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Caernarfon is one of my favourite places to visit in North Wales, a beautiful town which sits along the edge of the Menai Strait, with views of Anglesey in one direction and Snowdonia in the other.

It’s a place which is packed with history, and somewhere I enjoy visiting regularly. This article will talk through some of my favourite things to do in Caernarfon, and hopefully, give you some inspiration for your next trip to the Welsh coast.

1. Visit Caernarfon Castle

Caernarfon Castle is a magnificent medieval structure, recognised around the world as ‘one of the greatest buildings of the Middle Ages’1 (source: CADW). It was also the site of the investiture of the Prince of Wales – now HM King Charles III – in 1969. 

There is a cost to enter, though discounted family tickets are available in advance. I have been a number of times and I’m blown away each time by the scale of the castle, the history, and the views that surround it.  There is also a coffee shop, toilets and a gift shop, with parking nearby.

See my full guide to visiting Caernarfon Castle to find out everything you can do at the castle and to plan your trip.

2. Take a Boat Cruise down the Menai Strait

Caernarfon is ideally placed to take a trip down the Menai Strait. There are a number of options available to you from local companies. These offer the opportunity to admire the wonderful views, from Caernarfon Castle to the Brittania and Menai suspension bridges. You might also see the various wildlife that visit the area, from grey heron to oystercatchers.

You can book in advance online, or pay on the day. There are different options of transport available, from small cruising boats to rib rides for the more adventurous. 

I visited with Menai Cruises and did not need to book ahead of time. The cost was £10 per person (cash only) with departure times and tickets available in Quay Car Park right in front of the castle.

This particular tour only runs daily in summer (from may half term until August) with less frequent sailing in September. Although the boat was quite slow, this allowed for excellent commentary from eh captain who taught us about all of the landmarks along the way. Dogs are welcome onboard too.

3. Afternoon Tea at the Old Courthouse

The Old Courthouse is a beautifully renovated Grade I listed building in the heart of the town. Afternoon Tea is available daily from 12pm, alongside a wider menu which offers a high standard of dining. It includes a range of sandwiches, cakes and tea.

I won’t lie, I ate here more than once. My favourite sandwich is the Snowdonia Black Bomber cheese and plum chutney on brioche – simply stunning! But of course, a simple Welsh tea with Welsh Cakes and Bara Brith always goes down well.

If you’re feeling a little more sophisticated (and boozy), there are options to upgrade to include Prosecco, and a ‘2 Tier Tea’.

4. Take a Trip on the Highland Railway

The Highland Railway dates back to the mid 1800s, and is the longest running heritage railway in the UK2 (source: Visit Wales)

There are different routes and trains, to and from Caernarfon, including the ‘Snowdonia Star’ which takes you from one side of the coast to the other, 25 miles in total, to Porthmadog via Snowdon. 

Other options include a magical Christmas train, and a luxurious first class Pullman package which provides an unforgettable experience. For full details, and to book, visit their website.

5. Visit Airworld Museum

The Airworld Aviation Museum is located at the former RAF base Llandwrog, and contains a number of different aircrafts and exhibitions. 

It’s a great chance to get up close with some fascinating technology, and it contains the only T2 BAe Harrier jet remaining worldwide!

There is a small cost to enter, but there is no need to book in advance. It’s a great place for the family, and you can even sit inside some of the exhibitions. 

6. Go Crabbing in the Harbour

A cheap and fun family activity is to pop down to the Harbour and get crabbing! You can buy the basics that you need in shops locally, sit on the side of the Harbourside, and lower your lines in the hope of tempting a crab.

The Harbour offers a nice gentle atmosphere, just be careful not to kick your bucket of crabs over! 

Remember these top tips – return the crabs to the sea once caught, be gentle with them, and only use fresh sea water in your bucket to help keep the crabs safe. 

7. Walk or Cycle Along Lon Eifion

Lon Eifion is a 12.5 mile route which takes you from Caernarfon to Bryncir. The path is wide, and it means that there is plenty of room whether you want to cycle or walk.

The peaceful trail – previously a rail route – will take you through woodland and offers views of the Menai Strait and Snowdonia in the distance. It’s a great place to get some steps in, and enjoy the area away from the town centre.

The start of the path is noted by the old bicycle attached to a gate as shown in the photo above. You can find it here on Google Maps.

8. Enjoy a Fine Dining experience at Sheeps And Leeks

Sheeps And Leeks is a little treasure. Seating just 20 people, the restaurant uses market-fresh local produce to create a memorable dining experience. 

