Advertisement

Car-free Guide to Snowdonia National Park

Posted by John Sannaee at 03:40 on Thursday 01 August 2013

Our guide to travelling to and around Snowdonia National Park without a car.

>> For great places to stay and eat, as well as ideas for days out, see our:
Greentraveller Guide to Snowdonia National Park 

The scenic route: rail services from the Midlands via Shrewsbury and Machynlleth link up with the Cambrian Coast Line via Barmouth, Harlech, Porthmadog, Criccieth and then Pwllheli for access to Snowdonia. Photo: Arriva Trains.The scenic route: rail services from the Midlands via Shrewsbury and Machynlleth link up with the Cambrian Coast Line via Barmouth, Harlech, Porthmadog, Criccieth and then Pwllheli for access to Snowdonia. Photo: Arriva Trains.Getting to Snowdonia without a car

By Train:
North Wales is well connected by rail from most parts of Britain. Trains run as far as Bangor, on the north-western edge of Snowdonia. From the mainline station in the resort town of Llandudno, the Conwy Valley line provides connections down into Snowdonia National Park, stopping at various places, including the tourist hub of Betws-y-Coed en route to Blaenau Ffestiniog. Additionally, rail services via the Midlands to Shrewsbury and Machynlleth connect on to Porthmadog and the Llŷn Peninsula with the Cambrian Lines. Both these mainline railways offer wonderful views of the coast and the stunning Snowdonia mountains on routes inaccessible to cars.

By Coach or Bus:
National Express
run buses to Llandudno, Bangor, Caernarfon and Porthmadog, from London, Manchester, Chester and other destinations. From South Wales, Arriva operates buses to Dolgellau, Porthmadog, Caernarfon and Bangor.

Getting around without a car

By Train:
The Conwy line offers a viable option for destinations along the Conwy valley from Llandudno to Blaenau Ffestiniog, however train services do not connect up the whole National Park. The train is, however, an option for those wanting to scale the heights of Mount Snowdon without destroying their leg muscles: Snowdon Mountain Railway links Llanberis to the summit – Llanberis is accessible by bus from Bangor, thus linking into the national rail network. 

In addition, there are seven heritage railways in and around Snowdonia National Park: each offers access to the countryside and could be incorporated with a walking or cycling visit.

The famous Festiniog Steam Railway runs close to Bryn Ellty Eco Guesthouse. Photo: Bryn ElltydThe famous Festiniog Steam Railway runs close to Bryn Ellty Eco Guesthouse. Photo: Bryn Elltyd

See Snowdonia by bus. Photo © Corwn Copyright (2011) Visit WalesSee Snowdonia by bus. Photo © Corwn Copyright (2011) Visit Wales By Bus:
There is a dedicated visitor bus network in the National Park, known as the Snowdon Sherpa. Eight different services (on five principal routes) link key destinations within Snowdonia, with single fares from only £1 and combined hop-on, hop-off day tickets available. A more regular service runs in the summer months than in the winter, so it’s advisable to have a look at the route timetables on the following links:
S2, S3, S6: Llanberis – Pen y Pass – Betws y Coed - Llanrwst

S1: Llanberis – Nant Peris – Pen y Pass
(Summer timetable here)
S4: Caernarfon – Waunfawr – Beddgelert
S6: Bangor – Bethesda – Betws y Coed

S97: Porthmadog – Beddgelert – Pen y Pass

Click here for more information about the Snowdon Sherpa.
For other bus services in the area, check out local bus operators’ timetables on the Gwynedd county council bus site.

Cyle the green hills of Snowdonia. Photo © Crown Copyright (2011) Visit WalesCyle the green hills of Snowdonia. Photo © Crown Copyright (2011) Visit WalesCycling
Snowdonia is popular for avid off-road mountain bikers, however its varied and dramatic terrain is criss-crossed by valleys and skirted by gorgeous coasts, along which you can find relatively flat, well-maintained roads and paths for cyclists who aren’t ready to push their limits on mountain slopes.

Mainline train services usually offer space to keep your bikes, however these spaces are limited and should always be reserved in advance to avoid disappointment, by calling up the train operator, or heading to your local railway station ticket office. Whilst most local bus services do not have space to carry bikes, the Snowdon Sherpa S2 has been equipped for two bikes along the route from Llanberis to Llanrwst via Pen-y-Pass and Betws-y-Coed.

Should you want to hire a bike once you get to Snowdonia, or pick up more information, maps and advice, there are several cycle providers in and around the National Park, including:

Beddgelert Bikes
Beics Brenin

Beics Menai

Bird Rock Cycle Hire
Dolgellau Cycles
Dysynni Valley Cycles

Gro Cycles

R. H. Roberts Cycles

Visit Snowdonia has a great selection of cycle routes in Snowdonia with downloadable maps, plus easier recreational routes for those looking for a gentler cycle. For more information about cycling and sustainable travel in Snowdonia and the rest of Wales, check out the Sustrans Cymru website.

For more maps, information and useful links, have a look at the Greentraveller Guide to cycling and getting active in Snowdonia, or head to one of the visitor centres listed below.

Maps and further information
There are maps on the websites of Snowdonia National Park and Visit Snowdonia, else head to one of the visitor information centres to pick up maps, guides, more information and expert local advice. These can be found in Barmouth, Porthmadog, Caernarfon, Llanberis, Pwllheli and Y Bala.

There are also other visitor centres and various Gwynedd visitor information centres around the region.

>> For great places to eat and stay, as well as ideas for days out in Snowdonia, see our
Greentraveller Guide to Snowdonia

The award-winning Bryn Elltyd guesthouse near Blaenau Festiniog. Photo: Bryn Elltyd.The award-winning Bryn Elltyd guesthouse near Blaenau Festiniog. Photo: Bryn Elltyd.

Green Travel Blog

Read our latest blog posts in the categories below or go to blog home

Our expert contributors

Follow us on twitter