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The 10 best places to stay in North Wales holiday cottages

The 10 best places to stay in North Wales

Courtney Kelly 08 November 2023

North Wales should be on everyone’s holiday bucket list. Full stop. We believe you could easily spend a year visiting all the picturesque towns and villages and popping into all the attractions on offer, and still not run out of things to do.

However, the majority of us will only be able to take a fortnight off at most before we have to get back to the real world. Still, that’s plenty of time to soak up the mountains, wooded valleys and coastal gems on offer throughout North Wales.

Keep scrolling to read about ten of the best places to stay in North Wales or click the button below to start searching for your home away from home.


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Anglesey

South Stack Lighthouse on the Isle of Anglesey

We begin with the Isle of Anglesey. A county adjacent to the north-west coast of Wales, this island has plenty to offer the intrepid explorer and is certainly one of the best places to stay in all of Wales. Whether you want to marvel at unparalleled natural beauty or you’re looking to immerse yourself in the history and culture of this heritage-rich isle, you’ll have enough to occupy your entire visit and more.

You could begin with a meander along the Isle of Anglesey Coastal Path, a 140-mile route that circumnavigates the entire island (you don’t have to do it all though!). Next, visit the Dingle Nature Reserve, a 25-acre wooded valley where a blanket of bluebells can complement the sightings of woodpeckers and kingfishers. Finish off with some shopping and take home some Halen Môn sea salt as a gift for a friend.

Top attractions on the Isle of Anglesey:

  • Beaumaris Castle – an impressive castle in a country of outstanding fortresses, this 13th-century structure was never completed, but there is still plenty to explore on the grounds and throughout its corridors
  • Lligwy Beach – this wide and sheltered bay on the north-east coast offers plenty of sand to wander but also a gently sloping shelf into shallow water, making it ideal for holidaymakers with children
  • South Stack Lighthouse – like a Russian doll, this lighthouse is found on an island just off the coast of another island. Climb the 400 steps carved into the cliffside, cross the bridge over the tumultuous waves and see if you can spot any puffins at this RSPB reserve

Snowdonia / Eryri

An aerial view of beautiful Snowdonia/Eryri

You may need longer than a week to explore all that Snowdonia / Eryri has to offer. You might have to revisit year after year if you want to take full advantage of the five towns and 24 villages that illustrate what a strong sense of community this part of Wales has. You’d be in good company though, as nearly 4 million people visit Eryri each year to soak up the mesmerising views from over 70 miles of coastline and nearly 30,000 acres of native woodland.

Choose from nine mountain ranges and 15 peaks if you want to summit an iconic precipice; you could use the time climbing to brush up on your Welsh language as it is the spoken tongue of most of the national park’s residents. Closer to sea level, you’ll find an abundance of flora and fauna living in and amongst the region's many lakes and rivers, and enchanting forests.

Top attractions in Snowdonia / Eryri

  • Yr Wyddfa – this iconic mountain is Eryri’s most popular summit and if you’re not sure if your legs can take the ascent, hop on the mountain railway instead
  • Yr Ysgwrn – looking like an ordinary farmhouse, this site possesses cultural significance for the Welsh people and symbolises bereavement following the losses of the First World War. It was also the home of Ellis Humphrey Evans, one of Wales’ best-loved poets
  • Llyn Tegid – at Wales’ largest natural lake, you’ll find a wealth of wildlife (it’s the only place in the UK where the glutinous snail is found!) plus you can swim, paddleboard, canoe and windsurf

Abersoch

Vast swathes of sand seen from the air at Abersoch

We’ll come to the Llŷn Peninsula as a whole later on, but before we do, a pitstop in Abersoch is a justified use of your time. Sitting on the coast in the south-east area of the peninsula, this seaside village has a host of sandy North Wales beaches that face Cardigan Bay and Snowdonia. If water sports are your thing, you’re in luck as the surf scene is thriving with the popular Porth Ceiriad and Porth Neigwl (aka Hell’s Mouth) just around the corner. There are opportunities to have more relaxing watery experiences in kayaks or on stand-up paddleboards, or you can get your heart racing with power boats and Ringo rides!

For those who prefer their activities dry and on land, head to Abersoch Golf Club, where you’ll be able to play your usual round whilst enjoying the coastal views without getting wet (just stay out of the water hazards). There are a surprising number of cafes, bars, restaurants and shops in the village, making it easy to scratch that retail itch and grab a meal out if you don’t fancy cooking in your self-catering cottage.

Top attractions in Abersoch

  • Abersoch Hydro – hire a dinghy, climb aboard a powerboat or just take it easy on a paddleboard and explore the coast
  • Abersoch Harbour Beach and marina – perfect for a little sandy stroll or crabbing with the kids
  • Abersoch Golf Club – take in the Cambrian coast in all its glory at this traditional links and parkland course. Described as the friendliest golf course in Wales, you can also stock up in the pro shop or grab a bite in the bar

Llandudno

Lush greenery and the blue ocean bay at Llandudno

Visit Llandudno and discover a pocket of history that dates back 4,000 years. This coastal town came to prominence during the Victorian era, but the Great Orme mines were first worked during the Bronze Age, around the same time that Stonehenge was being built! These days, Great Orme is a mini-mountain that visitors can climb on foot or via the Great Orme Tramway which has been operating since the 19th century.

