Things To Do In CricciethPublished on 10 May 2022 by Gwion Llwyd
This beautiful little Welsh coastal village seemingly has it all: ocean rollers, mountain views and an imposing medieval castle to watch over it all. Criccieth lies at the gateway to Pen Llŷn / the Llŷn Peninsula, on the shores of Cardigan Bay. On the original Victorian steam train line, it has long been a destination for families looking to get away from it all.
It’s an easy-living town that has retained all of its old school charm. Think rock pooling, castle ramparts, delicious fish and chips and ice cream. You’ll find traditional Welsh tearooms, plenty of great places to eat out, independent shops and some wonderfully browsable galleries and antiques. There’s even a traditional Welsh clog maker who still has his workshop in the town. The town sits on the Wales coast path, and there are plenty of quiet trails running out of the town for walking and cycling. Criccieth is perfectly placed for exploring this part of North Wales, with Porthmadog, Pwllheli, and Abersoch all within a short drive of the town.
Here’s a selection of our favourite things to do in Criccieth.
Explore Criccieth Castle
A spectacular coastal fortress which stands proud on its own rocky headland, Criccieth Castle is a landmark historic site which has plenty to tell us about the fortunes of war. Built around 1230 by Llywelyn ap Iowerth (Llywelyn the Great), the castle sits on a high rocky peninsula in the centre of town, with enormous views over Cardigan Bay to the Irish Sea beyond. It is a strategic and quite astonishingly beautiful setting, and you can easily see why Llywelyn was drawn to it. The amazing views alone make this place very much worth a visit. The castle’s romantic ruins have attracted dozens of artists over the centuries, and it was famously painted by J. M. W. Turner in 1835 as part of his series depicting shipwrecked mariners. Seasonal opening times and paid entry, book online.
Head to Porthmadog for a ride on a steam train
This part of the world has no shortage of heritage railways, but two of our favourites – the Ffestiniog Heritage Railway and Welsh Highland Railway – are based in nearby Porthmadog. If ever there were a place to sit back and enjoy the nostalgic pleasure of steam, this is it. Jump on board in the centre of town to enjoy comfortable plush carriages, the nostalgic aroma of coal, and gentle chuff of the engine as it moves through spectacular mountain landscapes. A day out on these railways is one of life’s great pleasures. 4 miles from Criccieth.
Experience the quirky beauty of Portmeirion
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. 8 miles from Criccieth.
Discover Welsh art and culture
The Oriel Plas Glyn-y -weddw at Llanbedrog is a wonderful showcase for Welsh art, music and theatre. There’s always plenty going on, and it’s well-worth checking out what’s happening whilst you’re on holiday in North Wales. The gallery’s cafe is a great place for a bite of lunch or afternoon tea, and there are pretty woodlands and gardens to explore. Llanbedrog’s spectacular sandy beach is just a few minutes’ walk away. 12 miles from Criccieth.
A day out in Abersoch
You’ll find the village of Abersoch on the southeast-facing side of beautiful Pen Llŷn. Originally a small fishing port, it is now a chic seaside town which seems to have something for everyone: cliffs and coves, bars, bistros and smart boutiques. It’s the kind of place which has been much-loved by generations of loyal visitors, and with its long golden sands and great sweeping views across Cardigan Bay to Snowdonia, it’s not hard to see why. 15 miles from Criccieth.
Enjoy a drink at the Ty Coch Inn
Sitting on a sheltered sandy bay at Porthdinllaen on the west coast of Pen Llŷn, and with stunning views over Yr Eifl to the Snowdonia mountains, this wonderful North Wales pub is regularly name-checked as being one of the best beach bars in the world. Park at the Nefyn Golf Club car park and follow the well-marked path over the course, it will take you around 15 minutes to get to the pub. With covered outside seating and the sound of waves lapping the shore, it really is the most perfect place for a pint. The Ty Coch Inn has limited opening hours in the low season, so it may be worth checking the pub’s website or social media before you visit. Well behaved dogs are welcome inside the pub, there are usually lots of happy dogs running along the beach outside. 15 miles from Criccieth.
LOCAL ACTIVITIES AND ADVENTURES
Dwyfor Ranch Rabbit farm and Animal Park
For over 30 years this lovely farm has welcomed visitors to interact with a wide range of farm animals, including some rare breeds. Children are allowed to handle a selection of different types of animals including rabbits, guinea pigs and puppies, as well as hand-feeding many of the larger animals such as pigmy goats, alpacas, rhea, donkeys, ponies, pigs and lambs. Check the website for opening times. 2 miles from Criccieth.
Dragon Raiders Activity Parc
Dragon Raiders Activity Park is just a couple of miles from Criccieth. Based in beautiful woodlands in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the family-friendly park offers quad biking, paintballing, and Segway adventure treks. Book in advance. 2 miles from Criccieth.
