The 3 National Parks in Wales: Ultimate Guide to visiting the Welsh National Parks

Wales is famous for its breath-taking landscapes and unspoiled nature. If you want to experience this beautiful country, the best places to visit would be the Welsh National Parks.

There are three National Parks in Wales. Each year they attract over 12 million people! Nature lovers and hiking fans will love them! But the great thing about these parks is that they are all very different. 

The National Park in North Wales, Snowdonia, is perfect for hikers and thrill-seekers. The Brecon Beacons will be ideal for hikers too but also families. Finally, Pembrokeshire Coast, the National park in South Wales, will offer a more relaxing holiday.

So, let’s get down to business and discover everything about the National Parks in Wales.

national parks in wales

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Snowdonia National Park

Snowdonia is the largest national park in Wales and the third-largest in the UK. Located in North Wales, Snowdonia is the ideal day trip from Welshpool, Manchester or Liverpool but also a great place to stay for a holiday.

Snowdonia is a very interesting place for many reasons. Firstly, it’s the longest established National Park in Wales and is loved by every welsh person. Formed of 9 ranges of mountains, Snowdonia is a land of legends and traditions. If you are looking for a very welsh experience, it’s as welsh as it can get!

Snowdonia is also home to Wales’ highest mountain, Mount Snowdon (3,560 ft). Climbing Mount Snowdon is one of the best hikes in the world. The landscapes are beautiful and it’s so rewarding.

There are 6 routes that will take you to the top:

  • Llanberis Path (9 miles)
  • Miners Track (8 miles)
  • Pyg Track (7 miles)
  • Watkin Path (8 miles)
  • Rhyd Ddu Path (8.5 miles)
  • Snowdon Ranger (8 miles)

Alternatively, if you are not up for the walk, you can jump on the Snowdon Mountain Railway. This 4.7 miles long journey will take you from Llanberis to the summit. It is a great option, especially when the weather is not too nice.

The SMR runs under pretty much any weather conditions. That said, it’s only opened from March to October.

If you love hiking, there is another peak in the south of Snowdonia National Park that you will want to check out: Penygader. From Machynlleth, you can get onto the Cadair Idris Circular Walk. This 10 kilometres trail is one of the most beautiful walks in North Wales.

If you are a history lover, you may want to visit the castles in and near Snowdonia: 

  • Harlech Castle
  • Conwy Castle
  • Caernarfon Castle

Finally, Snowdonia is home to some of the best thrill-attractions and some of them should definitely be on your Wales Bucket List!

If you head to Penrhyn Slate Quarry, you can experience Velocity 2, the fastest ziplines in the world and the longest in Europe! You’ll leave from the top of the peak, fly above the lake while enjoying the wonderful views of the Welsh coast.

Zipworld also offers underground and forest adventures. Perfect to explore caves and forest while having fun!

WHERE TO STAY IN SNOWDONIA: If you are going in summer, going camping would be the best way to experience Snowdonia. That said there are also hotels, B&Bs and hostels in the park. Finally, you will also find a few Airbnbs.

TOURS & DAY-TRIPS TO SNOWDONIA: You can book tours or day-trips from any major UK city including Manchester, Liverpool, Chester or Cardiff. You can also go on a 5-day trip from London.

ACTIVITIES IN SNOWDONIA: You can go to the tourist centre in Betws-y-Coed and book your tours there. If you wish to go on the zipline, you should be booking in advance on their website.

Alternatively, you can book online the following activities:

Half-Day Wales Snowdonia Nordic Walking Small-Group Experience

Gorge Walking Adventure in Snowdonia

Guided Mountain Adventures Snowdonia

Brecon Beacons National Park

The Brecon Beacons National Park was established in 1957. It was the 10th National Park in the UK. At the time, the state would try to rebuild the country after the two world wars and put a lot of resources into National Parks.

The Beacons (as the welsh would say), were quickly acknowledged as they played an important role as a military training base. 

Nowadays, the Brecon Beacons are the ideal National Park in Wales for hikers and campers. 

The highest peak in the Beacons is Pen-Y-Fan. If there is only one hike to go on, that should be this one! The views you will get from the top are absolutely beautiful!

