Things to do in Betws-Y-CoedPublished on 5 Apr 2022 by Gwion Llwyd
The beautiful mountain village of Betws y Coed is the gateway to the mountains, forests and lakes of the Snowdonia National Park. Surrounded by the dense Gwydir Forest, it has an almost Alpine feel. The village is home to an assortment of independent traders, outdoor gear shops and cafés, and some very decent places to eat. You’ll also find a good number of art galleries displaying talented Welsh artists. Whatever the season, the landscapes in this part of the world are strikingly beautiful. There are countless lovely walks from the village, with some great circular routes to suit all ages and fitness levels. There are some great North Wales family adventures on the doorstep too – including Zip World, Go Below, and Surf Snowdonia – and you only need to step a little further out of the village to explore some of Snowdonia’s best peaks including Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon), Moel Siabod, Moel Penamen, Carnedd Cribau and Y Pincin to name but a few.
Here’s a selection of our favourite things to do in Betws y Coed.
ACTIVITIES AND ADVENTURES
Could this be the scariest assault course in the world? It surely has to be a contender: Go Below’s epic subterranean trip includes a sequence of zip wires, cold-sweat-inducing bridges and traverses, and an abseil to the deepest accessible point in the UK. Boating across an atmospheric underground lake feels like a welcome reprieve. The course culminates in a 70ft jump into the abyss on the world’s only underground free fall. It’s adrenaline pumping, heart thumping, pulse jumping ‘fun’, if you like that kind of thing. Head for heights advised. You’ll emerge feeling like a hero. You’ll find Go Below just outside Betws y Coed, in the Conwy Falls Forest Park. Book in advance. 1 mile from Betws y Coed.
Adventure Parc Snowdonia
As well as a world-first inland surf lagoon, Adventure Parc Snowdonia is home to trailblazing indoor and outdoor adventures at Adrenaline Indoors, a giant indoor adventure arena. Perfect for weatherproof days out in NorthWales, adventures include indoor and outdoor climbing walls, artificial caving, a ninja assault course and indoor high ropes, as well as a Soft Play zone for younger adventurers. There is also a pump track and mountain bike hire on site – handy for exploring the nearby Gwydir Mawr a Bach / Marin Trail. If you prefer your adventures to be a little more sedate, Adventure Parc Snowdonia is also home to The Wave Garden Spa – a fabulous indoor / outdoor spa. 5 miles from Betws y Coed.
Zip World Fforest
In a stunning woodland setting nestled in the North Wales Conwy Valley, and just a couple of miles from Betws, a host of forest adventures and foodie delights await at Zip World Fforest. With adventures to keep the whole family busy all day, choose from the Fforest Coaster, the UK’s only alpine coaster of its kind, bouncing fun on Treetop Nets, or zip line and adventure courses high in the trees on Tree Hoppers or Zip Safari. If that isn’t quite enough, you could also have a go on Europe’s highest giant swing, Skyride, or take a tandem freefall jump from Plummet2. Book online in advance. 2 miles from Betws y Coed.
Zip World Caverns
This underground adventure allows you to speed through the caverns of the abandoned Llechwedd slate mine on zip lines, navigating part of the course with a via ferrata, monkey bars, and a whole variety of challenging obstacles. It’s a thrilling experience! Zip World Caverns is part of the Zip World portfolio, which also boasts Europe’s largest zip zone at Blaenau, as well as the fastest zip line in the world at Penrhyn Quarry – a site that was once home to the world’s largest slate quarry. 13 miles from Betws y Coed.
Zip World Caverns (see above) is where you’ll also find Bounce Below – a series of giant underground trampolines, strung across enormous underground chambers, with climbs, slides and various levels to navigate. Bounce Below is another thrilling and completely unique North Wales adventure. From age 7+. 13 miles from Betws y Coed.
