I recently spent hours looking for a guide to Snowdonia photography locations in preparation for my first visit to North Wales. While I was able to find many beautiful photos of the region from a wealth of talented Welsh photographers, I couldn’t find a resource that offered clear guidance on where and when to shoot.
This landscape photography guide on the most beautiful region North Wales has to offer has been created to help inspire your next visit to Snowdonia national park. Please understand that someone could spend their life devoted to exploring this stunning region and still not cover everything.
Accordingly, don’t think of this as a comprehensive list or be offended if I have left some of your favourites off of it. Rather, think of this as a weekend guide to photographing some of Snowdonia’s highlights!
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Snowdonia National Park explained
Snowdonia National Park is a large, mountainous region of Northern Wales that covers a whopping 823 square miles. It is well known for its magnificent top-of-the-world vistas, alpine lakes, dramatic valleys, waterfalls, and all-around natural beauty. With this much jaw-dropping scenery to discover, it has become a top destination for landscape photographers.
There are many lakes, or “llyns”, that offer beautiful opportunities for photography that are accessible in any weather and without lengthy hikes. While some of the ones covered in this photography guide fall just outside the invisible boundaries of Snowdonia National Park, I have chosen to include them as I consider this just a technicality. At the end of the day, I think we all care more about the scenery than the boundaries anyway.
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Hiking to Mount Snowdon Peak
Snowdon Peak is the most celebrated photography location in Snowdonia, which is accessible by hiking one of six available walking routes, or by taking the Snowdon Mountain Railway (when operating). These 6 hikes are listed below.
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.
Llanberis Path: 9 miles/14.5 km
The longest but most gradual climb is via the Llanberis path. This is a good option for those of you who battle joint pain or other physical limitations that a steeper hike could agitate.
Rhyd Ddu Path: 8.5 miles/12km
This path is one of the least traveled as it follows a fairly narrow ridge to the peak. If you suffer from even mild vertigo, this is not the trail for you!
Watkin Path: 8 miles/13km
Beginning in the Pont Bethania car park, the Watkin Path follows an old copper mining route where you can still see some of the workings from another era.
Snowdon Ranger Path: 8 miles/13km
Many would contend that the Ranger Path provides the best views throughout the hike as you climb the side of Snowdon while looking back at many lakes in the area.
Pyg Track: 7 miles / 11km
Arguably the most photogenic route, and the one I opted to take. This hike begins at the Pen-y-Pass carpark.
The climb is steep in the beginning, but not too bad, and we had mountain goats for most of the journey providing us with the necessary motivation to continue. What I love about this hike is how frequently the views change, providing new opportunities to photograph at every corner.
It is also the shortest route to the top, which is certainly a bonus! I’d highly recommend checking out this complete guide to hiking the Pyg track before you head there.
The Miners’ Track: 8 miles/13 km
This also begins from Pen y Pass car park. Rather than beginning with an ascent as Pyg Track does, the Miners’ Track starts off gradually, taking you first to Llyn Llydaw. The true hike begins here as it’s now a steep climb all the way to the top.
Snowdonia Photography Locations
Below is a list and information on some of the best locations for Snowdonia photography. All photos were taken in mid-November of 2019 during our Snowdonia road trip, just as the autumn gives way to winter. You may notice some end-of-season colours that are not present during most times of the year. There is also just the lightest snow dustings in some places, which should not be expected outside of the winter months.
Snowdonia Photography locations: Llyn Ogwen
On the edge of Snowdonia National Park is probably the most popular lake in Northern Wales for photography. Llyn Ogwen is beautiful any time of day but is best visited at sunrise. A popular composition features the Ogwen Cottage in front of the lake as the sun rises in the distance. To find this view, simply set your GPS for Ogwen Cottage.
There are many popular hikes around Llyn Ogwen as well, most of which bring you high up the surrounding hillsides to look back across the lake with some elevation. The most popular of these begins at the Tryfan car park. You can also walk all the way around the lake itself.
I found the prettiest area to be near the carpark for the cottage. From the road, you will notice some falls that spill under a bridge and come out the other side as they splice through Ogwen Valley. Give yourself some time to take a wander and you will surely find some other compositions that speak to you.
There is free street parking available if you are there early enough, otherwise, you will have to park at the Ogwen Partnership Centre, which is metered parking. It is also from this parking lot that you will access one of my favourite Snowdonia photography locations; Llyn Idwal.
Snowdonia Photography locations: Llyn Idwal
The trail to this mountainous lake begins near the Ogwen Cottage. If you get very lucky with the sunset or sunrise, there is often a cloud layer around the mountain tops that can collect some nice light and colour to complement your scene.
