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Beddgelert is one of the most delightful and evocative villages in all of Snowdonia National Park.
Not only is it full of twee stone cottages and surrounded by a breathtaking lofty landscape, but it’s also the location of mythical legends like Gelert the Hound and the two dragons of Dinas Emrys.
Although it’s a small place there are plenty of amazing things to do in Beddgelert that will keep you entertained for days.
You can head out on one of many scenic Beddgelert walks, visit the old Sygun Copper mine, ride the Welsh Highlands steam railway or simply enjoy a relaxing stroll around the village taking in its charm.
Here’s the ultimate visitor guide with all the very best things to do in Beddgelert in North Wales!
The story of Beddgelert
Beddgelert has been a village settlement first recorded in the 8th century. But the reason why Beddgelert is so famous and supposedly gets its name is down to the legend of Gelert the faithful hound. Beddgelert in English means Grave of Gelert.
The legend goes that Welsh Prince Llewelyn the Great had a palace built in the area to go hunting in the 13th-century.
He had many hounds that he would take hunting with him but Gelert was his favourite. Gelert was fiercely loyal to his master and would always be the leader of the pack. Nothing would phase him.
One day, Prince Llewelyn decided that he would go hunting but left Gelert behind to guard his son and heir.
When the prince returned he was horrified at what he saw! His son’s crib was overturned and Gelert had blood dripping from his mouth.
In a fit of rage, the Prince took his sword and lunged it into Gelert’s heart. Gelert let out a whimper and at the same time the prince heard his son crying.
The prince walked over to the crib and found his son lying underneath it unharmed. Then, he saw a wolf who had been killed by Gelert.
Prince Llewelyn instantly realised his tragic mistake and was so struck with sorrow that he decided to bury Gelert nearby. He also named the town Beddgelert so that everyone would remember his faithful hound.
Although it is a sad tale, it is just that; a story. Many people say that it was made up by the landlord of the Royal Goat nearby to attract tourists to the town – and it worked!
Two centuries later and people still travel from all over the world to see the grave of faithful Gelert.
Best things to do in Beddgelert
1. See the Grave of Gelert the Dog
No visit to Beddgelert would be complete without a mini-pilgrimage to visit Gelert’s Grave that lies beside the River Glaslyn. It’s one of the top things to do in Beddgelert.
It’s a very scenic stroll that’s surrounded by the peaks of Snowdonia. You’ll soon reach a small area underneath a tree with a large cairn stone to mark the place where Gelert was buried.
On the grave, there are two epitaphs that tell you the story of Gelert in both English and Welsh.
Many people say that this stone was placed here by David Pritchard, the landlord of the Royal Goat, in the 19th century.
He would tell the story to attract tourists to the town. Word soon spread and it reached the newspapers. Even Queen Victoria stayed at the Royal Goat and paid a visit to the grave – the story was that convincing!
Today, the grave and riverside are protected by the National Trust. So, after you pay your respects, you can continue your stroll onwards through the park.
2. Take a snap with the Gelert the Dog statue
After your visit to the grave, make sure you don’t skip a visit to the small stone farmhouse without a roof called Beudy Buarth Gwyn. It’s located just beyond it.
Many people end up skipping this part and it’s actually a lovely way to bring the story to life!
As soon as you enter the ruin, you’ll see a bronze statue of Gelert inside. He stands guard at the entrance protecting the baby prince.
It’s a great photo opportunity, so have your camera at the ready!
3. Visit St Mary’s Church
As you loop around Gelert’s Grave, you’ve probably already passed by the historic St Mary’s Church.
It’s one of the oldest Christian buildings in Wales and an early community was established here in the 6th century.
Later in the 13th-century, an Augustinian priory was founded here with the support of Prince Llewelyn. However, after the dissolution of the monasteries, it became a simple parish church.
It was renovated in Victorian times and today it’s Grade II listed. It’s worth popping inside if you have time. You can see the medieval transept arches and gorgeous stained glass windows!
