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15 Best Castles in Wales to Visit

Wales is often referred to as the “Land of Castles,” and for good reason. It’s home to some of the most beautiful castles and the medieval period.

Many of Europe’s surviving castles and castle ruins dating back to the Middle Ages are found in the ruggedly beautiful western region of Great Britain.

Each fortress owns a piece of the rich and complicated history of Wales–a history hallmarked with battles, alliances, and the never-ending quest for Welsh independence.

There are more castles per square mile in Wales than anywhere else in Europe. They owe their storybook appearance to King Edward I who built them as a way to fortify his conquests of lands there.

His castles are characterized by three concentric rings of walls and towers with the middle kept open as a courtyard. Friends and foes entered the military-style buildings by drawbridges over moats.

Many Welsh attractions like castles, offer tours and guides to help you explore the scenery in an efficient manner.

Best Castles in Wales: Both North and South Wales

Here are the best castles in Wales that will enchant your future travels.

1. Raglan Castle

Raglan Castle

The first on our list of the best castles in Wales comes from the late Medieval royal home of Welshman Sir William ap Thomas, the Blue Knight of Gwent. Commissioned in 1430, the castle was built to display family wealth and stature in mind. It has a moat and unusual six-sided towers.

The knight’s son, Sir William Herbert, dedicated his life to adding more towers, halls, and sumptuous apartments, hosting nobles and royal visitors in luxury.

Raglan Castle is decorated with round towers that make it a classic fortress, and chances are you will be astonished at its beauty from the gatehouse.

This welsh castle is probably the grandest of all the Welsh castles and it was even the home of young Henry Tudor who would be King Henry VII.

Prices of Admission

Adult: £7.70

Family of two adults and up to three children: £21.60

Disabled and companion: No charge. Limited wheelchair access and uneven walking surfaces.

Juniors (Aged 5-17) / NUS / Armed Forces and Veterans: £4.60

Seniors (Aged 65+): £6.10

Children 5 and under are admitted at no charge.

2. Powis Castle and Garden

Powis Castle and Gardens

One of the best castles in Northern Wales is the Medieval beauty located in Powis, near Welshpool. Built-in the 13th century by a Welsh prince, it was a showpiece of the region until the 17th century when it underwent a major renovation that turned it into a Renaissance palace.

Powis Castle now holds important works of art and historical objects, including the 17th-century Italian busts known as the Twelve Caesars as well as a masterpiece of Belloto.

There are also formal gardens, terraces, and parks for strolling as the Welsh royals did centuries ago.

Prices of Admission

Call to check availability and booking.

Adult: £8.00

Disabled and companion: No charge. Handicapped parking is available.

Child: £4.00

Family: £20.00

1 Adult and up to three children: £12.00

3. Criccieth Castle

Criccieth Castle

On our best castles in Wales map, we found a classic Edwardian outpost overlooking Tremadog Bay. Llywelyn the Great built the estate late in the 13th century. As with most castles in the Edwardian style, it is fortified with a wall and openings for shooting arrows.

The castle alternated between English and Welsh rule until the 15th century when it was burned to the ground and left to ruin after the last Welsh rebellion.

Visitors can explore the ruins and see exhibits about the castle’s tumultuous history.

Prices of Admission

Adult: £6.00

Family of two adults and up to three children: £17.10

Disabled and companion: No charge.

Juniors (Aged 5-17) / NUS / Armed Forces and Veterans: £3.70

Seniors (Aged 65+): £4.80

Children 5 and under are admitted at no charge.

4. Laugharne Castle

Laugharne Castle

Welsh castles had a way of stirring the hearts of poets. The 12th-century Laugharne Castle is famous for being one of the best castles in Wales and for inspiring the poet Dylan Thomas who took up residence in the boathouse there in 1949 until he died in 1953.

Laugharne is a splendid Tudor mansion set between two towers and surrounded by gardens. For centuries the castle was in the middle of fierce Welsh and Norman conflict.

Nearly in ruins, English lord Sir John Perrot claimed the residence for himself and lived a rich life there until 1592, when he was thrown into the Tower of London on treason charges.

He died in the prison from poisoning, reportedly right before Elizabeth was set to pardon him.

Prices of Admission

Adult: £4.50

Family of two adults and up to three children: £15.50

Disabled and companion: No charge. The site is fully accessible, however, the tower can only accommodate those who can walk.

Juniors (Aged 5-17) / NUS / Armed Forces and Veterans: £2.60

Seniors (Aged 65+): £3.60

Children 5 and under are admitted at no charge.