Great Orme’s eastern flank is called the Happy Valley; there’s plenty of space for little ones to run and play, plus you can follow the white rabbit and take part in the Alice Trail (see below). If you feel the need to get off your feet, Marine Drive, created by the Victorians, is a beautiful 4-mile drive along a private road that is squeezed in between the coast and the fringes of Great Orme. Enjoy the stunning views from this level or take to the heights on a ride on the UK’s longest cable car for even better panoramas.

Top attractions in Llandudno

  • The Alice Trail – find the sculptures dotted around the town from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The eponymous hero of the book was named after a real-life Alice who would often frequent Llandudno
  • Bodafon Farm Park – animal lovers will adore this working farm set back from the seafront; discover Shire horses and birds of prey followed by a ride on a mini-tractor
  • Llandudno Promenade and Pier – there’s so much fun to be had on a Victorian pier with fairground rides, ice creams and gift shops on offer. Alternatively, just take a gentle stroll along the promenade holding your loved one’s hand before returning to your romantic North Wales cottage

Aberdovey/Aberdyfi

The pretty quay at Aberdovey/Aberdyfi

If you’re looking for a little serenity on the coast, then Aberdovey/Aberdyfi has to be one of the best places to stay in North Wales. Nestled on the north side of the Dovey/Dyfi Estuary, this small seaside village in Snowdonia National Park welcomes visitors year-round. However, it’s fair to say that a large number of thrill seekers make a beeline for the blue waters of Cardigan Bay during the summer months thanks to Aberdovey’s water sports offering. With sailing, rowing, canoeing, paddleboarding, kitesurfing and water-skiing to choose from, we think a love of water sports is a prerequisite when it comes to things to do in North Wales.

If you’re not feeling energetic, the beaches themselves are award winning and are perfect for a lazy day catching up with a good book or building sandcastles. Make sure you leave some time for 18 holes at the championship golf course with fairways and greens boxed in beautifully between the Cambrian mountains and the coast. Should you want to slow it down even further, make the short trip to Tywyn, hop aboard the Talyllyn Railway and explore Southern Snowdonia.

Top attractions in Aberdovey/Aberdyfi

  • Aberdovey Golf Club – come and play on the same course that Ian Woosnam chose to practice on prior to each US Masters he played in
  • Let’s SUP Paddleboarding – book a lesson and go on a tour of the estuary and further afield
  • Aberdovey Beach – have a lazy day on this popular, sandy beach and if you’re feeling up to it, walk north all the way to Tywyn Beach

Barmouth

Barmouth and the Mawddach Estuary from the air

Do you ever find yourself torn when choosing your holiday destination? You either want a holiday on the coast or a more inland adventure near a mountain range where you can put your hiking skills to the test. You can’t have both. But ah, yes you can. And that destination is Barmouth. This family-friendly town, where the mountains meet the sea, has been welcoming visitors for 150 years and like many of the hotspots along the west coast, it boasts stunning sunsets over Cardigan Bay.

As you’d expect, there are water sports opportunities galore in the town with paddleboarding and kayaking on offer. However, many visitors choose to stay on the clean, sandy beaches and partake in a paddle before heading to the arcades to play games and buy candy floss. There is greater depth to Barmouth though; it has some impressive heritage links with connections to Henry Tudor, the Titanic and the founding of the National Trust. Explore the Heritage Trail to find out more.

Check out our family-friendly cottages in North Wales and discover the mountains, sand and sea of Barmouth.

Top attractions in Barmouth

  • Barmouth Bridge – cycling along this bridge is a great way to take in the Mawddach Estuary in all its glory and the views back towards the harbour
  • The Dragon Theatre – you don’t need to pay West End prices to enjoy a good show in Barmouth. This theatre has a full programme of shows, live music and films
  • Abermaw (Barmouth Beach) – a vast swathe of sand and a little shingle guarantees perfect beach days with swing boats, a land train and donkey rides on offer

The Llŷn Peninsula

The stunning blue ocean and rolling green hills of the Llŷn Peninsula

In a country renowned for its remarkable and varied scenery, it must be hard to come out on top but the Llŷn Peninsula endeavours nonetheless. And it’s impossible to deny that this impressive headland, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is anything less than spectacular. With nearly 100 miles of coastline, constituting towering clifftops and vast sweeping bays, there’s the prospect of spotting local wildlife or just splashing in the crystal-clear waters just off the Wales Coast Path.

If you’ve brought your walking boots along, tighten your laces and attempt the three peaks of Yr Eifl – Garn For, Garn Ganol and Tre'r Ceiri. Understandably steep in places, the walks reward you with delicate flora and unmatched views. The beaches of the Llŷn Peninsula are well worthy of a mention too, with beaches at Porthdinllaen, Abersoch, Llanbedrog, Traeth Penllech and Traeth Porthor giving holidaymakers plenty of options for rockpool hunting, fresh morning walks and lunchtime swims.

