12 Top-Rated Waterfalls in North Wales

Written by Anietra Hamper
Nov 11, 2022

The waterfalls in North Wales are some of the most spectacular in the country given their elevation and ability to capture snowmelt and rain coming off the mountains. Driving to these waterfalls involves winding roads, but they come with unforgettable views of the mountains, valleys, grazing sheep, and wildflowers.

Grey Mare's Tail Waterfall
Grey Mare's Tail Waterfall | Photo Copyright: Anietra Hamper

There is a wide visual variety of waterfalls to enjoy, including some that drop several hundred feet or produce large volumes of rushing water cascading through narrow gorges. Others are tied to local folklore, and some of the smaller falls are beautiful in their simplicity.

The terrain to get to waterfalls in North Wales is also diverse. You will want to wear sturdy shoes and be prepared to hike to many of them. Most of the waterfalls have car parks located at the trailheads and ample signage showing trail options, along with information about the area's natural surroundings.

Pack your snacks and walking sticks and head out for a fun adventure exploring our list of the best waterfalls in North Wales.

1. Swallow Falls

Swallow Falls
Swallow Falls | Photo Copyright: Anietra Hamper

One of the most popular waterfalls to visit in north Wales, Swallow Falls, is one that you can plan a full day around visiting given its proximity to the town of Betws-y-Coed. Parking for the falls is easy, with a car park just off the main roadway.

For a small fee, you can access the various walkways to Swallow Falls. The easiest to navigate is the loop that starts from the left of the entrance. The shaded and flat path is ideal for kids and families, as it is not a strenuous walk. Follow the path to the various lookouts positioned at different elevations to see how the rushing water changes directions through the gorge as you feel the spray from the water pushing over boulders.

Swallow Falls is impressive with its multiple cascades of rushing water. Surrounding the pathways around the falls is dense greenery with tall trees offering nice shade over the many sitting benches along the trails.

The local legend behind the name of Swallow Falls is that swallows once frequented the area and that when the water is low, the boulders beneath the water resemble the tail of a swallow.

It is easy to spend an hour or two at the falls and walking the trails. Afterward, head into Betws-y-Coed to enjoy lunch at one of the cafés, an afternoon of shopping, or another activity in this outdoorsy-inspired town.

2. Aber Falls

Aber Falls
Aber Falls

The Aber Falls waterfall near the village of Abergwyngregyn is also called Rhaeadr Fawr. This is not far from the popular attractions of Conwy and makes for a nice day trip if you are visiting the area and want to spend some time in Snowdonia National Park.

The scenery around Aber Falls is notable because of the geology and history of the area, which you will experience as you walk the wooded paths to the waterfalls through the Coedydd Aber National Nature Reserve.

Aber Falls has a spectacular 37-meter (120-foot) drop draining into the Carneddau mountains plateau, making it one of the best waterfalls in Wales.

There is a car park at the trailheads leading to the waterfalls, but be advised that there are several route options available. Read the signs closely, as some paths are steep and difficult, and others are less so, but all will require several hours of time getting to and from Aber Falls.

Regardless of the path you choose, wear boots, take walking sticks if you use them, and plenty of water.

3. Pistyll Rhaeadr

Pistyll Rhaeadr
Pistyll Rhaeadr | Photo Copyright: Anietra Hamper

If you are a waterfall enthusiast, Pistyll Rhaeadr should top your list to see because it is the highest single-drop waterfall in Britain.

Sitting among the Berwyn Mountains amid iconic Welsh scenery, Pistyll Rhaeadr drops 80 meters (240 feet) down the cliffside, flanked by rocks and dense greenery plunging into a small pool below. The variety of trails available provide different vantage points from which to experience the dramatic falls.

Locating the car park for the waterfall will be more complicated than walking to it once you arrive. The parking lot is located near the village of Penybontfawr in northern Wales. The easiest way to find it is to follow the one-lane track through the village off B4396, driving seven miles on country lanes outside of Llanwddyn.

Once arriving at the car park, there is ample signage to the falls. The trailhead for Pistyll Rhaedr is only a one-minute walk from the lower trail. If you want a more involved hike, you can take the upper trail, which is a 25-minute walk to the waterfalls. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes or hiking boots, as the terrain can be wet with slick rocks near the waterfall.

