Popular as a base for easy access into Snowdonia via the Ffestiniog Railway, Portmadog’s history is that of former slate port – the town’s name is derived from the slate magnet William Alexander Madocks who built both the harbour and the rail route up to Blaenau Ffestiniog.
You’re ideally close to picture postcard Portmeirion based here too, and just a stone’s throw from the scenic Llyn Peninsula. Some of the best views of Snowdonia are to be had from Porthmadog. As well as the Narrow Gauge Railway, other attractions in the town include a small Maritime Museum, a motor museum, local climbing locations and Porthmadog’s crowning glory – the 3 mile expanse of Black Sands Beach just to the west of the town centre.
Ffestiniog Narrow Gauge Railway
Portmadog has its own narrow gauge railway link into Snowdonia via the Ffestiniog Railway. A big attraction in the town, the railway stretches 13.5 miles all the way to Blaenau Ffestiniog. Blaenau Ffestiniog was once a centre for slate in the region, which was shunted down this narrow gauge line to the coastal port of Porthmadog.
A truly spectacular journey, this Welsh narrow gauge railway was founded in 1832 – it’s the oldest independent railway company in the World! The Ffestiniog Railway’s Harbour Station at Porthmadog (parts of which date back to 1879) is surrounded by historic 19th century buildings, all marks of a slate industry past in the area.
Many of the slate wharves in the harbour have been preserved (some are now luxury apartments). The Ship Public house has survived however, and you can still partake of some fine ales and pub grub in here. As you set off on the 13 mile journey, the route travels up the famous Cob causeway, a steep climb which also serves as the main road entrance from the south east into Porthmadog. The railway ceased its transportation of slate in 1946, but today is one of the most popular attractions in Wales.
Golf & Horse Riding
Dating from around 1905, Porthmadog Golf Course is one of Wales’ most beautiful coastal golf courses. This golf course is an 18 hole course, with pro shop and practice ground on-site. The town also has a great horse riding centre set within 250 acres offering riding lessons, tailor-made riding holidays and pony trekking.
Black Rock Sands Beach
Black Rock Sands beach situated just to the west of Porthmadog is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, popular for fishing and windsurfing. The beach is surrounded by sand dunes and the rocky headland just to the right of the sandy beach is the most sought after spot for fishing particularly from May to October for Bass and during Spring and Autumn for Thornback Ray and also in Autumn Whiting in large numbers.
You can walk from Porthmadog due south to the delightful village of Borth y Gest which also has a superb beach. Don’t miss a visit to nearby Criccieth for it’s historic castle and picture postcard rocky outcrop. Criccieth offers two more superb sandy beaches. The beautiful stretch of Welsh coastline including Porthmadog, Borth y Gest and Criccieth benefits from a wide choice of campsites, cottages and caravan parks – browse accommodation online now and book.
Michelle is an experienced travel writer with iknow and has travelled extensively across the UK, Spain, Portugal and the USA. When she’s not busy writing for iknow she enjoys spending time touring museums and art galleries and seeking out the best independent shops in Manchester and Leeds.