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Snowdonia’s 6 Best Rail Rides

Home to the world’s oldest railway company, Snowdonia has an impressive selection of narrow-gauge and miniature rail rides, perfect for viewing the region’s vast and striking beauty.

Whether you’re looking for an easier way to the top, or a day out with the family, why not explore some of the best rail routes on offer for a chance to enjoy life at a much slower pace?

Ffestiniog Railway

The Ffestiniog Railway is an award-winning visitor attraction that is almost 200 years old. Three original locomotives and engines are still used today, on a course which climbs more than 700 feet along mountain sides and through tunnels.

Starting at the harbour in Porthmadog, your journey will take you from coast to country over 13 ½ miles, taking in forests, lakes and waterfalls among many other must-see sights before arriving in Blaenau Ffestiniog, a traditional slate quarrying town (also home to Llechwedd Slate Caverns).

Welsh Highland Railway

Sister to the Ffestiniog Railway, the West Highland Railway is the UK’s longest heritage railway covering 25 glorious miles of the region. Starting in Caernarfon, you steam past the foot of Snowdon before moving on to the Aberglaslyn Pass and eventually arriving at Porthmadog.

Enjoy first class Pullman luxury and take advantage of the at-seat buffet service, with a choice of refreshments and a fully-licenced bar stocking locally-brewed beers. Make a day of it with an easy change between Ffestiniog and the West Highland railway lines at Porthmadog station.

Snowdon Mountain Railway

The Snowdon Mountain Railway provides easy access to the mountain for more than 100,000 travellers every year. Starting at the pretty little village of Llanberis, at the foot of the mountain, the railway line travels steeply upwards passing waterfalls and jaw-dropping scenery before arriving at the peak.

Make sure you check the latest information before you travel as weather conditions often impact the service, and if you do make your own way up to the top, and fancy a gentler descent, a single ticket for the way down is only available on a standby, first come, first served basis!

Llanberis Lake Railway

This narrow-gauge steam route offers a five-mile return journey alongside Lake Padarn. A beautiful route, your view takes in serene blue lakes and a 13th century castle, along with stunning Snowdon.

Wheelchair accessible, this is a family day out that can be enjoyed by all, and with plenty to do at Llanberis village and in the Padarn Country Park, why not spend a little extra time exploring?

Fairbourne Miniature Railway

For more than 100 years the Fairbourne Railway has run from Fairbourne village to the mouth of the Mawddach. Once a horse-drawn tramway, it’s now a lovely miniature railway, with a full day engine driver’s course and tickets to ride upfront on the footplate available.

Otherwise a relaxing rail ride awaits those who’d prefer to travel in a more conventional way – the carriage! The train provides a handy connection with the ferry to Barmouth for those looking to continue their exploration of the wider area.

Talyllyn Railway

Set in beautiful Mid-Wales countryside, the Talyllyn Railway opened in 1865 and carried slate from Tywyn to Nant Gwernol, (where horse-drawn tramways helped it continue into the mountains). Restored and managed by a team of volunteers, the line runs for more than seven miles departing from Tywyn and travelling to Abergynolwyn (where an excellent children’s playground awaits!) before it reaches its final destination.

The extensive forest walks in the Nant Gwernol ravine are all trail marked and take you to the site of the Bryn Eglwys quarries, the reason for the railway being built. A day on the Talyllyn Railway is a great way for the family to enjoy the beautiful and unspoilt Fathew Valley.