The hike to the lake is only 15-20 minutes each way, and there is a trail that goes completely around the lake. The best view, however, is from the nearside looking at Llyn Idwal with the dramatic mountainscape behind it.
This is one of my favourite places in Snowdonia for photography, and I can’t really explain why. I managed to get up here to begin and end one day, but all of my shots focused more on moody grey and blue tones than the warm hues of sunrise or sunset.
Snowdonia Photography locations: Ogwen Falls
On the way up to Llyn Idwal, you will cross a walking bridge with a gorgeous waterfall flowing down from the mountains. “Waterfall” may be a bit of a stretch, but it is nevertheless a beautiful spot to stop and capture a long exposure photo if you have an ND filter and tripod.*
Snowdonia Photography locations: The Lonely Tree at Llyn Padarn
Perhaps the most photographed tree in all of Wales, the Lonely Tree is one of those iconic sunrise shots that you just kind of have to get! The success of the shot will depend largely on the water level when you visit, as well as the sunrise. It is absolutely worth waking up for, as the scene is pure serenity as the sun rises while the calm water reflects the stunning landscape.
While the tree can be difficult to find at first, there is plentiful parking and almost no hike required. To find this popular Snowdonia photography location, set your GPS for “LLanberis to Pen y Pass: Park & Ride” and park in the unpaved lot on the OTHER side of the road (indicated by the yellow star on the map below). From the parking lot, take the trail around the lake toward the red pin. This is the location to shoot the Lonely Tree… and get there early if you want your spot!
Snowdonia Photography locations: Dolbadarn Castle
Just down the road from Llyn Padarn and the Lonely Tree of Northern Wales is a small castle ruin called Dolbadarn Castle. While it is far from the most interesting castle you’ll photograph in Wales, I felt it added a nice subject to support the scenery around it, and is a good option for sunrise if you have already photographed the locations above. It is located on Llyn Peris, directly across from a slate mine.
The hike time to get here is minimal, and the view for sunrise really was a pleasant surprise. There is no entry fee and there is a small car park with space for about 4 cars.
Snowdonia Photography locations: Pyg Track
I mentioned before that there are 6 walking routes to Snowdon Peak, all of which require approximately 6-8 hour returns. Because I was there near winter, my days were very short and cold, and trekking that kind of distance in foul weather just wasn’t appealing.
However, a friend recommended the Pyg Track as it is possible to hike just part of the distance for some incredible views… and I was NOT disappointed.
Park at the Pen-Y-Pass carpark and begin hiking up. Almost immediately, you will discover an impressive view of the road cutting through the valley below. When you get to the ridge, you will encounter multiple stunning panoramic vistas. My favourite includes Llyn Llydaw before you with Llyn Glaslyn just beyond, tucked into the mountain of Snowdon. It is truly breathtaking.
I walked another 20 minutes along the ridge toward Llyn Glaslyn, where I came to the viewpoint I was seeking with the lake and Snowdon Peak set beautifully before me. Despite less-than-ideal weather, the opportunities for amazing landscape photography were undeniable.
It is hard to estimate the hike time to the point featured above as I stopped so often for photos. All told, I was gone for 4 hours, but somewhere near 2 hours were spent photographing. The beginning of the hike is steep, but not unreasonable.
Snowdonia Photography locations: Betws-y-Coed
Undoubtedly the best photography location in Snowdonia as far as townships go, Betws-y-Coed is what you close your eyes and imagine when daydreaming of olde Welsh village life.
This small town is located along the River Conwy, which cascades under an old stone bridge that divides the town. I recommend stopping in here for lunch or dinner after a day in nature to refuel – just make sure to keep your camera on you.
We went for lunch at The Alpine Coffee Shop twice (and would highly recommend it!) and walked around photographing along the river, but I am confident there would have been some magic shooting here at night as well. There is something about this place that is simply enchanting.
Snowdonia Photography locations: Fairy Glen
Just outside of Betws-y-Coed is a section of wilderness that has been dubbed “Fairy Glen” by the local farmers. Google Maps will deliver you to the carpark where you will have to pay a small fee to park. From here, follow signs for Fairy Glen.
To be honest, the stroll is lovely, but there is only one shot photographers seek at the Fairy Glen, which is seen above. However, I found the old farmland and countryside quite striking, as did the American boys I had travelling with me who are less accustomed to the typical countryside scenery in the UK!
While this may not be a “premier destination” for Snowdonia photography, it is certainly worth the stop if you have the time!
Snowdonia Photography locations: Penmachno Bridge
Also outside of Betws-y-Coed is a locally renowned stone bridge known as Penmachno Bridge. The River Conwy runs through lush green forestry and under this quaint stone walking bridge.