See Related: Things to Do in London, England

5. Caernarfon Castle

Caernarfon Castle

Of all the castles to visit in Wales, Caernarfon Castle is probably the most breathtaking and is considered one of the best Middle Ages structures in the world.

In 1283, King Edward began the construction of this famous castle, and it was finally finished in 1330.

Caernarfon Castle sits overlooking the island of Anglesey, on the River Seiont and the Menai Strait. Edward II, who would be the Prince of Wales, was born inside this dramatic-looking royal home in 1284.

Then, in 1969, Prince Charles had his investiture there also as Prince of Wales. Legend says the best castle in Wales was part of a dream by Macsen Wledig who envisioned this one at the mouth of a river.

There is a dream-like quality to Caernarfon castle’s magnificence and the best way to immerse yourself in it and its castle grounds is with a full-day tour.

Full-Day Tour Price

From Llandudno: Full-Day Snowdonia & The Three Castles Tour starts at USD $71.44 per person.

6. Beaumaris Castle

Beaumaris Castle and Moat

Wales castles are famous for being picturesque. One of the best castles in Wales is on the island of Anglesey, the gothic Beaumaris Castle looks as if ripped from the pages of a fairytale.

Beaumaris Castle is one of the most sophisticated medieval castles of Edward’s military-style Iron Ring castles in Wales with its almost perfect symmetry of concentric walls. Construction was started in 1295d During the first year, one could find over 2500 men working on the site. Beaumaris Castle has a concentric design, with walls within walls, that provide for extra layers of defense.

Besides the near-impenetrable walls, a half-moat protected the palace from attack for centuries.

Unfortunately, it was never fully completed and never saw much wartime. Its beauty is striking, however, and the inner passageways are as formidable as its exterior.

Full-Day Tour Price

From Llandudno: Full-Day Anglesey & Castles Bus Tour starts at USD $71.44 per person.

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7. Chepstow Castle

Chepstow Castle on the river Wye

The oldest castle in Wales is found in the south and is an astonishing 950 years old. Perched on the edge of a crumbly-looking cliff, the post-Roman stone fortress looms over the river Wye.

Its tower is impossibly giant, especially for the age. Visitors can wander inside and see how Roman tiles from a nearby settlement were used for a portion of the walls and also the oldest surviving wooden doors in Europe.

In the town of Chepstow, a museum shows the fascinating history of the area, and the ruins of Tintern Abbey are only a few miles away. Choose to visit the picturesque villages and ruins along the Wye with a full-day tour or a multi-day package.

Available Tours

Wye Valley, Abbey and Castle: Full-Day From Cardiff. Prices start at USD $62.35 per person.

From London: Best of Wales 6-Day Tour. Prices start at USD $818.33 per person.

8. Caerphilly Castle

Caerfilly Castle

Travelers who visit Castles in Wales love its mighty size and great leaning tower, which resulted from an attack during the Civil War. Construction began in 1268 by Marcher lord Gilbert de Clare as protection against Welsh prince Llywelyn ap Gruffudd.

Caerphilly Castle is the biggest one in Wales covering 30 acres. After the death of Llywelyn, the castle was transformed into the ornate residence of the ambitious and greedy advisor to King Edward II, Hugh Dispenser.

Dispenser wanted the best castle in Wales as his own. He also installed a hunting park and lake. Caerphilly Castle palace has an ethereal look to visitors as it appears to rise from the lake.

From London, There are 5 ways to get to Caerphilly Castle, using the train, bus or by driving. Using a train or driving, it’s a 2-3 hour ride while using a bus will take you 4 hours.

Available Tours

Cardiff and Caerphilly Castle Day Trip From London. Prices start at USD $109.16 per person.

9. Carreg Cennen

Romantic Careeg Cennen

Visitors taking Wales castle’s tours never miss a trip to idyllic Carreg Cennen. The ruins are nestled atop one of the rolling hills of Carmarthenshire, in the western section of Brecon Beacons National Park, overlooking the River Cennen.

Built on a limestone cliff, the castle had an advantage against invaders, and it was probably a Welsh fort that was overtaken by British forces. Throughout its history, the site changed hands from one side to the other before eventually falling to ruin.

It’s a romantic-looking palace, one of the best castles in Wales, dominating the landscape and offering fantastic views of the park.

The location and the castle itself are remote and wild, and when you go, you’ll feel like you’re the only one who stumbled upon it. A multi-day tour is the best way to see the beauty of Carreg Cennen and its surroundings.

Available Tours

From Manchester: 3-Day of Snowdonia, Wales and Chester. Prices start at USD $336.42.

