Wales

Best Castles in Wales

Known as ‘The Land of Castles’, Wales boasts somewhere between 400-600 of them (depending on who you listen to!) but don’t worry if you’re now wondering where to start as we’ve selected the best castles in Wales that are worthy of a visit. These include the most famous castle in Wales; Cardiff Castle, the birthplace of the first Price of Wales; Caernarfon Castle along with a selection of fortresses, Victorian follies, country house castles, and Medieval masterpieces.

 

19 Famous Welsh castles to visit

1. Beaumaris Castle

Castles in Wales Beaumaris-Castle

This picture-postcard masterpiece with half-moat sits on the island of Anglesey and despite never being finished is a classic masterpiece when it comes to fortified castles in the UK. Built for Edward I as one of the ‘Iron Ring’ castles of North Wales, Beaumaris is a sight to behold as you walk the grounds and admire the views.

Where: Anglesey
When:
13th century
Style:
Gothic
Open for visit:
Yes. Open daily from 9.30am March-October and 10 am Monday-Saturday or 11 am Sunday November-February.

2. Bodelwyddan Castle

Best Castles in Wales Bodelwyddan-Castle

This beautiful castle, set within a large country park of landscaped gardens and woodlands has had a long and varied history being used as a hospital for soldiers during WWI, a private girls school, and then a country house museum and Welsh art gallery. Its usage could be set to change again with the sale of Bodelwyddan Castle finalizing in 2019 though it’s likely to remain a tourist attraction.

Where: Denbighshire
When:
19th century
Style:
Gothic & Victorian
Open for visit:
House currently closed but gardens remain open.

3. Caernarfon Castle

Welsh Castles Caernarfon-Castle
Otherwise known as Carnarvon Castle, this impressive Medieval fortress with its unique polygonal towers was the official residence of Edward I and the birthplace of his son who became the first Prince of Wales. Explore the grounds before visiting 2 of the castle towers that now house the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum.

Where: Gwynedd
When:
13th century
Style:
Medieval
Open for visit:
Yes. Open daily from 9.30am March-October and 10 am Monday-Saturday or 11 am Sunday November-February.

4. Caerphilly Castle

Famous Castles in Wales Caerphilly-Castle

This dominating fortified castle with 2 lakes is the largest in Wales and is considered one of the best Medieval castles in Western Europe. Its iconic leaning tower leans even more than the leaning tower of Pisa and if you think it looks familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen it featured in the TV show, Merlin.

Where: Caerphilly
When:
13th century
Style:
Medieval
Open for visit:
Yes. Open daily from 9.30am March-October and 10 am Monday-Saturday or 11 am Sunday November-February.

5. Cardiff Castle

Best Welsh Castles Cardiff-Castle

Step back in time to discover 2,000 years of history at Cardiff Castle. Built upon a Roman fort, the original motte and bailey castle dates back to the 11th century when it was a Norman stronghold and later became a fantasy playground for a rich man who turned the castle into a Victorian Gothic revival mansion. See the Roman wall, the panoramic views from the medieval keep, and the lavish interior of the castle apartments.

Where: Cardiff
When:
11th century
Style:
Medieval
Open for visit:
Open daily from 9 am

6. Carew Castle

Castles in Wales Carew-Castle

Learn the history of the Carew family who still owns this 2,000-year-old castle though don’t live in it due to it being a ruin. The castle is a breathtaking piece of architecture that overlooks a 23-acre tidal millpond that powers an 18th-century mill, its origins dating as far back as 1100 when it was built as an earth and timber castle though little of this early heritage remains.

Where: Pembrokeshire
When:
13th century
Style:
Norman & Elizabethan
Open for visit:
Yes. Open daily from 10 am April-October

You might also be interested in: the best castles in South Wales. 

7. Castell Coch

Best Castles in Wales Castell-Coch

This quaint, fairytale-like castle with its round towers, draw bridges, and lavish interiors, is said to be a reproduction of a medieval Welsh chieftain’s stronghold from the 1870s. It stands on the site of a Norman castle above the village of Tongwynlais and is a sight to behold!

Where: Cardiff
When:
19th century
Style:
Gothic Revival
Open for visit:
Yes. Open daily from 9.30am March-October and 10 am Monday-Saturday or 11 am Sunday November-February.

8. Chepstow Castle

Welsh Castles Chepstow-Castle

This now derelict Norman castle with its fragmented town walls was one of the earliest stone castles to be built in England and Wales and was also the first ‘proper’ castle/fortress to be built in Wales. The 800-year-old wooden doors can still be seen today, the oldest castle doors in the whole of Europe. So step inside the ruins and discover how this castle has been used as a prison and military garrison over its time.

Where: Gwent
When:
11th century
Style:
Medieval
Open for visit:
Yes. Open daily from 9.30am March-October and 10 am Monday-Saturday or 11 am Sunday November-February.

9. Chirk Castle

Famous Castles in Wales Chirk-Castle

This medieval fortress of the Welsh Marches was built during the reign of Edward I when Wales was disputed land. Learn a little more about the history of England and Wales at this 700-year-old castle as you explore the lavish staterooms decorated in 17th and 18th-century furniture before venturing out to visit some of the vast 480 acres of parkland.

