Rail Rides in Snowdonia Mountains and Coast - and Beyond

Let the train take the strain on this itinerary along Cardigan Bay from Pwllheli to Aberystwyth – with a few diversions into the hills on narrow-gauge railways thrown in for good measure.

This sample itinerary is based on current Trainline timetables and specific narrow-gauge railway services (which are subject to daily/seasonal variations). Please check thoroughly based on your intended date of travel:

Day 1

09.34. Depart Pwllheli for Porthmadog on the Cambrian Coast service, passing through castle-crowned Criccieth on the way.

09.56. Arrive Porthmadog. You’ll have time to sample a flavour of this bustling small town and historic port.

Cob Porthmadog

11.25. Depart Porthmadog on the 13½-mile narrow-gauge Ffestiniog Railway that winds its way through ancient oakwoods up a lovely valley to Blaenau Ffestiniog. Set deep in the mountains, this former ‘slate capital of Wales’ provides the reason behind the railway, which was used to transport slate from local quarries to Porthmadog harbour for shipment worldwide. 

12.40. Arrive Blaenau Ffestiniog for lunch and free time. Depart 13.40, returning to Porthmadog at 15.05.

Blaenau Ffestiniog © Crown copyright (2011) Visit Wales

16.01. Catch the Cambrian Coast train from Porthmadog to Aberdyfi. You’ll soon see why this line is one of the UK’s – and Europe’s – great train rides. Highlights include passing beneath the battlements of mighty Harlech Castle, the breathtaking half-mile crossing of the Mawddach Estuary on Wales’s longest rail bridge, and the cliff-backed route south of Fairbourne where the massive bulk of Cader Idris slides into the sea. 

17.33. Arrive Aberdyfi for overnight stop.

Day 2

08.22. Catch Cambrian Coast train from Aberdyfi to Aberystwyth, arriving 09.20 (change at Dovey Junction).

10.30. Leave Aberystwyth on the 12-mile narrow-gauge Vale of Rheidol Railway for Devil’s Bridge. It’s another classic ‘Great Little Train’, climbing into the hills along a beautiful valley with panoramic views over the Cambrian Mountains, the wild backbone of Wales.

11.30. Arrive Devil’s Bridge and swap widescreen vistas for the dramatic confines of the narrow chasm and legendary bridge that gives the place its name. Descend into the heart of this 300ft/91m gorge carved by the falls of the River Mynach.

14.15. Return from Devil’s Bridge to Aberystwyth (or, if you prefer, take your bike and cycle back along the Rheidol/Ystwyth trails).

15.15. Arrive Aberystwyth for your overnight stop. There’s a lot to see and do here – including the charming funicular Cliff Railway, which has been climbing Constitution Hill since 1896.

Coastal bus services

The north Pembrokeshire coast is well served by two services, the Poppit Rocket and Strumble Shuffle, operating daily to September, then two days a week in winter.


Like Pembrokeshire’s buses, Ceredigion’s Cardi Bach service is ideal for walkers tackling sections of the coast path and visitors looking for stress-free local travel. The service runs throughout the year along the south Ceredigion coast.