Car-free Guide to Snowdonia National Park
As part of our Green Traveller's Guide to Snowdonia, here is our guide to travelling to and around Snowdonia National Park without a car.
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 Railway 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.
Getting around without a car
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 (no. 85), 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.
There is a dedicated visitor bus network in the National Park, known as the Snowdon Sherpa, which that passes around the foot of Snowdon linking up the six main walking routes up Snowdon, as well as the main car parks, villages and tourist attractions. The journeys are operated by Low Floor buses with wheelchair space and ramp for accessible vehicles. Here's a handy map of the Snordon Sherpa network (PDF).
In addition, 8 different services (on the following five principal routes) link key destinations within Snowdonia, with single fares from £2 and combined hop-on, hop-off £5 day tickets available:
S2, S3, S6: Llanberis – Pen y Pass – Betws y Coed - Llanrwst
S1: Llanberis – Nant Peris – Pen y Pass (
S4: Caernarfon – Waunfawr – Beddgelert
S6: Bangor – Bethesda – Betws y Coed
S97: Porthmadog – Beddgelert – Pen y Pass
A more regular service runs in the summer months than in the winter, so if you're planning a summer trip it’s advisable to have a check the timetables nearer summer on the local bus operators’ timetables on the website of Gwynedd county council.
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:
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 Sustrans Cymru.
Maps and further information
There are maps on the websites of Snowdonia National Park and Visit Snowdonia, or head to one of the few remaining visitor information centres to pick up maps, guides, more information and expert local advice. Two of the remaining centres can be found in Llanberis and Pwllheli.
There are also visitor centres at Conwy, Llandudno, Betws-y-Coed, Aberdyfi and Beddgelert.
For information on where to stay, eat, local attractions and outdoor adventure activities, see: