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Top 10 Castles in Wales

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The Welsh like to tell you that there have 427 castles in Wales—and while many are in ruins, set amidst the country's dramatic landscapes, there are still more than 200 that are well-preserved and perfect for exploration.

Most castles in Wales are either Norman, belonging to Welsh princes, or date back to the reign of Edward I. The Normans, under William the Conqueror introduced castles as we know them to Britain . After the Battle of Hastings in 1066, he gave land to his loyal nobles to build fortresses to secure his conquest. His motte and bailey castles—mounds, surrounded by wood fenced courtyards and earthworks—went up fast, mostly in South Wales. Later, wealthy Normans added stone keeps and strong defensive walls. Meanwhile, the strongholds of the early princes of Wales mainly were primitive earthworks and stone structures. But they placed them in the most dramatic and well-defended locations in the Welsh landscape. Most have disappeared under the buildings of successive waves of victors. What distinguishes them, besides their positions, are the central towers that are often all that is left of them. Edward I of England led two military campaigns against the Welsh in the late 13th century. Eventually, he surrounded the North Wales province of Gwynedd with castles to subdue the locals. Those that remain today are the fairytale castles of Wales, some of the most famous and well-preserved castles in all of the U.K. Four of them—Conwy, Caernarvon, Harlech, and Beaumaris—make up the Castles and Town Walls of King Edward in Gwynedd UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Caerphilly Castle

Caerphilly is the second largest castle in Britain. Only Windsor is bigger. It was built by a Norman lord, Gilbert de Clare, to protect himself from the powerful Prince of Wales, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd (who did his best to knock it down). The castle covers more than 30 acres. During the English Civil War, a gunpowder explosion damaged the southeast tower, leaving it at a precarious angle that remains the castle’s most popular feature. Before World War II, the Marquess of Bute restored it in the most thorough and authentic castle restoration project ever undertaken in Britain.

Kidwelly Castle

The Normans took 250 years to subdue the Welsh. Kidwelly was often at the center of the conflict. Maurice de Londres was lord of the castle when it was attacked by a Welsh army led by the almost legendary warrior Princess. Gwenllian. She was the only woman to lead a medieval Welsh army into battle. She lost and was beheaded for treason (and her headless ghost haunts the place, of course), but her example prompted an uprising that ultimately drove the English out of West Wales. The castle featured in the opening scene of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Carreg Cennan

Sitting on a high bluff in the westernmost corner of the Brecon Beacons National Park, Carreg Cennan has impressive defenses. Instead of a simple drawbridge, the castle was protected by a series of spike-lined pits crossed by narrow bridges that made abrupt turns to slow attackers. At any time, the bridge supports could be drawn away, plunging attackers to their deaths. The pits are still there, but safe walkways have replaced the fearsome bridges. The earliest record of this castle was in the 13th century when Rhys Fychan, great-grandson of the original castle builder, won it back for his family. His own mother, who disliked him, had treacherously handed it over to the English.

Dolbadarn Castle

The 50-foot high round tower of Dolbadarn sits above a lake in Snowdonia, Llyn Padarn. Surrounded by what is left of its curtain wall of unmortared slate slabs, it once defended the ancient Welsh kingdom of Gwynedd. They were a quarrelsome lot, the early Welsh princes. One of them, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, locked up his brother in the tower for twenty years! Today, go for the views over the lake and the upper Conwy Valley. The tower itself is quite photogenic too.

Dolwyddelan Castle

Before the arrival of the Normans, the Welsh princes did not build many castles, preferring a nomadic lifestyle instead. As a result, there are only about 40 castles associated them left. Dolwyddelan is one. It guarded a vital pass through the mountains of Snowdonia National Park and was probably built as a visible statement of power by Llywelyn the Great, who ruled the area for almost 40 years. In the 19th century, the castle was fancifully restored in a medieval-style by a local lord. The join between the original castle of Llywelyn and the later additions are visible. Landscape artists going back hundreds of years, including J.M.W. Turner, have painted Dolwyddelan.

Harlech Castle

When Edward I set out to ruthlessly subdue the Welsh once and for all, in the late 13th century, he created a ring of castles around the rebellious province of Gwynedd, destroying villages and uprooting whole communities to plant those loyal to him. Despite their brutal origins, Edward’s castles, designed by his architect, Master James of St George, are among the most beautiful in Wales. Harlech sits atop a steep slope facing the sea.  Reachable across a drawbridge from the landside or hundreds of very steep, narrow steps from the beach, it overlooks beautiful ridges of dunes. At one time, the sea lapped the base of the rocky crag it sits on. Here you can climb the battlements and towers to enjoy the views or explore the exhibition in the barbican. The recently completed “floating” footbridge allows you to enter Harlech Castle as initially intended for the first time in 600 years.

Conwy Castle

If you visit only one castle in Wales, Conwy should be it. Edward I and Master James of St George created this fantastic castle and its walled village in only four years. You can safely walk a full circuit of the 8-towered battlements or the still intact 1,400-yard town walls. The castle also has the most complete set of medieval royal residential rooms anywhere in England and Wales. Approach the castle across the hundred-meter-long, Grade I Conwy Suspension Bridge. Designed by Thomas Telford in 1822, it was one of the world’s first road suspension bridges.

Caernarfon Castle

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The investiture ceremony for the current Prince Wales, Prince Charles, took place here in 1969. The crown he wore has recently been added to the Crown Jewels exhibit in the Tower of London. It's no surprise that this mighty castle, built on an epic scale, was chosen for this globally televised royal ceremony. It was designed as more than a fortress but as an awe-inspiring symbol bringing ancient legends to life. It recalls the Welsh myth of the dream of a fort at the mouth of a river—"The fairest that man ever saw." Edward II, the first English Prince of Wales, was born in the unfinished castle in 1301, inheriting all the income from the Crown's Welsh domains. It was England's final imperial act in subduing the Welsh.

Beaumaris Castle

UNESCO says this castle is one of "the finest examples of late 13th century and early 14th-century military architecture in Europe". The castle, in Anglesey, is composed of a pair of symmetrical, concentric fortifications: a moated outer ward with 12 towers and two gatehouses, and a walled inner ward with two large D-shaped gatehouses. The popular town and thriving port of Llanfaes, supported by Llywelyn the Great, was ruthlessly demolished by Edward I to build it. As impressive as it is, Beaumaris was never finished. The king was sidetracked by Scottish wars and ran out of money.

Laugharne Castle

Dylan Thomas, who lived in Laugharne, wrote "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog" while living in this castle's summer house. Built in 1116 as part of a line of defensive Norman castles on the south and west coasts of Wales, it was regularly demolished by Welsh forces. It was restored by an Elizabethan courtier, Sir Joh Perrot, who built a gentleman's Tudor mansion behind the castle's massive twin towers. He ended up in another tower, the Tower of London, where he died while awaiting execution for treason. It was finally destroyed in the English Civil War, but the scenic ruin is popular with artists.

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Best Castles in Wales to explore (+ tips and map of locations)

By: Author Tracy Collins

Posted on Last updated: September 2, 2023

You really can’t visit Wales without including a castle (or two) in your itinerary. This article will introduce you to 10 of the best castles in Wales with tips and background history and information.

You will find a handy map showing the locations of these Welsh castles at the end of the article plus links to more information to help you plan your trip to Wales.

Caernarfon Castle

Beaumaris castle, cardiff castle, conwy castle, pembroke castle, criccieth castle, carreg cennen castle, raglan castle, caerphilly castle, harlech castle, map showing the locations of the welsh castles included in this article, the best castles in wales and planning your visit, guide to the best welsh castles to add into your itinerary.

In northwest Wales, on the banks of the River Seiont, architect James of St. George built Caernarfon Castle at the behest of King Edward I.

Construction started in the late 13th century and took 47 years to complete. The result is a grand castle with unparalleled architectural drama, making it one of the best castles in Wales to visit today.

Visitors will be awestruck by Eagle Tower — it has 18-foot-thick walls and three soaring turrets. You can also walk throughout the castle, up and down narrow and winding staircases and along the battlements.

Mind your step! The floors can be a little uneven but the climb up to the towers is more than worth it for the stunning views.

Caernarfon Castle

Beaumaris Castle in North Wales has the unique distinction of never having been finished. Begun in 1295 by James of St. George, the military architect extraordinaire of King Edward I, money troubles and Scottish skirmishes meant that by 1306, the castle was still incomplete.

By the 1320s, it was all but abandoned. It’s a shame, in that what exists today of the symmetrically designed concentric castle would have been extraordinary in its day.

Today, it’s a highly atmospheric place with plenty of half-constructed and crumbling walls, winding staircases and narrow passages, all surrounded by a moat.

The site also offers lovely views of the Snowdonia mountain range.

Beaumaris Castle

Cardiff Castle was built on the banks of the Taff River in the 11th century overtop a 3rd-century Roman fort.

It was originally a motte-and-bailey castle but was eventually reinforced with stone walls for defence. Like other castles during this era, it was traded back and forth between the English and the Welsh.

In the mid 18th century, Cardiff Castle was transformed by renown architect William Burges into the ornate gothic home of the third Marquess of Bute.

Today, this amazing castle is open to the public and visitors can tour the lovely grounds and landscaped parks or go inside to see the luxurious apartments.

Cardiff Castle one of the best castles in Wales to visit

In North Wales in Llandudno, on the River Conway, you’ll find Conway Castle. It was built for Edward I in the late 1200s on top of an imposing bed of solid rock, creating the ultimate show of English domination over the Welsh people.

The castle exhibited state-of-the-art military architecture of its day — with a defensive wall and imposing round towers.

Today, the walls and castle interior are largely preserved, making it one of the best Welsh castles to visit.

Take a tour and explore the eight towers, great hall and royal chambers. The view from the towers is amazing, but watch your step! The stairs are uneven and can be a little bit tricky.

Conwy Castle one of the best castles in Wales to visit

Out of all of the places to see in Wales, Pembroke Castle may be the most magnificent. It has seen over 1,000 years of history, is the birthplace of King Henry VII and holds the distinction of never having fallen to the Welsh.

Located in the southeast, today it is the largest privately owned castle in Wales. In the last 200 years, remarkable efforts have preserved much of the castle, including the 80 ft. Great Keep, grand entrances, the stunning stone outer walls and much of the Great Hall.

There are many exhibitions detailing the castle’s rich history and visitors should plan to spend at least a few hours to explore the entire complex.

Pembroke Castle

In the late 13th century, in Criccieth, Gwynedd, in North Wales, Llywelyn the Great stepped onto a rocky peninsula overlooking Tremaddog Bay and decided it would make the perfect place to build Criccieth Castle.

Throughout its life, this Welsh-built castle was occupied by both English and Welsh respectively, until the 15th century when it was destroyed by Welsh princes during the last Welsh rebellion.

Today, the picturesque ruins are one of the best places to visit in Wales. The views of the coastline and the town are second to none and the crumbling stone walls and historical exhibits on the grounds are thoroughly interesting.

Criccieth Castle

A few miles from Llandeilo in Carmarthenshire Wales are the ruins of Carreg Cennen Castle. Perched on a rocky hilltop with dramatic views of the valley and countryside beyond, the first Carreg Cennen castle was built in the 12th century but was rebuilt in the 13th century at the behest of Edward I.

Archeological evidence including Roman coins and prehistoric skeletons indicates that the location had probably been occupied long before either castle existed.

Visitors can park for free at the small farm on the grounds. Wear good shoes as the walk up to the castle can get slippery and boggy if there has been rain. Once at the castle, which is mostly ruined, the view is spectacular.

Carreg Cennen Castle one of the best castles in Wales to visit

In 1430, in the country of Gwent, Sir William ap Thomas began building Raglan Castle. Known as the Blue Night of Gwent, Thomas wanted a defensive fortress but also wanted his castle to showcase his wealth and prestige.

