With some of the most incredible scenery in the UK, from the dramatic mountain peaks of the Eryri National Park (Snowdonia) to rugged coastlines dotted with sandy bays, North Wales is one of the best places to visit to explore the outdoors.
Popular with walkers and hikers who are keen to challenge themselves with the mountain peaks, there are also plenty of walks to suit all ages and abilities. Whether it’s a challenging climb, a stunning coastal walk or a quick stroll to catch an amazing sunset, here are some of the best walks in North Wales.
Whilst the masses rush to climb the tallest mountain in Wales, Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon), explore some of the spots within, and outside of the National Park that are quieter and provide equally outstanding views. From beautiful alpine lakes to cascading waterfalls, golden sand beaches to heather clad headlands, these six walks provide an abundance of stunning scenery that creates the magic that North Wales is known for.
Here’s a breakdown:
6 of the best walks in North Wales
Ready to explore North Wales on foot? Here’s a list of the best walks in North Wales.
1. The best lake views at Llyn Idwal in the Ogwen Valley
The first of the best walks in North Wales is a circular hike around one of the most beautiful locations in Snowdonia. The Ogwen Valley is a popular destination for hikers wanting to climb nearby peaks such as Tryfan, Y Garn and Pen yr Ole Wen.
For those wanting a less strenuous hike, the walk up to, and around Llyn Idwal offers some of the most breathtaking scenery in the national park. From the car park located at the Ogwen Visitor Centre, a stone stepped pathway leads up towards a gateway onto the main trail and over a wooden bridge crossing a lively stream tumbling down the hillside.
Following the stone steps into the Cwm Idwal, it’s not too long before the first glimpses of Llyn Idwal (Lake Idwal) appear, sitting underneath an ice formed semi circle of cliffs towering above. With waterfalls cascading down the steep granite to the lake below, the scenery is dramatic.
Continuing along the trail, arriving at the lake, the pathway splits offering a route around Llyn Idwal in both directions. Taking the anti-clockwise route, the path follows the shore of the lake before climbing a stone stairway to a slightly higher elevation. From every point along the walk, the ever changing views show off the best of Snowdonia.
DISTANCE: 3 miles in total, with some short but strenuous climbs.
STARTING POINT: Ogwen Car Park, LL57 3LZ
2. See lighthouses and golden sand beaches on a walk to Llanddwyn Island, Anglesey
The magical Llanddwyn Island off the coast of Anglesey offers one of the most iconic viewpoints of any walk in North Wales. This tidal island is accessible via a scenic beach walk along Llanddwyn Beach in the Newborough Warren National Reserve, located to the south west of Anglesey.
With the options of a walk along the golden sweeping sands of the beach or one of a number of trails through the pine forest that flanks the shoreline, the views are spectacular either way.
Arriving to the headland, there are two routes onto Llanddwyn Island. One option is to follow the gravel pathway to the left, the other is to climb some stone steps onto the higher ground. This preferred route offers a higher vantage point, following the meandering pathway as it undulates along the headland providing spectacular views of the hidden sandy coves to the eastern side.
Heading towards to the tip of Llanddwyn Island, passing the ruins of St. Dwynwen’s Church (Wales’ version of St. Valentine), the iconic views appear ahead of the large cross mounted on the hilltop with the stunning lighthouse backdrop.
DISTANCE: 3.5 mile circular route, with the option of walking along the beach or through the forest.
STARTING POINT: Llanddwyn Beach Car Park, LL61 6SG
3. Fabulous mountain views on a circular walk from Beddgelert
Located in the heart of Eryri National Park, the mountain village of Beddgelert is popular among visitors to the area. With its pretty streets lined with stone cottages and a beautiful riverside setting, the village thrives in the summer season and it’s a great base for exploring the area. From Beddgelert, there are many hiking trails which include a fabulous circular walk that takes in river gorges, mountain passes and lakes, making it one of the best walks in North Wales.
Starting in the centre of Beddgelert, the route head along the riverside meadows, passing the legendary Gelert’s Grave before crossing a railway bridge and heading through the Aberglaslyn Pass. One of the most scenic gorge walks in Europe, the Fisherman’s Path through the Aberglaslyn Gorge hugs the river’s edge with some sections traversing narrow ledges, with metal handles built into the rock for stability.
