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Ask the Locals Travel Guide: North Wales, UK

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Castle Deudraeth, Portmeirion, WalesPeter’s radio show came to us from the Hotel Portmeirion and Castle Deudraeth, within the village of Portmeirion located on the Llyn Peninsula along the coast of Snowdownia.

No, he didn’t travel to Middle Earth. He was in North Wales, UK.

If you’re unfamiliar with this part of the world, don’t worry, we’ve got the scoop for you, straight from the locals.

Jim O’Rourke, Nant Gwrtheyrn Welsh Language and Heritage Centre

A visit to the region’s medieval UNESCO World Heritage Sites is a must. Caernarfon Castle and Harlech Castle are both  impressive constructions that reflect the late 13th-century style and architecture during the reign of Edward I.

Caernarfon castle, Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd - copyright Flickr user Richard0Nant Gwrtheyrn is a stunning secluded coastal valley – like somewhere in the Alps of France but with a beach. No one currently lives in the valley but there is a history of settlements from long ago.

The stiff, hour-long walk uphill to the prehistoric Tre’r Ceiri Iron Age Hill fort is well-worth a visit as you’ll see ancient remnants of the 3,000-year-old village (“Tre’r Ceiri” translates into “Town of the Giant”) with incredible views.

Check out Great, Lesser-Known UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the pubs in this area are quite good. The village of Porthdinllaen within Gwynedd can be reached by walking across the beach from Nefyn at low tide, including the Ty Coch Inn which was featured on the TV show Great Pubs of Wales.

Tafarn y Fic PubThe Tafarn y Fic is a real community pub– in fact, it’s operated by a cooperative made up of locals, and its restaurant Y Daflod, is so known for its food that you have to book in advance (meals are only served Thursday-Saturday evenings).

No matter what pub you find yourself in, definitely try ales from the Purple Moose Brewery. It’s is a well-regarded micro-brewery that has even impressed Belgian visitors (and they know their beer!).

For more great places to eat and drink, visit our Culinary Travel section.

Oriel Plas Glyn y Weddw, WalesOriel Plas Glyn y Weddw in Llanbedrog near Pwllhlei is a great gallery with opportunities to buy and view art and crafts by Welsh artists. The gallery shop carries everything from locally made jewelry and woodwork to pottery and textiles.

Robin Llywelyn, grandson of Clough-Williams Ellis, the founder and architect of Portmeirion

Just 1 mile from Portmeirion is Minffordd, where you can take a narrow gauge steam train, the Ffestiniog Railway, to Blaenau Ffestiniog to experience the spectacular views of Snowdonia National Park.

From Blaenau Ffestiniog, you can take a shuttle bus from the station to the Llechwedd Slate Caverns, an old slate mine where a deep-mine train takes you far into the mountain through 10 caverns and winding tunnels.

Don’t miss Peter’s radio show from Wales.

Snowdon Mountain Railway train passing over viaductDon’t miss a trip on the Snowdon Mountain Railway to the top of the highest mountain in Wales, standing 3,560 feet tall and overlooking the beautiful landscape of Snowdonia National Park.

Of my favorite local experiences, one has to be the spectacular views from Llandecwyn Church. From here, you can view Harlech Castle to the south in Portmeirion, the Lleyn Peninsula and the Dwyryd Estuary to the West, and Snowdon to the northwest. (To get there, turn off the A496 at Talsarnau, follow signs to Llandecwyn, and take the left fork up the hill at the lake.)

In the area? Get more ideas in our British Isles travel section.

Another favorite is the unspoiled and endless sandy beach at the seaside resort of Harlech. Start walking north and you can get beautiful views of the Cardigan Bay, Snowdonia and Lleyn Peninsula, and catch the spectacular sunset.

The mystical Cwm Bychan is like stepping back in time. It is a valley of outstanding natural beauty and is a must-visit for peace and tranquility. Here, you can view the world-famous Salem Chapel as well as the Roman Steps walkway, a set of stone steps dating back to medieval times.

Edited by Sarika Chawla for PeterGreenberg.com.

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