10. Conwy Castle

Conwy Castle Interior

Next on our list of castles in Wales, you must see is the classic Medieval military fortress of Conwy Castle on the north coast. With the mountains of Snowdonia in the background, this 700-year-old castle is a spectacular sight.

It’s difficult to believe Edward was able to complete Conwy Castle in the four years between 1283 and 1287. Newly restored spiral staircases in the towers let you walk the battlements, which is worth all the climbing.

The harbor of Conwy Castle sits at the foot of this UNESCO World Heritage Site is still walled. But the most remarkable fact about Conwy is how well-preserved it is.

The royal apartments are near intact. It’s as imposing now as it was in the 13th century. See this dreamy locale on a full-day tour of the area.

Full-Day Tour Price

From Llandudno: Full-Day Snowdonia & The Three Castles Tour starts at USD $71.44 per person.

See Related: 2 Days Hiking the Heart of Wales Line Trail

11. Chirk Castle

Chirk Castle

Another of the best castles in Wales is a 13th-century royal residence built by Roger Mortimer de Chirk in 1295. It was so important to Edward, he even came to see the structure personally. This castle was built to guard the main route through North Wales.

For centuries this medieval fortress protected the Ceiriog Valley until 1595 when it became the prime, and luxurious, the residence of the Myddleton (of East India Trading Company fame) family.

Today, visitors can see the lavish furnishings and appointments that were made by generations of the rich Myddletons.

Room after room shows the fashions of the age in which they were designed. These walls must hold as many secrets as wealth. Guests are also welcome to walk the abundant gardens and parklands surrounding the impressive family home.

Prices of Admission

Adult: £8.00

Child: £4.00

Family: £20.00

Disabled and companion: No charge. Accessibility varies.

12. Harlech Castle

Next on our best castle in Wales map is the spectacular Harlech Castle which sits on a sheer rock cliff overlooking a desolate landscape of dunes. Harlech Castle was once on the sea, but over the centuries, the coastline has given way to silt.

To complete the picture-perfect setting, the craggy peaks of Snowdonia are visible in the distance. It’s dramatic, beautiful, and a must-see.

It took Edward and his architect, Master James of St. George, only seven years to complete the structure with its classic defensive walled design.

The castle is also famous for its “Way from the Sea”–a set of 108 steps carved into the cliff that allowed inhabitants access to ships. Harlech Castle saw many violent encounters throughout Welsh history, including during the Wars of the Roses.

Available Tours

13. Castell Dinas Brân

Castell Dinas Bran looking Sout Eastwards from the Keep

Just about all the Welsh castles evoke a sense of romance and mystery as you walk around the ruins and ramparts. Although Castell Dinas Brân no longer has towers, passageways, and battlements, it still stirs the senses.

A walk around the arches and walls, slowly breaking down back into the earth, gives you a quiet moment to consider hundreds of years of human conflict and resilience. The ruins overlook the pastoral Dee Valley outside of Llangollen.

Although the castle was built in a prime spot of defense, princes would only occupy the space for several decades. It takes effort to reach the pinnacle where the ruins sit.

But the climb gives an idea of what the castle enemies, and residents, experienced in their approach. At the top, catch your breath while you take in the view in wonderment.

There’s no charge for visiting and parking at the bottom of the hill is available. But be prepared for a good uphill hike.

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14. Pembroke Castle

Pembroke Castle

Your plans for castles to visit in Wales must include this one constructed by Norman Roger of Montgomery in 1093 when he conquered the town. Pembroke Castle was the site of several major conflicts during the English Civil War.

It eventually came under the ownership of Jasper Tewdwr, earl of Pembroke, and was the birthplace of his nephew, Henry Tudor, who would become King Henry VII.

The castle has been restored and is open for tours. Exhibitions of the fascinating history of the earls of Pembroke, who ruled the region with iron fists from the fortress, and the birth and life of King Henry are also available.

Available Tours

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15. Cardiff Castle

As ancient as Wales castles are, they were often built on even older settlements. Cardiff Castle was constructed in the 11th century on top of a Roman fort from the third century.

Over the next few hundred years, Cardiff Castle was fortified with walls and other structures to defend it against attacks. Even after the English Civil War, the castle continued to be renovated.

Now it’s a Gothic revival showcase with stunning interiors of murals, marble, and carvings. Cardiff Castle was a fairy-tale home and is now a captivating museum.

Available Tours

Cardiff Castle

The Welsh castles are special because they are wonderful displays of the historical complexity and the fierceness of the people of Wales.

If you love history and the mysteries and romance of the Medieval age, you need to make these intriguing fortresses the center of your next vacation in Wales.

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