Nestled within the picturesque landscape of North Wales, Betws-y-Coed captures the essence and natural beauty of Snowdonia National Park like nowhere else. Popular with travellers since the Victorian times, this enchanting village is renowned for the verdant forests, cascading waterfalls, and incredible walks which surround it.
Known as the "Gateway to Snowdonia," there are plenty of things to do in Betws-y-Coed. Our top picks are...
Hike in the lush forests
Cross an ancient bridge
Get the pulse racing mountain biking or gorge scrambling
Gaze at a spectacular waterfall
All of the attractions included are in the village itself or very close by. If you wish to venture further afield then take a look at Things to do in Snowdonia
The "Gateway to Snowdonia" is a great location for adventure including scaling Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon)
Whether you're into zooming down a zip line, flying through the air on a mountain bike, enjoying the scenery on a leisurely walk or (like us) all of the above then there are plenty of activities in Betws-y-Coed.
1. Visit Conwy Valley Railway Museum
Right at the heart of the village is the Conwy Valley Railway Museum which offers visitors a delightful journey through the region's railway history.
The museum captures the essence of bygone eras with its collection of vintage locomotives, carriages, and railway memorabilia.
Step back in time to an era when steam engines ruled the tracks and immerse yourself in the museum's interactive exhibits and educational offerings which include riding on the miniature train.
2. Have fun at Zip World Forest
Deep in the beautiful woodlands of the Conwy valley lies Zip World Forest, one of the area's top attractions which is perfect for families and thrill seekers alike.
There are 6 adventures to keep the adrenaline pumping such as the Fforest Coaster which will see you speed through the trees on the UK's only alpine coaster of it's kind. Other adventures include the Skyride giant swing, tree top nets, Plummet and more.
3. Best walks from Betws-y-Coed
Betws-y-Coed has to be one of the best locations in the National Park for easier walks that don't involve climbing a mountain.
Two of our favourite circular walks include the Llyn Elsi walk which loops around the lake which gives the trail it's name and the Pent Yr Allt Walk which sees hikers pass through shady fir forest, upland meadows and abandoned mines.
An excellent linear walk can be fashioned by catching the bus from Betws-y-Coed to Capel Curig or Plas y Brenin National outdoor centre then heading back down along the valley (in an easterly direction) generally following the Afon Llugwy river. The walk has excellent views of Moel Siabod mountain, Swallow Falls and the best bit is that it is downhill all the way.
4. Go Below
A series of underground adventures await as you journey through a mountain in a series of challenges.
Choose from three increasingly extreme adventures that will see you zip-lining through caverns, traverse an abyss, scale a vertical shaft, boat across a subterranean lake, climb a waterfall or abseil your way down to the deepest point in the UK.
All of this takes place underground making it the perfect rainy day activity for thrill seekers starting from age 10.
5. Explore Gwydyr Forest
'Betws-y-Coed' translates 'Prayer house in the Woods' ('Betws' - Prayer house 'y-Coed' - in the woods). Gwydyr Forest is the woodland from which the village derives it's name and if you head in any direction from the village and you will find yourself in enchanting woodland.
The forest is rich in historical and scientific interest. The lead and zinc mines hidden in the undergrowth are believed to date back to Roman times. The Roman Sarn Helen road runs right through the woods.
The mines reached their heyday between 1850 and 1919 and left their mark with the remains of pits, reservoirs and engine houses scattered across the landscape.
Part of Gwydir Forest Park has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) due to the very specialised group of plants known as metallophytes which grow around old metal workings. These plants extract minerals from the rock that would otherwise kill other plants.
How to explore the forest
Miles of footpaths and mountain biking trails crisscross the forest which will keep hikers and mountain bikers entertained for hours.
Mountain bikes can be hired from the village. Marked hiking trails range from the quick 30 minute Coed Tan Dinas walk to the half day Llyn Park walk.
Strap on your walking boots and explore what this excellent location has to offer.
6. Gorge Scrambling
This rip-roaring nature based adventure will see you walk, climb and scramble up a gorge in Snowdonia. Jump into natural plunge pools, walk under waterfalls & slide down slides in this thrilling adventure activity set in spectacular and ancient temperate rainforest.
Gorge Scrambling is perfect for the whole family and specialised equipment like wetsuits and buoyancy aids are provided.
7. Spy Mission Treasure Trail
Let your kids be detectives for the day with this award winning and highly rated treasure trail.