The result was unlike many medieval castles, it had luxury apartments that were built around a manicured courtyard. It’s six-sided gatehouses, which are still standing, are unique among Welsh castles.

Although Raglan Castle is ruined, it is in good condition. After exploring the grounds, the cellars and the castle’s long gallery, visitors should make time to climb the Great Tower and take in the gorgeous views of the countryside.

Raglan Castle

Not far from Cardiff, situated in the county of Gwent in South Wales, is Caerphilly Castle.

Built in 1268 on the site of an ancient Roman fort, it was a defensive fortress and featured a unique concentric design, a novelty among British castles of the time.

It had an inner circle with rounded towers that were surrounded by an outer wall and guard house. Those, in turn, were surrounded by artificial lakes. By the 16th century, the castle was in ruins.

Beginning in 1776, however, interested parties began to protect, preserve and restore the castle. Today, visitors agree that Caerphilly is one of the most beautiful castles in South Wales and well worth visiting.

Caerphilly Castle one of the best castles in Wales to visit

Among all of the castles in North Wales, Harlech Castle is one of the most popular and most scenic.

In 1283, the sandstone castle was built by James of St. George for Edward I. A rocky peninsula, overlooking Cardigan Bay was chosen as its site, the cliffs providing a natural barrier to protect the castle. It withstood centuries of battle but was eventually destroyed in the 1600s.

Visitors will be impressed by the views and the castle’s overall condition — it is not quite as far gone as some of the other castles in Wales. Walking the walls is great fun but might not be for those who are squeamish about heights.

Harlech Castle one of the best castles in Wales to visit

For more tips and inspiration for a variety of popular destinations in Wales pop over to my Wales Travel Guide which has all the information you need to plan your trip.

If you are still deciding where to visit (as well as all these amazing castles!) check out our guide to the best places to visit in Wales.

And finally, if you dream of spending the night in a castle you can! There are a number of castle hotel options in Wales. You can find them all in my guide to the best castle stays in Wales. (And if staying in a Scottish castle also appeals don’t miss my accommodation guide to 8 fairytale Scottish castles !)

Want more castles? Check out the best castles to visit in England , 18 Scottish castles that will take your breath away and the best castles to visit on a day trip from London!

Find more inspiration for your travels in my Wales Travel Guide which includes information about what to see, where to stay, how to get around, travel tips, recommended reading and more to make the most of your trip.

> CLICK HERE FOR MY STEP BY STEP GUIDE TO PLANNING YOUR UK TRIP !

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When to visit the UK 2

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Home » Travel Guides » United Kingdom » Wales » 15 Best Castles in Wales

15 Best Castles in Wales

As the second smallest country in the United Kingdom (Northern Ireland is the smallest), Wales packs a punch despite its compact size. Castles form a significant part of Welsh history as well as landscape. There are well over 400 castles in Wales making it the country with most castles per square mile than any other country in the world.

Interestingly, most castles in Wales aren’t Welsh, as some would think but rather English as they were built with the purpose to not only overlook and protect the lands but also keep the Welsh subjugated.

Wales fell into England’s hands after Dafydd, the last Prince of Wales, was executed in 1283. Edward I of England had total control over Wales afterward and to ensure that people of Wales would be faithful to the English rule, he commanded the building of castles, many of them enormous stone structures so typical of Medieval architecture.

1. Raglan Castle

Raglan Castle

Raglan Castle located in south-east Wales is a late Medieval castle that dates back to 1430, when the construction began. The building of the castle was commissioned by Sir William ap Thomas, the Blue Knight of Gwent.

In the late 16th century the castle underwent noteworthy construction works, when additions like a new hammer-beam roof were built.

The sandstone castle wasn’t built for defensive purposes and its main goal was to portray and showcase powerful influence and wealth.

One of the main visual features of the castle are the polygonal structures, which make this castle rather unique in the overall Welsh castle landscape. Majority of other castles consist of a square or round structures rather than the six-sided gatehouse and towers featured in Raglan Castle. The castle also features a moat around the Yellow Tower of Gwent.

2. Caernarfon Castle

Caernarfon Castle

Located in the North west of Wales, Caernarfon Castle is a medieval fortress built in the late 13th century to replace an earlier motte-and-bailey castle that stood there from the 11th century. It is also one of the most widely-recognised Welsh castles.

The grand and mammoth appearance of the castle is directly linked to the fact that the town of Caernarfon served as the administrative center of North Wales during the reign of King Edward I of England.

Caernarfon Castle was besieged several times and after Tudors came to power and the relationship between England and Wales became more steady, many of Welsh castles lost their importance and Caernarfon Castle was one of the castles that slowly started falling into despair. It was neglected until the 19th century, when repair work finally began.

The castle features several polygonal towers, battlements, two entrances – one from the town and the other allowing entrance without having to go through the town. Unfortunately, the castle was never finished the way it was intended.

3. Conwy Castle

Conwy Castle

Another Welsh castle dating back to the time of King Edward I of England is the Conwy Castle which lies on the northern shores of Wales. The castle dates back to the late 13th century and it played an important role in forming the town of Conwy. The castle was also amid several wars undergoing sieges.

The castle is an impressive example of Welsh medieval defensive architecture – its defensive wall with massive round towers is instantly recognisable. Not only is the castle a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it has also been classified by the organisation as one of the finest military architecture examples of that time period in Europe.

The castle’s rectangular plan includes inner and outer wards and altogether eight towers. The inner ward included all the master chambers while the outer ward was dedicated to kitchens, stables, prison, and garrison.

4. Cardiff Castle

Cardiff Castle

Located in the capital of Wales, Cardiff Castle was originally built in the 11th century as a motte and bailey castle atop an older Roman fort dating back to the 3rd century. A century later, the castle was slowly rebuilt into a stone structure with the additions of a shell keep and defensive walls. Over the next centuries, the castle underwent gradual changes, additions, and redesigns.

Just as other castles during the English Civil War, Cardiff Castle was also affected by it – first being taken by Parliamentary forces and then reclaimed by Royalist supporters.

In the mid-18th century the castle was transformed into a Georgian mansion and later redesigned in Gothic revival style. Since the renovations were done under the watchful eye of William Burges, the interiors were considered greatly accurate and exceptional examples of gothic revival. The lush interiors included beautiful murals, stained glass elements, delicate wood carvings, and marble.

During the Second World War the castle was turned into an air raid shelter.

5. Pembroke Castle

Pembroke Castle

Pembroke Castle is famously known as the birthplace of Henry VII and recently the castle came into attention again as archeologists found even more precise information about the first Tudor king’s birthplace.

The original castle was built at the very end of the 11th century and was rebuilt in stone a century later thus making it one of the most impressive examples of Norman stone castles in the country.

Pembroke Castle is built above Wogan’s Cavern or Wogan Cave. The cave is known to have been used by humans as far back as the Paleolithic and Mesolithic periods. In the 13th century the cave became a part of Pembroke Castle’s defences.

Oliver Cromwell’s forces attacked the castle in 1648 during the English Civil War and Cromwell was personally present during the taking of the castle after a 7-week siege.

6. Chirk Castle

Chirk Castle

Many of the impressive Welsh castles were built during the reign of Edward I and Chirk Castle is no exception. Completed in 1310, the castle held a strategic position overlooking the entry point to the Ceiriog Valley. Since it is located on the Welsh and English borders in the North of the country, it always had an important role in keeping the Welsh under English rule. Chirk Castle is the only castle from Edward I’s time that is still inhabited to this day.

Originally built as a military fortress, castle’s signature round drum towers were perfectly suited for archers who needed to be able to overlook and defend a wide area. The towers’ walls are 5 meters thick which made them impregnable.

Today the visitors can not only admire the impressive castle but also 5 acres of pristine gardens with awe-inspiring roses and manicured lawns.

7. Caerphilly Castle

Caerphilly Castle

Caerphilly Castle in South Wales, not far from the Welsh capital Cardiff, was built as a defensive castle against Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, who was the last prince of a united Wales before Edward I’s reign took over the country. The castle site measures approximately 30 acres making it the second largest in Britain.

The castle was built in the mid-to-late 13th century and to this day it is surrounded by an impressive fully-flooded moat. Caerphilly Castle featured a rather unique design for its time and it introduced concentric castle design to the rest of Britain’s castles.

The castle stood proudly for a couple of centuries and by the mid-16th century it was already described in writing as being in the state of ruin. Notably, the castle’s south-eastern tower is leaning by 10 degrees off its vertical axis.

8. Powis Castle

Powis Castle

Rather unique among the medieval castles in Wales, Powis Castle stands out not only due to its red stone exterior but also as one of the few castles that have survived the test of time, never really falling into despair. The castle was built in the early 13th century and over time has undergone several improvements and alterations.

In the 17th century the impressive state bedroom was added to the castle as well as the terraced gardens that make this property so unique. While originally intended as a defensive castle, it quickly became what it is today – a beautiful royal manor with a splendid art collection, exquisite interiors, and artefacts from India.

The breathtaking Baroque gardens at Powis Castle are one of the finest in the whole of the United Kingdom displaying unique landscaping and centuries-old yew trees.

9. Roch Castle

Roch Castle, Wales

Who wouldn’t love to stay in a 12th-century Norman castle and imagine what life was like in the medieval times? Roch Castle offers exactly that but in a modern upscale way since nowadays it has been turned into a luxury hotel with six rooms. The castle has a unique and dramatic appearance, extending and rising from a rock formation.

Originally Roch Castle served a defensive purpose protecting Flemish settlers from the independent Welsh in the North that were a threat to the anglicised part of the country.

The castle was a royalist stronghold during the English Civil War but was abandoned soon after thus leaving it forgotten and degrading until the 1900s, when it was rebuilt and brought back to its former glory.

10. Beaumaris Castle

Beaumaris Castle

The North Wales castle of Beaumaris is another remarkable example of the castles that were built during Edward I’s reign. The castle located on the Island of Anglesey was never finished due to lack of money and resources, yet its impressive exterior has stood through times as a majestic reminder of medieval architecture.

Beaumaris Castle has perfectly symmetric concentric walls and noteworthy round drum towers. Despite being a medieval stronghold with an impregnable appearance, the castle doesn’t have the typical menacing look that is so distinctive in quite a few other castles of the time. The castle sits harmoniously in the surrounding landscape and its architectonic precision cannot be overlooked.

11. Harlech Castle

Harlech Castle

Located in the north-west of the country, Harlech Castle is set amidst awe-inspiring landscape to which the concentric castle only contributes. The sandstone castle is yet another of King Edward I’s castles in Wales whose purpose was to establish the English rule. Funnily enough, in the 15th century a Welsh leader took over the castle for a brief moment until it was reclaimed by the English forces.

The castle was built in a way that took advantage of the natural landscape – making use of the sheer cliff as a natural barrier against attacks. On the other side dry moats were cut into the rock to add a defensive element.

The castle was besieged during the Wars of Roses in the 15th century and the damage caused during that time was never repaired. Two centuries later during the English Civil War the remaining parts of the castle were used for military purposes and after another siege, when the castle had served its purpose, the Parliamentary forces ordered the destruction of the castle, but these orders weren’t carried through fully and luckily parts of the castle have survived to modern times.

12. Castell Coch

Castell Coch

While the majority of Welsh castles have a slightly daunting appearance due to their fortress origins, Castell Coch stands out with its fairytale-like appearance. The cylindrical turrets seen on Castell Coch are rather unusual not only for Welsh castles but for medieval castles in Britain altogether; it’s a sight you are more likely to see in mainland Europe.

The reason for this, however, is that the castle was built in Gothic revival style only in the 1870s during the Victorian times. It is known, however, that there was a previous Norman castle on the site dating back to the 11th century.

John Crichton-Stuart, the 3rd Marquess of Bute, hired the renowned architect William Burges to reconstruct a castle based on the medieval remains. The interiors feature High Victorian elements and have been celebrated by historians and architects as triumphs in Victorian composition.

