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The best beaches in Snowdonia & North Wales holiday cottages

The best beaches in Snowdonia & North Wales

Sarah P 26 October 2020

Sandy beaches and rocky bays may not be the first thing you think of in Snowdonia National Park, but with over 200 miles of coast, this stunning area is more than mountains and forests. Often overshadowed by towering peaks, we’re here to shine a light on the beautiful coastal side of Snowdonia and North Wales. We’ve picked out some of the most popular beaches near Snowdonia and pinpointed what makes them special, from colourful shells and a dog-friendly status to surfing hot spots and family favourites!

Aberdyfi Beach (Aberdovey), Gwynedd


Great for families, day trips, walkers, and water sports.

Where the Welsh mountains meet the sea at the mouth of the River Dyfi, tall dunes and Aberdovey Golf Club back this long unspoilt sandy beach. With easy access to the town’s cafes, shops, and restaurants, it’s a fabulous family beach, where kids will love making sandcastles, paddling their toes, and catching crabs off the jetty. You can also start several day trips here, with numerous scenic boat trips leaving from the harbour. Complete with a busy sailing and water sports centre, the pretty coastal village is popular with sailors, surfers and water sports lovers too! Along the southern shore sits an untouched haven for wildlife, the Dyfi National Nature Reserve.

Facilities: Car parking, toilets, shops, cafes and restaurants.

Dog friendly: Restrictions apply on some sections of the beach from April to the end of September.   

Shell Island, Gwynedd


Popular with shell-loving children, adventurous couples, and wildlife lovers. 

As the name suggests, most people visit Shell Island for the pretty shells that winter storms and high tides wash up on the beach. With around 200 varieties to be found, it’s no wonder you’ll see excited children gathering their treasure during family beach days. That’s not all there is to love about Shell Island, though; kids will love exploring the rock pools ,and when the tide is out, the estuary is a favourite for curious children who love exploring the mudflats, marshes, and streams. In addition to that, wildlife lovers will be delighted with the array of birds, flowers, and rock pool life! Although technically a private beach, day visits are still possible, and access is at low tide via a causeway from Llanbedr or by joining the shuttle.  

Facilities: Not at the beach itself, but in the holiday camp.

Dog-friendly: Yes. Dogs must be kept on a lead on the main section, but there are areas where they can run free.

Discover more activities in Wales that make the best memories for children >>

Barmouth, Gwynedd


Popular with families, cyclists, and walkers.

One of the most popular Snowdonia beaches, the lively resort is a favourite with families. In summer especially, the promenade comes to life with a land train, traditional donkey rides, amusement arcades, fair rides, and tasty treats. However, the vast beach, which is a mix of sand and shingle, is plenty big enough for the crowds to spread out and for families to find themselves a quiet spot to set up camp for the day. Walkers will be delighted too, with plenty of routes heading along the coast and out into the hills. At low tide, you could even walk all the way to Harlech Beach, soaking up the beautiful views as you go. Located on Route 8 of the National Cycle Network, it’s a popular spot for cyclists, who can also make the most of the traffic-free trail from Barmouth to Dolgellau along the Mawddach Estuary.

Facilities: Toilets and parking. Full range of shops, cafes and pubs within a short distance.

Dog friendly: Restrictions apply April to end of September

Harlech, Gwynedd


Great for long dog walks, wildlife-spotting, and sight-seeing. 

Stretched out in the shadows of the World Heritage Site of Harlech Castle, this breathtaking sandy beach and the surrounding area has been designated as a National Nature Reserve and Site of Special Scientific Interest, much of which is to do with the rolling sand dunes that run the length of the 4-mile beach. With Morfa Harlech Nature Reserve sitting to the northern side of the beach, it’s a desirable spot for bird watchers and walkers too. On the horizon, the crests of Snowdonia National Park hover majestically as a reminder of the imposing scenery that’s not too far away from Harlech Beach. Although lovely for families, access through the dunes can be a challenge but well worth it for the pristine sands and clean bathing water. Although there are dog restrictions in place in small sections of the beach, the remaining miles of empty sands are popular with dog walkers!

Facilities: Toilets, shop, café and parking

Dog friendly: There is a small section of beach that has restrictions between April 1st – September 30th but the rest of the beach is dog-friendly year-round.

Tywyn, Cardigan Bay


Popular with surfers, water sports enthusiasts and keen wildlife spotters.

This huge expanse of sand sits at the very bottom left-hand corner of Snowdonia National Park, stretching from the seaside town of Tywyn to the Dove Estuary and harbour of Aberdyfi. It's backed by a promenade, but with sand dunes stretching either side of the town. The wide beach catches the westerly swells, making it a popular surfing beach and a keen spot for other water sports such as jet skiing. Stretching for 7km along the coast, this is also a great starting point for coastal walks, and with spectacular views of Cardigan Bay, you may even spot harbour porpoises and bottlenose dolphins off the coast near here.

