A diversity of landscapes, cultures, and history cover every part of the 823 square miles of Snowdonia. Visit the designated National Park and you can explore mountains, forests, rivers, and the coast.
You can delve deep into the heritage, from ancient legends and battles between Welsh princes and English kings, to the industrial revolution and mining and slate production. There’s so much on offer that once you’ve been, you’ll definitely be back.
Dog-friendly days out and attractions in Snowdonia
- Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railways, Porthmadog — take a step back in time and wind your way through glorious Snowdonia on board a steam train. The company operates two lines: the Ffestiniog Railway is the world’s oldest narrow-gauge railway and runs for 131/2 miles between Porthmadog and Blaenau Ffestiniog; the Welsh Highland Railway runs from Caernarfon, past the foot of Snowdon, to Porthmadog. Dogs are welcome on board (except in the first class carriages) for a charge of £3 per dog. For more information visit www.festrail.co.uk
- Dolbadarn Castle, Llanberis — North Wales is famous for its huge, inspiring castles so it can be easy to miss this hidden gem. Thought to have been built in the 12th century by Welsh prince Llywelyn The Great, it predates many of the castles built by the invading King Edward I of England. Today, the small stronghold is a ruin, although the rounded keep, which is around 50ft tall, still stands. There is no charge for visitors and dogs on leads are welcome. For more information visit http://cadw.wales.gov.uk/daysout/dolbadarncastle/?lang=en
- Sygun Copper Mines, Beddgelert — explore the impressive caves and discover an important part of Welsh industrial heritage; learn about copper and how it was mined. Dogs are welcome in the caves too, but there are metal stairs between the different levels which some dogs may not be happy to walk on. There are also lots of activities above ground including lakeside walks and have-a-go activities such as panning for gold, metal detecting, and pottery painting; extra charges may apply for these. For more information visit www.syguncoppermine.co.uk or call 01766 890595.
- National Slate Museum, Llanberis, Gwynedd — discover all about the skill and danger involved in another of the area’s important former industries, slate mining. Visit the quarry workshops, which are still in regular use, see the foundry where metal was cast for tools and equipment, admire the giant waterwheel which powered the machinery, and a locomotive which is a reminder of how slate would have been transported from the quarry. There are daily demonstrations of the delicate skill of slate splitting and dressing, as well as talks by the museum carpenter. There is also a reconstructed terrace of quarrymen’s houses, although dogs cannot visit these or the café. Admission is free and there are water bowls for dogs around the site. For more information visit www.museumwales.ac.uk/slate or call 0300 111 2333.
- Bodnant Garden, Tal-y-Cafn, near Colwyn Bay (situated just outside the boundary of the National Park, to the east of the River Conwy) — with over 80 acres of expansive lawns, ponds, terraces, and plants from all over the world, Bodnant Garden is a great place to explore. The site is open to canines, with owners permitted to bring their dogs along at certain times. Between November and February dogs are welcome on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, between 10.30am – 3.30pm. From May to August, owners can enjoy a summer stroll with their dogs on Wednesdays after 5pm. For more information visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/bodnant-garden
Dog-friendly places to eat in Snowdonia
- Alpine Coffee Shop, Betws-y-Coed, Conwy — there aren’t many places where your dog can get a loyalty card but this unique café is one of them! Not only can you treat your dog to a sausage, but you can indulge too, whatever your taste or requirements. Situated on the old railway station of Betws-y-Coed, the coffee shop caters for a wide variety of tastes and includes classic dishes and snacks, homemade cakes, speciality teas, and a host of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options. It is open seven days a week between 8.30am – 5pm weekdays and opens at 8am at weekends. For more information visit www.alpinecoffeeshop.net or call 01690 710747.mThe owners have a number of stylish and eclectic holiday apartments, which are also dog friendly (visit www.betwsrailwaystation.co.uk).
