10 Best Castles in Wales to Visit

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Wales, a country full of myths, legends, dragons and castles. In fact, there are over 600 castles in Wales in various states of repair. There are Iron Age hill forts, Roman ruins and Medieval castles built by Welsh princes and English kings. With so many castles to choose from, how do you pick the best castles in Wales to visit? I asked some of my fellow bloggers to recommend their favourite castles and included a few of my own.

If you are a Cadw member, English Heritage Member, Historic Scotland Member, CSSC member, Monument Pass holder, Local Residents’ Pass holders, Senior Pass holders, you will receive reduced or free entry on production of your proof of membership.

The Top Castles in Wales to Visit

Conwy Castle, North Wales

Contributed by Nancy from Around the World at the Weekend

You can’t miss Conwy Castle in Wales as you have to drive through it to get into the very charming town. Conwy Castle is a fantastic place to explore and as a 13th Century World Heritage site, it is absolutely steeped with history.

It was designed by the English King Edward I to intimidate the locals and it is certainly still an imposing presence. It’s really the perfect ruined castle for adventures and has an almost ‘Famous Five’ feel to it. 

Conwy Castle isn’t cheap (an adult ticket is £9.90) but it is worth the cost, though I would avoid visiting with very small children as there are plenty of places for them to jump off.

If you do visit, then make sure you also make time to visit the town too. Amazing fish and chips, a dynastic view of the bay and you can even pick up a crabbing bucket and bacon and catch some local crabs! 

Powis Castle, Powys

Contributed by Pauline from BeeLovedCity

Powis Castle

If you are heading to Wales soon, make sure you visit Powis Castle! 

Powis Castle is one of the best things to see in Welshpool. This National Trust property is the locals’ favourite! 

The best way to get there is by car although it is also possible to bike or walk up to the castle from Welshpool train station. As you enter the property, you will discover a gorgeous deer park. Keep your eyes open! If you are lucky you will see some deers and rabbits.

You can leave your vehicle in the car park by the castle. Walk up to the entrance and get your ticket. The entrance costs £14.20 and is free for National Trust members. This will give you access to the castle and gardens. You can start your visit by the castle itself. It was built around 1200 and features fabulous tapestries and paintings.

But the best part is the gardens! These Italian style gardens are absolutely breath-taking. From the terraces, you will be able to admire beautiful views over the Welsh countryside. As you walk down, you will discover amazing plants and flowers.

There are two National Trust cafes at Powis Castle and they serve amazing food. If you truly want to enjoy your visit, make sure to get a scone with cream and jam.

If you go around Christmas, the castle is illuminated and they serve mulled wine, it’s magical!

Beaumaris Castle, Anglesey

Contributed by Larch from The Silver Nomad

Beaumaris Castle, Anglesey

The last of the four castles that were built by King Edward I in his quest to quell the Welsh, Beaumaris Castle was due to be his most impressive. Building started in 1295, but money issues and fighting with the Scots brought the build to a standstill and the castle was not completed.

The castle was built in perfect symmetry with twelve towers, two gatehouses and four lines of fortification. A moat surrounded most of the castle, and a tidal dock meant that ships with supplies could sail right up to the castle itself.

Beaumaris Castle is part of the UNESCO inscribed World Heritage site which includes Harlech, Caernarfon and Conwy Castles.

One of the highlights of the castle is Chapel Tower. The chapel has vaulted ceilings and pointed windows and is worth the climb. The tower also houses the “Castles of Edward I in Wales” Exhibition.

Entry costs: Adult £6.50; Seniors (over 65) £5.20, and £3.90 per child (ages 5-15).

Cardiff Castle, Cardiff

Contributed by Pip Jones from Wales Bucket List 

Cardiff Castle

Cardiff Castle sits smack bang in the centre of the city centre and is a real historical contrast to the surrounding shops and cafes.

Despite looking like a relatively modern castle it has survived over 2000 years of history. The timeline includes conquests, Victorian restoration and eventually becoming home of the influential Bute family. 

The inside of the castle is particularly spectacular and there are many lavish and ornate rooms to explore. The best way to experience the Castle is to take a guided tour and learn more about the architecture, history and how it was also used as a shelter during WW2. 

There are distinctive areas of history and culture to discover during a visit. The guides and the visitor centre do a great job of laying out the varied historical timeline in a clear and informative way. 

