Car Trail:Southern Snowdonia Coast | Scenic Drive at Harlechadd to shortlist

Harlech Castle

Harlech Castle

Image Credit: Gwynedd Council
Harlech Castle

Scenic Drive

LL46 2YA



Many of the fantastic scenic drives in Mid Wales are set against panoramic and breathtaking backdrops and fantastic for motorists who love to explore places off the beaten track. The Coastal Way in Wales runs the entire length of Cardigan Bay. It’s a 180-mile (290km) odyssey that threads between blue seas on one side and big mountains on the other. It's a great location for a road trip, short break or an epic Easter weekend away.

For visitors that enjoy sea views, try out the coastal route from Portmeirion to Machynlleth in the heart of the UNESCO Dyfi Biosphere.

Portmeirion is a magical place, an exquisite Italianate village designed by Clough Williams-Ellis tucked neatly into a headland overlooking the River Dwyryd. The village was the surreal location for cult 1960s TV series The Prisoner and it’s a hugely popular day-trip.

On the journey south along the A496, check out Harlech Castle, a World Heritage Site, which was built in the late 1200s and now looks slightly marooned on its rocky plinth. The famous song ‘Men of Harlech’ commemorates an epic siege in the 1460s, when the castle held out for seven years, the longest siege in British history.

Bounded by tree-covered hills and misty mountains, the Mawddach Estuary (‘the loveliest in Wales’) reveals jaw-dropping vistas as it winds its way towards the sea at Barmouth. It’s also a popular spot with wading birds and gulls, so don’t forget your binoculars.

Barmouth was a hard-working, ship-building, slate-exporting port until 19th century tourists took a shine to its mountains-meet-sea charms. Nowadays it’s Southern Snowdonia’s most popular resort, with big beaches and splendid views up the Mawddach Estuary.

Rising up into the hills behind Barmouth, a 5.6-mile/9km route lead to Dinas Oleu (birthplace of the National Trust) and across farmland and woodland, with long-range views of the Mawddach Estuary and Llŷn Peninsula.

Take the toll bridge across the estuary at Penmaenpool to join up with the A493 coastal route and be sure to also check out Aberdyfi, a small seaside village in southern Snowdonia. where the River Dyfi meets the green-blue waters of Cardigan Bay.

Aberdyfi is the subject of a popular Welsh folk song, ‘Clychau Aberdyfi’ or ‘The Bells of Aberdyfi’, which refers to the legend of Cantre’r Gwaelod, a submerged kingdom beneath Cardigan Bay.

Drive inland to the ancient capital of Wales at Machynlleth to crossing the River Dyfi. You can continue south on the A487 to Aberystwyth, a pier-and-prom Georgian/Victorian resort and the largest town in Mid Wales.

Drive Route: Portmeirion - Barmouth- Aberdyfi - Machynlleth

Miles: 56

Cash PointDisabled toiletsPicnic sitePostboxPublic toilets

Pay & Display Car Parks: Bron y Graig Isaf LL46 2SR; Bron y Graig Uchaf LL46 2SR; Min y Don LL46 2UG.

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LL46 2YA

Location and nearby places


Plan route to Harlech using Google mapsPlan route using Google maps

Map reference: SH 581311  Lat: 52.85862 Long: -4.10905


Harlech is situated on the A496 coast road which can be accessed by the A470/A487 Dolgellau - Porthmadog road.
Harlech town centre has pay and display parking and has a train station in easy reach of the castle.

Parking: with charge

Accessible by Public Transport: 0 miles from Harlech station


  • Cash PointCash Point
  • Disabled toiletsDisabled toilets
  • Picnic sitePicnic site
  • PostboxPostbox
  • Public toiletsPublic toilets

Pay & Display Car Parks: Bron y Graig Isaf LL46 2SR; Bron y Graig Uchaf LL46 2SR; Min y Don LL46 2UG.

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