13. Bodelwyddan Castle

Bodelwyddan Castle

Bodelwyddan Castle in North Wales dates back to the 15th century. This castle, unlike many others in Wales, was never meant to serve a defensive purpose as it was built as a manor house for the Humphreys family of Anglesey. The castle that we see today was actually constructed during the 1830s when the previous manor house was extended.

Today the castle has been turned into a luxury hotel. During World War I the castle housed a hospital wing and in the 1980s it was home to a college.

14. Rhuddlan Castle

Rhuddlan Castle

Rhuddlan Castle was built shortly after the First Welsh War and it was one of the many castles commissioned by King Edward I of England. The building of the castle took over ten years and it was completed in 1282.

The castle was planned as a concentric castle. It features a twin tower gatehouse and the outer ward is enclosed by a curtain wall. Currently the castle is in a state of legible ruin.

15. Penrhyn Castle

Penrhyn Castle, Wales

Upon first look, Penrhyn Castle looks like it could easily belong to an English landscape and it looks rather different than most Welsh castles the majority of which were fortresses or strongholds. Penrhyn Castle on the other hand was built as a medieval fortified manor house.

The original stone castle and tower house that stood on the property was built in the 15th century. It was reconstructed in the late 18th century but the current building dates back to the 19th century. The latter reconstruction completely transformed the building. Some features from the original building were incorporated in the last design and these include a vaulted basement and a spiral staircase.

15 Best Castles in Wales:

  • Raglan Castle
  • Caernarfon Castle
  • Conwy Castle
  • Cardiff Castle
  • Pembroke Castle
  • Chirk Castle
  • Caerphilly Castle
  • Powis Castle
  • Roch Castle
  • Beaumaris Castle
  • Harlech Castle
  • Castell Coch
  • Bodelwyddan Castle
  • Rhuddlan Castle
  • Penrhyn Castle

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9 Best Welsh Castles To Visit

  • David Angel
  • Wales , United Kingdom

Wales is sometimes called the castle capital  of the world.  There are over 600 castles in Wales, some of which are among the best castles in the world. Here are our pick of the top ten best Welsh castles to put on your Wales Bucket List .

Most of these are medieval castles, with some constructed later as residences. Welsh castles vary greatly, from humble medieval mottes to Edward I’s Castles in Gwynedd, the latter a  UNESCO World Heritage Site .

The latter are formidable fortresses, among the most famous castles in the world. We have visited these castles countless times – I even lived next to one for over 30 years. So it’s been difficult narrowing so many down to just ten, but here is our selection of the best ten castles of Wales.

Table of Contents

1. Cardiff Castle – City centre Welsh Castle

Image of Cardiff Castle one of the best Welsh castles

Cardiff Castle  is the first Welsh castle many visitors see, and it’s right in the middle of Cardiff city centre. It started out as a Roman fort, and a central tower, or keep, was added in the 11 th  century.

It’s one of the most beautiful castles in Wales, largely because of its 19 th  century additions. It was owned by the 3 rd  Marquess of Bute, and he funded the radical remodelling and clock tower by William Burges.

The standard self-guided tour takes you to highlights such as the Arab Room and Banqueting Hall. The House and Connoisseur Tours take you further behind the scenes.

2. Caerphilly Castle

Image of Caerphilly Castle at night in snow.  One of the best castles in Wales

Caerphilly Castle  is one of the largest castles in Europe, seven miles (11 km) over the mountain from Cardiff.

 It’s the first in Britain to be built to a concentric design, and possibly the most impressive of the many castles in South Wales . It’s among the most picturesque castles in Wales, almost entirely surrounded by lakes.

Caerphilly also has a famous leaning tower, and just below it, a brand new dragon’s lair which is a great hit with kids. It’s in my top three favourite Welsh castles.

3. Beaumaris Castle

Image of Beaumaris castle Anglesey Wales.  One of the finest Welsh castles

This unfinished  castle  close to the shore of the Menai Strait has castle experts enthusing over its concentric design, with one circuit of walls within another.

It was the last of Edward I’s Iron Ring of Castles in North Wales, left incomplete because of his overstretched finances. The view from behind the castle to the mountains of Snowdonia on a clear day is magnificent.

See Also: 30 Wonderful Things To Do In Anglesey

4. Caernarfon Castle

Image of Caernarfon Castle North Wales UK

Caernarfon Castle   is one of the most famous castles in Wales, partly on account of Prince Charles’ investiture as Prince of `Wales there in 1969.

It guards the estuary of the river Seiont and the southern, opposite end of the Menai Strait to Beaumaris. The inspiration for this military masterpiece was the circuit of city walls in Constantinople.

Caernarfon Castle is also augmented by a circuit of Town Walls, part of which run along the seafront to the north of the Castle.

See Also: Welsh Slate Landscape – the newest UNESCO World Heritage Site in Wales

5. Harlech Castle

Castles in North Wales Image of Harlech Castle in North Wales UK

Harlech Castle , the most impressive of the castles in Snowdonia, was built on a sea cliff in the late 13 th  century by Edward I.

Due to enormous deposits of sand, it now lies over a mile inland. From the ‘Graig” (Rocks) viewpoint at the southern end of the town, you can appreciate its dramatic setting above the coastal plain with the whole Snowdon range visible behind in good weather.

The visitor centre and new bridge to the elevated entrance are a welcome addition, making it more accessible. ‘Men of Harlech’, one of the canon of Welsh rugby songs, describes a siege here during the Wars of the Roses.

6. Conwy Castle

Image of Conwy Castle at night.  One of the best castles in Wales

One of the best castles in Europe,  Conwy Castle  was built by the master military architect, James of St George.

It was built to consolidate Edward I’s hold on an area he had already fought over twice. Like Caernarfon, an adjacent walled town (bastide) was constructed at the same time. The Castle now presides over the nearby Quay and  possibly the  finest historic town in Wales . It’s Conwy is one of the most visited Welsh castles.

7. Dolwyddelan Castle

Image of Dolwyddelan CAstle in the Lledr Valley Wales

This is one of the less obvious castles, but what it lacks in size  Dolwyddelan Castle  makes up for in its dramatic location.

This mountain castle sits on an outcrop of rock high above the main A470 road, a lonely battlemented tower overlooking the magnificent Lledr valley. It was originally a castle of the native Welsh princes, and eventually captured by Edward I.

As well as visiting the castle itself, explore the surrounding area to really appreciate its outstanding mountain setting.

The best places to walk are above Dolwyddelan village, and the other side of the Lledr river.

8. Dolbadarn Castle

Image of Dolbadarn Castle, North Wales

Another castle founded by the Welsh princes in a  dramatic mountain setting ,  Dolbadarn Castle  sits on a hill overlooking Llyn Padarn lake at the foot of the Llanberis Pass, the mountain road that takes between the sheer rock walls of the Glyderau and Snowdon ranges.

It looks like a tiny pepper pot from further down the lake, but make the effort to climb the short, steep hill to see it up close where you can appreciate it as a brooding, impressive sentinel guarding the Welsh mountains.

9. Powis Castle

Image of Powis Castle and Garden in springtime

A very different proposition to the others in our list,  Powis Castle  started out as a Welsh prince’s fortress in border country, evolving over the centuries into one of the grandest stately homes in the country with one of the finest art collections and formal gardens in Wales.

Powis has been continuously occupied and in use since medieval times, and never suffered a period of decay and disrepair like many other Welsh castles.

The Castle also houses the Clive Museum, a fascinating collection of artefacts from India.

Best castles in Wales Map

image of a google map showing the locations of ten of the best Welsh castles in Wales, Uk.

Welsh Castles – Final Thoughts

I hope you’ve found my introduction to Welsh Castles useful, and that it has given you some inspiration.

If so, check out my longer castle guides, to the Best Castles in North Wales and Best Castles in South Wales .

I have also delved deeper, with guides to the best Castles Near Cardiff , my hometown Caerphilly Castle and Pembrokeshire Castles in the far west of Wales.

You may even wish to stay overnight in a Castle – in which case check out my guide to the best Castles to Stay in Wales .

Also take a look at my guides to Things To Do In Conwy , Things To Do In Caernarfon and Things To Do In Harlech . These go into more detail on what else to see and do in each town, and suggest ideas for further exploration.

For more Wales inspiration, take a look at my Wales Bucket List article, for the very best places to visit in the country.

Black and white headshot of a man smiling. The photo is of David Angel the founder of Delve into Europe Travel Blog / Website

About the Author: David Angel , a Welsh photographer, writer, and historian, has over 30 years of experience exploring and photographing Wales. As former Art Director and Commissioning Editor for Visit Wales, he has explored every corner of this extraordinary country, climbed its mountains, and walked hundreds of miles along the breathtaking Welsh coastline and landscapes. He now uses a lifetime of experience to write comprehensive guides to help people like you discover and explore the best of Wales.  He is a native English speaker and fluent in Welsh.

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When it comes to experiencing awe-inspiring history, Wales' majestic castles offer a remarkable journey into the past. Moreover, Wales also boasts a wealth of diverse attractions , from exploring its stunning landscapes to immersing oneself in its vibrant culture. In this guide, we've focused on the ten best castles in Wales for you to visit.

  • 1. The "Iron Ring" Conwy Castle

2. Carreg Cennen Castle — for a romantic setting

3. the crumbling beauty of castell dinas brân, 4. the massive penrhyn castle, 5. caernarfon castle — one of the best castles in wales, 6. the restored moat of caerphilly castle, 7. the ornate raglan castle, 8. the impregnable pembroke castle, 9. the inspiring criccieth castle, 10. the unusually defended kidwelly castle.

The information in this article is inspired by The Rough Guide to Wales , your essential guide for visiting Wales .

Travel ideas for Wales, created by local experts

The Great British Road Trip

The Great British Road Trip

Get ready to explore Britain on this unique self-drive road trip. Choose the car of your liking before you hit the road: from the Cotswolds and its picturesque villages over the Beatle's favorite hang-out in Liverpool to Scotland's capital Edinburgh: this trip includes many highlights to be explored

1. The "Iron Ring" Conwy Castle

For sheer grey-stone solidity, nothing beats Conwy Castle , with its eight massive round towers arranged squarely on the banks of the Conwy Estuary. Completed in 1287, this “Iron Ring” edifice was finished in less than five years, complete with associated bastide town.

The two worked in symbiosis: the castle was kept supplied by the merchants who were protected by the mile-long ring of town walls. A walk along the walls still gives the best views of both castle and town.

Where to stay near Conwy Castle

  • For the castle views: Number 18
  • For B&B: Gwynfryn

Find more accommodation options to stay near Conwy Castle.

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Conwy Castle has been standing strong since the 13th century © Trevla/Shutterstock

Carreg Cennen can be explored on one of the best road trips in the United Kingdom. It is the most romantically sited of all the best castles in Wales, perched on its craggy, limestone hill, often with mist swirling around the lower slopes.

There’s something wild and preternaturally Welsh about this isolated locale on the edge of the heather-purpled Black Mountains. On the south side, a steep cliff plummets down to the bucolic valley of the River Cennen below. You can descend the valley via a steep stairway tunnel cut into the cliff face.

Where to stay near Carreg Cennen Castle

  • For price and quality: Spilman Hotel
  • For a rustic feel: Melin Tregib

Find more accommodation options to stay near Carreg Cennen Castle.

carreg-cennen-castle-shutterstock_430550416

Carreg Cennen Castle, one of the best castles in Wales for atmospheric surroundings © Chris Goddard/Shutterstock

The ruinous state of Dinas Brân – or Crow’s Fortress Castle – high above the town of Llangollen, almost puts it out of contention as a castle. It is really just a short stretch of crumbling thirteenth-century masonry and a few vaulted arches, but there are few better places in Wales to watch the sunset.