Top attractions on the Llŷn Peninsula

  • Traeth Porthor (Whistling Sands) – discover the hum of the sands as you walk along them; it’s not something you’ll forget
  • Ynys Enlli (Bardsey Island) – just 2 miles from the peninsula, this island is an International Dark Sky Sanctuary and is a beautiful place for a detour
  • The Wales Coast Path – as you walk along, you’ll find quaint fishing villages, astounding views and hidden bays. Explore it in your own time and see what you can find

Conwy

Conwy Castle at sunset with daisies in the foreground

For a small town, there certainly is a lot to keep you occupied in Conwy. Located on the north coast of Wales in between Anglesey and the headland of Llandudno, the landscape here is dominated by the impressive 13th-century Conwy Castle, whose walls envelop the medieval town. If you desire a little more history, make a beeline for the Iron Age hillfort found near the summit of Conwy Mountain. The network of paths you’ll traverse to reach its peak will provide you with gorgeous views and the chance to see the birdlife that lives on the mountain.

Other points of interest include Conwy Marina and Quay where you can marvel at the vast array of watercraft or just bathe in the sun outside a pub or cafe. The smallest house in Britain is nearby, which is worth a visit (it won’t take long!) and if you want to take in a bit of nature, you can choose from either RSPB Conwy Nature Reserve or Bodnant Garden; the latter showcasing plant collections from the world over.

Top attractions in Conwy

  • Conwy Castle – ascend any one of the castle’s eight towers and be rewarded with far-reaching views of the town and beyond; this UNESCO World Heritage Site is a must-visit
  • Quay House – blink and you’ll miss it, the smallest house in Britain is tucked away on the end of a terrace and beneath a huge fortification tower
  • Bodnant Garden – explore one of Wales’ best gardens with its wooded valley and stream, vast lawns and grand terraces

Betws-y-Coed

The mystical Fairy Glen at Betws-y-Coed

No, this isn’t Switzerland or Northern Italy – this really is North Wales. Betws-y-Coed, also known as the gateway to Snowdonia, is as picturesque as they come, often being likened to an Alpine village thanks to the dense Gwydyr Forest surrounding the settlement. Even the name is poetic, translated as the prayer house in the woods. It’s these woods, the four rushing rivers and the mountainous terrain that have been attracting visitors since the Victorian era. And the best thing? It’s remained largely unchanged since those times.

It's also a magnet for adrenaline junkies with a number of mountain biking trails to choose from, a subterranean trampoline park, and Zip World: an adventure centre set in the woods featuring the UK’s only alpine rollercoaster of its kind. For a more natural thrill, visit Swallow Falls, a spectacular waterfall in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. You can view it from above the river if you don’t fancy the walk, or you can descend some steps and see it from the riverside in all its glory.

Top attractions in Betws-y-Coed

  • Go Below – rain dampening your spirits? Visit this award-winning underground adventure and explore the abandoned mines at the heart of Snowdonia
  • Zip World Fforest – take on all six activities, including the Skyride, Plummet and the Zip Safari
  • Fairy Glen – an enchanting destination in an already magical place, this spot in Gwydyr Forest will allow you to slow the pace and soak up the atmosphere

Llanberis

A lone tree stands on the banks of Llyn Padarn in Llanberis

To look at Llanberis, you’d think you’d stumbled upon the filming location of the latest fantasy blockbuster; glistening waters cutting through rolling hills and mountains carpeted in luscious foliage – this is Snowdonia at its absolute best. The twin lakes of Llyn Padarn and Llyn Peris offer exquisite perimeter walking paths, or you can get out on the water and partake in water sports with the backdrop of Snowdon looming over you protectively. To gain aerial views without pulling a muscle, hop on one of two narrow-gauge lines: Llanberis Lake Railway and Snowdon Mountain Railway.

For a dose of history and heritage, visit the National Slate Museum for a taste of quarry life, or visit the ruins of Dolbadarn Castle with its 15-metre round-towered keep. The position of this former fortress will take your breath away with the cool waters of Llyn Peris giving way to the foreboding mountain ranges in the distance; the glacial valley location gives the strong impression that this would have been a difficult keep to plunder.

Top attractions in Llanberis

  • National Slate Museum – sitting in the shadow of Elidir, come and see the Victorian workshops and learn the history of an industry that was once core to the Welsh way of life
  • Padarn Country Park – with a little something for everyone, this park surrounding Llyn Padarn offers wooded walks, mountain views, wildlife and water sports
  • Snowdon Mountain Railway – see the sights from the comfort of the carriage, and ride on trains named after legends such as Dame Shirley Bassey and Katherine Jenkins

Map of the 10 best places to stay in North Wales

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Find your place to stay in North Wales

With so many superb places to stay in North Wales, you might need more than one self-catering cottage to call your home. Luckily, we’ve got accommodation for every occasion, from dog-friendly escapes to romantic boltholes for two. Tap the button below to start your search.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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