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Wales is full of spectacular castles, in fact, it has more castles per square mile than any other country, making it the castle capital of the world. This means that picking just a few of my favourite ones for this article is extremely difficult!
Nonetheless, I’ve racked my brain and put together this list of the very best castles in Wales to visit, whether you are a local or just visiting for a getaway.
1. Powis Castle
We begin with the best castle in Mid-Wales, Powis Castle, which is a National Trust property in Welshpool, close to the border with England. Complete with a stunning garden, this castle is well worth taking time out of your day to visit.
The castle contains the Clive Museum which contains objects from India and the Far East. You can also explore the castle itself which is full of paintings, sculptures and furniture.
The castle was constructed in the 13th century by a man named Gruffudd ap Gwenwynwyn. The castle passed through a number of hands and was remodelled and renovated along the way.
The castle is open to the public today and well-behaved dogs on leads are allowed in the huge garden which is a great place to spend time during the warm summer months. Being a castle, it’s not particularly well adapted for those with mobility issues.
See our full guide to find out more about visiting Powis Castle.
2. Beaumaris Castle
Beaumaris Castle is a staggering structure located in North Wales. Although it was never completed the Castle still offers a rich history and a fascinating experience. There is an exhibition within the Castle as well as a gift shop.
Building work on the Castle began all the way back in the 1300s under the supervision of King Edward I of England and his architect James of St George. The pair also built Conwy Castle, Caernarfon Castle and Harlech Castle.
Beaumaris was never completed, however, because of its size. It was so large that obtaining the money and the hands to construct it became difficult. It became even more of a struggle when trouble began to build in Scotland and Edward’s attention and finances were drawn there1 (source: CADW).
Dogs on leads are able to access the lower floors. The Castle is also available for event hire and can be accessed easily by road, rail, bus or bike.
I recently explored this castle myself, see my full Beaumaris Castle visitor guide to find out all the activities here.
3. Gwrych Castle
Gwyrch Castle is a must visit for anyone who is a fan of the TV show I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here! Perched on the edge of a hill, surrounded by trees and overlooking the sea, Gwrych Castle is truly breathtaking. The Castle is a Grade I listed house constructed between 1812 and 1822 by a man named Lloyd Hesketh Bamford-Hesketh.
You can explore the Castle either on your own and take in the written information about how the Castle was used during the filming of I’m a Celeb, or take part in a guided tour. Either way you are able to wander through beautiful ruins and even some of the I’m a Celeb sets!
You must pre-book your tickets online. You can also stay overnight in the recently renovated gate lodge located on the Castle estate. There is free parking on site and dogs are allowed but must be kept on leads.
4. Pembroke Castle
Pembroke Castle is a stunning Norman Castle located in Pembrokeshire best known as the birthplace of Henry VII, the first Tudor King of England.
As well as it’s historical significance, Pembroke Castle is easily the best castle to visit in West Wales, if not the whole of Wales due to it’s picturesque location and a huge range of activities inside.
You can explore the extensive museum, climb the great keep or descent down to the underground cave, wander the castle walls, and even enjoy a meal from the restaurant.
During the summer, the castle offers a range of events for the family including a Black Mountains Falconry show with falcons, owls, buzzards and hawks. There is also the Merrymakers Knight School where you can experience the training a real knight may have been put through.
See my full Pembroke Castle visitors guide to plan your trip.
5. Cilgerran Castle
Cilgerran Castle looms over the River Teifi and the Plysog and offers a spectacular view of the Welsh countryside. Originally built here so the Ango-Norman invaders could keep a watchful eye on the Welsh. It is thought that the Castle was first built in 1108 by the Norman adventurer Gerald of Windsor.
Today the castle is open to the public for you to explore with two large towers you can climb up inside. If exploring Cilgerran Castle in summer, I recommend visiting between Monday and Thursday as entry is free on these days. I’d also recommend walking alongside the River Teifi in the woodland surrounding the castle.
6. Penrhyn Castle
Penrhyn Castle and garden is an impressive Welsh castle owned by the National Trust. The Castle was originally home to the Pennant family and was rebuilt between 1820 and 1833 for a man named George Hay Dawkins-Pennant. The family has a complex and controversial history involving Jamaican sugar plantations.
Today there is lots to explore. You can wander through the Castle and discover its links to colonialism, explore the peaceful gardens and grounds on walking trails or even visit Cwt Ogwen a hide located near Afon Ogwen. There is also the walled gardens and the jungle-like Bog Garden.