Again, this is by no means a premier location for photography in Snowdonia, but it is one of those postcard-perfect scenes that deserves a bit of love if you can find the time. As the scene has a bit of a fairytale essence, I once again recommend bringing an ND filter to capture some long exposures and give it that ethereal pop.
Check out the exact location for Penmachno Bridge here.
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Just outside Snowdonia: Photography Locations nearby
There are a handful of other gems that are outside of the Snowdonia National Park boundaries, but that I consider must-sees for landscape photographers. I suspect many of you will look for accommodation near Bangor as a home base for your time in Northern Wales, and all of the locations listed below are a short drive away.
Llanddwyn Island Lighthouse
An absolutely special spot for sunset, but an even better photography location after dark! The Llanddwyn Island Lighthouse is a very special place on the Northwestern-most peninsula of Wales. It is a short drive from Anglesey or Bangor.
Unfortunately, this destination requires a bit of luck or planning. As the lighthouse is located on a tidal island, it is inaccessible during high tide. This also means that if you access it during a lower tide, you must be aware of when the tide is coming in or risk getting stranded on the island.
It is also a 1.5-mile walk from the car park to the lighthouse, so you will need to arrive early if you plan to photograph sunset. You’ll also want to bring flashlights and warm layers if you plan to photograph the stars! Make sure you have GPS with you or pay very close attention to where you walk from on your way there; it’s easy to get lost on your way back in the dark!
I happened to get very lucky on my visit. I was without this information and just-so-happened to visit on a day when the tide was out 2 hours before sunset and did not come back in until a few hours after. This allowed me to photograph the golden hour, sunset, and get some nice Milky Way photos without getting stranded on a bitter, cold night.
Near the town of Bangor is a beautiful castle with a terrible history, and a rapidly changing future.
Penrhyn Castle’s construction and maintenance came through great suffering from the local people. It really isn’t a castle at all, but simply a home whose facade has been created to look like one. It does, however, make for some striking photos!
As the castle is a National Trust site, there is a small fee for parking and additional fees for entry, if you so desire. This will soon become a much busier place as well. Filming only recently finished here for a very popular action series that will undoubtedly draw crowds in much the same way as Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars sets have done in the past.
If you’re driving to Snowdonia from London (or most of England really), you will likely arrive via the town of Conwy. The Great Orme peninsula is a popular travel loop for a day drive around the spectacular coastline that ends in Conwy. Input the Conwy Castle into GPS and try to visit this place after dark.
While there are certainly some moody photos to be had during daylight hours if the weather is right. I found this place to be far more photogenic as the lights come on! Find a spot shooting across the bridge with the castle and harbour reflecting in the calm waters below.
Where to stay near Snowdonia National Park
We opted to stay in a wonderful BnB in Tregarth, Ysgubor Cottage, that we absolutely fell in love with! Staying in Tregarth put us in a central location from which to explore all the spots we wanted to photograph around Snowdonia.
From here, we were only 15 minutes or less from each of the sunrise locations we had scouted out. It provided us with the best value for money as there were three of us and we were able to rent the entire cottage to ourselves. 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.
Camera Gear for Photographing Snowdonia
While it is possible to capture some great photos nowadays with smartphones, for the best possible photos in Snowonia you may want to consider a few key pieces of photography gear:
- Camera: 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.
- Lens: The lens we use most frequently is the Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS as the zoom lens allows for the most diversity. We also often use the Laowa 15mm F2 for shots that require a wider angle. For wildlife photography, the Tamron 150-500mm offers the best value while being (relatively) budget friendly.
- Tripod: A tripod is essential if you are shooting in low light, at night or for any other long exposure photography. When traveling, we use the Manfrotto Be Free as it’s lightweight and easy to carry on longer hikes. For times when we require something more stable, we use the Artcise Carbon Fiber Tripod.
- Filters: A Circular Polarizing (CPL) filter (CPL) or Neutral Density (ND) filter are very useful for allowing slower shutter speeds and for cutting glare on reflective surfaces, helping to bring out the colors. The best CPL and ND filters we have found are the quartz line from Polar Pro.
Final thoughts on the best Snowdonia photography locations
Snowdonia National Park is one of the most scenic places in all of the UK. This part of northwest Wales is full of rugged, unspoilt nature providing stunning photography locations, regardless of what type of British weather is thrown at you!
Despite being somewhat desensitised to the British countryside, I found Snowdonia National Park and its surroundings to be mesmerisingly beautiful. We saw a lot of grey, rainy weather and I still couldn’t recommend this area enough!
I really hope this guide has helped you to find the best Snowdonia photography locations! If you like what you’ve seen and have plans to venture north, you may also be interested in my guide to 10 days in Scotland, which features the perfect 10-14 day road trip itinerary with photo inspiration.
Think I’ve missed something? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!