Are you looking for the most beautiful places to photograph in Snowdonia / Eryri? Here are some of my favourite photo viewpoints in North Wales.
As the author of the popular North Wales guidebook, Photographing North Wales, I'm familiar with all the best photo viewpoints in Snowdonia / Eryri so here's an article to help you find some of the best views that Snowdonia has to offer, don't forget to take your camera along!
Eryri/Snowdonia is a photographer’s paradise with beautiful mountain vistas, glacial lakes, dramatic waterfalls and an incredible industrial heritage and World Heritage site in the abandoned slate quarries scattered around the areas mountains. With the help of this photography guide I hope you'll be able to discover some of the wonderful places Snowdonia has to visit, whether you're a keen photographer looking for the best photos or just someone wanting to discover amazing views.
So here are some of my best Snowdonia photography locations, many of which you'll find in my guidebook to the area, Photographing North Wales.
Central Eryri / Snowdonia
Some of the very best photography locations in Snowdonia can be found in the centre of the national park close to the popular tourist villages of Capel Curig, Llanberis and Beddgelert. The surrounding area is dominated by the impressive Snowdonia mountain ranges; The Snowdon Massif, The Glyderau and the Carneddau and are all within easy reach from the main roads: the A5, A4086 and A498, each route has incredible views along the way of the surrounding landscape.
Eryri / Snowdonia photo location viewpoint 1. Cwm Idwal
To reach Cwm Idwal a short but spectacular walk takes you from the main visitors centre at Ogwen Cottage right into the heart of the Eryri / Snowdonia mountains. The 3000ft peaks of the Glyderau mountains rise above the glacial waters of Llyn Idwal; don't forget that wide angle lens here as there's lots of scenery to squeeze into that photo. If you're lucky to arrive on a calm weather day the reflections on Llyn Idwal are breathtaking and if winter snow is around you feel as though you've walked into an alpine wonderland. You're surrounded by the Snowdonia mountains on all sides here, the dramatic profile of Pen Yr Ole Wen to the North and the infamous Tryfan to the east; it’s a location that suits itself to spending and entire days photography. Whilst you're at Cwm Idwal make sure not to miss the tumbling waters of Ogwen falls, plunging through rocky crags to the floor of Nant Francon valley; Ogwen waterfall if just two hundred metres north along the A5 from the visitors centre at Pont Pen-y-benglog.
Eryri / Snowdonia photo location viewpoint 2: The lakes of Llynnau Mymbyr with stunning views of Snowdon / Yr Wyddfa
One of my favourite Snowdonia photography viewpoints is at the twin lakes of Llynnau Mymbyr, on the A4086 just next to Capel Curig. It's a really easy viewpoint to access but also one of the best Snowdon views in Snowdonia, the only downside of it's ease of access is that it’s also one of the most popular Snowdonia views with photographers and therefore one of the most photographed. It's worth taking photos from both of the lakes at Llynnau Mymbyr; the one close to Plas Y Brenin Mountain Centre has attractive woodland which means it's often calmest so the best chance of a photo of Snowdon reflected in the lake, the second lake is more rugged and open, but with closer views of the Snowdon Horseshoe. The stunning mountain peaks of Snowdon / Yr Wyddfa can look amazing when photographed reflected in the glassy waters of the lake. Regarding photography equipment here, a good range of lenses is useful; wider focal lengths capturing the rocky foreground on edge of the lakes whilst longer lenses give you more intimate photo opprtunites of individual peaks of the distant Snowdon Horseshoe.