The 2 hour self-guided spy mission will see young detectives explore Wales' most popular destination as they try to stop the theft of the secret ingredients of the world famous Bara Brith!
Another must for young detectives is the Pont y Pair Animal Puzzle Trail which is free.
8. Hike up Yr Wyddfa (Snowdon)
Snowdon is just 20 mins drive or a short bus ride on the Snowdon Sherpa Bus. The PYG & Miners Track are the closest footpaths to Betws-y-Coed, easy to access via the Sherpa Bus, and are two of the best routes up Snowdon.
Betws-y-Coed's attractions have been delighting visitors since the Victorian times. Many of them are inside the village itself.
9. Pont y Pair Bridge
Betws-y-Coed stands and the convergence of the Afon Conwy and Afon Llugwy rivers and the Pont y Pair bridge (title picture) is the original crossing. Built for pack horses in around 1500 it remains one of the area's most popular attractions.
It's right in the centre of the village so is an absolute must see!
10. Visit a church
The small village of Betws-y-Coed is blessed with not one but two beautiful stone churches (it is Wales).
St Mary's Church is the newer of the two and can be seen from the village green.
St Michael's church, built in the 14th Century, is the the oldest building in Betws-y-Coed and one of the oldest churches in the country so is well worth a visit.
11. The Village Green
There are plenty of things to do in Betws-y-Coed itself and the green is right at the heart of the village.
The wide open area has excellent views making it the perfect place to have a picnic or stroll to soak in the surrounding beauty.
Just off the village green is Station Road and Holyhead Road (A5) which re lined with shops, pubs and cafe's, which are perfect to fill an afternoon.
12. Famous Swallow Falls
Swallow Falls is a spectacular waterfall and is one of Snowdonia's most popular attractions.
Just 30 seconds walk from the car park Swallow Falls viewpoint is one of the most leisurely and awe -inspiring attractions in Snowdonia. More energetic walkers can access a quieter viewpoint from the north.
The falls are formed by the River Llugwy as it flows through a narrow chasm in the rocks, creating a dramatic display of cascading water.
The name "Swallow Falls" is derived from the way the water seems to divide into multiple streams resembling the forked tail of a swallow.
13. Miners Bridge
The Miners Bridge is on the eastern outskirts of the village and is where the Romans are believed to have crossed the Afon Llugwy river and was certainly used by the quarrymen to access the mines in Gwydyr Forest.
The bridge is a short walk along the Snowdonia Slate Trail from the centre of the village.
From here it is possible to walk back the way you came or continue to join one of the other walking trails found in the Gwydyr Forest such as the Pen yr Allt Walk or Llyn Elsi walk.
14. The Ugly House (Ty Hyll)
Various legends point to the buildings mysterious beginnings. These days the house is a tea room which is open 7 days a week and serves delicious home baked cakes.
15. Conwy Falls
Conwy Falls, is one of Snowdonia's enchanting natural wonders.
Set in 10 acres of native woodland the Conwy Falls Forest Park creates a verdant backdrop for short walks. There are numerous glades and viewpoints of the river and waterfalls which cut through the deep gorge of the Fairy Glen.
Such is the beauty and natural splendour, the Conwy Falls Forest Park was awarded Countryfile magazine’s landscape of the year in 2017.
16. Llanrwst Bridge & the Tu Hwnt I'r Bont Tearooms
A short drive from Betws-y-Coed is the village of Llanrwst.
At the heart of the village is one of the top destinations for photographers; the Llanrwst Bridge and the Grade II listed Tu Hwnt I'r Bont Tearooms.
Watch the River Conwy meander lazily down the valley as you enjoy specialty tea and coffee whilst tucking into artisan cakes, pastries and award winning ice cream.
How many days should I spend in Betws-y-Coed?
The ideal number of days depends on your interests, travel preferences and activities you plan to engage in.
To do a bit or shopping and enjoy the village itself then a day or two should be sufficient. For those wishing to explore a little further and take part in some of the activities then a week or more would be appropriate.
How to get to Betws-y-Coed
Betws-y-Coed is easily accessed by car. The A5 runs through the village and the section from Betws-y-Coed to Bethesda is a spectacular drive. The A55 is around 30 mins north of the village and connected to Betws-y-Coed via the A470.
For those using public transport Betws-y-Coed is one of Snowdonia's main transport hubs with a train station and regular busses.