Black Rock Lamas
This is a fabulously quirky place – a lama sanctuary based at Morfa Bychan, just outside Porthmadog. It’s the place to visit if you’d like to take a lama for a walk, watch them do some show jumping (AKA a rather impressive agility display), or even go lama trekking (1.5 activity, from age 7+). Book your Black Rock Lamas experience online, in advance. 6 miles from Criccieth.
The Glasfryn Parc Activity Centre is a short drive from Porthmadog. It offers hours – or even days – of family fun including archery, crazy golf, go-karting, wakeboarding, aquapark, kayaking, and stand up paddleboarding. 8 miles from Criccieth.
Sygun Copper Mines
Winner of the Prince of Wales award for tourism, Sygun Copper Mine is one of the wonders of Wales – a remarkable and impressive example of how our precious industrial heritage can be reclaimed, restored and transformed into an outstanding attraction. A self-guided audiovisual tour allows you to explore the old workings with its winding tunnels and large, colorful chambers, magnificent stalactite and stalagmite formations. Above ground you can try your hand at panning for gold and enjoy a beautiful lakeside walk. The kids can let off steam at the adventure playground. 12 miles from Criccieth.
Go surfing in Abersoch
Abersoch’s sandy beach is popular with swimmers, sandcastlers and paddlers – and there’s plenty of room for a game of cricket or rounders too. The town is very popular with surfers, and there’s plenty of opportunity to learn how to catch a wave with a number of surf schools near the waterfront, including Abersoch Watersports, Offaxis, and the Hell’s Mouth Surf School. 15 miles from Criccieth.
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. 16 miles from Criccieth.
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+. 16 miles from Criccieth.
Take a boat trip to Bardsey Island
Run by a local family who have been lobster fishermen and Bardsey Island farmers for generations, Bardsey Boat Trips will take you across to the historic Bardsey Island – Ynys Enlli – from Porth Meudwy, near Aberdaron. On your way you’ll take in some of the most stunning coastal scenery the UK has to offer. Once upon a time Bardsey Island was known as the Isle of Twenty Thousand Saints and was a destination for Christian pilgrims. Now it’s home to abbey ruins, a bird observatory and wide variety of flora and fauna. And bundles of peace and tranquillity. 24 miles from Criccieth.
Other stand out North Wales adventure attractions include Zip World Titan, Zip World Velocity, Surf Snowdonia & Adventure Parc Snowdonia, Greenwood Forest Park, Rib Ride, The Slate Caverns at Llechwedd, and Go Below.
MOUNTAIN BIKING AND CYCLING
Coed y Brenin
Coed y Brenin near Dolgellau is the UK’s first and largest dedicated mountain bike trail centre. Hire bikes from the visitor centre (or bring your own) to explore miles of world-class mountain bike trails, with waymarked routes to suit all abilities. There is also a café, plenty of family walking trails, a nice play area and some gorgeous spots for a riverside picnic. 22 miles from Criccieth.
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. 15 miles from Criccieth.
The Mawddach Trail
The Mawddach Trail footpath and cycle route runs just shy of 10 miles along a disused railway track on the southern side of the Mawddach estuary. The trail can be joined at several points, but it runs between the picturesque market town of Dolgellau and the iconic railway bridge over the mouth of the Mawddach estuary into Barmouth. Expect stunning views across to Diffwys and the Rhinog mountains, and up the estuary to Y Garn and the Arans beyond Dolgellau. 28 miles from Criccieth.
Explore a circular trail around Criccieth
We love this circular walk exploring the coast and countryside around Criccieth. The walk starts at the train station in the centre of the town, and takes in the town’s castle and beach before heading north towards the tiny village of Llanystumdwy. Here you will find the grave of Prime Minister David Lloyd George and a museum which tells the story of his life. Lloyd George lived in Llanystumdwy until he was 16, and his grave – which you will find on the banks of the Afon Dwyfor (River Dwyfor) in the heart of the village – was designed by architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, creator of the Italianate village of Portmeirion. After exploring Llanystumdwy the walk then follows country lanes east back into the town. It’s approx. 5 miles, and will take you a couple of hours.
Take on Yr Eifl – AKA The Rivals
There’s really only one way you’d want to be blown away on top of a mountain, and Yr Eifl – also known as The Rivals – will not disappoint. Expect to be bowled over by the views from the summit. Yr Eifl is essentially a series of three peaks which tower above the sea close to Pen Llŷn’s rugged north coast. Yr Eifl is the highest point at 564m, but arguably it is the Tre’r Ceiri Iron Age hill fort that is the highlight of this walk. On a clear day you can expect to see as far as the Isle of Man, to the Wicklow Mountains in Ireland and over to the Cumbrian peaks of the Lake District. And you’ll get a fantastic view right down the full sweep of the beautiful Cardigan Bay too. It’s stunning. Find out more about Yr Eifl on our blog. 13 miles from Criccieth.