As well as a standard menu, the 10-course Tasting Menu is something which I would highly recommend. Whilst it doesn’t come cheap, the experience and service is absolutely top notch. All of the dishes are made in-house, and wine pairing is also available. 

Booking in advance is a must, but if you are a foodie, then it’s essential that you add this restaurant to your travel plan.

9. Get a Thrill at GreenWood Family Park

GreenWood Family Park is a short drive from Caernarfon, and offers award-winning thrills for the family. It includes the UK’s only solar-powered water ride, the world’s first people-powered roller coaster, and the longest sledge run in Wales3 (source: Visit Snowdonia).

There is a great indoor soft play area as well as outdoor activities, and a number of food and drink options, including the Woodbarn cafe, to keep you going during the day.

I highly recommend that you book online as this saves you 15%. There are also Tipi’s within a glamping area onsite that offers overnight accommodation if you are looking for somewhere to stay.

10. See the Town From a Local’s Perspective With a Walking Tour

A walking tour is an ideal way to take in the history of Caernarfon. There are two options which are family friendly, from the town tour which takes around 1¼ hours (starting in at the David Lloyd George statue in Castle Square), to the longer Segontium Roman Fort tour which includes the town tour also. 

The Segontium was home to 1,000 soldiers and was occupied for over 300 years, the walking tour will help you return to AD 77 and hear about the historical significance of this site.

Tours must be booked in advance, see more information over at Caernarfon Walks.

11. Watch the Sunset From The Anglesey Arms

The Anglesey Arms pub is in the old port customs house, sitting right in the shadows of Caernarfon Castle which makes it idyllic enough as it is. However, when you’ve got the sun setting across the Menai Strait, it becomes even better.

You won’t find typical pub grub here, they serve up locally caught seafood and Welsh-inspired dishes, all at reasonable prices. The only thing that I was slightly disappointed with was the limited range of local beers but other than that it was perfect.

You can grab a table or sit on the walls outside the pub and watch the sunset. If it’s a weekend, you might even be treated to some live music to improve the ambience. Of course, any sunset that involves a beer is a good sunset for me.

12. Go On a Top Secret Mission With Treasure Trails

Have you ever wanted to be a spy? I have, and not just as a child. Treasure Trails is a great concept which provides a self-guided spy trail to solve around Caernarfon in an attempt to save Caernarfon Castle which is being held to ransom by Evil Dr Benton Mayhem.

It’s perfect for kids (or adults and trust me I know!), and involves a 1.5-mile loop route. You will have to unpick clues to complete the trail, and it’s a fun way to see the area. It takes a couple of hours and is something I really enjoyed when I completed it with friends a few months ago.

You can buy the trail online here and print it at home or have one delivered to you if ordered ahead of time.

Related Questions

Is Caernarfon Welsh Speaking?

A high proportion of Caernarfon is Welsh speaking – around 87% of residents can speak Welsh, and it was at one point the most Welsh-speaking area of Wales. That isn’t to say you must only speak Welsh, of course, speakers of all languages are very welcome to the area, and signs are bilingual Welsh/English. 

Is Caernarfon A Town Or A City?

Caernarfon is not a city, it’s a town. But not just any town – it is known as a Royal Town, and is the only one in Wales. This title was given to Caernarfon in 1963, and it was the home of the investiture of the Prince of Wales in 19694 (source: Wikipedia).

How Long Does It Take To Visit Caernarfon Castle?

It is recommended that you give yourself around two hours to visit the Castle. It’s a big site with lots to see, including various exhibitions. It’s a very central location, and a great way to spend a few hours whilst touring the town.

Is There A Beach Near Caernarfon Castle?

There are three beaches in the Caernarfon area, but none are directly next to the Castle. Dinas Dinlle beach is the best choice, with golden sands, free parking and a cafe. Dinas Dinlle is around a 13 minute drive from Caernarfon Castle.

Does Caernarfon Have A Shopping Centre?

Whilst there isn’t a dedicated shopping centre in Caernarfon, there are a variety of shops around the town centre and Castle area. These include a variety of independent shops offering various goods and services. Everything is quite central which means that you can park the car and have a wander. 

Kieren is the founder and editor-in-chief of Wales Guidebook. Originally from rural Mid-Wales, he has lived all over the country from Cardiff to Wrexham. A true Welshman, Kieren created this site to share his passion for Wales and help others discover this beautiful country.