdonia and the Menai Strait, the castle is full to the brim with interesting artefacts and historical wonders. Don’t miss the one ton slate bed which was specially made for Queen Victoria herself.
The Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways are two narrow gauge steam railways covering 40 miles of the Snowdonia National Park. Step back in time when you take a ride on these lovingly preserved trains, where children ride for free. The railway lines cover such stunning scenery that it’ll be impressive even in the mist and the rain.
By Ben Griffin