Llandudno is the most beautiful seaside resort on the North Wales coast. Its Victorian promenade, pier and arc of hotels between the Great and Little Orme headlands are elegant and magnificent. It was labelled the Queen of the Welsh resorts back in 1864 just after the resort was designed and built by architects Owen Williams and George Felton. Llandudno was connected to the North West by rail around the same time and has been a popular holiday destination ever since. For photography its architecture, pier and promenade are big attractions as are the views over the town and Llandudno Bay from on the Great Orme.
How To Get Here
Llandudno is situated 4 miles off the A55, 20 miles from Bangor and 40 miles from the M56 near Chester. The best approach is from junction 19 on the A55 at Llandudno junction. Take the A470 from here 4 miles to the town of Llandudno. Street parking is pay and display and there are various pay and display car park in the town. Try Happy Valley near the Grand Hotel at the west end of the promenade, and four car parks just inland of Mostyn Crescent, again at the west end of the promenade. Charges are typically £1 for an hour up to £4.50 for all day parking (2015).
- Parking Lat/Long: 53.328797, -3.828564
- Parking Postcode: LL30 2LR
- OS Map grid ref: SH 783 828
- Map: OS Explorer OL17 Snowdon/Yr Wyddfa
What To Shoot and Viewpoints
Viewpoint 1 – Great Orme, Llandudno View
The Great Orme limestone headland towers above the town with excellent views east to the pier, the sweeping bay of North Shore and across to its smaller sister, the Little Orme. A wide lens frames the pier, sweeping bay and Little Orme to the east whilst longer focal lengths are ideal for isolating interesting features like the ornate pier buildings, Little Orme, the Victorian hotels or even the Kashmiri goats that roam freely here.
For the Great Orme head west on the promenade toward the Grand Hotel following North Parade/Happy Valley road. Turn left opposite the Grand Hotel entrance (signposted ski slope/cable car). Continue uphill on the lane for 400 metres to reach the gated entrance to the ski slope. Turn right just before through the wooden gate to climb the stepped pathway alongside the ski slope. After just 150 metres turn right (north) onto one of the small grassy plateaus for views over the North Shore.
Viewpoint 2 – Llandudno from Pen y Dinas
Once the site of an ancient hillfort, Pen Y Dinas on the Great Orme is one of the nest views you’ll find of Llandudno.
For this location follow directions for the previous viewpoint but go through the gated entrance to the ski slope. Immediately on the left is a way marked path which climbs to the information board on the summit of Pen y Dinas hillfort. Head south through limestone escarpment to reach ever widening views of the town below and south west for views of Snowdonia and the Conwy Estuary.
Views from the southern edge look directly across to Snowdonia and the Conwy Estuary. With a wide angle lens limestone slab ramparts of the old hill fort or goats grazing precariously on the edge provide foreground interest. Longer lenses pick out the mountain contours, the patterns of sand banks in the estuary at low tide or isolate a lone goat on the hillside. The views to the south west are the perfect vantage point for capturing the sweep of the bay and the maze of streets in the town. Try visiting after dark for spectacular night time shots.
Viewpoint 3 – The Pier
‘It zooms out of the sea…. in a spectacular Indian Gothic style rather like a Maharajah’s palace floating on a lake. Cast iron, brackets of iron lacework, an outstandingly pretty balustrade like an enlarged sh net, ogee roofs curling away to the sky, all add up to a totally pleasurable experience.’ – British Tourist Authority 1975
Llandudno Pier, built in 1878, is located at the west end of the promenade next to the Grand Hotel and is photogenic from many viewpoints. For a viewpoint beneath the pier 25m after the street entrance to the pier go through the gap in the sea wall to descend steps to the shoreline.
The view from beneath this 2,295 feet (700 m) long pier reveals sea ravaged rocks and pebbles; perfect foreground interest. It’s a good spot to shoot one of those “misty water” long exposure with a ND filter.
Viewpoint 4 – North Shore Beach/Promenade
The North Shore beach and its promenade stretches nearly two miles between the Great and Little Orme and provides wide ranging views and subjects. A walk along the promenade and beach is recommended at any time; try early morning for fewer people. There are good views of the pier (try close up near the wooden jetty at the west end) and both of the limestone headlands. Look out for a Victorian post box, palm trees, bandstand and wind shelters with a sea backdrop. When the tide retreats revealing rippled sand and pools this is a good place for beach photography
Other photo possibilities in Llandudno
Drive or walk around the Marine Drive on the Great Orme, take a ride on the Great Orme tramway, the longest cable car in the UK, and visit the quieter West Shore (good for sunsets). Follow the Alice in Wonderland trail around the town to photograph the peculiar carved characters of Lewis Carroll. The town also hosts several events during the year including the Victorian Extravaganza, the Llandudno Airshow, Wales Rally GB and the Three Castles Historic Rally. Llandudno promenade is also a great location for street photography.
Most of the area has great access for all. However the locations on the Great Orme require walking up steep paths, and it is steeply down steps to the base of Llandudno Pier.
Best Time of Year/Day
Llandudno Town and the North Beach faces north and the town receives early morning sun from the north east late in the summer. Sunset on the north beach is often hidden behind the Great Orme. Sunsets are a good option from the top of the Great Orme and from Llandudno’s quieter west beach. In the summer and on bank holidays this popular resort will be busy with people.