Facilities: Toilets, parking, shop, and café

Dog friendly: All year round on the southern section, restrictions apply along the promenade.

Learn the rule of surf in Wales with our guide >>

Llanfairfechan, Conwy


Popular with fisherman, hikers, and families. 

Often referred to as the ‘coastal gateway’ to Snowdonia, Llanfairfechan beach is located on the northern tip of the National Park, overlooked by the 434-metre-high Penmaenmawr mountain. Backed by a Victorian seaside town, the promenade and beach reward visitors with spectacular views of the Menai Strait and the Isle of Anglesey. The waters are great for fishing, so you will often see keen anglers trying their hand at a successful day’s catch. There is also a dinghy park, which makes it a popular spot for sailors. Marking the starting point for several adventurous walking routes, this is a great spot to explore the nearby Carneddau mountains, as well as the Welsh Coast Path. Mostly pebble until the tide pulls back to reveal a wide stretch of sand, it’s a good all-round beach for walkers, families, dogs, and water sports lovers.

Facilities: Pavilion with a café and summer entertainment, children’s playground, paddling pool and water sports.

Dog friendly: Completely dog-friendly all-year-round.

Penmaenmawr, Conwy


Great for romantic sunsets, long walks, and children.

Much like its close neighbour, Llanfairfechan, Penmaenmawr is a low-key coastal town with a charming Victorian promenade, a wide sandy beach perfect for sandcastles and water sports, and easy access into the surrounding hills. Where the mountains meet the sea, this unique spot attracts hikers and explorers keen to set off on the upward trails into the hills and along the Wales Coast Path. Its position also sets it perfectly for romantic sunset strolls and views across Conwy Bay to Anglesey and Puffin Island. Great for children, there is a paddling pool and children’s play area to entertain too! Water sports enthusiasts will also find a variety of activities at the town’s thriving sailing club.

Facilities: Cafes, toilets, shops, ample parking

Dog-friendly: Restrictions apply May – end of September.

Llandudno, Conwy


Perfect for traditional family holidays by the seaside, beach days and day trips.

As the largest seaside resort in Wales, it goes without saying that Llandudno has one of the best beaches in North Wales, albeit probably the busiest too! In the summer months, the main North Shore Beach is a buzz of activity, fun and joy! Reminiscent of traditional Victorian seaside resorts, you can expect Punch and Judy shows, donkey rides, live music from the bandstand, playful children, chilled parents, and afternoon naps in stripey deckchairs. Llandudno beach has a typical summer holiday written all over it! Set in a unique position between the Great Orme and Little Orme in the shadows of the headland, there are plenty of boat trips and fishing trips that take you out to sea for an alternative view of this wonderful stretch of coastline.

Facilities: Toilets and parking, but the town and its shops, cafes and restaurants are within easy reach.

Dog friendly: Restrictions apply on certain sections of the beach from May – September.

Porth Iago, Llyn Peninsula 


Ideal for sunbathing, swimming and escaping the crowds.

Venturing a little further from Snowdonia, this North Wales beach sits on the ever-beautiful Llyn Peninsula, about an hour from the edge of the national park. The picturesque sandy bay is sheltered by the grassy headlands of Dinas and Graig Ddu, making it a sheltered spot for sunbathing on the white sands and taking a dip in the cool blue waters. To get to the beach, you have to navigate a steep sandy path, which may not appeal to all visitors; for those who don’t mind a short walk, it is well worth the effort.

Facilities: None

Dog friendly: Dogs allowed

Abersoch, Llyn Peninsula 


Popular for water sports, swimming and summer events.

Originally a fishing port, this now-popular seaside resort offers a variety of attractions for families and couples alike! Its sheltered bathing waters are ideal for cooling off in warmer months, and perfect for water sports lovers. During the summer months, you’ll see impressive yachts moored up in the bay, and the village hosts a busy event schedule that attracts visitors to the international sailing events, a jazz festival, regatta and music festival! Wildlife fans may like to escape the summer crowds and take a wildlife-spotting trip to nearby St Udwal and Bardsey Island or enjoy one of the area’s many circular walks.

Facilities: Toilets, parking, shops, cafes and pubs

Dog friendly: Restrictions apply from April – end of September

Book a cottage in Snowdonia

Has one, or more, of these Snowdonia beaches caught your eye? Pick one of our Snowdonia cottages and base yourself perfectly to explore the very best of the North Wales coast, and the towering mountain peaks.


To inspire even more coast and countryside adventures, you may also find these guides useful:

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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