4. Dyserth Waterfall

Dyserth Waterfall
Dyserth Waterfall | Photo Copyright: Anietra Hamper

One of the most easily accessible and beautiful waterfalls in north Wales is Dyserth Waterfall near Rhyl. This is a great waterfall for families to visit without the worry of a committed hike on uneven or steep ground.

Dyserth Waterfall has a picturesque 70-foot drop and requires a nominal fee to access the pathway to it. The walkway is paved, weaving through small gardens leading to a bridge and the waterfall.

For a bit more adventure continue past the falls on the path leading up the hill. Be prepared for steps on a steep incline as you make your way to the top. The panoramic view at the top is worth the extra time to get there.

Catch your breath on one of the lookout benches while you take in the sights of the town of Rhyl below and the countryside. After making your way back down the hill, enjoy the tranquil gardens and a cup of coffee or a snack from the café at the base of the falls.

5. Conwy Falls

Conwy Falls
Conwy Falls | Photo Copyright: Anietra Hamper

When it comes to dramatic rushing water, few waterfalls in North Wales can compete with Conwy Falls, especially after a rainfall. Conwy Falls is near the town of Betws-y-Coed, and while it is not a tall waterfall, the volume of water and the distance that it cascades is impressive.

The pathways to Conwy Falls are located within Conwy Falls Forest Park. A small fee is required for entry. There are several paths that all lead to the falls, which will take about 15 minutes to walk. As you get close to the sounds of the rushing water, take time to enjoy each of the lookout spots as your angle and perspective of the falls will change with each location.

The most convenient path to follow is the loop trail that starts and ends right at the car park. The pathways go through wooded landscape, so wear sturdy shoes, as the ground and rocks are likely to be slick as you get closer to the falls.

6. Dolgoch Falls

Dolgoch Falls
Dolgoch Falls | Photo Copyright: Anietra Hamper

The tranquil Dolgoch Falls near Aberdovey has a special serenity. Perhaps it is because of the quiet walk on the footpath back to the falls from the car park, where you are immersed in the shade of the tall trees and eye-level with the moss-covered rocks.

The approximately quarter-mile walk to the falls is short with easy terrain on a path that follows a ravine.

The flow of the waterfall is narrow but forceful as it pushes water onward through several smaller cascades. The scenery here comes with the bonus of enjoying many other tiny waterfalls that trickle out of the cliffs on either side of the walking path.

Dolgoch Falls is generally not as busy as some of the others, so you can enjoy sitting quietly on a rock to listen to the sounds in the woods and the ambience of the water falling into the pool below. Extend your visit (and time enjoying the scenery) even more by stopping at the tearoom near the car park for a cup of tea and a homemade scone.

7. Nantcol Waterfalls

Nantcol Waterfalls
Nantcol Waterfalls | Photo Copyright: Ian Henderson

The Nantcol Waterfalls near Gwynedd are impressive for both the falls and for the scenery surrounding them. With many trails to explore and a full park and campsite near the waterfalls, this is a nature lover's paradise.

This waterfall is best experienced after a good rain to see the full effects of the lower and wider rush of cascading water under the canopy of forest trees as it makes its way into the stream below. You can also take trails farther up the hill to see several other smaller waterfalls that are worth visiting while you are here.

This is a great waterfall in North Wales because it is remote, but also accessible in that it does not require a long hike unless you want to extend the day out stopping at the other nearby waterfalls. Your hike can be several minutes to several hours depending on the type of excursion that you want.

A good way to start your visit here is at the information center, where you can get advice on the various trails and activities that are available. Overall, plan on spending a few hours to hike to the waterfall and enjoy the park and walking paths.

8. Fairy Falls

Fairy Falls
Fairy Falls | Photo Copyright: Ian Henderson

One of the most unique waterfalls in north Wales is the charming Fairy Falls, near the village of Trefriw, located about 20 minutes outside of Conwy.

In addition to its simple beauty, the falls, also referred to as the Trefriw Fairy Falls, is deeply connected to local folklore. The Victorians believed that fairies made their homes here, giving the falls and surrounding area a mythical feel, even today.