Entry to the castle is, in all honesty, a little on the steep side at £39 for a family ticket. However, if you live or work in Cardiff, you can actually apply for a Castle Key, which gives you free admission to this fantastic castle.

Visiting the Castle is a fun activity if you are visiting Cardiff for the weekend as it is definitely one of the must-visit castles in Wales

Criccieth Castle, Gwynedd

Contributed by Mandi from  Great Yarmouth Family Fun

Criccieth Castle is located in North West Wales, it is a more of a ruin, but it’s a very nice ruin, in a stunning location, rising from the sea atop a small hill, dominating the small town of Criccieth. A warm clear summers day is the best time to visit, it is very exposed and a clear day will give you amazing views of dozens of miles of the Welsh Coast.

The entrance is also the gift shop and exhibition centre and has lots of interactive ways for everyone to learn about the castle’s history.

The gatehouse is reached via a short steep climb, which is is good shape for it’s age.

The castle provides lots of information on the story and the structure of the castle and you can easily imagine what life would have been like in the castle.

A visit to the castle will last between 2-3 hours, but you can easily spend a day in Criccieth with beaches either side of the castle and a vast array of shops, and restaurants.

The castle is open all year round, with reduced hours between November and March.

Its quite a reasonable price, with a family ticket for 4 costing less than £20

Although if you are visiting Wales and have a keen interest on history and castles, you may be better off purchasing an Explorer pass, a 3 day pass can be used during a 7 day period and a 7 day pass can be used during a 14 day period, so depending on how long you are visiting the area for, this may be a cost effective way of visiting various castles in the area.

Caerphilly Castle, Mid Glamorgan

Contributed by Cath from Passports & Adventures

Caerphilly Castle

One of the best castles to visit in the UK is Caerphilly Castle in South Wales. Located in the town with which it shares its name, Caerphilly Castle dates from the 13th century, was built by the wealthy and famous de Clare family, and is the second largest castle in the United Kingdom occupying 30 acres.

Caerphilly Castle is situated on an island and features a double moat system. The inner wall was built higher than the outer for defensive purposes and four turret towers were included in the defensive measures of the castle. Its sprawling water defences are why it covers such a large area.

Caerphilly Castle is a great castle to visit in the UK. Extensively restored by the wealthy Marquess de Bute before being handed over to the state in the 1950’s, it has many nooks and crannies to explore. The Great Hall is worth visiting, if it is not closed for a wedding (the castle is a popular wedding venue). The towers can be climbed, and you’ll get a great view across the valley from the top. The battlements can be walked, there are replica trebuchets and there are also two dragons in residence.

These have become a popular draw and now lie in the Dragon’s Lair along with their two babies. At the rear of the castle you will find Gilbert de Clare’s Maze, a great thing to explore if you are visiting Caerphilly Castle with kids. You could also stop by the knight holding up the Leaning Tower of Caerphilly, which leans to a great degree than the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Caerphilly Castle can be reached from Cardiff by train or you can visit by car, parking at the public car park across the road. It is a Cadw site (free for Cadw members) and has an entrance fee of £9.40 for adults and £5.60 for juniors (5-17 years of age).

Ewole Castle, Flintshire

Contributed by Larch from The Silver Nomad

credit: http://www.castlewales.com/

One of the smallest and less well known of the Welsh castles, the ruins off Ewole Castle are tucked away in Wepre Woods off the A55 in Flintshire.

The Welsh and English had long had battles and skirmishes over control of Welsh land. In 1255, Prince Llewelyn of Gruffydd was the ruler of Gwynedd, but Roger de Mantalt on the English side of the border included the manor of Ewole in his lands of Harwarden and fenced off the forest as his private hunting park. This infuriated Llewelyn who destroyed the enclosure and took back the land for the Welsh.

Two years later, Llewlyn had built castle in the woods. As the battle for the lands were fought over by the Welsh and English, the castle passed from ownership of one to the other.

The castle was never meant to be a strategic stronghold and the construction of it shows many inadequacie: it has low curtain walls; the gatehouse was not strong enough; it was built on low-ground and even from the highest point you could not see an attack in the forest.

The ruins do show a D-shaped tower, which makes it uniquely Welsh. This would have been the castle’s keep and where the Lord of the castle would sleep. It would also have been the last stronghold in the castle.

The castle is about 1 kilometre walk from the car park and is free to look around.

