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North Wales’ Scenic Roads You Really Shouldn’t Miss

Published on 8 Mar 2024 by Amy Greenwood

North Wales is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, from rugged mountains to serene lakes and dramatic coastline. With stunning scenery around every corner, the region is home to some of the most scenic roads in the UK, offering visitors who prefer to buckle up, rather than wrap up, the opportunity to explore Wales’ natural beauty from the comfort of their car. Check out some of North Wales’ most scenic roads that you really shouldn’t miss.

Aberglaslyn Pass (A498)

Situated in Northern Eryri this route, which follows the A498 from Tremadog to Beddgelert, offers incredible views of the surrounding mountains, woodlands, and the Glaslyn River, which is spectacular in full spate. The road is flanked by mossy dry stone walls, overhanging trees and abundant foliage; wild flowers in spring and summer and a carpet of golden leaves in the autumn. It’s undeniably picturesque, with an almost mystical feel; if you enjoy driving through tree tunnels and dappled light then this route is for you. 

It’s worth keeping an eye out for the majestic Glaslyn Ospreys who nest nearby as you may be lucky enough to catch sight of these impressive birds in flight over the Glaslyn Valley. 

Horseshoe Pass  (A542)

Another mountain pass, this time in the Clwydian Range, Horseshoe Pass lies just north of Llangollen. This high altitude road, which closes frequently in winter due to snow, is so named due to the shape of the road as it curves from one side of a valley to the other. The road winds its way around the mountains, offering panoramic views of the valley below and is particularly beautiful in the late spring and summer months when the landscape is vibrant with colour. Stop at the viewing point to take in the far reaching views before enjoying a quick pit stop at the Ponderosa Cafe at the highest point of the Pass. 

Llyn Tegid / Bala Lake (A494 and B4403)

This route offers a more serene but equally stunning driving experience, circling the largest natural lake in Wales, Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake). The road takes you through charming countryside and provides opportunities to stop and enjoy watersports, or simply soak in the tranquil beauty and abundant wildlife of the area.

Menai Bridge to Beaumaris (A545)

This route begins as you cross onto Ynys Mon (Anglesey) via Thomas Telford’s Menai Suspension Bridge. The views from the bridge itself are pretty special, particularly on a sunny day when the waters of the Menai Strait sparkle below. Take the A545 / Beaumaris Road along the coast towards the historic town of Beaumaris, known for its mediaeval castle, charming streets, and Victorian seafront. Although only a short drive, the coast road provides breathtaking views of the Menai Strait and Eryri. To extend this route into a circular drive, travel north on the B5109 and A5025 to Red Wharf Bay, then on to Cemaes Bay before travelling back down the west coast, and joining the A4080 towards Newborough, returning to Menai Bridge. 

Llanberis Pass (A498 & A4086)

Starting from the small town of Beddgelert and heading towards the village of Llanberis, this route takes you through the heart of Eryri. The A498 and A4086 wind through the majestic Llanberis Pass, with the imposing Yr Wyddfa  / Mount Snowdon on one side and the picturesque lakes of Llyn Padarn and Llyn Peris on the other. The dramatic landscapes here are among the most iconic in Wales, offering spectacular views at every turn. 

The road passes historic slate quarries and picturesque mountain lakes, providing opportunities for sightseeing and photography.

Sychnant Pass (Sychnant Pass Rd)

Leading from Conwy into the northernmost part of Eryri, is the Sychnant Pass Road. 

The road leaves Conwy via the Upper Gate in the town walls and runs westward through a valley on the south side of Mynydd y Dref (Conwy Mountain), eventually passing the Pensychnant Estate, before descending steeply towards the village of Capelulo near Penmaenmawr. It’s on this dramatic descent, as the landscape opens up ahead, that the most fabulous mountain and sea views can be enjoyed. 

Criccieth to Aberdyfi (A497, A496 & A493)

Best enjoyed on a clear, sunny day, this 50 mile route closely follows the Cambrian Coast railway line and, while not the most dramatic, it is certainly one of the most scenic. The route takes in some spectacular scenery, with miles of panoramic sea views, and not one but two castles, including the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Castell Harlech. During the early part of the drive there are views across Bae Ceredigion towards the volcanic hills of the Llyn Peninsula, further on is the wide expanse of the Mawddach estuary and the impressive Barmouth Bridge, and as the road wends south towards Aberdyfi there are views across the mountains of Eryri on one side and the Irish Sea on the other.

Whether you’re a nature lover, a history enthusiast, or simply a thrill seeker, exploring North Wales by car is a memorable experience. From dramatic mountain passes to picturesque coastal roads, these scenic routes showcase North Wales’ natural beauty at every twist and turn.

You might also enjoy our guide to exploring North Wales on the Cambrian Coast Railway

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