4. Take a stroll along the River Glaslyn
The best part about this area near Gelert’s Grave is the scenic stroll you can take along the River Glaslyn. The walk is one of the best things to do in Beddgelert.
The area is now protected by the National Trust who provides lots of walking paths that you can take through the Glaslyn Gorge.
The pathways are completely flat around Gelert’s Grave and St Mary’s Church, so it makes a lovely stroll to take in the scenery even if it’s been raining!
You can see lots of lovely stone cottages perched on the riverside and see the peak of Moel Hebog that towers over the village.
But, if you wanted to head along the river to Llyn Dinas and Aberglasyln you’ll need a good pair of shoes!
5. See the film locations of Tomb Raider 2 and The Inn of the Sixth Happiness
As Beddgelert is such a beautiful town, it’s no surprise that film crews have scouted this location for their Hollywood blockbusters!
Tomb Raider 2: The Cradle of Life starring Angelina Jolie was filmed nearby at Llyn Gwynant.
The production spent 10 days filming around the area after they were denied filming rights in China. They set up a mock Chinese village on the lake!
Also, The Inn of the Sixth Happiness was filmed in Beddgelert in 1958. Again, the landscape around the village was used to represent China where the movie is set.
It stars Ingrid Bergman as an English missionary who leads a group of children to safety following a Japanese invasion.
You’ll find a small plaque by the North Wales Film and Television Trail to mark the event near the Beddgelert Woodcraft shop.
6. Shop at Beddgelert Woodcraft
The Beddgelert woodcraft shop has been perched beside the River Colwyn for the last 40 years. You’ll notice the Dragon outside as a reference to the legend of Dinas Emrys (more on that mythical tale below).
It’s a bit of a hidden gem for souvenirs and it has an eclectic mix of carved items for you to buy and take home.
Although they are based in Wales, they have close connections to Bali so they often sell craftwork of Indonesian artisans via Fair Trade.
All products are made from natural materials and everything inside has been lovingly handmade! So, make sure to pop inside and see what takes your fancy. There is something here for everyone.
7. Ride the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highlands Railway
One of the most popular things to do in Beddgelert is to take a ride on a steam train!
Just above the car park by the Royal Goat Hotel is the Beddgelert steam railway station that forms part of the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highlands Railway.
Founded in 1832, they have had a complicated history. But, now the railway has been fully renovated to enjoy today.
These steam railway journeys allow you to travel back in time and explore Snowdonia National Park in style with spectacular views!
Many of their steam train services start from Beddgelert like the “Gelert Explorer” that runs to Caernarfon and back. Or, you can head to Porthmadog on the “Glaslyn Venturer”.
Both of those journeys are also offered in “Gold” where you can truly ride in splendour. The Gold services have a Pullman carriage similar to the Orient Express where you will be spoiled with a hamper full of treats on board!
8. Explore the Sygun Copper Mine
Copper has been mined in this area since the Roman era and small tunnels were created to extract the minerals.
During the industrial revolution, there was a high demand for copper and so the Victorians dug deeper tunnels and routes creating the Sygun Copper Mine. Back then, it was one of the main suppliers of minerals in Wales.
The mines closed in 1903 as all the copper was exhausted underground. It is estimated that they extracted over 3,000 tons of copper and minerals.
The Amies family then reopened Sygun Copper Mines as a tourist attraction in 1986. It even won the Prince of Wales award! It’s now one of the best things to do in Beddgelert.
Today, you can take an audiovisual tour of what life would have been like underground during the Victorian era. There’s also a small museum and art galleries about the legends of Wales.
9. Take the Aberglaslyn walk
There are many Beddgelert walks that you can take in the area but one of the most popular things to do in Beddgelert is to walk the National Trust trail through the Aberglaslyn Pass.
You can start this walk by the entrance gate to Gelert’s Grave where the River Colwyn meets the River Glaslyn.
Walk over the teal pedestrian bridge and turn left. Then, head through the gate on the opposite side to start the walk. You’ll see a plaque with ‘Aberglaslyn’ from the National Trust.