Eryri / Snowdonia photo location viewpoint 3. Llyn Llydaw and closeup views of Yr Wyddfa / Snowdon and Crib Goch
Llyn Llydaw is a beautiful lake under the shadow of Wales's highest peak, Yr Wyddfa / Snowdon. Access is relatively easy from the large, but extremely busy, parking area at Pen Y Pass at the top of the Llanberis Pass. For photos of the lake you follow the popular Miners Track walking just over a 1 mile to the shore of Llyn Llydaw. The Snowdonia mountains can't fail to impress here with extensive views of Crib Goch, the towering ridges of Y Lliwedd and Crib Y Ddysgl and of course, Yr Wyddfa / Snowdon itself. For photos, you're best visiting early morning as Snowdon and the surrounding mountains are increasingly in dark shadow as the day lengthens; a sunrise photo trip also is your best chance of a “people free” view as the paths to Snowdona are extremely popular with walkers, tourists and photographers at peak times. Photography wise, It's a good idea to have a range of focal lengths again. Wider photos are needed to capture the full scale of Yr Wyddfa / Snowdon and Crib Goch from the side of Llyn Llydaw whilst telephoto shots give you the chance to photograph the tiny figures making their way across the precarious route on Crib Goch or frame a close-up shot of the old mine buildings just above the Miners Track.
Eryri / Snowdonia photo location viewpoint 4. Llanberis: Llyn Padarn and Snowdonia's famous lonely tree
Llanberis is one of Snowdonia's most popular villages and has some great photo opportunities. There's the 13th century Dolbadarn Castle, perched above the shore of Llyn Padarn, Ceunant Mawr waterfall which thunders through a narrow gorge after heavy rainfall and Llanberis is home to the abandoned slate quarry of Dinorwig, brimming with interesting viewpoints and the chance to take some unique photos of abandoned buildings and artefacts of the industrial past. If you want to photograph a steam train then Llanberis gives you two choices; the main station of the Snowdon Mountain Railway is right in the village centre, departing to climb to the summit of Snowdon / Yr Wyddfa, and alongside Llyn Padarn steam trains run along the narrow gauge Llanberis Lake Railway.
For most photographers visiting Llanberis though there's one main attraction, the famous Lonely Tree on Llyn Padarn; the perfect photo locatiion for sunrise with the backdrop of Snowdon and the Llanberis Pass behind. Sadly many peope fail to explore other photogenic spots around the lake and one of my favourite viewpoints is from Brynrefail, at the north end of Llyn Padarn. Take a photo low down to the left of the lake outflow and it's a wonderful view.
Eryri / Snowdonia photo location viewpoint 5. Llyn Gwynant
The final “must see” photo location is the glacial lake of Llyn Gwynant resting in the valley of Nant Gwynant. Approach it from Capel Curig on the A498 and descending into the vallery you'll pass two excellent viewpoints with good photo opportunities. Firstly there's a small tourist car park with direct views across to the Snowdon Horseshoe, the hydro electric pipeline from Llyn Llydaw seen heading into the valley floor. A little further down the road the large roadside layby is a great viewpoint for photos over Llyn Gwynant itself. Surrounded by mountains on all sides, Llyn Gwynant's sheltered position means there’s a good chance of calm water and stunning reflections, it's also one of my favourite viewpoints for taking photos of swirling autumn mists as they linger above the lake, you'll need a pretty long lens for shots from here to get the most impact from your photography.
Where to stay: The main villages for accommodation are Betws-y-coed, Llanberis, Capel Curig and Beddgelert and all have several options for dining. Arguably Betws-y-coed makes the best base for longer visits as there is a wider choice of accommodation and places to eat.
Best time to visit: Snowdonia weather is for changeable all year round but it's that which makes it all the more photogenic. There are good photos to be taken the entire year visiting in spring and autumn gives you the chance of capturing the Snowdonia scenery at its most colourful.
Other great photo locations near central Snowdonia.
Eryri / Snowdonia photo location viewpoint 6. Fairy Glen (Ffos Anoddun)
The magical gorge of Fairy Glen on the outskirts of Betws-y-coed. A little limited with viewpoints but a beautiful place for Snowdonia photographs that are just that bit different from every other location around the national park
Eryri / Snowdonia photo location viewpoint 7. Llyn Crafnant
Llyn Crafnant near Trefriw is my favourite snowdonia photo location for autumn colours. Visit early morning on a calm day in late October for the chance of reflections and mists swirling above the lake surface.
Eryri / Snowdonia photo location viewpoint 8. The Mawddach Estuary from Barmouth
The views above Barmouth over the Mawddach are stunning and a great viewpoint to escape the busier areas of Snowdonia. Far less photographers travel here.