3 Days in Snowdonia: A Snowdonia Road Trip

Expect to see plenty of jaw-dropping scenery during your 3 days in Snowdonia.
Expect to see plenty of jaw-dropping scenery during your 3 days in Snowdonia.

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!

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Where to Stay near Snowdonia

You should look to make Tregarth home base for your 3 days in Wales due to its proximity to Snowdonia National Park.
You should look to make Tregarth home base for your 3 days in Wales due to its proximity to Snowdonia National Park.

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, and 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 a traditional Welsh farm cottage on AirBnB 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 cozy, 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.

If you’d like to stay there, use this link to get up to Β£34 off your first booking on AirBnb, then search for “Ysgubor”.

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!

Late autumn color surrounds an old Welsh farmhouse during a 3 days in Snowdonia road trip.
Late autumn color surrounds an old Welsh farmhouse on our Snowdonia road trip.

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.
The edge of Autumn and Winter is a great time to spend 3 days in Snowdonia to capture the colors before the brutal weather sets in.
The edge of Autumn and Winter is a great time to spend 3 days in Snowdonia to capture the colors before the brutal weather sets in.

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

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). At the end of this Snowdonia road trip guide, I will list a few bonus stops for those of you traveling home to Scotland or London that you can visit on your way to, or from, Snowdonia.

3 Days in Snowdonia: Day 1 of your Snowdonia Road Trip

Sunrise at the Lonely Tree of Llyn Padarn

The first sunrise of 3 days in Snowdonia is at the Lonely Tree on Llyn Padarn.
Everyone’s favorite sunrise destination near Snowdonia National Park.

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.

A Google satellite image of the parking and location of the Lonely Tree of Snowdonia in Wales.
A Google satellite image of the parking and location of the Lonely Tree of Wales.

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.

Dolbadarn Castle

Dolbadarn Castle is not that dramatic, but is a beautiful place for sunrise.
Dolbadarn Castle is not that dramatic but is a beautiful place for sunrise.

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 castle relics you will find 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.

Snowdon Peak

Snowdown Peak is hiding behind thick clouds from the Pyg Track on a November Snowdonia Road Trip.
Snowdown Peak is hiding behind thick clouds from the Pyg Track in Snowdonia.

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, 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.

The Pyg Track was my favorite hike from 3 days in Snowdonia.
The Pyg Track was my favorite hike from 3 days in Snowdonia.

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.

3 Days in Snowdonia: Day 2 of your Snowdonia Road Trip

Rain clouds gather late golden light in the Ogwen Valley in Wales.
Rain clouds gather late golden light in the Ogwen Valley.

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

The second most popular sunrise destination in your 3 days in Snowdonia itinerary is the cottage at Llyn Ogwen.
The second most popular sunrise destination in your 3 days in Snowdonia itinerary is the cottage at Llyn Ogwen.

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

A view from high above the Ogwen Valley outside Snowdonia, taken near sunset.
A view from high above the Ogwen Valley outside Snowdonia, taken near sunset.

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.

3 days in Snowdonia is plenty to take your time and explore the waterfalls near Llyn Ogwen,
One of the small falls on the way to Llyn Ogwen.

Llyn Idwal

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 endeavor. We opted to only walk to the lake and back, which took about 45-50 minutes with some quick photos.

For some reason, Llyn Idwal was my favorite lake in Snowdonia.
For some reason, Llyn Idwal was my favorite lake in Snowdonia.

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.

Betws-y-Coed

Betws-y-Coed is the most picturesque village you will find during your 3 days in Snowdonia.
Betws-y-Coed is the most picturesque village you will find during your 3 days in Snowdonia.

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 the Snowdonia Photography Locations guide on this site.

Be sure to spend some time walking along the River Conwy in Betws-y-Coed on your Snowdonia Road Trip.
Be sure to spend some time walking along the River Conwy in Betws-y-Coed.

Tryfan Mountain

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.

3 Days in Snowdonia: Day 3 of your Snowdonia Road Trip

An aerial view of Snowdonia at sunrise near Llyn Padarn and Llyn Peris, Wales.
An aerial view of Snowdonia at sunrise near Llyn Padarn and Llyn Peris.