The walk will take you by the crystal clear waters of Afon Glaslyn, the relaxing lake of Llyn Dinas, Cwm Bychan and you’ll even walk over the Sygun Copper Mine! All the while you’ll be taking in the breathtaking views of the Aberglasyn Gorge.
The whole walk will be around 6 miles and will take around 4-5 hours. But, I’ve heard it’s well worth the effort if you have time.
10. Admire the charming buildings over the River Colwyn bridge
One of the most iconic views in Beddgelert has to be the arched bridge that straddles the River Colwyn in the centre of town. You’ll probably drive over it as you make your way to the car park!
You’ll see the packhorse bridge, with all the stone houses, shops and pubs surrounding it. There are also flower arrangements with old oil lamps on the river banks.
It’s ridiculously charming and one of the loveliest areas in the village to go exploring.
You can sit by the river on a summer’s day, dip your feet in or take pictures of the adorable cottages. It’s as pretty as a postcard.
11. Go shopping in the Beddgelert shops
If you were looking for some Snowdonia souvenirs to take home, you’ll be spoiled for choice with the quaint Beddgelert shops here.
We’ve already discussed the incredible Beddgelert woodcraft shop but there are plenty more. Over the road, you can check out Beddgelert Antiques and Tea Rooms.
You could shop in Ty Isaf, run by the National Trust, or you could snoop around the Beddgelert Gift Shop.
There is also Emrys House which is a greengrocer – perfect for camping or walking supplies! There is also a small Post Office too.
12. Have coffee in ‘The Real Coffee Shop’ by The Coach House
If you were looking for a place to grab a quick caffeine boost, The Real Coffee Shop by The Coach House comes highly recommended!
They have some tables set up outside where you can enjoy one of their coffees or a homemade piece of cake.
I enjoyed a piece of coffee cake here with one of their ‘real coffees’ and it was super tasty. Plus, the owners are really friendly!
As you’re outside, you can enjoy amazing views all around you and watch the world go by.
13. See the birthplace of Rupert the Bear & visit Ruperts Garden
As well as being linked to blockbusters and legends, there are quite a few famous faces that are linked to Beddgelert.
Alfred Bestall is one of them who is the author of the Rupert Bear stories! He wrote and illustrated many of his famous Rupert stories while he lived in the village.
Rupert the Bear ran in The Daily Express newspaper for over 40 years. There has been an animated cartoon series made and a movie Rupert and the Frog Song produced by Paul McCartney.
You can find Bestall’s cottage, ”Penlan”, in the village at the foot of Mynydd Sygun! He bought it in 1956 and lived in it until he died 30 years later.
There is a small area called the Rupert Garden which can be found a short walk away from Alfred Bestall’s old house! It’s a popular picnic area.
14. Gorge on Glaslyn Artisan ice-cream and pizza
Another one of the best things to do in Beddgelert is to enjoy an ice cream from the Glaslyn Artisan Ice-Cream and Pizza shop.
On a sunny day, you will have to queue for an ice-cream tub but it’s totally worth it as it’s the best ice cream in town. They have so many mouthwatering flavours to choose from and it’s worth every penny.
It’s truly where Italy meets Wales. As the name suggests, they make freshly baked pizzas all day from their pizza oven!
15. Shop in Tŷ Isaf, Beddgelert’s oldest building
If you’re looking for things to do in Beddgelert that involve history, then head on over to Tŷ Isaf!
It’s the oldest building in Beddgelert built in the 17th century and is now a Grade II listed building.
Tŷ Isaf is now protected by the National Trust who runs the building as a shop selling local produce and handicrafts.
Inside you’ll find lots of souvenirs that are made locally using the landscape. So, there are lots of wool, slate, and wood gifts to buy.
Tŷ Isaf is open in summer from 11 am – 5 pm daily.
16. Have a drink in one of the many Beddgelert Pubs
If you were looking for a pint or a bite to eat in Beddgelert, then you’ll be spoiled for choice! Although it’s a small village, there are a surprising amount of pubs dotted around here.
