Bala holiday cottages are hard to beat if you want to make the most of northwest Wales’ spectacular mountains and coast. This laid-back market town lies on the northern banks of Bala Lake, 17 miles northeast of Dolgelau, in the county of Gwynedd. Stryd Fawr – or Great Street – runs through the town centre with a lovely mix of independent shops and cafes. Self-catering holidays in Bala are a great option if you’re after an authentically Welsh experience. The town has one of the country’s highest concentrations of Welsh language speakers, and a number of ancient traditions are alive and well. Bala is the place for a self-catering holiday in the great outdoors. With wild-swimming, magnificent gardens, scenic railways and secluded mountain roads on Bala’s doorstep, you barely need to leave the town to have an unforgettable break. The white waters of the Afon Tryweryn run right through the town and are popular among whitewater kayakers. Canolfan Tryweryn, Wales’ National White Water Centre, can be found here and is the place to head if you’re brave enough to give this exhilarating activity a go.

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Bala hosts a year-round calendar of events, including a brilliant music festival, Wa Bala, at which local Welsh bands perform. If you fancy catching a film during your cottage holiday in Bala, see what’s on at Victoria Hall, a pretty independent cinema in a former community hall.

From mountain trails to sweeping, sandy bays, this rugged corner of Wales is home to some of the country’s most beautiful scenery, and it’s easy to see why the region came fourth in Lonely Planet’s list of the best places to visit in the world. On Bala’s doorstep, Snowdonia National Park has it all, from snow-capped peaks to crystal-clear lakes. You can even catch a train to the highest mountain, Snowdonia, for incredible views across the sea, to Ireland. Continue westward and you’ll reach the Lyn Peninsula, a rocky arm of land reaching into the sea, with idyllic ports, rocky coves and some of the country’s best surfing beaches.