As a golden glow settles over the bucolic Dee Valley you can ponder the English–Welsh power struggles that gave rise to this borderlands relic.

Where to stay near Castell Dinas Brân

  • For couples: Gamelin
  • For families: Panorama Cottages

Find more accommodation options to stay near Castell Dinas Brân.

llangollen-dinas-bran-shutterstock_1236605158

The ruins of Castell Dinas Brân near Llangollen © Henrykc/Shutterstock

More like a French chateau than a real castle, Penrhyn stands as a testament to nineteenth-century class divisions. While the workers hacked away at the nearby slate quarries, their masters created a compelling neo-Norman fancy, complete with a five-storey keep.

Everything here on a massive scale, from the 3ft-thick oak doors to the halls of fine art housing works by Canaletto, Gainsborough and Rembrandt. There's even an enormous slate bed, designed for Queen Victoria’s visit.

Where to stay near Penrhyn Castle

  • For a serene atmosphere: Brynteg Glamping
  • For a rural location: The Slate

Find more accommodation options to stay near Penrhyn Castle.

penrhyn-castle-shutterstock_421374067

Penrhyn Castle, one of the newest Welsh castles to be built © Condruzmf/Shutterstock

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 Cardiff Bay © Crown Copyright 2022 Visit Wales

Caernarfon Castle is both the most recognisable of the best castles in Wales and also the least typical. It eschews the ancient square form and rounded fortifications in favour of distinctive polygonal towers, the supreme development of “Iron Ring” architect James of St George.

The largely intact walls are riddled with passageways that eventually deliver you to the ramparts, offering fabulous views of the ancient town of Caernarfon and Snowdonia beyond.

Our tailor-made Great British Road Trip gives you an opportunity to explore Caernarfon Castle as well as the most iconic sites of the United Kingdom.

Where to stay near Caernarfon Castle

  • For budget stays: Totters Hostel
  • For families: Coed Helen Holiday Park

Find more accommodation options to stay near Caernarfon Castle.

caernarfon-castle-wales-uk-shutterstock_671525290

Caernarfon Castle with its unique octagonal towers © S-F/Shutterstock

Built on the site of a Roman fort and an earlier Norman fortification, the present Caerphilly Castle was begun in 1268. By the early twentieth century, the castle was in a sorry state, sitting amid a growing industrial town. In the late 1920s, the castle underwent an extensive period of restoration, followed, in 1958, by the demolition of houses and shops so that the moat could be re-flooded.

You enter the castle through the much-restored great gatehouse that punctuates the barbican wall by a lake. From here, a bridge crosses the moat, part of the wider lake, to the outer wall of the castle itself, behind which sits the hulking inner ward. Located here is the massive eastern gatehouse, which includes an impressive upper hall and oratory and, to its left, the wholly restored and reroofed Great Hall.

Where to stay near Caerphilly Castle

  • For stylish stays: Lanelay Hall Hotel & Spa
  • For city stays: Cardiff Sandringham Hotel

Find more accommodation options to stay near Caerphilly Castle.

caerphilly-castle-uk-shutterstock_5203321

Caerphilly Castle © Shutterstock

The village of Raglan (Rhaglan) is lorded over by one of the best castles in Wales, whose ornate style and comparative intactness set it apart from other more crumbling Wales castles. The late medieval castle was constructed on the site of a Norman motte in 1435 by Sir William ap Thomas.

The gatehouse is still used as the main entrance. The finest examples of the castle’s showy decoration appear in its heraldic shields, intricate stonework edging and gargoyles. Inside, stonemasons’ marks, used to identify how much work each man had done, can be seen on the walls.

Where to stay near Raglan Castle

  • For B&B: Art House B & B
  • For modern stays: Deri-Down Guest House

The Rough Guides to Wales and related travel guides

In-depth, easy-to-use travel guides filled with expert advice.

The Rough Guide to Wales

Find more accommodation options to stay near Raglan Castle.

Raglan Castle, Monmouthshire, Wales © Shutterstock

Raglan Castle, Monmouthshire, Wales © Shutterstock

Surrounded by water on three sides, Pembroke Castle proved impregnable for four centuries. During the Civil War, Pembroke was a Parliamentarian stronghold until switching to the Royalist side in 1648. Cromwell’s 48-day siege of the town only succeeded after he cut off its water supply.

Despite Cromwell’s battering and centuries of subsequent neglect, the castle’s sheer, bloody-minded bulk still inspires awe, even if it’s largely due to extensive restoration over the last century. You enter through the soaring gatehouse, home to some displays of the history of the castle. The walls and towers contain many walkways and dark passages that give ample chance to chase around spiral stairways into great oak-beamed halls.

Where to stay near Pembroke Castle

  • For luxury stays: Grove of Narberth
  • For price and quality: The Coach House Hotel

Find more accommodation options to stay near Pembroke Castle.

Pembroke Castle on the Pembroke River, Pembrokeshire, Wales © Shutterstock

Pembroke Castle on the Pembroke River, Pembrokeshire, Wales © Shutterstock

Criccieth’s only real sight is the battle-worn Criccieth Castle , dominating the coastline with what remains of its twin, D-shape towered gatehouse. This proved to be an irresistible subject for painter J.M.W. Turner, who captured it in several works.

Nowadays, it’s a great spot to sit and look over Cardigan Bay to Harlech or, in the late afternoon, to gaze down over the ripples of the Llŷn coast. There’s also an enlightening exhibition on Welsh princes just beyond the reception/shop area.

Where to stay near Criccieth Castle

  • For couples: Awel Mor
  • For gorgeous sea views: Marine Terrace Apartments

Find more accommodation options to stay near Criccieth Castle.

Criccieth Castle, Criccieth, North Wales © Shutterstock

Criccieth Castle, Criccieth, North Wales © Shutterstock

A wooden castle was built here around 1106, rebuilt in stone in the 1270s and extended in the fourteenth century. On Castle Street, the main road through Kidwelly, a fourteenth-century town gate marks the approach to Kidwelly Castle .

Continuing through the massive gatehouse, which forms the centrepiece of the impressively intact outer ward walls, you can still see portcullis slots and murder holes, through which noxious substances could be poured onto intruders. Views from the musty solar and hall, packed into the easternmost wall of the inner ward, show the castle’s defensive position at its best, with the river directly below.

Where to stay near Kidwelly Castle

  • For boutique stays: Stradey Park Hotel
  • For budget stays: Caulfields Hotel

Find more accommodation options to stay near Kidwelly Castle.

Kidwelly Castle, Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire, Wales © Shutterstock

Kidwelly Castle, Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire, Wales © Shutterstock

A trip to the many castles of Wales is sure to delight any traveller interested in history. Ready to travel to Wales? Check out the Rough Guides to Wales .

If you prefer to plan and book your trip to Wales without any effort and hassle, use the expertise of our local travel experts to make sure your trip will be just like you dream it to be.

We may earn a commission when you click on links in this article, but this doesn’t influence our editorial standards. We only recommend services that we genuinely believe will enhance your travel experiences.

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18 Most Beautiful Castles in Wales

By Jamie Gambetta · Last updated on March 3, 2024

With more ancient fortresses per square mile than anywhere else in Europe, Wales is Britain’s undisputed king of castles. Most of the structures date back to the reign of King Edward I, who built the castles to help him hold onto his newly acquired lands. Known today as Edwardian castles, the fortresses marked a new era in castle construction.

Instead of the classic motte-and-bailey design with its central keep and outer stockade, Edwardian castles feature rings of walls and multiple towers that make them look as if they were lifted out of a fairytale. That storybook quality makes castles in Wales particularly attractive as family vacation destinations, but people of all ages are sure to find them enchanting.

18. Dinefwr Castle

Dinefwr Castle

Overlooking the rolling River Towy, the Dinefwr Castle, is embellished in equally old nature. Old-growth forests wrap around the castle grounds, having been eloquently laid out in the 18th century.

The story of the castle returns us to the 1100s. The nearby forts hint at a domineering Roman presence. While on the estate, a 17th century manor house tells of the power of Dinefwr Castle held within Wales until recent times.

Such is the beauty of Dinefwr, it’s said if you were to squeeze the soil tight, out would flow the essence of Wales.

17. Laugharne Castle

Laugharne Castle

Inspiring poets and travelers alike, it’s easy to fall in love with the resplendent beauty of Laugharne Castle. The lush surrounding green, ancient bridge across the trickling stream all mark a heralded foreground.

Successive battles between the Normans and the Welsh left this 13th-century castle in near ruin. It was then transformed into a Renaissance mansion befitting of Sir John Perrot.

After his execution for high treason, Perrot’s castle returned to a ruinous state. Albeit, slightly. But today you can see the remnants of the Grand Hall and the resounding towers.

16. Bodelwyddan Castle

Bodelwyddan Castle

Surrounded by lush countryside and distant peaks, Bodelwyddan Castle is enveloped in charming scenery. The castle itself is remarkably well maintained, with its origins tracing to the middle of the 15th century.

On the edge of Snowdonia, with so much encompassing beauty, you may be thinking, I wish we could stay here. Well, the good news is you can.

Separating it from other ancient castles, Bodelwyddan Castle has been transformed into an elegant hotel, providing you with unique access to the Middle Ages but also the world around it.

15. Carew Castle

Carew Castle

On the Pembrokeshire Coast, Carew Castle’s rich past spans over 2,000 years. The first half tells the tales of knights, battles, and struggles. The second half features what we now see of the castle, from the late 1200s.

After the Norman conquest of England, Carew Castle became the center of their rule in the region. As you explore, you can learn about these stories, that of kingmakers and, later, civil war devastation.

Beyond the past is the castle’s present beauty. Set on the sprawling Millpond, the views are gorgeous. So too the Elizabethan mansion, and the 11th century Tidal Mill and ancient Celtic cross.

14. Margam Castle

Margam Castle

Unlike many of the ancient castles in Wales, Margam Castle is a relatively modern addition. Built in 1835, this Tudor-Gothic home represents the wishes of Christopher Mansell. He wished to mark the history of Margam with a grand residence of its own.

The fantasy castle-home features a bombardment of turrets, battlements, cupolas, towers and gables. The architect, who was asked to let his imagination run wild, certainly did his job.

After being used by troops in WWII, it now lies in the hands of the public who can explore the castle and surrounding grounds. Beware, however, the castle may be haunted!

13. Dolbadarn Castle

Dolbadarn Castle

Set in beautiful lonesomeness on the banks of Llyn Padarn, Dolbadarn Castle was a vital part of the defence of the ancient kingdom of Gwynedd. The castle dates back to the late 12th century, and was strategically placed to protect a route along the Llanberis Pass.

Today, this location marks the edge of Snowdonia National Park and offers visitors astounding views of the surrounding landscapes. Time has played its artistic hand on the castle, with its remains showing only the base and walls of Dolbadarn Castle.

Rather poignantly, however, is the striking tower that stands over the castle grounds as it has for centuries.

12. Chepstow Castle

Chepstow Castle

It’s been almost 1,000 years since the last stone bricks were laid upon the Chepstow Castle. The 11th century stronghold lies in marvelous ruin today but remains one of the oldest stone castles in the entire UK.

Highlights from the ageless castle don’t end there. In fact, after admiring Chepstow from the surging River Wye, you’ll soon be standing in front of an ancient wooden door. At 800 years young, it’s the oldest of its kind in Wales.

Exploring the castle is akin to learning the history of stone. Such is the age of the castle, you can visually see how it evolved to handle improving armies and their weapons.

11. Powis Castle

Powis Castle

As renowned for its gardens as the castle itself, Powis Castle presents visitors with a multitude of opportunities. The castle’s story begins in the early years of the 13th century as a medieval fortress.

The warm colors of Powis Castle’s facade boast an elegant design that doesn’t hide the structure’s imposing presence. Passed through the hands of lords and rulers in the centuries since, the interior is adorned with lavish accents, decor and period furniture.

