3-Day North Wales Itinerary

Living in South Wales, I was prepared for a rather unexceptional and familiar trip to North Wales. How different is the South to the North, right? But what I didn’t realise was North Wales is much more akin to the Scottish Highlands in terms of its staggering scenery and the Lake District for its peaceful temperament and calming atmosphere. With more castles per square mile than any other European country, a landscape alive with action and a fascinating ancient culture and heritage, North Wales charms the eyes but captivates visitors’ hearts. This 3-Day North Wales itinerary brings the best and the unknown of North Wales together. Whether you are a luxury traveller, history lover or outdoor adventure enthusiast, there are many experiences for you to partake in when in North Wales.

Travelling to North wales

Travelling from South Wales to North Wales or England to Wales can be done affordably. Taking a train or driving here is pretty straightforward, although the train is undoubtedly faster in some cases. We went from Carmarthenshire to Tremadog, and it took just over three hours. With bendy roads and expansive mountain ranges, North Wales is best navigated via car, especially since I’m not sure busses exist there. I didn’t see one the entire time I was visiting. Hiring a rental car is easy, and driving affords many spectacular views and surprising, off-the-beaten-path finds.

Day 1

Driving to North Wales & Exploring Tremadog

Start your trip nice and easy by spending half the first day travelling to Tremadog, North Wales. Just one mile north of Porthmadog town centre, Tremadog is a charming village centrally located for the main activities in North Wales. Known as the birthplace of town planning in Wales, this historic centre was completed in 1811 and remains unaltered. With a strong community spirit (unmistakable by locals greeting each other with handshakes, smiles and nods) and with the Welsh language thriving in everyday use, Tremadog acquaints you with an authentic and traditional Welsh culture. 

Stay at Weaver’s Cottage, one of the town’s oldest Worker’s Cottage. With its original stone walls and wood-panelled windows, Weaver’s cottage is brimming with character. From rustic charm to modern comforts, make sure to relax and enjoy cosy evenings in front of the wood-burning fireplace. 

Take a refreshing stroll down one of the many public pathways before marvelling at the Gothic revival style church and classic Georgian architecture of the Market Square. Later wind down in the number one local pub, the Golden Fleece Inn, where you’ll taste an excellent selection of local produce. 

Day 2

Italian villages & Ancient Wales

The next day, embrace the delights of Italian culture secreted away in the rolling Welsh hills. With architectural heritage, stunning settings and 70 acres of sub-tropical gardens, Portmeirion is an iconic and unique village. Nowhere else will you discover Welsh culture intermixed with Italian culture. From complimentary guided walking tours, audio-visual shows to a free land train tour of the Gwyllt woodlands, Portmeirion offers a detailed insight into a coastal village concept. 

For a more extended stay, I recommend Portmeirion’s Flagship Hotel, a luxury 4-star accommodation overlooking the glistening sandy beaches of the Dwyryd Estuary. The grand entrance retains much of the eighteenth-century elegance with an exquisite oak staircase and an intricate Italian fireplace. 

From here, take a road trip across vast, winding roads dotted with sheep or goats grazing at the edges to Dolbadarn Castle. From silky, still ponds to forceful, angry rivers overflowing with excess rainwater, there won’t be a dull or uninspiring moment on your journey. Long stretches of open road instantly become enclosed by ancient Pine trees that look as if their bark would peel away if touched. There’s something magical on this looping drive, something fantasy writers would devour. 

Dolbadarn Castle

Once arrived, hike your way to the top of the mountain where Dolbadarn Castle, now ruined, stands as a solitary guardian of Llanberis Pass in Snowdonia. Occupying a lonely spot over Llyn Padarn, Dolbadarn was built by the Welsh prince, Llywelyn the Great, and was a vital link in defence of the ancient kingdom of Gwynedd. While most of the castle has disappeared, the stone keep that remains staggeringly reminds visitors of both the kingdom’s military strength and Prince Llywelyn’s power and authority.

Overlooked by most tourists, Dolbadarn is worth a visit, especially considering it is one of the finest surviving examples of a Welsh round tower. Standing tall at 50ft, the tower offers astounding panoramic views of the Welsh countryside but be aware to the left of the castle is the unsightly Dinorwig Power Station. This station is conveniently not mentioned in most travel articles but doesn’t let it spoil your visit. For us, it was more the shock of its unknown presence that took us aback.

3-Day North Wales Itinerary

A Hikers’ Heaven

Heading back to Tremadog, stop off at Betws-y-Coed. Famous for being the gateway to Snowdonia, Betws-y-Coed is a hiker’s metropolis. Translated in English as meaning “prayer house in the woods”, every shop, hotel or pubs focus on hiking seems fitting. There’s a magical setting here established by its distinctly Alpine feel intensified by the dense Gwydyr Forest. Here, you can enjoy many walking trails around the village or try a more exerting hike up one of its many mountains.  There’s a diverse range of cafés, bistros and pubs that serve locally sourced and award-winning food. If, however, you don’t feel like eating here, head back to Tremadog for a more formal and refined dining experience at Y Sgwar.