Go surfing in the mountains
You’ll find Surf Snowdonia at Adventure Parc Snowdonia, just a few miles from Betws y Coed. It’s a world-first surf lagoon, and a game-changing engineering marvel which has cultivated a legion of fans since it launched in 2015. You’ll find it in the village of Dolgarrog, on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park. Rolling waves power across a huge inland lagoon, just a few metres from the village post office. Adventure Parc Snowdonia’s technology delivers a variety of wave profiles in different zones, so absolute beginners can surf or bodyboard alongside experienced surfers. This is great family fun: you can surf with or without instruction, slots are bookable by 60 or 90 minutes. 5 miles from Betws y Coed.
Head to a beautiful lake for wild swimming, walking or paddleboarding
Beautiful Llyn Crafnant lies on the edge of the Gwydir Forest and at the lower slopes of the Carneddau mountains, just outside Betws. We go there to enjoy its magnificent panoramas – there are great views of Mount Siabod, Snowdon and Tryfan – and because its natural soundtrack and peaceful atmosphere do something a bit special to your soul. There’s a brilliant 2.5 mile family-friendly circular walk around the lake which is suitable for little legs as well as buggies and prams. The lake is also popular for paddleboarding and swimming. There’s plenty of car parking and access to public loos. 7 miles from Betws y Coed.
Go paddleboarding in the mountains on Llyn Padarn
Enjoy whopping great views of Snowdon and the Glyderau from the middle of Llyn Padarn, one of Snowdonia’s most magnificent lakes. On the edge of the mountain town of Llanberis, the lake is nestled amidst some of Snowdonia’s most spectacular scenery, including an ancient oak woodland. Bring your own paddleboard, or hire kits – including wetsuits and buoyancy aids – from Snowdonia Watersports on the lakeside. Llyn Padarn is also a popular spot for wild swimming. 16 miles from Betws y Coed.
The National Whitewater Centre
Located just a couple of miles outside Bala, the National White Water Centre is the place to head to if you fancy an adventure on the water. The River Tryweryn has predictable rapids all year round, which are perfect for exhilarating adventures in the water. Prepare to get drenched as you head down the river in your raft under instruction by one of the centre’s expert guides. You’ll be buzzing for the rest of the day! You can grab a well earned hot drink and a piece of cake at the café afterwards. The National White Water Centre runs family rafting sessions for anyone aged 10 and over, as well as other kayaking and canyoning activities. 18 miles from Betws y Coed.
Gwydir Mawr a Bach / The Marin Trail
Also known as the Gwydir Mawr and Bach trail, the Marin Trail is one of the ‘must-dos’ for any serious mountain biker who is visiting North Wales. But it is also a very pleasure day out on two wheels for a total novice! Expect fabulous views of the Snowdonia mountains from forest trails and single-track. 3 miles from Betws.
The Penmachno Trails near Betws y Coed are a hidden gem of North Wales mountain biking, with 30km of super-sweet single-track and scenic forest trails riding high through Snowdonia National Park. Choose from 3 main trails each with their own challenges and character. The mountain views are stupendously good. 4 miles from Betws y Coed.
Set in the stunning slate mountains of Blaenau Ffestiniog, and with far-reaching views towards the Irish Sea, Antur Stiniog offers 14 fantastic gravity fed trails for all shades of rider from novice to world cup racer. The downhill trails are graded from green to black. Antur Stiniog includes a mountain uplift service, and bikes are available to hire from the site. 12 miles from Betws y Coed.
Not bringing your own wheels? No problem! Head to Beics Betws to hire bikes and e-bikes in Betws y Coed.
OTHER DAYS OUT
Swallow Falls is the largest, continuous waterfall in Wales. You can either park up in the Swallow Falls hotel in the centre of Betws, and take a short walk to the lookout point on the south bank. Or take a walk through the Gwydir Forest on the Swallow Falls walking trail, which will take you to the North Bank, and arguably even more spectacular views.
