If you’re looking for a weekend of adventure in the UK, there aren’t many places better to visit than North Wales. Home to Snowdonia National Park, Zip World and a plethora of adventurous activities, North Wales is definitely not the faint-hearted. But if you’re not an adrenaline junkie, don’t worry, because North Wales also boasts a whole host of cute, colourful towns, castles and beaches to keep you occupied. So follow me on what my parents, Gaz and I got up to in North Wales with just 48 hours on our hands!
Day One in North Wales
Saturday Lunchtime: Check into your hotel in Criccieth
We checked into our guesthouse in Criccieth around Saturday lunchtime, after stopping for a bite to eat in Dolgellau, the cutest little town that looked like it was pulled straight out of Hot Fuzz. Criccieth is a great base for your North Wales adventures and a lovely little town in its own right.
We stayed at Tirionfa Guest House and I don’t have one bad word to say about our accommodation. Our room was very spacious and clean, and breakfast was nothing short of delicious. There’s something so much more cosy about staying in a guest house over a hotel. It’s safe to say we felt right at home.
Early Afternoon: Bounce Below
Don’t eat too much for lunch or get too comfortable in the guest house (I understand it’s a challenge, I know) because soon you’ll be bringing out your inner James Bond and Lara Croft at Zip World’s Bounce Below. We actually did this Monday morning because we arrived in Criccieth late. However, this is a good time to squeeze Bounce Below into your schedule if you don’t have an extra morning to fit it in!
After donning a rather fetching hair net and a helmet, the team take you underground into the former slate mine for a briefing (which went a little something like this: “no somersaults”, “no carrying people”, “no climbing the nets”), before letting us loose onto the trampolines like a bunch of kids on Christmas morning. You have an hour to bounce and slide to your heart’s content!
I have no words to describe the experience as there really is nothing else quite like it. But let’s just say it’s a hell of a lot of fun and you can guarantee a shit ton of giggles and stitches (unless you’re ridiculously fit – in which case, I cannot relate)! Entry is £25 for adults and £20 for under 18s and it is absolutely worth every penny.
Late Saturday Afternoon: Portmeirion
If you haven’t seen any photos of Portmeirion making the rounds on social media lately you probably live under a rock. Everyone and their aunt’s father’s cousin’s dog has visited here and it’s really not hard to see why. This colourful tourist village was designed by the architect Clough Williams-Ellis from 1925 to 1976. He wanted to show how a naturally beautiful site could be developed without spoiling it, and boy did he not spoil it!
In Portmeirion, you will find colourful architecture (which looks like something straight out of a movie), scenic surroundings and vast woodland gardens. We spent an hour or two exploring all of Portmeirion’s nooks and crannies and even jumped on board a free woodland train tour up into the hills. Unfortunately, the weather was not on our side that afternoon but Portmeirion still managed to impress us amidst the rain.
I’m sure the village really comes alive in the summer sunshine if there is such a thing in Wales. On a summer’s day, you could easily spend another hour or so wandering down the coastal paths and basking in the Mediterranean atmosphere of the village. Tickets come in at a hefty £12 per person but I’d say it’s absolutely worth it as, like Bounce Below, you won’t find anything else like it in the UK!
Saturday Evening: Dinner and exploring in Criccieth
Right, I think it’s time you deserve some dinner after all that driving, bouncing and exploring, don’t you? Return to Criccieth, only a fifteen-minute drive from Portmeirion, for dinner at The Castle Inn, a nearby pub which serves huge portions of hearty, delicious pub grub.
After eating yourself silly, why not take the opportunity to explore the town as the sun sets. Criccieth boasts two beaches, separated by the impressive Criccieth Castle. We didn’t get a chance to venture up to the castle as it closes at 5pm but you should definitely visit if you have enough time!
Day Two in North Wales
Sunday Morning: Drive Through Snowdonia
Driving through Snowdonia is an activity in its own right because it’s just so blummin’ gorgeous. Trust me when I say you’ll want to pull up at the side of the road every two minutes to admire the scenery and take an abundance of photos.
Unfortunately, I was stuck in the backseat and didn’t get to choose our route/when we could stop off (plus we were kinda pressed on time because Zip World was calling our name), so I’d absolutely love to road trip through North Wales in the future but in the driving seat next time. We only really scratched the surface of Snowdonia – there are so many more sights I want to see!
Late Sunday Morning: Velocity at Zip World
I’ve been on many zip wires in my time but the fastest zip line in the world/the longest zip wire in Europe? I hadn’t got that far yet. Until now, that is. Going on Velocity at Zip World was by far the highlight of the trip and the main reason we ventured up to North Wales in the first place.
The whole experience lasts around two hours from start to finish. You get to go on two zip wires across the historic and truly breathtaking Penrhyn Quarry, first on the little zipper then experiencing Velocity on the big zipper, reaching speeds of up to 125mph. The photos and videos we saw online before going really don’t do the scale of it justice. We were shocked by just how high up and steep it was.
Luckily, Velocity had just been recently improved to Velocity 2, which made the zip wire even steeper and faster. Tickets start at £75 per person and again, couldn’t be more worth the money. I mean it is the fastest zip line on earth! If you’re not feeling brave enough for Velocity then don’t worry, there are plenty of smaller zip lines where that one came from in the same location as Bounce Below.
Sunday Afternoon: Visit Caernarfon
After our exhilarating morning, it was time to slow it down, and what better place to slowly spend an afternoon than Caernarfon? Caernarfon is a very cute and touristy seaside town that you absolutely cannot miss on your trip to North Wales.
The sun came out during our time in Caernarfon so we enjoyed fish and chips at Nemo’s, ice cream at Moo, and long walks around the town and down by the waterfront. Caernarfon Castle, Wales’ most famous castle, also merits a visit!
Late Sunday Afternoon: Visit Pwlhelli
Our final stop on our North Wales road trip, before we came home and collapsed for the evening, was Pwlhelli. Whilst we didn’t spend too long here, we did enjoy a walk on the beach and the fresh sea air. The weather truly blessed us that evening and boy did the sea look blue. Yes, that is in fact Wales, not the Caribbean, in case you were wondering…
So have you ever visited North Wales? What did you think and where did you visit? Another trip to North Wales is definitely on the cards because we didn’t even scratch the surface of it. I already can’t wait!