Its gorgeous French and Italian-style surrounding gardens have developed a world-class reputation and make exploring the surrounding grounds as memorable as the interior.

10. Criccieth Castle

Criccieth Castle

Resting atop a headland jutting out into Tremaddog Bay, Criccieth Castle demonstrates the influence that King Edward I had on Welsh fortress construction. Built by Llywelyn the Great in the late 13th century, the design included many features of Edwardian castles, including an outer wall, outward-facing arrow slits and murder holes in passageways.

The castle changed hands between the Welsh and English until the 15th century when it was burned during the last great Welsh rebellion. Visitors to Criccieth can wander through the ruins and explore exhibits about the history of Welsh castles.

9. Carreg Cennen

Carreg Cennen

Perched on a rocky limestone hill in the town of Llandeilo in Carmartenshire, Wales, Carreg Cennen Castle is prized for the views it offers as much as for its ancient history. The 12th-century Welsh structure was built by Rhys of Deheubarth and was rebuilt in the 13th century by John Giffard on behalf of Edward I.

Although much of the castle was destroyed during the Wars of Roses, the ruins are well worth a visit. Visitors who climb their way to the hill’s summit are rewarded with breathtaking views.

8. Cardiff Castle

Cardiff Castle

Built on the banks of the Taff River, Cardiff Castle has a history that dates back to Britain’s Roman occupation. Over the centuries, it has been transformed into a Norman keep, a medieval fortress and a Gothic residence. In the 1800s, the third Marquess of Bute turned the structure into a fairytale-like castle in the Gothic Revival style.

Today, the castle is operated by the city of Cardiff as a tourist attraction. Visitors can tour the castle’s sumptuous apartments, explore the Firing Line regimental museum and roam the beautifully landscaped parks around the castle grounds.

7. Raglan Castle

Raglan Castle

Raglan Castle in the county of Gwent was one of the last medieval castles in Wales, and the structure demonstrates how Britain’s fortresses eventually gave way to palaces. Although it was designed for defense when construction began in 1435, attention was also paid to human comfort with an array of luxurious apartments built around a scenic courtyard.

A climb to the top of the Great Tower offers views of the moat below and the surrounding countryside. Visitors can explore the cellars, which were built to hold hundreds of casks of wine, and can view medieval wood carvings still visible on the castle’s long gallery.

6. Pembroke Castle

Pembroke Castle

Located in the county of Pembrokeshire in Southeast Wales, Pembroke Castle is the largest privately owned castle in Wales. It’s also one of the oldest and best preserved. Construction dates back to 1093 when the Earl of Shrewsbury took control of the town from the Welsh.

Famed as the place where Henry VII was born, Pembroke began to fall into decay in the 17th century but was fully restored during the early 1900s. Open to the public, the castle features staged tableaux that depict events in the castle’s history, battle re-enactments and falconry displays.

5. Caerphilly Castle

Caerphilly Castle

Situated on an island on a massive estate in the county of Gwent, Caerphilly Castle is considered the first true concentric castle built in Wales. The inner ward with its rounded corner towers is surrounded by an outer wall with an attached guardhouse.

Construction of the fortress began in 1268 by Earl Gilbert de Clare, who built the castle on the site of an ancient Roman fort. Although stone from the castle was later taken to build homes in the region, Caerphilly was restored by a coal baron during the Victorian Era.

4. Beaumaris Castle

Beaumaris Castle

King Edward I and his favored architect James of St. George had perfected the art of castle building by the time they began construction of Beaumaris Castle in 1295. Located on the Isle Anglesey in the county of Gwynedd, the beautifully designed concentric castle features a moat connected to the sea, round towers on every corner and staggered entrances and portcullises between the inner ward and outer wall.

Although the inner apartments of the castle were never constructed, the castle remains an imposing sight. Visitors are free to explore the grounds and wander through passages in the walls.

3. Conwy Castle

Conwy Castle

Located in the picturesque town on Conwy on the North Coast of Wales, Conwy Castle was built by King Edward I between 1283 and 1289. The castle is considered one of the finest works by architect James of St. George. Built to take advantage of its location on a rocky hill on the banks of the Conwy Estuary, the well-preserved castle features two fortified gateways, eight gigantic towers and massive great hall.

Knowledgeable guides offer one-hour tours that take visitors from the castle’s royal chambers and chapel up to the top of the battlements.

2. Harlech Castle

Harlech Castle

Built on the summit of a 60 meter (200 foot) high hill overlooking Cardigan Bay and the Llŷn Peninsula, Harlech Castle may be marked by centuries of battle and decay, but it’s still one of the most popular castles in Wales.

Built for Edward I in 1283, architect James of St. George took advantage of the site’s sheer cliffs on the northern and western boundaries to strengthen the castle’s fortifications. The castle was attacked almost as soon as it was completed and served as a fortress well into the 1600s. Today, visitors can roam the castle ruins and enjoy one of the finest views on the Cambrian coast.

1. Caernarfon Castle

Caernarfon Castle

Located on the mouth of the River Seiont in the town of Caernarfon, Caernarfon Castle is beautiful example of the Edwardian style of castle. Designed by the era’s premier architect James of St. George, construction of the castle began in 1283 with the building of a huge outer wall that encircled the entire settlement, much of which still stands today.

A series of towers and gates built along the castle’s inner wall offered added protection. King Edward’s son was born in Caernarfon and was dubbed the Prince of Wales, a title that the heir to the throne has been awarded ever since.

Map of Welsh Castles

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August 26, 2014 at 5:22 am

Amazing post and superb information of the castles in Wales. This is nice for someone who wants to visit Wales and just want to have a look at castles and their history. I like the ruins of Carreg Cennen. Conway Castle on the town of Conway is also not bad and looks like an imposing structure.

Thanks for the information.

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REVISITING HISTORY

The Best 19 Castles to Visit in Wales (Listed by Popularity)

The Best 19 Castles to Visit in Wales

Wales, despite being the smallest nation in the United Kingdom, has a long and illustrious history, as well as rich customs. 

Castles have played an important role in its history and can be seen all throughout the beautiful Welsh countryside. Wales has over 400 castles, making it the country with the highest density of castles per square mile of land anywhere in the world. Most of these towering and spectacular structures were constructed after Wales was annexed by England in 1283.

You simply cannot visit Wales without adding at least one of these breathtaking beauties to your bucket list. This post will tell you about the ten most beautiful castles in Wales, along with another ten less well-known but worth a visit as well!

Table of Contents

  • 1.1 1. Caernarfon Castle
  • 1.2 2. Cardiff Castle
  • 1.3 3. Conwy Castle
  • 1.4 4. Beaumaris Castle
  • 1.5 5. Caerphilly Castle
  • 1.6 6. Harlech Castle
  • 1.7 7. Pembroke Castle
  • 1.8 8. Chepstow Castle
  • 1.9 9. Powis Castle
  • 1.10 10. Raglan Castle
  • 2.1 11. Penrhyn Castle
  • 2.2 12. Castell Coch
  • 2.3 13. Carew Castle
  • 2.4 14. Chirk Castle
  • 2.5 15. Rhuddlan Castle
  • 2.6 16. Dinefwr Castle
  • 2.7 17. Dolwyddelan Castle
  • 2.8 18. Skenfrith Castle
  • 2.9 19. Bodelwyddan Castle
  • 3 Conclusion

10 Most Popular Castles to Visit in Wales

The order of the list is based on Google search volume of each castle = popularity.

1. Caernarfon Castle

Across the courtyard of Caernarfon Castle and out to sea.

Caernarfon Castle, also known as Carnarvon Castle, is known across the globe as one of the outstanding structures of the Middle Ages. This majestic medieval fortification, with its distinctive polygonal towers, served as the official house of Edward I and the birthplace of his son, who later became the first Prince of Wales. 

This fortress-palace on the banks of the River Seiont is part of a World Heritage Site that includes Edward I’s other castles at Conwy, Beaumaris, Harlech, and other sites in Wales.

Today, it serves as an important tourist destination. It’s large enough that you can spend a full two hours there without visiting the same section twice. Visitors also like taking a stroll through the gardens to enjoy a bit of sunshine on a good day … or the Welsh rain, if they came prepared!

  • Location: Gwynedd
  • Time built: 13th century
  • Architectural style:  Medieval
  • Touring: Allowed. Visit the official website for more information .

2. Cardiff Castle

The medieval octagon fort at Cardiff Castle.

If you wish to go back in time and learn about Wale’s 2000-year history, Cardiff Castle is the place to visit. This 11th-century Norman castle was built on the site of a Roman fort. The ruins of the Roman fortifications can still be observed from inside the castle.

It eventually became a dream playground for a wealthy patron who transformed the castle into a Victorian Neo-Gothic palace. The Roman wall, panoramic views from the medieval keep, and the opulent interior of the castle apartments are all worth seeing while you’re here.

Aside from all that, Cardiff Castle is also known for its Welsh Banquets, which mimic the festivities in a historically accurate fashion. Cardiff is also used to host other events, such as outdoor film screenings and theatre performances.

  • Location: Cardiff
  • Time built: 11th Century
  • Architectural style: Norman & Neo-Gothic
  • Touring: Allowed. Visit the of f icial website for more information.

3. Conwy Castle

Conwy Castle’s walls hold secrets of ages.

The 700-year-old Conwy Castle, one of the greatest medieval forts in Britain and one of the most magnificent castles in Europe, was erected by Edward I as one of his ‘Iron Ring’ strongholds during his conquest of Wales. Experts believe that the original construction cost around a whopping £15,000 back in the day.

Thanks to the reconstructed spiral stairs in the castle’s major towers, you can walk around the battlements of Conwy Castle in one continuous circle. It is now considered one of the world’s most beautiful castles with two barbicans and eight massive circular towers on the outside. Conwy’s limestone walls are derived from the same sand & limestone ridge that the castle stands on. It is absolutely a lovely castle in the interior as well, with a plethora of magnificent chambers to explore.

  • Location: Conwy
  • Architectural style: Medieval
  • Touring: Allowed. Visit the official website for more information.

4. Beaumaris Castle

A winter view of Beaumaris Castle.

This Welsh architectural gem is a 13th-century concoction that was built on the behest of Edward I during his expedition to conquer the northern part of Wales. It has a long and rich history of various uprisings, sieges, and renovation works carried out over the course of the centuries. It was even held by Charles I during the English Civil Wars.

Beaumaris is labeled a work of “vanity” by many historians, as its considerable budget was almost the equivalent of the royal treasury at the time. The most notable part about this castle is its absolutely symmetrical concentric planning. Its sturdy stone architecture and strategic location made it one of the best fortified castles in the area at the time. Today, surrounded by lush green lands, it is a classic tourist destination.

  • Location: Beaumaris

5. Caerphilly Castle

Caerphilly Castle from across the lake.

In the heart of Wales, this walled castle with two lakes is the biggest in the country and is often regarded as one of the many outstanding medieval castles in Western Europe. If it appears familiar to you, it’s most likely because you’ve seen it in the BBC television program Merlin.

It was built by Gilbert de Clare in the 13th century as part of his struggle to preserve control of Glamorgan. It was the site of intense conflict between Gilbert and his successors, as well as the local Welsh kings, throughout that time period. It is known for its amazing water-defense systems and large gatehouses. The 15th century saw it abandoned and in a state of perpetual decline. Today, it’s an amazing tourist destination that is managed by the Welsh heritage agency.

  • Location: Caerphilly
  • Time built:  13th century

Revisit More Historic Places Below or Read Further

Raglan Castle's entrance view.

Raglan Castle – Medieval Glory of Wales (History & Travel Tips)

Kilchurn Castle sitting on the bank of Loch Awe.

Kilchurn Castle – Preserving Military History (History & Travel Tips)

6. harlech castle.