The Fairy Glen is a beautiful and magical gorge located on the outskirts of Betws y Coed. It is easy to access the trail by the Fairy Glen Hotel, and takes around 30 mins (depending on how long you want to spend down there) to walk down, admire and walk back. There is an honesty box with a suggested 50p donation which goes towards the upkeep of the footpaths down to the gorge. Less than a mile from Betws y Coed.
Dolwyddelan Castle – a 13th century fortress – is as Welsh as the rugged Snowdonia mountains that surround it. You’ll find it on the road between Betws y Coed and Blaenau Ffestiniog, close to the village that shares its name. The castle played a critical part in the story of Wales and is a fantastically atmospheric place to let your imagination run wild. 6 miles from Betws y Coed.
A walk around Bodnant Gardens
Nestling in the foothills of Snowdonia at the top of the Conwy Valley, you’ll find the National Trust’s beautiful Bodnant Gardens, one of the glories of North Wales. There’s 80 acres to explore and a warm welcome in the Bodnant tearooms. The garden is open all year-round, and is a magical space to immerse yourself in nature, grab some fresh air and exercise, and maybe enjoy a picnic with family and friends. Dogs are permitted on certain days. 11 miles from Betws y Coed.
Explore Conwy’s Town Walls
Ah Conwy, you absolute beauty. We will never fail to feel just a little bit star-struck by your rock-solid magnificence. This brilliant medieval harbour town sits on the mouth of the River Conwy looking out across a fleet of little fishing boats to the Irish Sea. The castle dominates proceedings, as well as the town walls. They’re so well preserved that they’ve been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You have to pay a small admission to go into the castle, but the walk around the town walls is free. You can access them at several different points in the town but a good place to start is the section that runs alongside the castle car park to the Mill Gate. In all there’s over 1.2km of walls to explore. You’ll get great views of the harbour, castle, Conwy mountain and Llandudno from the battlements. 15 miles from Betws y Coed.
Portmeirion Village was designed by Welsh Architect Clough Williams-Ellis in the early 20th century. The architectural equivalent of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, it is an eccentric collection of Riviera-inspired houses, ornamental gardens and colour washed villas. It is also home to the spectacular Gwyllt woodland – ten hectares of trees and ornamental shrubs, with big views over the Dwyryd Estuary towards Harlech. There are plenty of cafés and shops to browse, and fabulous Italian Gelati at Caffi’r Angel. Lunch on the lawn outside the beautiful Art Deco Hotel Portmeirion is the perfect holiday treat. Read more about a day out at Portmeirion here. 25 miles from Betws y Coed.
Explore the local mountains – the Carneddau
Bounded by Conwy in the north, the Conwy valley to the east, and the Ogwen valley to the west and south, the Carneddau are a wide expanse of mountain and moorland to the north of the Snowdonia National Park. They are home to some of the biggest mountains in Wales. The highest summit, Carnedd Llywelyn, stands at 1064m – just 21m lower than Snowdon. Expect grassy whaleback humps rather than the rugged peaks of the Snowdon massif, with some beautiful lakes and forests to explore. Look out for the Carneddau’s resident population of wild ponies.
Conquer Yr Wyddfa – Snowdon
It’s a bucket list favourite for anyone visiting North Wales – do you fancy climbing Wales’s highest summit on your next trip here? It can get very busy in the summer months. The best time of year to walk is late spring or early autumn. Plan ahead by downloading the Snowdon Walks app, which covers the six main routes up, with detailed maps and a live progress tracker. Closest start point is Pen y Pass. 10 miles from Betws y Coed.
Explore the ‘secret’ mountains of North Wales
If you’d prefer to avoid the crowds of Snowdon, you’ll be pleased to know that Snowdonia is home to plenty of peaks to explore outside away from the crowds. Check out the Dioni guide to the lesser-known mountains of North Wales, here.
Other local walking ideas
For some more walking inspiration, you might be interested in these websites: Mud and Routes is a great information resource for walking in the area. Simply enter where you would like to walk and it will give you some tried and tested routes. Geocaching is popular in this neck of the woods and if you love a treasure hunt, then this is a great way to while away an afternoon, especially if you’re trying to keep the kids amused too.
