3 days in Snowdonia is just enough time to fill up the tank and go for one epic Snowdonia road trip! This travel guide is designed to help you maximize your time in Wales’ most beautiful national park, and to provide some photo inspiration for your visit.
With so many amazing hikes, waterfalls, lakes, towns, and landscapes to take in, careful planning is essential to ensure you are able to see it all!
With that in mind, many of the destinations covered in this Snowdonia road trip guide are technically outside of the national park boundaries. However, all of them are only a short drive away, and are definitely worth visiting during your 3 days in Snowdonia!
You may also want to queue up our Snowdonia photography guide for more inspiration.
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Where to Stay near Snowdonia
Snowdonia National Park is a massive region (823 square miles to be exact), occupying the majority of North Wales. There are no hotels within the park itself, nor many alternatives for other types of accommodation.
However, you will find plenty of options that fit all budgets just outside the park. I recommend beginning your search near Bangor, or taking my word for it and renting out the Ysgubor Farm House.
Prior to our visit, we found this traditional Welsh farm cottage that looked amazing and decided to rent it out. The Ysgubor cottage is located in Tregarth, which we felt was the absolute perfect place to make our home base.
From here, we were only 15 minutes or less from each of the sunrise locations we had scouted out. The unit was a traditional Welsh farmhouse that we had all to ourselves, with our host in an entirely separate house. I cannot recommend this place enough, and I have every intention of staying there every time I visit Snowdonia.
The home was incredibly spacious while still feeling cosy, well furnished, and had all the amenities you would hope for. The owner, Rhys, was a lovely host with a dog who stole my heart (a surprise to no one). When we visited in November, the rates were also very reasonable for our 3 days in Snowdonia.
3 Days in Snowdonia: When to go
Choosing the right time to spend 3 days in Snowdonia will depend entirely on your interests, but there is no bad time for a road trip! Each season provides a different compelling reason to take a long weekend and go for a drive!
Summer (June – Aug)
The UK is known for its moody weather, but the summer months can actually be quite beautiful here. A summer visit provides the best chance at dry weather, long days, and pleasant temperatures.
- Pros: Best weather, long days, no snow to contend with.
- Cons: Perhaps too long of days for photographers, large crowd, increased prices, no snow to photograph.
Spring (April – May)
Spring is arguably the best time for a 3 day Snowdonia visit for those with Snowdonia photography in mind. The region is mountainous, meaning you will likely still have plenty of snow dusting the countless peaks. Days are reasonable, as are crowds and temperatures.
- Pros: Snow dustings, small crowds, reasonable daylight hours, often dramatic skies.
- Cons: Potentially challenging weather, some trails may still be inaccessible due to snow.
Autumn (Late Sep-Early Nov)
My 3 days in Snowdonia took place at the very end of the autumn season, and would likely have been considered winter really. There had been some recent snow dustings and a few colours lingered, both of which I found to be very appealing.
- Pros: Low season, cheaper rates, amazing sunsets/sunrises, no harsh overhead sunlight, colours
- Cons: Unpredictable weather, shorter days than some would like.
Winter (Late Nov-March)
The most challenging months for trekking are, of course, the winter months. You can’t spell Snowdonia without snow, and it can become quite the white winter wonderland.
- Pros: Snowy mountains, no crowds, all day golden hours if you can get a clear day.
- Cons: Many trails will be inaccessible, seasonal shops will be closed, very short days, potentially brutal weather.
Snowdonia 3-Day Road Trip Itinerary
Due to its sheer size, there are so many things to do in Snowdonia! While you could spend weeks exploring, it also makes for the perfect weekend break.
Because each of you reading will be beginning in different places, Day 1 of your 3 days in Snowdonia assumes you have arrived the night before, and are staying somewhere near Bangor (or perhaps even in Tregarth as I have recommended above).
A visit to Snowdonia is definitely one of the best UK road trips you can take. However, if you have more time, or you’re travelling back to London or Scotland after, we’ve listed a few bonus stops for you at the end of this guide!
3 Days in Snowdonia: Day 1 of your Snowdonia Road Trip
Sunrise at the Lonely Tree of Llyn Padarn
Day 1 of your 3 days in Snowdonia begins with sunrise at the beautiful “Lonely Tree” of Llyn Padarn. Within one gaze, you will understand why this tree is the most photographed in all of the United Kingdom.
