A holiday in North Wales is a dream come true for train buffs, because it gives easy access to some of the most famous heritage steam railways in the world. It’s a chance to take in the stunning North Wales scenery without having to watch the road – just sit back and relax! The ones listed here aren’t the only steam attractions awaiting you, so you’ll definitely need to return.
Llanberis Lake Railway
This narrow gauge track uses vintage engines rescued from Dinorwic slate quarries. Starting your five-mile journey at Gilfach Ddu, you’ll pass Dolbadam Castle and the twin lakes of the lovely village of Llanberis, before going through Padarn Country Park. The train then joins the route of the 1845 slate railway, lakeside to Pen Lln, which gives you amazing views of Snowdon. Stop on the way back for a picnic at Cei Llydan.
Bala Lake Railway
Llyn Tegid, to use its Welsh name, is the biggest natural stretch of water in Wales. An hour’s ride takes you through Snowdonia National Park, where you can spot wild life, boats, a Norman Castle and a Roman fort. Make stops at some of the pretty villages en route to get the most out of your day – you can start with your boarding point at charming Llanuwchllyn, associated with the legend of King Arthur.
Rhyl Miniature Railway
This is the UK’s oldest-operating miniature line, chugging for a mile around Rhyl’s Marine Lake. Explore the Nature and Heritage Trail, and visit the museum where would-be drivers can sit in the cab and find out about the workings of these fine engines.
Fairbourne Miniature Railway
Like Rhyl, this is a coastal route, running from Fairbourne village to the mouth of the Mawddach Estuary. The twelve and a half gauge line has been connecting to the ferry for Barmouth for more than a hundred years, thanks to Victorian know-how. The two miles offer passengers breath-taking of the sea and Fairbourne golf course, with stations on the way depositing you next to golden sands.
Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways
Take to the mountains, starting with this popular tourist attraction. Sit back and let these sturdy trains introduce you to Porthmadog harbour, Caernarfon Castle, and the slate quarries at Blaenau Ffestiniog, climbing over seven hundred feet in the process.
Snowdon Mountain Railway
Cross two viaducts, an ancient forest and a waterfall on the climb to the summit of the highest mountain in Wales. You’ll see picturesque lakes contrasted with volcanic rock faces, combined with spectacular panoramas over land and sea, the best of which are at the visitor centre at the top.
Finally, discover the southern part of Snowdonia National Park on what was the first railway to be preserved anywhere in the world. Enjoy lovely views of the Fathew Valley to Cader Idris, and pass waterfalls, streams, buzzards and red kites in the Merionethshire mountains. After the thrill of the train, relax in Abergynolwyn Station’s café, while younger family members get the most out of the play area.