The most popular has to be the Saracen’s Head which is located just a little further down from the River Colwyn Bridge. You can sit right by the river on their terrace to enjoy a drink.
There is also the Trennonen Inn in the centre of town or the Prince Llewelyn Hotel that has a pub beside the River Colwyn.
A little further out is the Cwellyn Arms pub. It’s popular with hikers after they’ve completed the Rhyd Ddu path.
17. Climb up Dinas Emrys hill fort
Another famous legend that surrounds Beddgelert is that of Dinas Emrys Fort which transports you back to a time of myth and magic. The Dinas Emrys legend is about the red dragon that is shown on the Welsh Flag.
In the 5th-century, King Vortigern chose Dinas Emrys as the location of his new castle. He decided to build a fortress here to hide away from encroaching Saxon enemies.
But, the workers found that each night their tools would go missing and the walls they had built would be knocked down by morning!
This went on for weeks and finally, Vortigern felt that there was no other choice but to hire a sorcerer to solve the issue.
They suggested sprinkling the ground with the blood of a child born of a human mother and an “other-worldly” father.
The child was eventually found in Caernarfon and they were preparing for the sacrifice. But, he was no ordinary child. His name was Myrddin Emrys or Merlin, the famous wizard!
Merlin convinced Vortigern that two dragons were sleeping below the lake and that’s why he couldn’t build his castle.
So, Vortigern started to dig beneath the lake and then drained it. As Merlin predicted, two dragons were found sleeping at the bottom – one was a white dragon and the other red.
As soon as the lake was drained the dragons woke up and began to fight each other. Eventually, the white dragon fled and the red dragon returned to his lair.
After that, Vortigern’s castle was built and he called it Dinas Emrys in honour of Merlin. The red dragon has been the symbol of Wales ever since.
Although it does sound like a fairytale, an excavation in 1945 revealed the remains of Vortigern’s fort…So, be careful while climbing as a Dragon may be sleeping beneath you!
18. Take a drive through Snowdonia National Park!
Once you’ve visited Beddgelert, you’re in the heart of Snowdonia National Park which is the perfect place for a road trip!
This area has some of the most spectacular views in all of Wales. You’ll be close to Llanberis with the walk up Mount Snowdon on the Pen-y-Pass.
There are so many options and places to explore here you’ll be spoiled for choice.
Where is Beddgelert in Wales & how to get there?
Beddgelert is a village that’s tucked away in Snowdonia National Park.
It’s easily accessed from Porthmadogg, Betws-y-Coed, and Llanberis using the A498 road. You’ll pass by the mystical Lyn Gwynant which is one of the prettiest viewpoints in the area!
The easiest way to access the park would be to drive as it is quite remote and bus services are infrequent.
But, if you were visiting the village car-free, there are some Snowdon services to Beddgelert from Caernarfon and the Pen-y-Pass car park in Llanberis.
There are plenty of places for visitor car parking in Beddgelert. There are two main car parks in the village.
The one I would recommend is the car park closest to the Welsh Highlands Railway station on the A498 road to Porthmadogg.
This is closest to the Tourist Information Centre and Gelert’s Grave walk. It only takes a few minutes to reach the centre of the village from there.
You do have to pay for a minimum of 4 hours of parking which is £3. Or, you can pay £6 for the whole day. Bring change as the card machines don’t always work!
Where to stay in Beddgelert
If you did wish to extend your stay at this gorgeous village, there are plenty of places where you can book to spend the night;
The Royal Goat Inn – The landlord who built this hotel really could have started it all for Bedddgelert. You can also follow in the footsteps of royalty! Queen Victoria was an honourary guest along with amazing artists like J.M.W Turner. It’s still a cosy hotel that you can stay in today and just minutes from the River Glaslyn. Click to book the Royal Goat.
The Saracens Head – One of the most popular pubs in Beddgelert also has some quaint accommodation to book for the night upstairs! So, you won’t have to walk far after a tipple. Their rooms have recently had a refurbishment and it’s also dog friendly. Click here for Saracen’s Head rates.