The drive time from Tregarth to the carpark for the Lonely Tree of Wales is only 15-20 minutes, with no further hike required. Finding the carpark is easy enough, but finding the tree can be a little tricky. Using the map below, the yellow star indicates where to park, while the red pin indicates where you will find the tree.
Get here at least 30 minutes before sunrise, or even 45-60 during high season, if you want to make sure you have room to set up your shot! If you do not care about photography, then just make sure you are there before the sun breaks the horizon to witness a magical moment.
After enjoying a serene sunrise at the Lonely Tree, drive just a mile down the road to the carpark for Dolbadarn Castle. This old ruin is far from the most impressive of castles in Wales, but the view of Llyn Peris from the top of the hill with the castle standing triumphantly is certainly worthy of a visit.
From the carpark, follow signs for Dolbadarn Castle. The walk time is only about 3-4 minutes.
Now it’s time to see what all the hype is about! Snowdon peak is the crown jewel of Snowdonia, and is an absolute must-see on any respectable Snowdonia road trip.
If you visit Snowdonia National Park during high season, you will have the option to take the Snowdon Mountain Railway to the top of the mountain. It is closed from November and reopens in March. If you select this option, you will catch the train from Llanberis car park near Dolbadarn Castle.
For the hikers reading, you will have 6 walking tracks available to reach Snowdon Peak. The one I recommend is the Pyg Track which is one of 3 Snowdon hikes from Pen-y-Pass, as it is the shortest track and offers the most diversity in terms of views on your way.
Each hike requires a 6-hour return trip, but I elected to only walk about halfway up the Pyg Track to where I could see the peak (or where it should be!) as the clouds were thick at the top anyway.
To get to the Pyg Track, park at the Pen-y-Pass carpark and follow signs. The trail begins with a relatively steep ascent, but nothing unreasonable. The views are completely worth it.
If you’re not confident hiking alone or prefer to have someone else take off the pressure of planning, another great option is to take a guided hike to the summit of Snowdon.
You can read more about the Pyg Track and other walking routes on my Snowdonia Photography guide.
Regardless of how you get to Snowdon Peak, be sure to stay for sunset and enjoy one of the most majestic sights in all of Britain.
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3 Days in Snowdonia: Day 2 of your Snowdonia Road Trip
For the die-hard mountaineers, day 2 of your Snowdonia road trip could involve another hike to Snowdon peak via a different track. However, for the sake of this guide I will assume that those of you who are visiting the area with the idea of climbing as much as possible, this may not be the best resource. Rather, I would advise you to spend your second day on the outskirts of Snowdonia national park, exploring some of the regions incredible waterfalls, lake, bridges, and scenery.
Sunrise at Ogwen Cottage
Perhaps the second-most popular sunrise destination for photographers in the Snowdonia region is the Ogwen Cottage on Llyn Ogwen. This is definitely a bit prettier with some snow, but the cottage and nearby tree provide wonderful subjects to complement the beautiful lake and distant mountains.
If you are staying in Tregarth, the drive time to the cottage is a mere 15 minutes. There is free street parking available in the morning, or metered parking nearby if you arrive late.
The Ogwen Valley
After photographing sunrise at Llyn Ogwen, take some time to just walk around the area. The Ogwen Valley is a beautiful part of Wales with a lot of amazing vistas, waterfalls, mountains, and landscapes to enjoy.
You can walk all the way around Llyn Ogwen if you like, but I preferred to follow the water. There is a spillway under a roadside bridge that made for a beautiful photo, and a decent waterfall that comes out the other side as it drains into the distant valley. In addition, there are some lovely small falls on the trails that begin at the National Trust car park nearby.
While Llyn Idwal is similar to many others you will see during your 3 days in Snowdonia, there is something about this little alpine lake that I just find stunning. After you’ve walked around the Ogwen Valley a bit, be sure to make the 15-20 minute effort to walk to this scenic little lake.
The trail that takes you to Llyn Idwal also circles the lake in its entirety. Walking this entire track is about a 90 minute endeavour. We opted to only walk to the lake and back, which took about 45-50 minutes with some quick photos.
While Llyn Idwal is an absolute must-see, you have a decent amount more to see on your Snowdonia road trip and don’t want to run out of time.