Heading away from the river into the woodland, the route climbs steadily uphill through heathland to Cwm Bychan, with the skeletal remains of pylons belonging to a disused Victorian copper mine’s aerial ropeways. From the high point of the walk, 360 degree views of the national park can include the summit of Yr Wyddfa on a clear day. A steep set of stone steps leads down towards Llyn Dinas, and onward along a path which follows the road back to Beddgelert.
DISTANCE: 6 mile circular route with some steep sections.
STARTING POINT: Central Beddgelert, LL55 4YD
4. Dramatic sunset views on the heather clad Conwy Mountain
For spectacular sunset views, the headlands above the medieval town of Conwy are perfect for an evening summer stroll. Balmy summer evenings are made for walks like this, offering incredible vistas and a wonderful location to settle down and watch the sun dip below the horizon.
Conwy Mountain (Mynydd y Dref), is easily accessible from the town with clear route from the east side of the town, or a shorter route from a roadside car park located in the nearby Sychnant Pass.
From the Sychnant Pass car park, a footpath leads along the edge of pass and onto the mountain. Heading towards a farmhouse, the path splits left and right. Taking the right hand pathway, through a gateway, the trail heads uphill towards the summit through a dense heathland carpeted with purple heather.
Arriving towards the summit, the ground becomes rocky and barren with a number of boulders dotted around making perfect seats to watch the sunset. From this high point, there are spectacular views across to the island of Anglesey, south towards Snowdonia, and perfect views of Conwy and it’s imposing 13th century castle. As the sun sets in the west behind Anglesey, the landscape and skies become a kaleidoscope of pinks, purples and oranges making this one of the best walks in North Wales for sunsets.
DISTANCE: 3 miles out and back route.
STARTING POINT: Sychnant Pass Car Park, Grid Reference: SH749770
5. Feel the force of a waterfall on a walk to Aber Falls
Waterfall lovers will enjoy this short but rewarding walk in North Wales, following a hiking trail to the impressive Aber Falls (Rhaeadr Fawr). This short and accessible path is family friendly and located beneath the foothills of the Carneddau mountain range, near the North Wales coast.
From a car park located close to the A55 North Wales Expressway, a footpath leads through the woodland and into open grounds. The trail, for the most part is relatively flat, with only a few inclines and plenty of stopping points along the way with picnic benches available.
Approaching Aber Falls, especially when in full flow, the roar of the falls can be heard and there are viewpoints on either side of the river, accessed via a wooden bridge. Standing below the falls, looking up at the Afon Goch plunging 120 feet over the cliff edge, the power of nature is evident with thunderous sound of the water and a significant amount of spray.
DISTANCE: 4 miles out and back route.
STARTING POINT: Aber Falls Car Park, LL33 0LP
6. A relaxing walk to one of the best beach bars in the world at Porthdinllaen
The Llŷn Peninsula in North West Wales is dotted with beautiful beaches, separated by a rugged coastline of cliffs, all accessible by the Wales Coast Path. While the south coast of the peninsula features sheltered coves, the north coast features long sweeping bays.
Around halfway down the north coast of the Peninsula, a small headland called Porthdinllaen features a stunning sandy beach which is home to the Ty Coch Inn, voted one of the best beach bars in the world. Only accessible by foot, this beach side pub can be accessed via a beach walk or a headland walk through one of the most scenic golf courses in North Wales.
Starting the walk at the Morfa Nefyn National Trust car park, a pathway and steps lead down onto Morfa Nefyn beach. This long, sweeping sandy beach makes the perfect backdrop for one of the best walks in North Wales with steep cliffs, lush with vegetation dropping down sharply to the beach. Walking along the beach in a westerly direction, the pathway leads around a headland to where Porthdinllaen Beach can be seen ahead.
The small village, nestled into the base of the cliffs features the Ty Coch Inn, painted a bright red, as it’s central focal point. On summer weekends, DJ’s on the outdoor deck play chilled out music next to an outdoor beach bar while people gather on the sands. It’s the perfect spot to relax for a while with a drink or two before climbing the hill behind the pub, taking a glimpse of the superb view, before heading back to the car park via the golf course path.
DISTANCE: 2 mile circular walk via the beach and golf course.
STARTING POINT: Morfa Nefyn National Trust Car Park, LL53 6DA