The remains of Harlech Castle’s grand towers.

Harlech Castle, located on top of a rocky outcrop, was previously linked to the sea by a canal off of the moat, but this is no longer the case since the water has retreated, leaving the castle somewhat stranded. 

The castle was built by Edward I and was involved in the Wars of the Roses. The absolute resilience of this castle can be witnessed by the fact that it resisted a whopping 7-year siege in the 15th century without ever succumbing. Supplies were bought into the castle via a stone stairway that met the ocean at its base. This victory made it a popular subject of many old songs.

Today, Harlech Castle enjoys a pretty location that is appreciated by vistors for its extensive views of the stunning surroundings.

  • Architectural style:   Medieval

7. Pembroke Castle

Pembroke Castle standing tall atop its hill.

As you approach this massive castle encircled by a gorgeous mill pond, your eyes are likely to be delighted. The most fascinating thing about the location is that it’s built over a large cave, known as the Wogan Cave. The current building was originally built on the site where a previous Norman castle existed.  The castle was extensively repaired during the Victorian times and is dominated by the complicated gatehouse on the exterior, followed by the massive circular keep once you enter. 

The medieval walled town of Pembroke, which developed around the castle, also features a number of antique and fascinating Norman structures. With free hourly guided tours available, you can learn about the history of this castle–famous as the birthplace of the Tudor Dynasty–while you explore the underground grotto and other features of the castle.

  • Location: Pembrokeshire
  • Touring: Allowed. Visit the official website for more information   

8. Chepstow Castle

Chepstow Castle in winter sunlight.

Located high on a limestone cliff above the River Wye, the magnificent Chepstow Castle is a history lesson in stone that has been lovingly conserved throughout the centuries. 

The town of Chepstow was the residence of some of the richest and most powerful individuals of the medieval and Tudor eras for more than six centuries. In addition to being one of the first stone castles to be erected in Wales, this now-derelict Norman stronghold, with its broken town walls, is also considered to be the first ‘real’ castle/fortress to be built in Wales. 

Pass through the original 800-year-old doors of Chepstow Castle to explore how castles have developed to deal with increasingly more deadly weapons – and the grandiose goals of their owners. There is no better site in Wales to do so than here.

  • Location: Gwent
  • Time built: 11th century
  • Architectural style: Norman

9. Powis Castle

Powis Castle and grounds on a sunny day.

Powis Castle is known for its world-renowned garden terraces and is a must-see for anybody visiting the area. The castle was the medieval fortification of the Welsh Princes of Powys, who held onto their realm despite threats from their powerful rivals in England and Gwynedd. 

Powis is home to an incredible collection of paintings, sculptures, furniture, and tapestries. The 17th-century gardens were designed by the renowned architect William Winde. The combination of Italian terraces and Dutch water gardens is exemplary and still inspires to this day. With solar-powered greenhouses, the castle is still home to some amazing flora. These days, you can even buy yourself a plant at the castle shop. You may be shocked by what you discover when there. Everything has a fascinating tale to tell that deserves to be heard.

  • Location: Powys
  • Time built: 12th century

10. Raglan Castle

The grand entrance facade of Raglan Castle.

This 15th-century Welsh masterpiece of a castle is the last of its kind in Wales. Built on the behest of William ap Thomas in the 15th century, this castle has seen many partial reconstructions and has had many additions made to it by changing owners over the course of the centuries. It even went through a devastating siege in the 17th century, yet still survived to tell the tale.

Raglan is a serene tourist destination, boasting tranquil countryside surroundings and a wealth of architectural detailing that one can get immersed in during the tours. Many television shows have also been filmed there, including several episodes of Merlin. It’s definitely a great place to visit if you’re looking for some culturally significant downtime in Wales.

  • Location: Raglan, UK
  • Time built: 15th century
  • Architectural style: New Renaissance Style
  • Touring:   Allowed. Visit the official website for more information.

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9 Less Popular Castles Worth Visiting While In Wales

If you are a castle enthusiast, you must take out the time to visit these equally spectacular castles in Wales as well:

11. Penrhyn Castle

Ivy-covered but standing strong: Penrhyn Castle.

This Norman castle dates back to the medieval times, when it was built in a tower-keep style. It was majorly refurbished in the 19th century into a country house by English architect Thomas Hooper. He completely transformed the original look into something new and improved.

Today, Penrhyn Castle is home to some of the most attractive gardens in the world. From pretty picnic areas to whimsical woodland walkways, you can enjoy a number of outdoor activities there. There are also children’s play areas, even dogs are welcome in the grounds of this castle.

  • Location: Bangor
  • Time built: 1820
  • Architectural style: Romanesque Revival

12. Castell Coch

Adorable Castell Coch, hidden away.

In the heart of forest Fawr, a vision of a fairy tale comes to life as Castell Coch, also known as the ‘Red Castle,’ emerges from the old beech woodlands. However, the grandeur of its massive towers, with their characteristic conical roofs, draw bridges, and rich interiors, is merely a fraction of the beauty that lies beneath.

Underneath the majestic remnants of a 13th-century castle, which was previously used as a hunting lodge by the brutal Marcher lord Gilbert de Clare, you can still see the remains of the Norman construction that was here before.

  • Time built: 19th century
  • Architectural style: Gothic Revival

13. Carew Castle

Carew Castle across water.

The culturally significant site of Carew Castle has been occupied ever since the Iron Age. The castle that we see today was first erected in the 11th century. Ultimately, it was leased to the National Park Authority in 1983. 

Carew Castle is special because not only is it home to some very rare plant species, but is also said to be haunted by some very precocious ghosts. It also boasts a restored Tidal Mill on the grounds and tourists can even enjoy a fun buggy ride on the circular walkway.

  • Location:   Pembrokeshire
  • Architectural style:  Elizabethan Renaissance

14. Chirk Castle

Chirk Castle stands tall today.

Designed as part of Edward I’s line of strongholds around North Wales, Chirk Castle was built by Roger Mortimer de Chirk in the late 13th century. 

In 1910, Thomas Scott-Ellis, 8th Lord Howard de Walden, fell in love with Chirk Castle and arranged a lease with the Myddelton family, which lasted until 1946. Meanwhile, the castle was being used as a wedding venue.

Visit the Castle and learn how this Welsh fortification was transformed into a beautiful family residence, complete with richly decorated chambers that show 400 years of changing taste. 

  • Location: Wrexham
  • Architectural style: Welsh Medieval

15. Rhuddlan Castle

Rhuddlan Castle in ruins.

Designed by the architect James St. George, Rhuddlan is one of the very first castles to feature a concentric inner layout. The diamond shape of this castle’s layout was unique in its own right, but it also gave it the privilege of being one of the most secure strongholds in the area.

Although in ruins today, Rhuddlan is still a great historical destination and visited by hundreds of tourists on a regular basis.

  • Location: Denbighshire
  • Time built: 1277
  • Architectural style: Edwardian

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16. dinefwr castle.

Dinefwr Castle’s remaining walls.

If fairytale castles were real, Dinefwr would be the best of them all. Located between the National Nature Reserve and an 18th-century deer park, this castle enjoys a lovely location. Overlooking the river Twi, Dinefwr was one of the primary seats of power for southern Wales.

Today, it is owned by the Wildlife Trust. Although the castle is in ruins, it is no less majestic. It is an excellent place to plan a nice family gathering or a romantic day with your partner – especially if you want some serene time in the great outdoors.

  • Location :Llandeilo
  • Touring: Allowed. Visit the official website for more i nformation.

17. Dolwyddelan Castle

Dolwyddelan Castle aop a Welsh craig.

The first half of this castle was built in the 13th century by the Welsh Prince Llywelyn the Great, while the second story was later added by Edward I. Through the years, it passed ownership through several hands, until one lord added a proper drainage system around the 15th century.

Dolwyddelan Castle has also made an appearance in the movie Dragonslayer. Its ruggedly mountainous backdrop is not just picturesque enough to appear on the big screen, but also makes for a pretty tourist hub.

  • Location: Conwy County Borough

18. Skenfrith Castle

The remains of a Skenfrith Castle tower.

This 12th century ruin belies Norman might in its origins. It was reconstructed in 1267 at the hands of the first Earl of Kent, Hubert. Although King Edward I stripped the castle of its military importance, it still painted an impressive picture.

It wasn’t until the 16th century that Skenfrith Castle actually fell into a state of disuse. Welsh National Trust took ownership at the beginning of the 19th century. It is definitely a site worth visiting if you’re a history buff or simply want a serene outing surrounded by lush greenery.

  • Location: Skenfrith
  • Architectural style: Norman/Medieval

19. Bodelwyddan Castle

Beautifully maintained Bodelwyddan Castle.

This romantic castle has all the amenities of a modern hotel, and is definitely a place worth staying if you want some cultural immersion. Originally the Humphrey family’s 15th century manor house, this castle was opened to the public as a museum, but later closed and was put up for sale. This did not include the independently-run hotel.

The castle and grounds remains closed to the public today (excepting hotel visitors).

  • Location: Bodelwydan, Rhyl
  • Architectural style: Gothic/Jacobean/Greek Revival
  • Touring : Allowed. Visit the official website for more information.

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Wales is an amazing place to visit, there are so many beautiful spots to visit in this area that it really is a hidden treasure. Having said that, it might be difficult to narrow your choices down to just a handful when travelling across the nation. This is especially true when it comes to discovering the top castles in Wales to visit. We wish you good luck in your choice!

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Many Other Roads

The Best Wales Castle Tours To Book 2024 (By A Local)

wales castle tourist

Want to visit the best Castles in Wales?

You’ve come to the right place for information because I am Welsh!

I have toured plenty of Welsh Castles through multiple companies and on my own for 20+ years.

I was raised in South Wales so have been lucky enough to have hundreds of castles on my doorstep. From the ruins of Coity Castle to the magnificent Harlech Castle, I have done them all.

Whether you looking to visit UNESCO medieval castles or discover Welsh history through its ancient ruins- t here are plenty of Welsh castle tours to make this possible!

To help you find the best castles in Wales to visit , this guide explores the best Wales castle tours for all budgets and needs.

So let’s dive in so you know exactly what to expect when booking any Wales castle tour and experiences for your next trip!

Vsiting Wales From London Tour

5-DAY DISCOVER WALES SMALL GROUP TOUR

✔️ Leaves From London

✔️ Amazing Local Guide

✔️ Accommodation Included

castles in South Wales to tour and visit, Ogmore

Wandering Bard Tour of South Wales

THIS TOUR has 100 plus 5-star reviews 😍

✔️ Guide Is A Welsh Historian

✔️ Private Transport

✔️ Hotel Pick-Up & Drop-Off

The Best North Wales Castle Tours

⭐ RATING: This tour has a 5/5 star rating ⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 1 Day

▶︎ Check Itinerary & Availability Here

touring castles and historical sites in North Wales

Are you looking for an immersive experience of North Wales? Look no further than the PORTMEIRION, CASTLES AND SNOWDONIA TOUR!

You’ll get to explore some of the must-see sites in the region with a dedicated driver and local guide taking care of you every step of the way.

What makes this tour so great is that it includes visiting the most amazing Castles in North Wales , Conwy and Caernarfon.

✅ Check Reviews & Book Your Tour Here!

Fantastic full day excursion to see the area. Great fun informative guide and visiting a variety of locations. Fantastic value for money. Would definitely recommend. -Jonathan ( READ MORE REVIEWS )

Plus, this tour isn’t only about the popular attractions; you will also get to discover some off the beaten track spots that are truly unique to the area.

For an amazing experience of North Wales and Snowdonia National Park that is a great value for money package , book the Portmeirion, Castles and Snowdonia Tour when you travel to Wales.

I love visiting North Wales because of their unique stays with hot tubs , so make sure you book one too!

