Llanberis, sitting at the foot of Mount Snowdon (Eryri), is renowned as a holiday resort from where climbers, walkers, mountain bikers, and indeed railway passengers can explore Snowdon and the Snowdonia National Park. The town has grown alongside Llyn Padarn, one of two lakes (the other being Llyn Peris) at the foot of the Llanberis Pass, and owes its growth to the slate quarried from the mountainside across the Lake. The now redundant slate quarries have merged with the lakes and forests to provide something of interest for all, whatever the weather.
The town takes it name from the early Christian St Peris who established a Church some 2 miles away in the hamlet that is now called Nant Peris. When viewing the town from a vantage point across the lake, it would be difficult to believe that Llanberis was anything other than a purpose built holiday resort. Nestled between the banks of the lake and the lower slopes of Mount Snowdon it is a picture postcard view, with the battlemented tower of a medieval castle thrown in for good measure. The High Street welcomes visitors with brightly painted pubs, cafes, and shops. Hill walkers and climbers are well catered for with a number of shops supplying anything from thick woolly socks to all the technical gear required for proper mountain climbing.
There are a number of pubs, restaurants, and cafes in the town for relaxing following a strenuous walk. Moreover for those who hike to the summit of Snowdon or indeed those who let the train take the strain it is now possible to enjoy good food and drink at the top of the mountain. The Summit Café (Hafod Eryri) at 3,560ft-high sits atop the highest mountain in England and Wales, and offers good food with spectacular views.
Welsh Slate Museum: The WSM is not so much a museum as a pocket of history. It is as though the quarrymen and engineers put down their tools and left the courtyard for home just hours before. Now, with imaginative interpretation, the remarkable relics of the slate industry can be understood and enjoyed by the many thousands of visitors to this stunning countryside on the flanks of Snowdon. Housed in the workshops of the former Dinorwic Slate Quarry in Gilfach Ddu, you can see the foundry, fitting shop, smithy, saw mill, carpenter's shop, pattern loft and all the old machinery used to dress the slate. Most spectacular is the huge water-driven wheel that provides the power in the workshops. Visit the terrace of houses, a row of four quarrymen's houses, rescued from demolition in Blaenau Ffestiniog and rebuilt on site.
Castles and Forts
Dolbadarn Castle: Built by Llywelyn the Great in the 13th century, Dolbadarn Castle stands proudly overlooking the twin lakes, guarding the strategically important Llanberis Pass, and enabling the garrison to blockade anyone's movement through that part of the north, then as now a main link to the rest of Wales. The main feature is the round tower enclosing a complex series of chambers. It is 40 feet tall and 40 feet in diameter, and guarded by walls 8 feet thick.
Padarn Country Park: The 800-acre Padarn Country Park based around Llyn Padarn and set amongst the dramatic scenery of Snowdonia is an ideal place to sample what the countryside and the local industrial heritage has to offer. There are pleasant lakeside picnic areas, a wide range of water-sports including pleasure boats, canoeing, windsurfing, and sailing at the Padarn Water Sports Centre. The Park is home to two SSI's of national importance, sites of Special Scientific Interest, and a local nature reserve. Take a ride on the Llanberis Lake Railway, which offers a 60-minute lakeside trip on an historic narrow gauge train via Llanberis village and the Welsh Slate Museum. Visit the Welsh Slate Museum, housed in the former Dinorwic Slate Quarry workshops.
Snowdon Mountain Railway: Since 1896, the Snowdon Mountain Railway has enabled many to claim this mountain peak as one of their lifetime achievements. In a tremendously ambitious feat of engineering, and uniquely in Britain, a rack and pinion railway was built which rises to within 66ft of the summit of the highest mountain in England and Wales. It is advisable to book early for this attraction as the popularity of the railway has never been greater, and there can be long queues at peak times.
Electric Mountain Visitor Centre and Dinorwig Power Station: If you're looking for a truly electrifying day out, why not visit First Hydro's Electric Mountain Visitor Centre where visitors can discover the amazing powers of hydro-electricity in an exciting, interactive and educational environment. You'll discover the amazing powers of pumped storage hydro-electricity in a totally entertaining and educational environment. Admission to the Centre is free and there is heaps of interest for visitors of all age groups. Follow this with a mini-bus trip to the power station itself. Descending deep inside ancient Elidir Mountain's labyrinth of dark and imposing tunnels, you will experience one of man's greatest engineering achievements.
Ceunant Mawr Waterfall: The Ceunant Mawr Waterfall is one of the most impressive waterfalls in Wales, yet less than a mile from Llanberis town centre.
Walks, Cycle Trails and Other Activities
Snowdon International Races: Llanberis hosts two internationally famous races: the Snowdon Race (July) - to the top of Snowdon; and the Snowdonia Marathon (October) - circumnavigating the Snowdon massif with the start and finish in Llanberis. The marathon is not as tough as it sounds as you don't actually ascend Snowdon but travel round the mountain on the roads. There is one really steep climb just in the one place you don't want it, at about 22 miles, but from then on its all downhill.
The town also caters for other popular outdoor activities including walking, mountaineering, mountain biking, pony trekking and water sports. There are no shortages of walks in the area as evidenced by the famous walks up Snowdon itself. These include the Llanberis Path, the Pyg Track, the Miner's Track, the Watkin Path, the Rhyd Ddu Path, and the Snowdon Ranger. These offer various degrees of difficulty and I would suggest the Llanberis Path for the inexperienced walker. However if this might seem too daunting I can strongly recommend the walk around Llyn Padarn. I walked this with my wife and friends in 2010 and have to admit it was one of my favourite walks. It was a glorious autumn day, the colours were brilliant, and the views from the far side of the lake were alone worth the effort. They will not thank me for saying this, but I will say it as a guide to the grade of walk, my wife and friends were between 60 and 70 years old, were inexperienced walkers, and all managed the walk quite easily.