Day 3

Conwy & Lake Vyrnwy

After a whirlwind few days, end your trip with a visit to Conwy. A World Heritage site, Conwy is a market town enclosed by an imposing thirteenth-century castle and walls. Head over to Conwy Castle, which was built on Edward I of England’s instruction between 1283 and 1289. With its gritty, dark stoned walls, the castle has the rare ability to evoke an authentic medieval atmosphere.

Once finished, head over to the smallest house in Great Britain; it is even named in the Guinness Book of Records. With dimensions of 3.05m x 1.8m, this house overlooks the quay and is probably one of the most extraordinary buildings I’ve ever seen. For a complete contrast, head over to Aberconwy House or Plas Mawr for outstanding medieval merchants’ houses. These are some of the finest examples of Elizabethan townhouses.  

Heading back to South Wales or England, make sure to stop off at Lake Vyrnwy. For anyone who loves walking, cycling, or wildlife, Lake Vyrnwy will be your heaven. It is one of Wales’ hidden gems and has plenty of walks to suit all abilities. Here there are panoramic views of the beautiful Berwyn Mountains, home to spectacular waterfalls and unspoilt open countryside. 

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final thoughts

There you have it, 3-Day North Wales Itinerary! If you have any inquiries about my time in North Wales, please don’t be afraid to get in touch. If you liked this 3-day North Wales itinerary, make sure to subscribe to my newsletter for more travel articles or check out my 3-Day Amsterdam Itinerary.

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  1. A great itinerary and photo journey through North Wales. I visited the area many years ago but after seeing your photos again I feel I want to revisit. Especially Portmeirion!

  2. Wales is on my list of places to see. It’s such a beautiful places & your pictures really capture the beauty!

    1. Thank you so much! Wales can be so beautiful and the perfect place to relax! I hope you get to go there soon 🙂

  3. Stunning photographs. I am planning go visit Ireland and Scotland next year. After reading your post, I might need to add North Wales.

  4. What a trip! North Wales is absolutely stunning plus there is so much to see and do! Portmerion is a favourite for me to visit – quriky, colourful and so much history! Loving all your images and glad you had a great trip! Sim x

  5. This sounds so lovely – I have been to Wales a few times when I was younger but have always wanted to do an actual road trip. I’ve also always wanted to visit Portmeirion – again, my parents went a couple of times and swore I’d love it so hopefully, I’ll find the opportunity to visit myself soon!

  6. I love North Wales so much. I went to university in Bangor and I’ve been to a few of the places you’ve mentioned in this itinerary (Portmeirion and Conwy) but I wish I’d spent more time exploring the beautiful Welsh countryside while I lived so close.

    1. I’ve lived near here for close to 2 decades and I’ve only just seen them. So, I totally understand wishing to see more of the country you live in. I hope you get to go back soon.

  7. Wow so nice. The lake, castle, colourful italian village- everything looks so nice.
    I recently met some girls from Wales in Indonesia so it’s great to find out about

  8. What some amazing things to do in Wales! I have to admit it is one place I do love to visit, yet I haven’t been in years – I really need to change that and get myself back there. Perhaps I’ll have to see if I can visit later this year.

  9. Loved this post, I am a bit biased though as live in North Wales so naturally a big fan of the area! Portmeirion we have visited lots of times, the colourful buildings are gorgeous aren’t they!

  10. I have family that live near Carmarthen, and I have always enjoyed our stays in Wales, but I have never been to The North. A friend recently showed me a library I would love that happens to be in The North, so it is my aim not to head that way when possible. I love the scenery and the castles, it just looks fantastic!

    1. What is this library you speak of? I’m a bookaholic and would love to visit. I hope you get to go soo, it is a truly wonderful historic and cultural experience.

  11. We went to Wales in September as a first family break and we loved it. Would love to go again and drive from one end to the other.

    1. I love that this article brought back wonderful memories for you. That has made my day! Portmerion is my favourite place too!

  12. I spent a week in North Wales last Easter and fell in love. Sadly we ran out of time to visit Portmerion, but we definitely want to come back

  13. My family live in the North of Wales and everytime I go back to visit I love to explore a new area.

    Great post 🙂

  14. We have been to North Wales a few times but have not taken your route and have missed some lovely places to see. I am book marking this itinerary for our next trip.

  15. I love visiting North Wales, it’s stunning but I haven’t been to any places you have mentioned here. Definitely need to visit Portmeirrion now

    1. I love North Wales but most people think it is only for hiking. But it isn’t, there are so many historical and cultural gems to be discovered. I hope you get to go soon!

  16. I’ve visited North Wales many times, but to my shame, the only places on your list I have visited are Portmeirion and Conwy. I didn’t realise there were just so many places to explore. As you say, travelling to North Wales isn’t exactly going to break the bank 9especially as I live in Manchester). I need to explore much more this Summer. Thanks for sharing xxx

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I love uncovering hidden gems, and North Wales has many of them. I’m going to be heading back there soon to discover some more wonderful locations. Hopefully, I’ll inspire you some more. Hope you manage to get there this summer! xx

  17. What a charming place! Would really love to visit one day and explore the villages, towns, hike a bit… Looks like a perfect place to visit.

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