FOOD AND DRINK
There are so many great places to enjoy good food and drink in and near Betws y Coed. We couldn’t possibly list them all here. Instead, here are some of our personal favourites. Enjoy!
Fish and Chips
THE PRACTICAL STUFF
For medical help
Dial 999 to call for an ambulance if you require urgent medical attention.
You can find your nearest urgent care health services provider by searching the NHS online directory at https://www.nhs.uk/service-search/other-services/
For non-urgent medical advice dial ‘111’ to speak to an operator at the NHS telephone advice service, or visit www.111.nhs.uk
The welsh alphabet is phonetic so once you know how to say the letters, the theory is that reading the words is straightforward; you say what you see. A little time spent familiarising yourself with the alphabet will help no end when you’re trying to navigate your way around the area…
a short, as in ‘hat’, never as in ‘ball’
b as in ‘bag’. Although is there really any other way?
c always hard as in ‘cat’, never an s as in ‘precise’
ch like the ch in the Scottish word ‘loch’, but with more phlegm
d as in ‘dog’, never as in ‘djinn’
dd a buzzy ‘th’ sound, as in ‘this’. Think angry bees with a lisp
e short, as in pen
f v. This is very, very simple, and when you get really used to it, f will play hafock with your spelling
ff f. Equally, you can ffind yourselff getting too used to ff as well
g always hard as in ‘get’, never a ‘j’ sound as in the last g in garage
ng as in ‘song’, where the g isn’t hard, like in ‘gig’, but a soft glottal stop made in your throat
h as in hat, always sounded and never silent
i as in ‘pin’
j accepted now because of the loan words from English that use it, like ‘garej’
l a ‘luh’ as in ‘lava’, but never an ‘ul’ sound as in ‘milk’
ll not as hard a sound to make as some would have you think. Raise your tongue to the top of your mouth as if you were going to say ‘el’, then make the ‘ell’ sound by blowing air round the sides of your raised tongue, instead of by using your voice. You should sound like an annoyed cat
m as in ‘mithridatize’. Or as in ‘mum’, if you want to be boring
n as in ‘nanobot’
o short as in ‘hot’, not round as in ‘hotel’
p can I have a p please Bob?
ph an English f, or Welsh ff sound, as in ‘phase’
r rolled. Some people just can’t get a rolled ‘r’ – their tongues are unable to vibrate in the right way. It’s a genetic thing, apparently,
similar to being able to roll your tongue into a tube, or turn the end upside down. Honestly, some people can, but my tongue’s not that prehensile. Roll if you can, don’t if you can’t
rh hr. Make a huffy, breathy sound before your rolled ‘r’
s always soft as in ‘sit’, never a ‘z’ sound as in ‘juxtapose’
t as in ‘top’. Can it get any simpler?
th as in ‘think’, softer and less buzzy than dd
u If you had stepped in something disgusting and made a kind of ‘eugh’ noise, the vowel ‘eu’ sound would about approximate
y ok, y breaks the rule that Welsh is phonetic. As a single syllable word, y is like ‘uh’, on the last syllable of a multisyllabic word it’ an‘u’ or ‘ee’, and anywhere else it’s like the unstressed, indeterminate noise of the final e in ‘garden’ or ‘letter’. Ysbyty (hospital) is the perfect example.
How are you? Sut mae / Ti’n iawn
Good morning: Bore da
Good Afternoon: P.nawn da, prynhawn da
Good evening: Noswaith dda
Good night: Nos da
Cheers / Good Health! Iechyd da!
Do you speak welsh? Ydych chi’n siarad Cymraeg?
How do you say…. in welsh? Beth ydy….yn Cymraeg?
Thank you: Diolch
I love you: Dw i’n dy garu di
Happy Birthday: Penblwdd Hapus
and a couple of funny ones….
Microwave: popty ping
‘Might as well’: Man a man a mwnci