After a morning spent in the beautiful mountains and lakes near Snowdonia, hope in the car and head to the most beautiful village you will see in 3 days in Snowdonia Betws-y-Coed is like a city trapped in time, with all the charm, history, and lore you would hope to find in such a place.
Set your GPS for the carpark or follow signs when you arrive in town. You will want to spend sometime strolling the riverside path and popping into the shops and cafes. You will definitely want to get lunch while your are here. We loved our meal at The Alpine Coffee Shop so much, in fact, that we went back on our way out of Snowdonia as well! The coffee here is arguably the best in all of Britain.
There are a couple bonus stops near Betws-y-Coed that I recommend for the photographers out there. You will find those in our Snowdonia Photography Locations guide.
A popular hike when the weather permits begins at the Tryfan Car Park on Google Maps. This hike will take you up Mount Tryfan, providing sweeping aerial views on Llyn Ogwen and the entire Ogwen Valley.
An experienced scrambler could do this walk in a few hours, but you should expect to spend 4-5 hours IF you decide to walk all the way to the top. During our 3 days in Snowdonia, the days were too short to attempt this so late in the day. Instead, we drove around exploring the countryside aimlessly, then photographed sunset at Llyn Idwal.
FIND MORE INSPIRATION: 101+ Dream Destinations for your Travel Bucket List
3 Days in Snowdonia: Day 3 of your Snowdonia Road Trip
While some of you may prefer to head south for the final of your 3 days in Snowdonia, I actually recommend driving instead to spend a day on the Anglesey island. This road trip itinerary will take you away from the mountains and deliver you to beautiful coastline, ancient castles, and idyllic lighthouses the occupy the region.
Sunrise at Llyn Idwal or Dolbodarn Castle
Because Anglesey Island will be better for sunset than sunrise, it is kind of up to you whether or not you want to wake up early to capture one more.
While it will not be a natural part of today’s route, both Llyn Idwal and Dolbodarn Castle are beautiful places to photograph sunrise, and are only a 15 minute drive from Tregarth.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with sleeping in. If you’re exhausted from your first few days in Snowdonia, this will be your chance to sleep in.
You will be seeing a fair few castles if you follow this Snowdonia road trip itinerary to the letter. While Conwy is the only one that I would make a true point of seeing, Caernarfon Castle is built right on the water, overlooking the town harbor.
The scene may be a bit busy as a result, but this is also what I found to be interesting. If you’re interested in Welsh castles and history and are not “castled-out” after 3 days in Snowdonia, you may as well take the slight detour to visit Caernarfon Castle.
Another castle?! Well, kind of. While Penryhn looks like a castle, it is actually just a massive home that has had the facade designed to LOOK like a castle.
The grounds of Penrhyn Castle are beautiful and the structure itself is very interesting. It is a National Trust Site, meaning you will have to pay a bit to park and a bit more to enter, should you so choose.
While the grounds were virtually empty on our visit, we spoke with the Marketing manager for Penrhyn who gave us some insight into the past and future of the castle. Most notably, you should expect the crowds to start swelling in the next few years as it was recently the set for a very popular comic book movie series, which will ignite a tourism spark from its niche following.
Once you cross the Menai Suspension Bridge, you will have entered the Anglesey Island. Many people choose to spend a night here, though I strongly feel that a day trip is sufficient.
The island is not exactly the most spectacular on Wales, but it does provide gorgeous coastal scenery, 6 “blue flag beaches”, and a few sites worth visiting. Some such sites are listed below, but the reason to visit Anglesey is really more about the drive than the destinations.
Beaumaris Castle at Penmon Point
It’s time to start the coastal drive around Anglesey Island! After you’ve crossed the bridge, turn right and head toward Penmon Point at the corner of the island. There is a small town called Beaumaris here with another interesting, moated castle.
If you have not yet eaten, the Pier House Cafe & Bistro is a great place to have a meal right on the ocean. After your meal, have a stroll around the village, check out Beaumaris Castle, and enjoy the coastal vibes.
Considered one of the best picnic spots in all of Britain, Lligwy Beach is a sheltered by that provides regular opportunities for dolphin and seal sightings. It is one of the 6 blue flag beaches, which is a dedication granted by the FEE certifying the beach to be of a superior quality.
Basically, this is a nice place to enjoy the sand and open ocean, if you are into that and visiting during the right time of year.
