Things to Do in Blaenau Ffestiniog

Have you ever visited a new place and felt that sense of ‘wow’? This is what you’ll find in Blaenau Ffestiniog, an upcoming tourist destination with a unique history.

Here, slate pillars loom over the town center, while the mountains around invite hikers to their heights. For those seeking an adventure, the town is also home to underground trampolining and exhilarating mountain bike trails at Antur Stiniog Bike Park.

1. Visit Llechwedd Slate Caverns

If you want to know what makes Blaenau Ffestiniog such a special place, go underground and see how quarrymen worked in the slate mines. Afterward, you can wander through the town, where pubs still accept reminted Victorian coins and slate is used for everything from stairs to products in local shops.

The Llechwedd Slate Caverns is an award-winning attraction that offers walking tours and a deep mine tour. Descend 500 feet underground and hear first-hand accounts from quarrymen who toiled there for 12 hours a day, six days a week. In 2019, the caverns got a big upgrade, with the addition of two new attractions. Quarry Explorer takes you off road in a former military truck to explore the quarry, and the Quarry Walking Tour gives you an up-close look at the caverns’ walls and structures. In addition, the caverns now house Bounce Below, a giant underground trampoline.

If you want to get even more acquainted with the landscape, consider staying at Llechwedd Glamping, an adventure glamping site that overlooks the quarry. Here, you can relax in your luxury lodge while listening to the shrieks of those zip lining over the quarry and taking in the peaceful beauty of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s the perfect way to take a break from the hectic, over-scheduled life that we all live and reconnect with nature.

2. Take a Ride on the Ffestiniog Railway

A former slate mining town, Blaenau Ffestiniog has pivoted away from the roar of industry and into a thriving tourist destination with world-class attractions and outdoor activities. From a thrilling subterranean mine to exhilarating zip lines and mountain biking at Antur Stiniog, there’s something for everyone in this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Families can climb aboard a historic train and relax as the rhythmic chugging of the locomotive transports them along picturesque valleys and charming villages. The scenery is mesmerizing, with soaring mountains and sparkling rivers creating a breathtaking backdrop. Watch as sheep graze in green pastures and enjoy the tranquility of your surroundings.

When you board the narrow-gauge train, you’ll experience the full beauty of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Originally built in 1832, this railway was used to haul slate quarried from the hillside mining towns down to Porthmadog for shipping. This is one of the oldest narrow-gauge railways in the world, and it’s also among the most scenic.

The railway runs from the slate-quarrying town of Blaenau Ffestiniog to the coastal port of Porthmadog. It’s the steepest of any narrow-gauge railway in the world, and it zig-zags dramatically down the side of the mountains. There are lakes and waterfalls, as well as a series of horseshoe bends and even a complete spiral track loop clinging to the side of a mountain.

3. Go Mountain Biking

What was once the slate capital of Wales now hosts world-class attractions and outdoor pursuits, as well as some of the most exhilarating mountain biking trails in Europe. With trails ranging from novice to expert, it’s not surprising that Blaenau Ffestiniog is an increasingly popular destination for thrill seekers and adventurers.

The town’s unique blend of industrial heritage, natural beauty and outdoor activities makes it a perfect base for hiking. The mountains surrounding the town are peppered with trails, including scenic loops that are suitable for all skill levels. For something a little more challenging, head up the Wakin Path or traverse the ridges of Cadair Idris.

Visitors to Blaenau Ffestiniog can also travel along the narrow-gauge Ffestiniog Railway between Porthmadog and Blaenau Ffestiniog. It’s a great way to see the beautiful countryside of Gwynedd, while getting a taste for its rich history and culture.

During your stay in Blaenau Ffestiniog, make sure to take advantage of the numerous dining options around town. You can enjoy everything from traditional Welsh cuisine to international fare at restaurants like The Cwtch, the oldest pub in the town, and Cellb Cinema, where you can relax with a film in an intimate setting.

4. Visit ZipWorld

With its slate-capped mountains, Llechwedd Slate Caverns, Ffestiniog Railway and mountain biking opportunities, Blaenau Ffestiniog is well set up for tourism. But it’s not the kind of place where you come for a buzzing shopping district or vibrant nightlife. Instead, it’s the ideal spot for a quiet week or two away from the noise and stress of daily life.

The town focuses on activities that give visitors an insight into the region’s mining heritage. You can take a deep mine tour of the historic caverns, learn about slate splitting at the Ffestiniog Railway Museum or have a go at slate quarrying at Penrhyn Quarry. But it’s the more recent additions to the range of things to do in Blaenau Ffestiniog that really make the most of its unique location.

One of these is Bounce Below – a subterranean attraction that lets visitors spring around on huge trampoline-like nets in a space that’s twice as big as St Paul’s Cathedral. Another new attraction is Zip World Titan, which boasts Europe’s fastest zip lines.

Of course, there are plenty of other activities to keep you busy in the town centre. Find that perfect souvenir at a local shop, reinvent your artistic aesthetic at a small gallery or browse the secondhand books in Siop Seren. There are also plenty of places to eat out, with everything from burgers and fries at the Co-op to a Michelin starred restaurant.

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