Nestled on the Llyn Peninsula, Porthmadoc, known to the locals simply as ‘Porth’, enjoys a wonderful location on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park. To the west of the town, the majestic rocky outcrop of Moel-y-gest watches over the town, while to the north and east, the wide expanse of the Glaslyn estuary, a sanctuary for wildlife, stretches up towards the highest and most dramatic of Snowdon’s peaks.
There is lots to do here and it’s a great access point for day trips along the Llyn Peninsula, to visit iconic Portmeirion village only 2 miles away – a place everyone should see, and which has high end accommodation options.
Porthmadog is a great base to get out from and explore the Snowdonian Mountains by stream train and if you have time, we strongly suggest booking an extra night here to take a “rest” day to really discover the area.
The ‘Madog’ of Porthmadog, (‘Madog’s Port’) was industrialist William A Madocks, whose legacy is the impressive mile-long sea wall known as the Cob which created a deep harbour for ships to transport slate mined at Blaenau Ffestiniog. In its heyday in the 1870s, over 1000 vessels a year used the harbour, carrying over 100,000 tons of the prized Blaenau slate which ended up in buildings around the world.
Local people are justifiably proud of their local industrial and maritime heritage. Located in the last remaining slate shed in the harbour, Porthmadog Maritime Museum traces the fascinating history of both harbour and town. Here you can learn about Porthmadog’s shipbuilding heritage and the important links to the inland slate mines.
Porthmadog is a magnet for railway enthusiasts with no less than three lines; the hoots and toots of steam engines accompany any visit to the town! The Ffestiniog Railway, founded in 1832, is the oldest independent railway company in the world.
Take the 13 mile journey on historic steam engines, climbing over 700 feet as the train clings to the mountain, through magnificent forests, past lakes and waterfalls, to Blaenau Festiniog, on one of the world’s great rail journeys. There are plenty of options to break the journey and take circular walks in the woods and mountain areas. Alternatively, ride Snowdonia’s newest railway, the Welsh Highland, on powerful steam locomotives on a 25 mile journey to the historic castle town of Caernarfon via the foothills of Mount Snowdon. The third railway is the tiny Welsh Highland Heritage Railway!
If you have time, those seeking a little bit of tranquillity can visit Bywyd Gwyllt Glaslyn wildlife centre at Prenteg where you can watch the only pair of breeding ospreys in Wales. Binoculars and high powered telescopes are provided and widescreen monitors broadcast live images from the osprey’s nest. Only a couple of miles from Porthmadog, Prenteg is a short bus or taxi ride away, or why not use the Welsh Highland Railway to get there – there is a station at Pont Croesor.
Porthmadog is one of the larger towns of Snowdonia and you’ll find plenty of restaurants, coffee shops and local craft shops to choose from. If you like a drop of ale then look out for beer from the Purple Moose Brewery - if you happen to be here on a Wednesday then you can also book on to a tour of the brewery.
A stroll on the ‘Picture Postcard Walk’ will take you on a route which takes in fine views of the mountains, before crossing Llyn Bach (Small Pool) and then along the route of the sea wall where you can see the many species of birds that take refuge in the grasslands of the flood plain including herons, curlews and swans. If you have time then extend the walk a mile to the small village of Borth-y-Gest, with its historic harbour, hidden sandy coves and Victorian cottages where local pilots used to watch for incoming ships and take in the superb views of mountains and sea.
Longer “Rest Day” Walking Options
Those wanting longer walking options on an extra day here can take the train out to the Criccieth . Visit the iconic coastal castle here and then walk the last section of the Llyn Peninsula Wales Coast Path, returning to Porthmadog on a lovely 6 mile stretch that includes Borth-y-Gest harbour and the beautiful run of Black Rock Sands.
For a full day expedition take the OLD Wales Coast Path route inland from Porthmadog to the former river crossing inland at Maentwrog. This is a superb day walking route, now no longer part of the standard path after the new estuary bridge over the Afon Dwyrwd was built. Following the steam railway line through deep forest with hidden lakes to take lunch in the inland hamlet of Maentwog before a strenuous return on the other side of the estuary climbing through low mountains past isolated tarns, forest and upland pastures. Talk to us for more details – options from 10 to 15 miles.