Sunset: South Stack or Llanddwyn Lighthouse
If you have time to visit both, great! South Stack Lighthouse is a great deal further away, but is also an easier site to access. Llanddwyn Island Lighthouse, meanwhile, requires a 1.5 mile walk and is only accessible outside of high tide.
On my visit, we got lucky with the tide and weather and opted to photograph at Llanddwyn Lighthouse. The main reason for this is that I love shooting night skies, and Llanddwyn Lighthouse is an amazing spot for astrophotography in the UK.
If you decide to photograph sunset at South Stack, there isn’t much to prepare for other than a long drive home afterwards. However, should you decide you would like to shoot at Llanddwyn as I did, make sure you check the tide times first and be sure that you can get to the island for sunset, and get OFF the island after. If the tide comes up while you are still there, you will have a cold few hours of waiting until you can roll up your pant legs and escape!
Snowdonia Road Trip Bonus Stops
I hope you have enjoyed your 3 days in Snowdonia and have some amazing photos and memories to show for it.
Below are some bonus stops that you can visit on your way to, or from, Snowdonia, depending on where you are coming from.
As a personal preference, I always do as much as I can on the way to my destination as I know I will be tired and ready to get home after.
So far, Conwy Castle has been my favourite castle to photograph in Wales. It is situated on the water, in front of a long bridge that provides some amazing compositions.
We had a moody evening with only grey skies, which suited it nicely. However, my favourite shots came after dark, when the lights came on and the castle stole all the attention.
Great Orme Peninsula
Recommended for its striking sea cliffs, the Great Orme Peninsula drive would take you the better half of a day, but offers some outstanding coastal scenery. From what I’m told, it is also a fantastic place to drone.
A very large medieval Welsh Castle near the England border, Powis Castle is an impressive structure and a fun family destination. The grounds are home to many fallow deer, as well as some peacocks and even red squirrels!
The grounds are immaculate and the fortress is well preserved. From a photography standpoint, I didn’t come away with any trophy winners, but on an experiential measure, it was worth the time.
What to pack for 3 Days in Snowdonia
While your individual packing list will vary depending on the time of year that you visit Snowdonia and your exact plans, there are a few essentials that you will want to consider packing:
- Camera: Snowdonia is a spectacular place and you’ll want to ensure you can capture its beauty. We use the Sony a7riii and have been in love with it ever since the first photo we took with it. However, for beginners you may wish to consider an entry level DSLR. This will allow you to start getting to grips with manual settings and decide whether photography is something you enjoy enough to invest in.
- Hiking shoes: Snowdonia has some beautiful hikes so you’ll want to ensure you pack some comfortable shoes. Ideally, bring a waterproof pair of hiking shoes as rain is not uncommon in Wales!
- Waterproof jacket: The weather can change quickly and it’s likely to get some rain while in Wales, so having a waterproof jacket will come in handy! I love my Columbia jacket as it’s three jackets in one and I can just wear the layer (or combination of layers) appropriate for the weather.
- Eco-friendly sunscreen: Yes I know I’ve so far prepared you for rain, but occassionally it is also sunny and the hikes can be very exposed so make sure you’re protected from the sun. We use Stream 2 Sea sunscreen as it’s reefsafe and most of their bottles are made from sugarcane resin rather than plastic.
- Reusable water bottle: We don’t travel anywhere without a reusable water bottle. Remain hydrated without wasting single use plastic bottles!
- Portable powerpack: It’s likely you’ll be using your phone to navigate around Snowdonia (and hopefully have this Snowdonia itinerary saved to refer to… *wink wink*). Bring a power pack with you to keep your phone charged on the go.
- Backpack: You’ll want a backpack that’s comfortable and sturdy to carry around all day! I use the GoGroove camera backpack as it also provides easy side access to my camera while out and about.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON 3 DAYS IN SNOWDONIA
Thank you for reading our 3 Days in Snowdonia travel blog! I truly hope you’ve found it helpful in preparing for your Snowdonia road trip or at least provided some photographic inspiration.
If you’ve enjoyed this guide, you may want to have a browse through our guide to Snowdonia Photography Locations. In it, we have shared some of the best destinations in Snowdonia to photograph the landscapes, villages, and scenery.
If you are planning a road trip north, we have also prepared numerous photography and travel guides for Scotland.