- Cross Foxes, Dolgellau — a popular, award-winning bar and grill, nestled at the foot of the Cadair Idris Mountain. The menu offers locally sourced produce and creative dishes, with an emphasis on high-quality meat and fish. Dogs are not allowed in the restaurant, but are permitted in the bar, where their owners can enjoy the full menu. The bar also serves many regional beers and ales from the many micro-breweries in the area. For more information visit www.crossfoxes.co.uk or call 01341 421001.
Dog-friendly beaches in Snowdonia
When you think of Snowdonia, you think of mountains and countryside, but the National Park also has an impressive coastline. Many of the beaches in the area are dog friendly, but it is worth checking before visiting for any dog restrictions. A favourite with dog owners is Black Rock Sands, just outside the National Park, near Porthmadog. Dogs can enjoy the wide, open beach with its caves and rock pools. Restrictions are in place on certain parts of the beach.
Dog-friendly places to stay in Snowdonia
- Ty Capel, Rhiwddolion, near Betws-y-Coed — if you want accommodation that is not just somewhere to stay but an experience in itself, consider a Landmark Trust property. Rhiwddolion is a former slate mining community which was abandoned at the beginning of the 20th century. The Landmark Trust rescued a former chapel and two cottages and converted them into holiday accommodation. Surrounded by streams, forest, and maybe a few sheep, it is a real escape into the Welsh countryside. There is no access to the properties for cars; instead visitors park on the forestry track and the properties, which sleep between two and four people, are a 10-minute walk away. Owners can bring up to two dogs with them free of charge. Food bowls are provided; dogs should not go on the furniture. For more information visit www.landmarktrust.org.uk/Search-andbook/landmark-groups/rhiwddolion
- Ty Mawr, Llanbedr, Gwynedd — a family run hotel surrounded by mountains and a short drive from the coast, dogs can stay at Ty Mawr free of charge. Four-legged companions are welcome anywhere in the hotel, except in the restaurant. Owners can either eat with their dogs in the bar or leave them in their rooms. The hotel also has a terraced dining area with a barbecue where families can dine outside on hot days. The garden area makes toileting easy too. A double room starts at £85 and includes a Welsh breakfast. For more information visit www.tymawrhotel.com or call 01341 241440.
Dog walking in Snowdonia
In the delightful, diverse landscapes of Snowdonia you’re never short of a dog walk with stunning views and intriguing history. With plenty of off-lead opportunities and scents to follow, your dog is sure to have a great time too.
Dogs are welcome in all forests owned by Natural Resources Wales (which has taken over from Forestry Commission Wales) including Coed y Brenin Forest Park, near Dolgellau, where you can turn your dog walk into an adventure. There are a series of waymarked trails that cater for all abilities, from wheelchair and pushchair-friendly routes, to more challenging trails which explore some of the highest and most remote parts of the forest. The routes are graded so owners can decide whether they fancy a short stroll or a longer trek. Many of the routes are named after the history and wildlife you’ll uncover on your walk.
Detailed information is given on the trails section of the website (see below). Some of the routes have an MP3 audio guide, which walkers can download to listen to during their walk (there is free wifi in the visitor centre). There is also an animal puzzle trail to keep smaller children entertained.
If you fancy something a little different while stretching your dog’s legs, give geocaching a go, by finding the caches hidden in the forest using your own GPS, or a device you can hire from the visitor centre. If you’re into cani-cross, bring along your kit and head out on one of the running trails.
There are no lead restrictions on the site but owners are asked to be conscious of other users of the park, which may include vehicles (including timber harvesting machinery and wagons), horses, and cyclists. Owners are asked to pick up any dog mess in the car park but on trails rangers prefer owners to flick poo off paths so it can biodegrade naturally. The visitor centre has a café and dogs are welcome inside. For more information visit www. naturalresourceswales.gov.uk or call 01341 440747.
How to get there
Coed y Brenin is situated just off the A470 which joins Dolgellau and Trawsfynydd. For those using satellite navigation, the visitor centre postcode is LL40 2HZ, although once you’re approaching the centre, follow the brown tourist signs and do not take the through road. There is a charge for using the main car park at the visitor centre.