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? Criccieth is a short distance from the start point of one of the best routes up Yr Wyddfa – or Snowdon, the Rhyd Ddu Path (pronounced ‘rheed-thee’). This is one of the quieter ways up the great mountain, and offers some of the best views. Plan ahead by downloading the Snowdon Walks app, which covers the six main routes up, with detailed maps and a live progress tracker. You can read more about how to prepare for a walk up Snowdon, here. 15 miles from Criccieth.
Take on Cnicht – aka the Welsh Matterhorn – for breathtaking mountain scenery and one of Snowdonia’s best 360-degree summit panoramas. Cnicht’s pointed summit really stands out among the rounded bumps of the neighbouring peaks. It is part of Snowdonia’s Moelwyn range, a short drive from Porthmadog. Its appearance when viewed from Porthmadog has earned it the name the ‘Welsh Matterhorn’, albeit a somewhat smaller version (689m as opposed to a whopping 4,478m). You can read our guide to Cnicht, here. 12 miles from Criccieth.
Master Moel Hebog
It’s Beddgelert’s own mountain: a worthy day of walking that will reward you with superb 360 views of Snowdon, Snowdonia and the North Wales coast. At 782m Moel Hebog is no lofty peak, but it shouldn’t be underestimated. A circular route covers around 9km and will take you the best part of a day. Make sure you check the weather, and that you will have enough light to finish, before you set off. You can read our guide to Moel Hebog, here. 13 miles from Criccieth.
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.
Criccieth has two excellent Blue Flag beaches separated by the town’s prominent – and still powerful – medieval fortress. Marine Beach to the west of the castle is pebbly, has views straight out to sea, and is safe for swimming. Head west towards Pwllheli and you can walk for miles either along the beach or on the beachside path above. Criccieth’s main beach to the east of the castle is a mixture of pebbles and sand. Walk east of here to find rock pools and local wildlife. There is also a nice lawned area next to the beach if you’d prefer to have a picnic by the sea without the sand.
Explore Pen Llŷn’s secret beaches
Criccieth sits right at the gateway to Pen Llŷn – the Llŷn Peninsula – an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a real gem of the British Isles. One of the least explored parts of Wales, Pen Llŷn is the kind of place where you can take a picnic to a ‘secret’ cove or beach and feel like you have the whole place to yourself – because you probably will. Head to Pen Llŷn’s Porth Iago, Porth Or (Whistling Sands) and Porth Ysgo to enjoy some of the best ‘secret’ beaches’ in the UK. A pint on the sandy beach in front of the Ty Coch Inn at Porthdinllaen should be an obligatory part of any holiday to Pen Llŷn.
Morfa Bychan / Black Rock Sands
Morfa Bychan – aka Black Rock Sands – is a long sandy beach just five miles from Criccieth. It is one of the few locations where you can take your car on to the beach, and it has designated boat launch areas. The sea along the beach is shallow, with a gentle gradient making it ideal for swimming and bathing. With beautiful views of Criccieth castle and wide open views of the Irish Sea, it is the perfect place for a spot of beach cricket and a picnic. 5 miles from Criccieth.
Borth y Gest
Borth Y Gest is a beautiful little harbour village on the Glaslyn Estuary, around a mile from the centre of Porthmadog. You’ll find some lovely little cafes and shops in the village, and a sandy beach with plenty of ‘pirate’ coves to explore. Swimming is not advisable at Borth y Gest due to exceptionally strong currents, but it is a great good beach for walking and sunbathing. The Wales Coast Path runs along the edge of the beach. 6 miles from Criccieth.
FOOD AND DRINK
There are so many great places to enjoy good food and drink in and near Criccieth, we couldn’t possibly list them all here. Instead, here are some of our personal favourites. Enjoy!
Prince of Wales – High Street, Criccieth
Bryn Hir Arms – High Street, Criccieth
No. 46 Coffee Shop – High Street, Criccieth
Idris Café – High Street, Criccieth
Dylan’s – Maes y Mor – seafront, Criccieth
Tir a Môr – Mona Terrace, Criccieth
Y Sgwar, Market Square, Porthmadog
Yr Hen Fecws – Lombard Street, Porthmadog
The Moorings – Ivy Terrace, Borth y Gest
Fish and Chips
Castle Fish and Chips – Castle Street, Criccieth
Cadwaladers – Criccieth and Porthmadog
Cariad Gelato – Beachbank, Criccieth
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