Fairytale castles, skyscraping mountains, stunning waterfalls and the highest peak in Wales: We’ve got the best activities in Bangor covered!
Activities in Bangor
Like something out of a Disney fantasy, Penrhyn Castle lies halfway between the Menai Strait and the Snowdonia National Park. The 19th-century, neo-Norman castle is known for its towering turrets, imposing walls and elaborate stonework, while inside, it’s a fascinating treasure trove of antiques including a 1-tonne slate bed made for Queen Victoria, plus an impressive range of paintings and restored kitchens. The 60-acre grounds are no less dramatic including exotic arboretums, a Victorian walled garden, a railway museum and a large adventure playground. The National Trust property is open daily through the summer and on the weekend, closing during the week through the winter months.
The Menai Strait is an extensive sea channel that separates Anglesey from the mainland, running right past Bangor out to the Irish Sea. The strait is connected by two impressive bridges – the Suspension Bridge and Robert Stephenson’s Britannia Bridge – and is home to an impressive array of wildlife thanks to the limestone reefs: If you’re lucky, you might even get an occasional glimpse of seals or porpoises. A good way to take in the strait is to cross the 300-metre-long Menai Suspension Bridge (the longest of its kind when it was built in 1826) and then explore Menai Bridge on the Isle of Anglesey, a small but welcoming town full of cute cafes, pubs and antique shops and the Menai Heritage Museum.
Just visible from Bangor on a clear day, Snowdon is the highest peak in Wales at 1,085 metres. The 20-mile journey takes around 30 minutes from our Caernarfon hotel, with a variety of routes to the top including the relatively straightforward Llanberis Path, which takes around six hours. Alternatively, make the trip to the top even easier by taking the Snowdon Mountain Railway (open daily from March to October), delivering amazing scenery including dramatic cliff edges, mountain lakes and views across the Snowdonia National Park direct to your seat. A popular tourist attraction, come prepared for all weather whether you’re hiking or sightseeing: Even if it’s sunny in Bangor when you leave, the weather can quickly close in on Snowdon, bringing rain, snow and freezing temperatures in minutes.
Snowdon National Park is full of stunning views, dramatic valleys and massive mountains, but one of our favourite spots is Aber Falls, a 120-foot waterfall that plunges through a wild meadow. The area is a few miles east of Bangor and the perfect place for hiking and exploring, attracting over 50,000 visitors each year. There are several nearby car parks, while you’ll find several cafes in the local village of Abergwyngregyn as well as the small Ty Pwmp museum, which details the history of the region.
Cwm Idwal National Nature Reserve
The first national nature reserve in Wales, Cwm Idwal lies at the northern tip of the Snowdonia National Park and is a stunning landscape of mountains, huge boulders and jagged rock formations created over 450 million years ago. The best place to start exploring is the Cwm Idwal visitor centre equipped with a toilet, small food and drink kiosk and a daily weather forecast. As well as wild goats, the nature reserve is home to a wide range of rare arctic and alpine plants, which can be viewed via a series of walks and treks, while the region is also popular with ice climbers in winter and fishing in summer.
Reaching out halfway into the Menai Strait, Garth Pier is the second-longest pier in Wales at 460 metres long. Built in 1896, the pier is impressively traditional, with few tourist attractions, instead, letting the natural coastline setting and the scenery steal the show (we highly recommend coming down for sunset). There is, however, the Whistlestop tearoom around a third of the way along the pier and plenty of spots for keen fishers to dangle their rods in the hope of catching local cod, pollack, mackerel or dogfish.