Where: Wrexham
When:
13th century
Style:
Medieval
Open for visit:
Yes. Open daily from April-October or weekends only from November-March

10. Conwy Castle

Best Welsh Castles Conwy-Castle

One of the finest Medieval forts in Britain, the 700-year-old Conwy Castle was built for Edward I as one of his ‘Iron Ring’ castles during his conquest of Wales. A picturesque castle, it has 2 barbicans, 8 huge circular towers, and a treasure trove of rooms for you to explore inside.

Where: Conwy
When:
13th century
Style:
Medieval
Open for visit:
Yes. Open daily from 9.30am March-October and 10 am Monday-Saturday or 11 am Sunday November-February.

11. Dolwyddelan Castle

Castles in Wales Dolwyddelan-Castle

This picturesque ruined castle, actually a mountain fortress built to guard a mountain pass through the Vale of Conwy, boasts breathtaking views of Snowdonia. Ruins of the Great Keep and the West tower are all that remain of this castle today but it still commands attention due to its dramatic backdrop – Perfect for walkers and photographers!

Where: Conwy
When:
13th century
Style:
Norman
Open for visit:
Yes. Open Monday-Saturday from 10 am and Sundays from 11.30 am

12. Dinefwr Castle

Best Castles in Wales Dinefwr-Castle

Once the chief seat of the Kingdom of Deheubarth, Dinefwr Castle can take you back 2,000 years as you explore the ruins of the round tower, the Northern chamber block, the circular keep, and make your way around the top of the curtain wall on a wall walk admiring the views.

Where: Carmarthenshire
When:
13th century
Style:
Medieval
Open for visit:
Yes. Open daily from 10 am excluding 24th, 25th, 26th December and 1st January.

13. Harlech Castle

Welsh Castles Harlech-Castle

Perched on top of a rock, Harlech Castle was once connected to the sea via a channel off of the moat but not today as the sea has receded leaving the castle rather stranded. Built by Edward I, the castle was caught up in the War of the Roses and it’s Harlech that is sung about in the Welsh National Anthem.

Where: Gwynedd
When:
13th century
Style:
Medieval
Open for visit:
Yes. Open daily from 9.30am March-October and 10 am Monday-Saturday or 11 am Sunday November-February.

14. Pembroke Castle

Famous Castles in Wales Pembroke-Castle

This huge castle, surrounded by a picturesque mill pond is sure to delight your eyes as you approach it. With free guided tours every hour, you can uncover the history of Pembroke Castle which is known for being the birthplace of the Tudor Dynasty as you explore the complex gatehouse, the circular keep, subterranean cave, and more.

Where: Pembrokeshire
When:
13th century
Style:
Medieval
Open for visit:
Yes. Open daily from 10 am excluding 24th-26th December and 1st January

15. Penrhyn Castle

Best Welsh Castles Penrhyn-Castle

Penrhyn Castle is a unique piece of architecture with a long history to piece together as you explore the lavish interiors of the Victorian house above and below stairs before enjoying a walk in the extensive grounds.

Where: Gwynedd
When:
19th century
Style:
Victorian
Open for visit:
Yes. Open daily from 11 am April-October and weekends only November-March.

16. Powis Castle

Best Castles in Wales Powis-Castle

Once the ‘Paradise of Wales’, Powis Castle has been a fortress, a castle, and is now a huge red-brick country house with world-famous Italian and French styled garden. Explore 400 years of Herbert family history as you admire the interior of the house before stepping outside to marvel at the garden.

Where: Powys
When:
12th century
Style:
Medieval
Open for visit:
Yes. Open daily from 11 am April-October and weekends only November-March.

17. Raglan Castle

Welsh Castles Raglan-Castle

Otherwise known as Castell Rhaglan, this was one of the last true castles to be built in Wales, not for battle but to show off the wealth of William Herbert though it still got caught up in one of the last sieges of the Civil War. Today, the handsome ruins still impress and visitors can see inside the restored buttery that featured in the TV show, Merlin.

Where: Monmouthshire
When:
15th century
Style:
Medieval
Open for visit:
Yes. Open daily from 9.30am April-October and from 11am November-March.

18. Rhuddlan Castle

Famous Castles in Wales Rhuddlan-Castle

Built for Edward I, the mighty Rhuddlan Castle, which is now in ruin, was built to have seaborne access hence its picturesque position on the River Clwyd which was actually diverted 2 miles so as to be able to meet the need of the time. See the East and West Gatehouses, the South Tower, Inner Ward, and admire the view from the top of the castle on the wall walk.

Where: Denbighshire
When:
13th century
Style:
Gothic
Open for visit:
Yes. Open from 10 am April-October. Closed November-March.

19. Skenfrith Castle

Best Welsh Castles Skenfrith-Castle

The ruins of this small fortress, 3 corner towers being the most intact pieces that survive, overlook the river Monnow with rolling countryside views. The castle is one of three that makes up the castles of Trilateral, the other two being White Castle and Grosmon. There’s not much to see here but if you like history, countryside and village walk, and photography you’ll be kept occupied.

Where: Monmouthshire
When:
13th century
Style:
Norman
Open for visit:
Yes. Open daily from dawn to dusk.