Caernafon Castle, Gwynedd

Contributed by Bec from Wyld Family Travel

Caernafon Castle

The mighty Caernafon Castle sits strong on the edge of the water. The huge and extremely intimidating walls would make anyone think twice about an invasion as they rounded the river bend to see this in their path. Even standing in the car park under the shadow of Caernafon it is a marvel of its time.

First commissioned by King Edward the 1st in 1283 it was meant to intimidate and discourage the Welsh from attacking the invading English. 

The fortress that is Caernafon Castle is world renown as one of the greatest buildings of the Middle Ages and has to be one of the best things to see in North Wales. Not only was it a fortress it was also a Royal home that stood to become the birthplace of the first English Prince of Wales. Walking the halls of this amazing Welsh Castle you wish the walls could talk and tell you the stories of what it has seen. Instead, you have to rely on the boards located throughout to tell you what has happened here over the last 700 years. From battles to daily life Carenafon Castle has seen it all.

While the castle is easy to navigate some areas can be uneven so you must take extra care. Entry to the castle is  £7 pounds per adult and  £5 pounds for a concession ticket. There is a museum inside the castle and it is free to enter with your castle ticket.

Harlech Castle, Gwynedd

Contributed by Larch from The Silver Nomad

Harlech Castle

The beautiful ruins of the majestic Harlech Castle stare out over the Ceredigion Bay. Once a stronghold of Edward I for his battles to conquer the Welsh, Harlech Castle was built between 1283 to 1286.

The cliff top position gave the perfect vantage point for seeing attacks from sea or land. Attacking from the front, the first obstacle was the moat, then thick wooden doors, an iron portcullis and a killing area where they were shot at by arrows or crossbolts all had to be overcome before entering the castle.

It is much easier to get across to the castle nowadays with an elevated walkway leading up to the castle gates. Once inside, explore the many rooms with explanation boards, or climb up the towers to the ramparts to get views across the sea and towards the hills of Snowdonia.

There is also a – friendly – dragon model in the courtyard for a photo opportunity.

Harlech Castle, along with the Castles of Beaumaris, Caernarfon and Conwy form part of the UNESCO World Heritage site.

There is a café and information centre and the site is dog friendly.

Entry costs: Adult £6.50; Seniors (over 65) £5.20, and £3.90 per child (ages 5-15).

Picton Castle, Pembrokeshire

Contributed by Cath from Travel Around Ireland

Picton Castle, Pembrokeshire

Picton Castle and Gardens is located near Haverfordwest in West Wales and is one of the best castles to visit in the UK. This stately home in Pembrokeshire has over 40 acres of woodland, gardens and grounds and is a must-visit if you are visiting the area.

Originally built in the 13th century as a medieval castle by a Flemish knight, it was completely transformed into a stately home in the 18th century. The four symmetrically spaced half round towers on the outside, along with the gatehouse, which is flanked by two narrower towers, were based on the design of Irish castles from the same period. Due to the transformation, there is no inner courtyard or keep once you enter it, only elegantly decorated stately rooms, making it a unique castle in the United Kingdom.

The castle is run by a registered charity, the Picton Castle Trust, who rely on donation and ticket sales to help with both the upkeep and restoration of the castle. They are slowly resorting as many rooms as they can. The castle is opening from spring to autumn, but the extensive gardens are open all year round. You can join a guided tour in which you will visit splendid rooms and can learn about the famous painting of the castle which was featured on a TV show “Fake or Fortune?”.

Outside are extensive gardens and woodland including a beautiful walled garden featuring a pond and also the Welsh Owl Centre. Entry costs £9 per adult and £6 per child (ages 5-15), and it can only be reached by car.

If you enjoyed this post about the Best Castles in Wales, you might also like the posts on Best Castles in Scotland and the Best Castles in England. Do you have a favourite Welsh Castle? Let me know in the comments below.

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4 thoughts on “10 Best Castles in Wales to Visit

  1. I think you have missed out one of the most underated castles in Wales.
    Kidwelly. Always left out in the listings of Wales greatest Castles.

    1. I had not heard of Kidwelly, Peter, thank you for letting me know about it. I will try to visit so that I can add it to the list.

  2. I had no idea there were so many castles in Wales! I’ve never visiting Wales, but it certainly looks like a beautiful country and hope to make it there someday.

    1. I do hope you make it Wendy Lynn. Wales is rugged, green and beautiful.

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