North Wales: Llanberis – in the shadow of Mount Snowdon
At first sight, the small town of Llanberis in North Wales (UK) might seem like one of those fish you see clinging to the giants of the ocean. Hanging on for a free ride. Because Mount Snowdon is Wales’ highest mountain – and higher than any mountains in England too – and naturally most tourists coming here have set their sight on its peak. Llanberis is found at the foot of this mythical mountain in North Wales and provides an excellent base for reaching the top. Whether it’s by hiking or by taking the easier solution, the Snowdon Mountain Railway, whose station is found here. But even though I just spent 24 hours in town, I found out that Llanberis has its own unique attractions – that make it worth spending at least a day in. See why…
For a stunning natural area like this, the High Street of Llanberis is surprisingly colourful and you shouldn’t miss a stroll down here. Especially not if you’re here to conquer the hights of Snowdon, as the street is offering a string of outdoor shops in which you can equip yourself for the challenge ahead. But it’s not all just carabiners and thick soled boots. There are places to boost your energy level too, with a handfull of nice cafés and local shops. You definitely won’t miss the bright coloured Pete’s Eats Café on your way – popular with climbers since it opened in 1978. My favourite stop though, was the Snowdon Honey Farm & Winery. An intimate little shop with shelves stacked with endless types of local honey, syrup and fruit wine, as well as traditional Welsh souvenirs like the wooden love spoons.
Llanberis has its own castle, and although in ruins the 13th century Dolbadarn Castle is a can’t miss spot if you’re in the area. The ruin itself is limited in size but the setting is really spectacular, and make for some really nice photos – whether with the ruin in the frame or from the top of its 14 meter high keep. From there you can overlook the Llyn Peris lake surrounded by mountains – a proper Welsh view. And nearby you can take a stroll around the lake Llyn Padarn – or jump on the Llanberis Lake Railway, if you want to save your legs for the hike up Snowdon. Dolbadarn Castle is managed by CADW like many other historic sights in Wales.
The National Slate Museum
Visiting a museum solely focused on slate doesn’t sound all that exciting does it? Still I made my way to the National Slate Museum in Llanberis – and I certainly don’t regret it. Slate is the a big part of Wales’ industrial history – well, its history in general, and though the industry today is far from “the good old days”, the hard yet fragile material is still appreciated by the Welsh. Especially this area of North Wales is connected with slate and at this museum you will get an interesting insight into its value, the history of the local quarries, the life of the hard working miners, the tools and the working methods. Take a stroll around the many different museum facilities and don’t miss out on the surprisingly entertaining demonstration of splitting the slate into amazingly thin pieces. The National Slate Museum is even free to visit!
The Royal Victoria Hotel
With walking distance to the main attractions in the area, this lovely hotel provided a great base for me when I visited Llanberis. Perfect, if you like me want to catch the ‘early bird’ train with the Snowdon Mountain Railway, as the station is found just a 2 minute walk down the road. Also, the ruin of Dolbadarn Castle is found in the “backgarden”, and the National Slate Museum can be reached by a 15 minute walk, with a view to the lakes along the way. The hotel itself has a classic and elegant yet warm and relaxed feel, with comfortable and clean rooms. It is popularly used as a wedding venue and has 104 ensuite bedrooms. The Royal Victoria Hotel offers restaurants and a bar, where food is served as well – and I enjoyed both my exotic noodle dinner and the breakfast buffet served in an stylish lounge.
Snowdon Mountain Railway
The Snowdon Mountain Railway provides easy access to the areas biggest natural attraction – and one of the main attraction in all of Wales – the mighty Mount Snowdon. I’ll be presenting this train trip in a separate blogpost soon… so keep up with Travelooney Blog on Facebook for the latest updates and posts.
LLANBERIS WAS PART OF MY EPIC TRAIN TOUR OF WALES
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