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

Dolbadarn Castle surrounded by autumn colors as photographed during 3 days in Snowdonia.
Dolbadarn Castle surrounded by autumn colors on our third day in Snowdonia.

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.

Caernarfon Castle

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.

Penrhyn Castle

Penrhyn Castle is the best castle you'll see on a 3 days in snowdonia road trip.
A beautiful shot of Penrhyn Castle from high up and outside the National Trust grounds.

Another castle?! Well, kind of. While Penryhn looks like a castle, it is actually just as 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.

Anglesey Island

Anglesey is home to some of the best beaches in the UK.
Anglesey is home to some of the best beaches in the UK.

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

Looking down at Beaumaris Castle and some heavy construction on a Snowdonia road trip.
Looking down at Beaumaris Castle and some heavy construction on a Snowdonia road trip.

Its time to start the coastal drive around the 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.

Lligwy Beach

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

Llanddwyn Island Lighthouse is worth a detour from your Snowdonia road trip if you can get there for sunset!
Llanddwyn Island Lighthouse is worth a detour from your Snowdonia road trip if you can get there for sunset!

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!

A short detour on any Snowdonia road trip is Llanddwyn Lighthouse; a premier destination for astrophotography in Wales.
Llanddwyn Lighthouse is a premier destination for astrophotography in Wales.

Snowdonia Road Trip Bonus Stops

I hope your 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.

Conwy Castle

Be sure to include a night at Conwy Castle into your Snowdonia road trip itinerary.
Be sure to include a night at Conwy Castle into your Snowdonia road trip itinerary.

So far, Conwy Castle has been my favorite castle to photography 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 favorite 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.

Powis Castle

Those beginning a Snowdonia road trip in London should visit the Powis Castle on the way.
Powis Castle is worth the stop for those road tripping to Wales from London.

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.


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.

ENJOYED READING OUR GUIDE TO 3 DAYS IN SNOWDONIA? PIN IT! πŸ™‚

14 Comments

  1. January 18, 2020 / 2:16 am

    Beautiful photos. I would love to visit Wales one day and now Snowdonia is on my list too

  2. January 18, 2020 / 4:06 am

    Wow, amazing photography! I’d never heard of this place and now I want to go based on the photos.

    • January 19, 2020 / 1:49 pm

      It’s well worth a visit. Wales is a beautiful country.

  3. January 18, 2020 / 1:03 pm

    It looks so so beautiful! And seems you had amazing weather, it is definitely on my bucket list and even more so after reading this post!!

    • January 19, 2020 / 1:49 pm

      We actually had pretty crappy weather mostly, but with a few nice breaks here and there which we made the best of!!! It’s still beautiful, no matter what the weather though.

  4. January 18, 2020 / 10:36 pm

    I’ve lived in Wales for 35 years, but have yet to do a proper trip to Snowdonia – several trips for other reasons and not much time to enjoy the place. I will now add your tips to my list of what to do when I do get there. Thanks

    • January 19, 2020 / 1:48 pm

      I hope you do make it there, it’s such a beautiful part of the country. Although so much of Wales is stunning!

  5. January 19, 2020 / 1:21 am

    Wow! I’ve heard so much about Snowdonia and you’ve made this place look absolutely magical and out of this world!

  6. Andy Davies
    January 19, 2020 / 7:48 am

    My wife and I love this place, then again I may be bias because it’s my home country! Guys I love your travel photos it is so nice to hear you are having a wonderful journey. Sophie may remember me I mistakenly left on a bike without her leaving her stranded in Laos, a group of us travelled a few counties in Asia. Anyway, Adam & Sophie, loving the website and pictures, and great to see you are having a great time!! Best, Andy Davies

    • January 19, 2020 / 1:47 pm

      Hey Andy!!! It really is beautiful, I’m not surprised it’s a favourite of yours. And of course, I remember you!! Hahaha… that still cracks me up. I also remember you teaching me to say “the man in the moon” in Welsh (y dyn yn y lleuad?!), not that I remember now!! I really hope everything is going well for you both.

  7. January 19, 2020 / 1:36 pm

    Absolutely stunning photos as always! This calls for a Snowdonia camping trip. If just to wake up and go and find that tree at sunrise! Beautiful!

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**All photos contained in this photography-based travel blog are copyright of Adam Marland & Sophie Clapton.Β 
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