Dogs are welcome in outside areas. There are a number of hard-standing paths in the garden but the site is hilly. There are seats located throughout the garden. Both the cafe and the shop are accessible and there is a golf buggy service that runs dependent on volunteer availability.
7. Caernarfon Castle
Caernarfon Castle is an extremely large castle and my favourite in North Wales. Caernarfon is another example of Edward I’s effort to fortify the north of Wales.
It’s best known as the place where the Prince of Wales is invested and there’s a dedicated room which tells the history of this important role in the royal family as well as the investiture chairs on display.
The castle is open to the public today and is home to the Royal Welsh Fusiliers Museum which is free to enter with your castle admission ticket. The castle also has a new cafe named Coffi Castell where you can purchase a large selection of local Welsh food and drink.
See my dedicated Caernarfon Castle visitors guide for prices, opening times, and more.
8. Conwy Castle
Conwy is another Castle located in the north of Wales and was also built by Edward I and his architect. Whilst it is a ruin today, it is still a staggering site. The structure looms over the town of Conwy which sits within its town walls. If you can manage the climb to the tallest towers you will be offered a breathtaking view out over Conwy and the estuary.
Throughout the ruin, there is information and written displays explaining the original layout of the Castle and how those who resided within the structure would have lived. There is a large gift shop on site to explore which offers a wide range of products.
Whilst the Castle grounds are accessible to wheelchair users (via a steep path), the ruins and the town walls require stairs. Whilst the Castle does not have its own car park, right next to the visitors centre there is a council car park. There are also more car parks situated throughout the town.
9. Cardiff Castle
Perhaps the most famous of the castles in South Wales, Cardiff Castle deserves a place on this list. Located in the heart of the Welsh capital city, Cardiff Castle is a great option if you’re looking for something to do whilst staying in the city.
You can climb up and explore the Castle Keep, you can walk around the impressive Castle apartments and visit the World War 2 museum located in the Castle tunnels. There is also the Firing Line museum, cafe and shop.
If you would simply like to relax in the fresh air with this beautiful Castle as a backdrop you can visit the Public Square for free. Located in the heart of the Castle and including access to the Cafe, Gift Shop, Visitor Information Point and public toilets it provides a great space for a catch-up with friends, especially if the sun is shining.
The Visitor Centre is accessible to wheelchairs and pushchairs as is the Firing Line museum, cafe and shop. The grounds of the Castle are flat but some of the building requires stairs. Parking is very limited because of the city centre location of the Castle so travelling on foot or by public transport is advisable.
See my full guide to visiting Cardiff Castle for all the details you’ll need for your trip.
10. Carmarthen Castle
Carmarthen Castle is another stunning Welsh castle that is well worth a visit! Once a prison and overlooking the River Twyi, not only is the Castle beautiful, it also holds a rich history. It is thought that the Castle was constructed around 1105 by the Normans.
Today you can explore the fortress and see the defences that survive on the south-west wall from the Civil War.
The Castle allows dogs and has mobility access. The Castle does not have its own parking, however there is parking located in the town, a short walk from the Castle.
11. Harlech Castle
Harlech Castle is another property located in North Wales and built by Edward I. Not only is the Castle itself impressive, but its surroundings are also astonishing. Set overlooking Snowdonia National Park and Cardigan Bay the Castle is a great place to take in the beauty of the Welsh countryside. The views alone make this Castle worthy of a place on this list!
Whilst the structure is a ruin, there is still lots to see. There is a gift shop on sight as well as light refreshments available. There is plenty of holiday accommodations nearby as well as places to stop for a bite to eat or something to drink.
There is a pay and display car park nearby and dogs on leads are welcome on the lower level. Please keep in mind that in order to access the Castle from the Visitor Centre you have to cross the footbridge which is about 25 metres and has a gentle upward slope. Whilst the Castle can be enjoyed from the lower levels, the higher levels, towers and wall walks are only accessible via stairs that are steep and uneven.
12. Laugharne Castle
Laugharne Castle has become famous as the inspiration for the poet Dylan Thomas. It is said that he wrote Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog in the summerhouse. Today, you can follow in Thomas’ footsteps and explore this breath taking Castle.
The Castle was originally built in the medieval period and was renovated in the Elizabethan period by the courtier Sir John Perrot. Perrot constructed the grand hall which has windows overlooking the water2 (source: CADW).