The Best South Wales Castle Tours

⭐ RATING: This tour has a 5/5 star rating ⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 8-9 hours

best historical and castle tours in South Wales

THE WANDERING BARD TOUR OF SOUTH WALES is one of the ultimate Wales castle tours you can book!

Your tour will allow you to explore all the best sites and attractions in one of the most beautiful and historically-rich regions of Britain.

✅ Check the Itinerary & Availability For The Wandering Bard Tour Here

Gareth was very knowledgeable and made the history come alive as well as Welsh culture and language. I recommend this tour very highly. -Ann ( READ MORE REVIEWS )

You’ll be guided by an experienced historian, who is also a native Welsh speaker – so you can get even more out of this incredible tour. Plus, your driver can pick you up from your hotel if you’re staying in Cardiff .

The tour takes you to a range of fascinating places, including Caerphilly Castle – one of the biggest castles in Britain – as well as Tintern Abbey and Chepstow Castle. You’ll also visit some incredible Neolithic sites, Roman ruins, and atmospheric valleys.

The Wandering Bard Tour of South Wales is a must-do for anyone looking to uncover the secrets of this stunning region and It’s the perfect way to explore South Wales and its great castles!

This is a stunning part of Wales so make sure you make the most of your trip and book yourself a log cabin with a hot tub .

Best Tour For Visiting Welsh Castles From London

Wales is an incredibly popular destination to visit all year round , especially from London. There is no better way to escape the crowds and explore ancient landscapes, than touring the very best castles in Wales.

And if you want to go on the ultimate Wales tour with a local guide, THIS is the one for you!

⭐ RATING: This tour has a 5/5 star rating ⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 5 Days

Visiting Wales From London Tour

Are you ready to immerse yourself in the beautiful Welsh countryside? With a 5-DAY DISCOVER WALES SMALL GROUP TOUR from London, you can do just that!

Not only will you get to explore national parks, castles and other historic sites alongside an experienced local tour guide, but all your transport and accommodation needs are taken care of.

And with this tour including hotels in Aberystwyth, you are promised the most incredible sea views to wake up to !

✅ Check Out The Itinerary & Availability Here

Absolutely a wonderful tour with our guide Nick. He was very knowledgeable and a great and very personable guide. The scenery in Wales was magnificent….I would definitely recommend this tour to anyone going to Wales -Luci ( READ MORE REVIEWS )

This tour makes it easy to experience the best that Wales has to offer without all the hassle of organizing and planning everything, so you can just enjoy the very best Wales tour filled with castles and historic sites.

And you don’t even need your passport!

And with a knowledgeable local guide leading the way, you can be sure that your tour will be packed with interesting facts and experiences.

So don’t worry – book the 5-Day Discover Wales Small-Group Tour from London with confidence! With all the planning done for you, it’s easier than ever to experience the amazing beauty of Wales.

Best Castles in Wales to Visit

Best Castles in Wales to visit

Wales is famous for being the land of castles and dragons. And no matter how many castles you visit, you will not be able to get enough of them. So if you are flying into Cardiff , make the most of the nearby Castles!

There are hundreds of castles in Wales that you can book tours to. There are also many more ancient ruins that you can explore completely free!

But with 427 Castles throughout Wales – which ones are the best to visit?!

To help you see the very best Castles on your trip to Wales, here are the Castles you should add to your itinerary:

A dark blue banner saying Got no time or just don’t know where to start planning your trip?

1. Caerphilly Castle:

This imposing 13th-century castle in South Wales is one of the country’s most iconic medieval landmarks.

It’s surrounded by a large moat, and visitors can explore towers, battlements and even secret passageways!

2. Conwy Castle:

This vast castle in North Wales is one of Wales’ most visited World Heritage Sites.

Built by Edward I, it now stands tall above the town of Conwy, and offers the most spectacular views across the landscape.

3. Cardiff Castle:

This castle in Wales’ capital city has been around since Roman times and has seen many changes over its history.

Today, it’s home to beautifully -preserved Victorian interiors, as well as a Norman keep and Roman walls.

4. Harlech Castle:

This castle on the coast of Snowdonia is yet another World Heritage Site, thanks to its beautifully-preserved medieval architecture.

Built by Edward I, It’s also known for its links with Welsh history – it was here that the famous anthem ‘Men of Harlech’ was written!

5. Beaumaris Castle: This castle on Anglesey is the perfect combination of a stunning location and intricate medieval design.

Built by Edward I13th century, it’s one of Wales’ most impressive structures and well worth the visit.

Are castles in Wales free entry?

There are many breathtaking castles and other historic monuments in Wales that are free to visit.

If you’re looking for a great day out, you’ll be spoiled for choice with some of the most beautiful castles in Britain to explore like Ogmore By Sea Castle in South Wales .

Places like Ogmore castle are free to visit but more popular castle tours require payment

However, many of the more popular castles in Wales are not free and you have to pay for tours.

There are many wales castle tours available for all budgets and needs for a great day out .

You will know if you have to pay for the Castle you want to visit in Wales when you arrive but the majority of popular castles like Cardiff, Harlech, Castle Coch and Conwy all require an entry fee.

If you are wanting to see multiple castles when you travel through Wales, the best way is to ▶︎BOOK A TOUR . This will save you a lot of money and provide you with a local guide!

The best Wales Castle Tours final thoughts

The next time you find yourself in Wales, make sure to explore some of the incredible castles dotted around the country.

From imposing fortresses to Spooky ruins , there’s something for everyone. And with so many stunning castles to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start.

But hopefully, this guide looking at the best tours of castles in Wales helps!

So whether you’re a history buff or just want to enjoy some of the most breathtaking views Welsh has on offer, use this guide to book the perfect castle tour for your next trip.

👉 And if you still are struggling to decide, THE WANDERING BARD TOUR OF SOUTH WALES is a fantastic option to consider!

No matter how many days you spend in Wales, you are guaranteed the best trip full of castles, Celtic culture and ancient landscapes.

I hope you found this article useful! To make your trip to Wales and the rest of the UK the best, here are some more relevant posts:

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Lowri Thomas

Lowri Thomas is the founder of Many Other Roads. She lives and travels in Europe and has explored more than 40 countries. She is joined on her travels with her dog Scout and they explore Europe mostly by road. Born in Wales, she also shares the best things to do in Wales, UK and beyond. She helps over 50,000 people per month plan epic Europe adventures and road trips.

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16 Fairy-tale Castles in Wales to Inspire Your Next Trip

These Welsh castles were built for royalty, and now you can visit them for a fairy-tale vacation.

wales castle tourist

Rory Fuller/Travel+Leisure

Sometimes called the "Land of Castles" and "Castle Capital of the World," Wales once had about 600 castles. Many of these Welsh castles are now in ruins, while others are open for tours or even overnight stays . Visitors to Wales might notice the seemingly unusual spellings of the castle and city names, so here's a little information about the fascinating ancient language of the country. The Welsh language (Cymraeg in Welsh) is Celtic in origin and dates back to 600 B.C. The alphabet uses 29 letters that include "ll," "ff," and "dd" which explains why these are often seen in Welsh words, including the names of castles ("castells" in Welsh). The language is still spoken in Wales, along with English, and it is taught in most Welsh schools to support its survival. When you travel to Wales to enjoy its scenery, beaches, forests, and of course, its castles, you might also notice its national emblem of daffodils.

Here, find 16 beautiful castles in Wales to inspire your next trip.

Castell Coch

Rory Fuller/Travel+Leisure

Thought to have been constructed by the Normans in the late 11th century to defend Cardiff, Castell Coch ("Red Castle") overlooks the Taff Gorge on the northern boundary of the city. The original castle was destroyed, probably during the Welsh rebellion of 1314, and many centuries later, it was rebuilt in the Victorian style on its medieval site. Today, visitors can explore the restored interior of the castle as well as the surrounding areas on the Taff Trail, surrounded by ancient beech trees of the Fforest Fawr.

Cardigan Castle

This 11th-century castle , located on the River Teifi, combines ten centuries of history with the present day. Visitors can tour the remains of the original castle and then stay for the night or dine on traditional Welsh dishes in its restaurant, Cegin 1176 Kitchen, built into the castle walls. The first National Eisteddfod , now an annual celebration of Welsh culture, was held in 1176 to mark the completion of the castle by Lord Rhys.

Caerphilly Castle

Set on an expansive 30-acre site, Caerphilly Castle is the largest castle in Wales and the second-largest in Britain after Windsor . Built during the 13th century by Norman nobleman Gilbert de Clare to protect his land from Welsh Prince Llewellyn Gruffudd, the castle features a concentric ring of walls as well as gatehouses, towers, a maze, a dragon's den, and a great hall, giving visitors much to explore during tours of the castle and grounds.

Conwy Castle

This well-preserved castle , built in the late 13th century for England's King Edward I, is located on the north coast of Wales on a hill overlooking the Conwy Estuary. The walls surrounding the town are still standing, and guided tours are available. Views of the mountains, river, and medieval town can be seen with a climb to the top of the towers.

Caernarfon Castle

This magnificent castle was built in the 13th century on the site of a Roman fort at the mouth of the River Seiont. Much of the outer wall that surrounded the town still stands, along with a series of towers, including two that house The Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum . King Edward's son was born in the castle and named the Prince of Wales, the title given to the eldest son of the reigning monarch since that time. In 1969, Prince Charles' investiture was held in Caernarfon Castle.

Cardiff Castle

One of the most popular tourist attractions in Wales, Cardiff Castle dates back to ancient Rome, and archaeological remains from that era can be seen today, despite changes over the years. Additions and redesigns have transformed it into a Norman keep (fortified tower), a medieval fortress, and a Gothic Revival-style residence. Located on the Taff River, the castle is in the middle of the city, and visitors can enter for a guided tour or enjoy the castle with a stroll through town.

Kidwelly Castle

Overlooking the River Gwendraeth in southwest Wales, Kidwelly Castle was first constructed in the early 12th century by the Normans and then was later rebuilt in stone as seen today. One of its legends tells of the brave Princess Gwenllian who went to battle against the Normans and whose headless ghost is said to haunt the castle grounds. A monument to the princess stands near the castle gatehouse. The castle has the distinction of appearing in the first scene of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail."

Laugharne Castle

Located in South Wales in the town of Carmarthenshire, the castle has been destroyed and rebuilt several times since it was founded by the Normans in 1116. Later, the castle was captured by Lord Rhys of Wales and after changing hands many times, it was eventually rebuilt as a Tudor manor house in the 16th century. Visitors can see the remains of the original stone wall and towers as well as the gardens and places that inspired writer Dylan Thomas.

Raglan Castle

Welsh nobleman Sir William ap Thomas is credited with building the moated Great Tower of the castle in 1435, and his son Sir William Herbert created the gatehouse. Sadly, much of the castle was destroyed in battles, but it was later transformed into an opulent residence. Today, visitors can still see the restored Grand Staircase, medieval wood carvings, hidden rooms, a moat, a garden, and stunning views of the countryside.

Dinefwr Castle

A visit to the ruins of Dinefwr Castle set along the River Tywi provides beautiful views of the Tywi Valley. Thought to have been built under the rule of Lord Rhys during the 12th century, the castle was mostly destroyed by the end of the Middle Ages, but was later partially restored. Today, the area is home to the historic Newton House surrounded by a National Nature Reserve and an 18th-century deer park.

Pembroke Castle

Located in Pembrokeshire in South Wales, the castle was first built of wood, but when William Marshal became Earl of Pembroke in 1189, he reconstructed it in stone. Today, visitors can explore the grounds, towers, battlements, and a prison in the subterranean cave under the castle as well as enjoy the view from the top — after ascending a narrow staircase. Known as the birthplace of King Henry VII, the castle stages historic reenactments, falconry displays, and a Christmas market.