There are several walks you can take at Pen-y-Fan:

  • From Storey Arms  (2 hours)
  • Via Beacon’s Way from Pont ar Daf (2 hours)
  • Beacon’s Horseshoe from Cwm Taf Fechan (6 hours)
  • From Cwm Llwch (2.5 hours)
  • Via Cefn Cwm Llwch (2.5 hours)
  • Beacon’s Way from the East (3 hours)

If you like a good walk, I’d highly recommend going on the horseshoe path. It’s a bit challenging but definitely the most rewarding walk. You will walk up to the summit of Pen-Y-Fan but also Corn Du, get wonderful views on lake Llyn Cwm Llwch and the valley

This hike can also be done at sunset!

The Brecon Beacons are also home to a lot of waterfalls. The most popular one is Sgwd-y-Eira, the Snow Waterfall but if you want to discover more of them, you will get more than one opportunity to do so!

As several rivers are running through this welsh national park, it became a popular spot for rafting and caving.

Finally, if you are into cultural sights. You may want to discover one of the many castles in the Brecon Beacons and the cute little villages. Brecon, Crickhowell and Hay-on-Wye would be a good start!

WHERE TO STAY IN THE BRECON BEACONS: The best way to experience the Beacons is definitely camping. However, if that’s not of your liking, you can also opt for a cute hotel or B&B.

TOURS & DAY-TRIPS TO THE BRECON BEACONS: You can book tours or day-trips from Cardiff or London.

ACTIVITIES IN THE BRECON BEACONS: I’d advise going to the National Park Visitor Centre in Libanus. The centre is run by volunteers. They love to help and will give you plenty of useful tips and recommendations!

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

Brecon Beacons in Wales

The last but not the least! Pembrokeshire Coast National Park is the smallest national park in Wales. Located in south-west Wales, this beautiful coastal park is ideal if you are looking for a relaxing holiday.

The park was officially established in 1952 but the park authority, which protects the area, only started in 1996. 

As the name might suggest, this welsh park is particularly famous for its beautiful local beaches

This spectacular coastline goes on for more than 400 kilometres which makes it the perfect place for walks. 

As a matter of fact, the Pembrokeshire coast path covers a distance of 300 kilometres! Enough to get walking for a while right? 

The park is also home to St Davids, the smallest city in the UK! Being a city or a town has nothing to do with size. We consider a place to be a city if there is a cathedral. There might only be 1,600 people in St Davids, but there is a cathedral! Which makes it a city!

Tenby, Goodwick and Fishguard are also worth a visit. These colourful and pretty towns have a lot to offer! They are typical welsh coastal towns! I would particularly recommend getting a fish and chips there (and postcards!).

If you like castles, you should visit Pembroke Castle, Carmarthen Castle, Laugharne Castle, Carew Castle or Manorbier Castle. 

Finally, if you are a Potterhead, you will love what’s coming now! Pembrokeshire coast national park was used as a filming location for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 and 2!

Do you remember when they vanish from Malfoy mansion and end up on the beach? This was filmed in Pembrokeshire!

Freshwater West Beach is where this part of the movie was filmed. You can walk along the beach and even go up in the dunes where the grave of Dobby was!

WHERE TO STAY IN PEMBROKESHIRE: There are many hotels, B&Bs and hostels available. You can also choose to go camping!

TOURS & DAY-TRIPS TO PEMBROKESHIRE: You can book a 5 day tour in Pembrokeshire and South Wales from London here. You should also be able to find day trips.

ACTIVITIES IN PEMBROKESHIRE: The best way to get to know everything you can do and book directly would be to go to any of the tourist centres or on-site (for the castles for instance). If you are a thrill-seeker, you can also book a skydive above the stunning coastline of Pembrokeshire.

Wales is probably the most underrated country within the United-Kingdom but yet there are so many things to see! The towns and cities in Wales are beautiful but most of all, the best thing about it, is its natural beauty! 

The National Parks in Wales offer some of the most beautiful views in Europe and I can’t recommend them enough!

You may also be interested in:

Things to do near Welshpool

17 Best Staycations in Wales (including places that looks like abroad!)

The Ultimate Wales Quiz: 94 Questions and Answers about Wales (including 2 picture rounds)