There is limited parking opposite the main entrance of the Castle with an additional pay and display car park about 300 metres away. Whilst there is a slight incline leading up to the entrance of the Castle from the car park, once you have moved through the Gatehouse access is easy but the tower requires stairs. Dogs are welcome on leads and only on the ground levels.
13. Raglan Castle
Raglan Castle is a beautiful ruin located in South Wales. Originally constructed by Sir William ap Thomas (the ‘blue knight of Gwent’) in 1435 and then added to by later owners. One of the Castle’s claims to fame is that it was involved in one of the longest sieges during the English Civil War (1642-51). When it eventually fell to parliamentary forces it was deliberately destroyed.
Today the Castle is open for you to experience. There is a gift shop on site but be aware there is no food and drink available. There are picnic benches available, however, and you are welcome to bring your own food. Dogs are also allowed on leads in the lower levels of the Castle.
Please be aware that there is no dedicated accessible parking on the site. The car parking available is situated on a grassed surface and has space for about 120 vehicles. The site in general has limited wheelchair access. There are steps as well as lawns and gravelled and cobbled areas.
14. Carew Castle
Carew Castle is another fortress set within a picturesque environment which offers stunning views of the Welsh countryside. The structure sits overlooking a 23-acre Millpond and the site includes the only restored Tidal Mill in Wales.
The Castle contains over 2,000 years of history and is involved in stories which include knights, kingmakers and a Civil War. There is the Nest Tearoom on site from which you can purchase food and drink as well as the Castle Shop and Mill Shop.
The Castle also plays host to events including a family-friendly Halloween Ghost Tour. There is also lots of wildlife to be seen around the site including bats and birds. The South West Tower is actually closed in order to protect the bats that have made it their home.
The site is dog friendly but they must be kept on leads at all times. The Castle is open daily and last entry is at 4pm.
15. Caerphilly Castle
Currently under a £5 million development, Caerphilly Castle offers a spectacular day out. Accessed via a footbridge and overlooking its water defences, Caerphilly Castle is not only the largest Castle in Wales, but is second in Britain only to Windsor.
Caerphilly Castle was constructed in 1268 by Marcher lord Gilbert de Clare. The Castle itself is three times the size of the Principality Stadium and was originally built as a frontline fortress and then eventually became a home with a hunting park and lake.
The Castle was later revamped by Hugh Despenser who was a favourite of Edward II. It was then involved in the Civil War which left lasting effects which can still be seen today. Take a look at the south-east tower which leans at an angle because of damage during the conflict.
There are pay and display carparks nearby and dogs on leads are welcome on the ground floor of the site. The train station is a 10 minute walk from the Castle.
See my full Caerphilly Castle visitors guide for more information.
16. Bodelwyddan Castle
If visiting isn’t enough and you want to stay in a castle in Wales, then Bodelwyddan Castle near Snowdonia in North Wales is my top pick. The castle is a Grade II listed Victorian folly set within its own peaceful estate, complete with a luxury hotel, more on that later.
There has been a castle on the site since 1460, however the structure was completely rebuilt in 1830 in the Victorian Gothic style by Sir John Hay Williams. It was Sir John who also established the impressive formal gardens.
During Word War One the Castle acted as a hospital and the grounds were used by the army as a training centre for trench warfare. After this the property became a girls school for a while.
The hotel has its own heated indoor pool as well as the Elwy Lounge and Mulberry Coffee Lounge. There is 200 acres of parkland and your stay here includes free entry to the National Portrait Gallery’s Victorian Collection.
What’s the Biggest Castle in Wales?
The biggest castle in Wales is Caerphilly Castle which covers an area of more than 30 acres. It’s also the second biggest castle in Britain, with only Windsor Castle being bigger.
If this has shocked you, I recommend checking out my Welsh castle facts for some more interesting pieces of information.
What’s the Oldest Castle in Wales?
Chepstow Castle is the oldest castle in Wales that’s still standing today. Construction began in 1067 which makes it more than 950 years old.
Molly is Wales Guidebook's expert on castles. She has a master's degree in history and studied at Swansea University where she learnt about Welsh history and it's many castles. Molly loves to get out and explore historical buildings in person, with Oystermouth, Cardiff, and Caerphilly Castles among her favourites. When not geeking out on castles, Molly likes to spend her time reading, exploring the countryside or in the gym.