Roch Castle

Also in Pembrokeshire, Roch Castle was built in the late 12th century. Norman Knight Adam de Rupe was the first named inhabitant. His name in French is "de la Roche," hence the name of the castle. After many ownership changes through the years, the castle has been extensively renovated, and it reopened in 2013 as a six-bedroom luxury hotel. Its original footprint remains intact, and guests stay in rooms named for de Rupe, ap Gruffydd, and other historic inhabitants. The art-filled property features stunning views, a dining room, and a reception team to help arrange local experiences.

Chepstow Castle

Construction on this castle (Castell Cas-gwent in Welsh) began in 1067 by Norman Lord William Fitz Osbern, a close friend of William the Conqueror. One of the first Norman castles built in Wales, it is the oldest surviving post-Roman stone fortification in Britain. Set on a limestone cliff above the River Wye in Monmouthshire , the castle is well preserved, and it is open for tours and offers lovely views of the surrounding area.

Harlech Castle

One of Edward I's four World Heritage Site castles in North Wales overlooking Cardigan Bay, Harlech is an example of the "walls within walls" designs of architect Master James of St. George. Its many battles through the centuries inspired the popular rugby anthem, "Men of Harlech." Today, visitors can tour the castle, entering through a floating footbridge.

Llancaiach Fawr

Actually a Tudor manor house built on the site of an earlier medieval structure in South Wales, Llancaiach Fawr has been restored and now presents an experience that represents life during the 17th century. Costumed servants create the scene, and guests are immersed in the manor's history, learning about the lives of people during the Civil Wars.

Bodelwyddan Castle

Stay in a historic manor house when you book a room at Bodelwyddan Castle , located near the North Wales coast near Snowdonia. Guests at this regal hotel can enjoy modern amenities, a spa, entertainment, dining, and the hotel's romantic grounds.

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© Hawlfraint y Goron / Crown Copyright

Castell Biwmares ( Beaumaris Castle), Anglesey, North Wales

Visit unusual castles in Wales

Ghosts, television dramas, improbable works of architecture and miraculous survival stories play their part in the history of some of the more unusual castles you can find across Wales today. 

Most first-time visitors make a beeline for our big 'n' famous castles. And that’s fair enough - they’re great. But if you head off the beaten track, there are hundreds more out there, often in the prettiest places, and usually with hardly anyone else there. Here are some gems where you can be king or queen of the castle.

In a land full of castles notable for their decayed, imperfect beauty,  Castell Biwmares ( Beaumaris Castle)  – Edward I’s final 13th century design – is widely considered the most technically accomplished castle in Britain. Overhead photos always make it look like a study in symmetry, so get up close and admire the king’s grandiose vision.

Y Castell Gwyn ( White Castle), Monmouthshire, South Wales

Named after its original white-rendered walls,  Y Castell Gwyn ( White Castle) is one of three fortresses - Grosmont and Skenfrith are the others - built by Norman lords in the Monnow Valley to guard the borderlands. Although it was already derelict by the 1600s, White Castle is easily the best preserved of the trio – with the bonus of a rural Monmouthshire setting.

Y Castell Gwyn ( White Castle), Llantilio Crosenny, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, South Wales

Castell Ynysgynwraidd (Skenfrith Castle), Monmouthshire, South Wales

Time travel fans need to visit  Castell Ynysgynwraidd (Skenfrith Castle)  – the Norman castle once played host to an episode of Doctor Who. See why this circular keep, constructed in the Monnow Valley as one of three neighbouring castles resulting from the Norman conquest of South Wales, is a repeated favourite of television crews.

Beaumaris Castle

Beaumaris Castle (Cadw)

White Castle

White Castle (Cadw)

Grosmont Castle

Grosmont Castle (Cadw)

Skenfrith Castle

Skenfrith Castle (Cadw)

Castell y bere, eryri (snowdonia), north wales.

Built by Llywelyn the Great in the 1220s,  Castell y Bere  was conquered by the Normans in 1283 and swiftly abandoned: Edward I didn’t think its location was of great strategic importance. But that’s what makes it so magical today: the ruins sit in a quietly beautiful valley in southern Eryri (Snowdonia) . Sometimes it’s not about the size of the towers – it’s about the majesty of the place itself.

Castell y Bere, near Abergynolwyn, North Wales

Castell Coch, Cardiff, South Wales

Castell Coch is a castle on top of a castle. It was originally a chieftain’s fortress in the 13th century, but was resurrected as a gothic fortress several centuries later. It is now notable for its extraordinary complex of lavish chambers, making it a repeated favourite with film and television crews.

Castell y Bere

Castell y Bere (Cadw)

Castell Coch

Castell Coch (Cadw)

Nevern castle, pembrokeshire, west wales.

There’s hardly anything left of  Nevern , one of Wales’ oldest stone-built castles: the stumps of a few towers, and defensive earthworks which blend into the wooded crags and gorges that surround the site. But the beauty of the location makes it a lovely place to visit, especially combined with a visit to the exquisite village  church .

Castell Dryslwyn (Dryslwyn Castle),  Carmarthenshire, West Wales

Built in the 1220s by the princes of Deheubarth,  Dryslwyn  proves that native Welsh princes were just as adept at knocking up a mighty fortress as the invading Normans. The remains look a bit scant from down below, but when you climb the hill, an entire medieval town layout reveals itself, as well as panoramic views of the Tywi Valley.

Dryslwyn Castle

Dryslwyn Castle (Cadw)

Kidwelly Castle

Kidwelly Castle (Cadw)

Kidwelly Castle, Carmarthenshire, West Wales

The Norman stronghold at  Kidwelly  changed hands several times during the battles between the Welsh and the invaders, so it’s remarkable that the castle has survived so completely. During one attack, the heroic Princess Gwenllian was caught and beheaded by Normans in 1136; her headless ghost still haunts the town. The castle also provided the opening backdrop for the film  Monty Python and the Holy Grail .

Castell Dolwyddelan (Dolwyddelan Castle), Conwy, North Wales

Native Welsh castles always seem to be in the prettiest places (the Normans were more boringly pragmatic). The square tower looks gorgeous on its rocky plinth, overlooking the site of an earlier castle, Tomen Castell. Edward I garrisoned troops at  Dolwyddelan , issuing them with white uniforms for winter warfare.

Dolwyddelan Castle

Dolwyddelan Castle (Cadw)

Rhuddlan Castle

Rhuddlan Castle (Cadw)

Castell rhuddlan (rhuddlan castle), denbighshire, north wales.

Rhuddlan sat at the lowest crossing-point of the River Clwyd, which made it a natural frontier – and battleground – between the Welsh and invaders for 600 years before Edward I arrived in 1277. This is the first castle designed by James of St George, his master builder, who went on to build a string of thumping great fortresses along the North Wales coast. At  Castell Rhuddlan (Rhuddlan Castle)  you can see the genesis of his concentric ‘walls within walls’ design.

Castell Rhuddlan (Rhuddlan Castle), North Wales

St Quentin's Castle, Llanblethian, South Wales

Before his death at the 1314 Battle of Bannockburn, Gilbert de Clare designed a castle he never got to complete. Every inch of the crumbled, jagged St Quentin's Castle  grabs the imagination with its enormous twin-towered gatehouse, designed to give extra defence on the weaker side of the four surrounding slopes.

St Quentin's Castle, Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales

Roch Castle, Pembrokeshire, West Wales

Norman and Flemish invaders built a series of fortresses along the ‘Landsker Line’, an otherwise invisible frontier between the Welsh-speaking north and Anglophone south of Pembrokeshire that still exists today. 

Roch Castle  was built in the 1190s, badly damaged during the Civil War in the 1640s, and a complete ruin by the 1800s. In the early 1900s Roch was painstakingly restored by the Viscount St Davids, and now runs as a luxury hotel.

St Quentin's Castle

St Quentin's Castle, Llanblethian (Cadw)

Roch Castle, Pembrokeshire

Roch Castle

Weobley castle, gower, west wales.

It’s more of a fortified manor than an all-out castle, but  Weobley Castle  is worth visiting for a couple of reasons. For a start, the views over the northern coast of Gower are sublime, and the marshes are grazed by flocks of sheep that provide delicious salt marsh lamb – available from the adjoining farm’s shop.

Castell Weble ( Weobley Castle), Gower, West Wales

Weobley Castle

Weobley Castle (Cadw)

Winston Castle

Wiston Castle (Cadw)

Castell cas-wis (wiston castle), pembrokeshire, west wales.

Built by the splendidly-named 12th century Flemish knight Wizo,  Castell Cas-wis (Wiston Castle)  is one of the finest examples of a motte and bailey castle you’ll see: its motte (mound) is still capped by a hefty stone tower. The castle fell repeatedly to the Welsh, and it was put permanently out of action by Llewelyn the Great in 1220.

Castell Cas-wis (Wiston Castle), Pembrokeshire, West Wales

© Hawlfraint y Goron / Crown Copyright Cadw

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Explore vibrant cities and rolling hills with a guide on a multi-city UK trip.

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From  London's iconic landmarks to Snowdonia National Park's unmatchable mountain views, experience the lively cities and stunning countryside of England and Wales . Plus, as the land portion is regularly $1199, booking this package essentially includes flights for free.

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King and Queen to visit Wales for Senedd's birthday

King and Queen

King Charles III and Queen Camilla will visit Wales on Thursday to mark 25 years of the Senedd

  • Published 8 July 2024

King Charles III and Queen Camilla are set to visit Wales to mark 25 years of the Welsh Parliament.

Thursday's visit will see the King at the Senedd for the first time since his tour of the UK following his accession.

The royal pair will receive a guard of honour from the Royal Welsh before they are greeted by primary school children from across Wales.

They will then meet First Minister Vaughan Gething and other party and parliamentary leaders in Wales.

Once inside, the King and Queen will hear a performance from Mared Pugh-Evans, the King's new harpist, in her first performance in the position.

After a performance from a choir from a local primary school, Ysgol Treganna, King Charles will give a speech marking the 25th anniversary of the Senedd.

Before leaving, the King and Queen will have the opportunity to meet members of the community and members of Senedd staff who have worked at the parliament for 25 years.

In his last visit to Senedd, the King - formerly the Prince of Wales for 64 years - gave his first address in Welsh as Monarch.

In it, he said Wales had a "special place" in the heart of his mother, Elizabeth II.

Related Topics

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    Fabulous historical place to visit and Dog Friendly on the ground floor of the house and the grounds & castle ruins. 26. Dolbadarn Castle. Boards gave good information and the spiral staircase in the tower all the way to the top was tight but great. 27. Laugharne Castle.

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    Phone +44 300 025 2239. Web Visit website. Caerphilly is the second largest castle in Britain. Only Windsor is bigger. It was built by a Norman lord, Gilbert de Clare, to protect himself from the powerful Prince of Wales, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd (who did his best to knock it down). The castle covers more than 30 acres.

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    In northwest Wales, on the banks of the River Seiont, architect James of St. George built Caernarfon Castle at the behest of King Edward I. Construction started in the late 13th century and took 47 years to complete. The result is a grand castle with unparalleled architectural drama, making it one of the best castles in Wales to visit today.

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    3. Conwy Castle. Source: Samot / shutterstock. Conwy Castle. Another Welsh castle dating back to the time of King Edward I of England is the Conwy Castle which lies on the northern shores of Wales. The castle dates back to the late 13th century and it played an important role in forming the town of Conwy.

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    The ornate Raglan Castle. 8. The impregnable Pembroke Castle. 9. The inspiring Criccieth Castle. 10. The unusually defended Kidwelly Castle. The information in this article is inspired by The Rough Guide to Wales, your essential guide for visiting Wales. Travel ideas for Wales, created by local experts.

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    Visitors are free to explore the grounds and wander through passages in the walls. 3. Conwy Castle. Located in the picturesque town on Conwy on the North Coast of Wales, Conwy Castle was built by King Edward I between 1283 and 1289. The castle is considered one of the finest works by architect James of St. George.

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