Fairy Falls was formed during the Ice Age, when glaciers carved out the U-shaped landscape of the Conwy Valley. As result of the glacier movement, the waters of the River Crafnant were left to flow down the cascade of rocks left behind, forming this quiet little paradise.

You can find street parking in the village and take the footpath to the falls. Weave your way through the wooded area, stopping to enjoy the benches and bridges that are carefully placed for the best perspectives of this quiet area.

Follow the path to see the old local mill factory that still has the original architecture, adding to the sense of place of this small village. Make your way back to the village to try a traditional Welsh cake from a local bakery.

9. Horseshoe Falls

Horseshoe Falls
Horseshoe Falls | Photo Copyright: Anietra Hamper

If you are looking for a nice place to spend part of the day on your waterfalls journey, then Horseshoe Falls in Denbighshire is a good option. The waterfall is in the shape of a horseshoe with a low cascade of water. Some outfitters in the area even offer rafting trips that go over the falls.

The sprawling area that surrounds horseshoe falls can easily fill several hours with hiking, picnicking, and just taking a rest under one of the large shade trees.

The park is easily accessible from the car park. Start your visit down the hill by the waterfall, then head off to one of the designated walking trails. A unique trail to walk that starts at the park surrounding the falls is the Landscape Poetry Tour, with information through QR codes posted on trail signage.

10. Grey Mare's Tail Waterfall

Grey Mare's Tail waterfall in northern Wales
Grey Mare's Tail waterfall in northern Wales | Photo Copyright: Ian Henderson

One of the most visually interesting waterfalls in northern Wales is the Grey Mare's Tail Waterfall near Llanrwst. This double waterfall, also identified as Rhaeadr Y Parc Mawr on some maps, is one of the most unique in the region.

The waterfalls are located inside the Gwydir Forest and surrounded by a nature reserve, so the walk to the falls is picturesque. It is a short, but somewhat steep walk back to the falls but worth the effort for the cold spray coming from it, especially in the middle of summer.

There is a car park available, but it is somewhat hidden just off B1506. The small gate to the parking lot is about half a mile outside Llanrwst, between Llanrwst and Trefriw.

11. Rhiwargor Waterfall

Rhiwargor Waterfall
Rhiwargor Waterfall

The hidden Rhiwargor Waterfall is a photographer's dream. The tall and wide waterfall cascades down the rocky backdrop, plunging into a pool below, then continues with smaller falls through the Afon Eiddew Valley. It is located near Lake Vyrnwy and the village of Llanwddyn.

There is a car park at the base of the hill, but the trails to the falls require a bit of a hike on one of several trails.

From the car park along the Purple Trail, it is about a five-mile circular walk to the waterfall with a gentle incline and great views. You can plan a full hiking day around this location by accessing other trails through the valley to enjoy the dense tree coverage, streams, wooden bridges, and smaller waterfalls along the route.

While you are in the area, a stop at Lake Vyrnwy is worthwhile to see the beautiful Victorian architecture of the dam and look for remnants of the original Llanwddyn village that was submerged in 1880 during the construction, with some buildings still visible during low water levels.

12. Rhaeadr Ddu

Rhaeadr Ddu waterfall
Rhaeadr Ddu waterfall | Photo Copyright: Ian Henderson

The Rhaeadr Ddu waterfall near Gwynedd has multiple features that make it a spectacular waterfall to visit. The large main waterfall cascades down into nearly a dozen separate smaller waterfalls that change in size all the way down the stream over rocks. It is quite a long cascade of zigzagging falls, which is a unique feature of Rhaeadr Ddu.

Access to the waterfall walk is easy. It is located next to village hall at the Coed Ganllwyd National Nature Reserve just off the A470 roadway. There is also another public car park across the street.

There is a nice, paved walkway to the waterfall, but you will be easily distracted along the way by the trickling stream and vibrant green moss covering the landscape surrounding the path. There are multiple walking routes with easy terrain, so this is a nice waterfall for families and kids who will enjoy playing on the rocks alongside the path and stream.

Map of Waterfalls in North Wales