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Your guide to Harlech
All About Harlech
Harlech is a coastal town at the northern edge of Cardigan Bay in North Wales, around four hours’ drive north of Cardiff and 2.5 hours southwest of Liverpool. Nestled in the foothills of the Rhinogydd mountains, the steep streets of Harlech are lined with tightly packed traditional stone cottages with bay windows that are home to an array of sweet shops, eateries, and boutiques showcasing local crafts.
Harlech Castle is one of the highlights of the local area and has been standing guard over the town and the Irish Sea since the 13th century. Harlech Beach lies just a 20-minute walk from the town centre, complete with a golden shoreline and grass-covered dunes where locals come to sunbathe and swim against the backdrop of the rolling hills of Snowdonia. The town is enveloped by Snowdonia National Park, which offers a multitude of routes for trail walking, cycling, and horse riding.
The best time to stay in a holiday rental in Harlech
Northwest Wales has a moderate climate. The summer months have some of the year’s best weather, which is perfect for heading down to the beach from your Harlech holiday cottage and taking a refreshing dip. Locals and visitors alike are drawn to the Barmouth Kite Festival in July, where you can fly your own kite or sit back and watch the pros. The shoulder seasons of spring and autumn are also great times to visit, showcasing the yellow blooms of the area’s arrowhead and wood avens, and the changing foliage as temperatures start to cool. The town is quiet during the winter, and, although increased rainfall makes coastal walks a less attractive option, chilly days are ideal for getting cosy at a local pub or cafe.
Top things to do in Harlech
Standing high above the town, Harlech Castle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The clifftop site overlooks the Irish Sea, giving visitors a sweeping view of the rolling hills of Snowdonia and Harlech Beach far below. Despite frequent attacks over the centuries, the once-mighty fortress is largely intact, providing a fascinating glimpse back in time via a newer addition — a snaking “floating” wheelchair-accessible bridge to the entrance.
Ffordd Pen Llech
This vertiginous street, with a gradient of 40 percent, was once considered the steepest street in the world. Although it has now been downgraded to second place behind a street in New Zealand, it’s a fun challenge to walk up, and you’ll definitely deserve a slice of cake from a nearby cafe afterwards.
Snowdonia National Park
Home to more than 100 lakes, virtually endless kilometres of walking trails, and craggy mountains — including the towering Mount Snowdon, the largest mountain in Wales and England — Snowdonia National Park is heaven for adventure lovers. There’s even a train that can take you to the summit. Since Harlech is nestled within the park, it’s easy to explore this beautiful region.