2016 was evidently a great year for North Wales. Not only was this scenic region dubbed the ‘adventure capital of Europe’, but it was also listed as the fourth best region to visit in the world by the well-known travel guidebook company, Lonely Planet.
It seems like the streak of success for North Wales didn’t end there, as the Snowdonia National Park has also made it onto The Independent’s list of ‘The 10 best drives in the world’.
The Snowdonia National Park was beaten only by roads such as the Big Sur found along the sunny and star studded coast of California, the ever so slightly chillier and extreme north coast of Scotland, the winding ‘Grossglockner Hochalpenstrasse’ road which features 36 hairpin bends within its 48 km length and the Yukon Golden Circle, which is found all the way over in Alaska, North America.
Once again, the Snowdonia National Park has been praised for its environmental diversity. As those of us who live here know, you don’t have to drive too far from the coast to be at the foot of dense forests and dramatic mountain ranges.
The local villages and castles also helped to give Snowdonia its new title. The Italianesque village of Portmeirion caught the attention of The Guardian in particular, and rightly so.
This colourful village, whilst not having as much history as its surrounding neighbours, was designed and built between 1925 and 1975. It’s been the setting and backdrop for a number of television programmes, as well as the cult spy drama ‘The Prisoner’ which was popular in the late 1960s.
The castles of Snowdonia also received their well-deserved mention, especially Caernarfon Castle. Whilst technically out of the national park range, this 13th century castle is classed as a World Heritage Site, and sees a large number of tourists each year.
The Guardian recommends visitors to take a drive through the scenic village of Betws-y-Coed. This quaint village is a haven for mountain walkers and climbers, with a large number of its shops dedicated to selling the very best in mountain trekking equipment.
If you’re planning on visiting Snowdonia for its mountains, Betws-y-Coed should be your first stop if you need to pick up any essentials you might have forgotten to bring with you.
If steep (and often quite bendy) drives with exceptional rugged mountain views are something you enjoy, the A4086 between Beddgelert and Llanberis is another fantastic route which typically sees a lot less traffic. There are a few designated places along this road so you can stop and enjoy the scenery.
It’s likely you’ll be interested to know which places Snowdonia was placed ahead of. Not only did Snowdonia come before the likes of countries such as Norway, Australia and Italy, but also South Africa.
Many of these places are famed for their scorching weather and the type of dreamy beaches you see in holiday brochures, but it seems that Snowdonia has once again shown that natural, wild and relatively untouched landscapes can be just as beautiful as any exotic holiday destination – even if it does rain here quite a bit.
The wheels are now also in motion for the Year of Legends 2017. If you haven’t yet heard of this, it’s the new Government scheme to increase tourism to the whole of Wales.
As expected by the name, the focus is on the legends of Wales, and numerous events and attractions will be embracing it in the forthcoming year with exciting events and activities.
If you’re looking to travel to Wales, whether just on a day trip or a full holiday, 2017 could be one of the best years to explore this fantastic region.