Best Scenic Drives in North Wales
Snowdonia stretches over 823 square miles and offers picturesque views of its varying terrains – from mountains to lakes and forests. Walking isn’t the only way to view this incredible region, there are plenty of scenic drives which take you through the heart of Snowdonia with an array of places to stop on the way. There are several routes through Snowdonia – you can start in the harbour town Porthmadog on the North Wales Coast which is the hub of the West Highland and Ffestiniog steam railways.
From Porthmadog you can follow the A498 past Tremadog and through the famous Aberglaslyn Pass to Beddgelert where you can visit the famous Gelert’s Grave and take a walk along the river. You can then carry on through the forest along the banks of Llyn Dinas which follows onto Llyn Gwynant which is a beautiful place to stop. You can then carry on upwards following the Nant Gwynant river with viewpoints at the top back down onto the lake.
Turning left at the top of Nant Gwynant takes you to the Pen-Y-Pass which is the start of the main routes to climb Snowdon and winds down to Llanberis where you can catch the Snowdon Mountain Railway to the top of the mountain. Heading back to the Pen Y Pass you can follow the a4086 over the hills past Capel Curig onto the A5 towards the popular village of Betws-Y-Coed where you can visit Swallow Falls, followed by a trip to one of the lovely cafes in the village.
Leaving Betws-Y-Coed you can either continue towards Conwy to see the Castle and its walls or head towards Llangollen and the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct taking a trip across on a canal boat or walking along the towpath across the aqueduct giving spectacular views.
The five-mile toll road around the base of the headland of the Great Orme from the seaside Town of Llandudno gives spectacular views over Anglesey and Snowdonia all year round. It really is a beautiful route - follow the signs to Happy Valley from the Pier and this will take you to the one way route.
Running from Llandegla to Llangollen, the Horseshoe Pass is named for its winding route around the valley and is a popular route for bikers giving wonderful views of the Welsh hills. The Ponderosa Café at the summit is a perfect place to stop during your journey.
Isle of Anglesey
Anglesey gives spectacular views all year round. Taking Telford's famous Menai Suspension bridge you can turn right onto the A545 to Beaumaris where the Castle is a must-see, along with the incredible views over the Menai Strait. Taking the B5109 you can follow signs to Red Wharf Bay; a designated nature reserve with an abundance of wildlife and an extensive sandy beach at low tide. Further up the coast is Moelfre; where you can watch dolphins from the Seawatch Centre, or take a walk along the Anglesey coastal path. Taking the A5 for the drive east, the Anglesey Sea Zoo is well worth a stop – you can even take rib rides from here to get a great view of the dolphins and sea lions in the Menai Strait. The Foel Farm park is another great stop – especially for families. Heading back towards the Menai Bridge another great stop is Plas Newydd stately home where you can enjoy the beautiful gardens and woodlands year-round and incredible views of Snowdonia.
The Sychnant Pass is the Northernmost pass in Snowdonia National Park and links Conwy to Penmaenmawr via Dwygyfylchi running along the southern side valley of Conwy Mountain. It’s a beautiful route to take if you are taking a trip to Penmaenmawr beach, and there are plenty of free parking spaces along the way if you are planning on taking a walk.