Did you know that Wales is home to over 600 castles!? That’s a lot of castles for such a small country and it means it’s almost impossible to visit Wales without stumbling across at least one of these historic beauties.
Each castle in Wales has a fascinating history and stunning backdrop, but here are 21 castles you really can’t miss!
Perhaps the most talked about castle in Wales right now is Gwrych Castle which shot into the spotlight after being used as the filming location for I’m a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here!
The castle ruins in Abergele are undergoing a huge restoration project, which have been quickly accelerated thanks to its current fame. The beautiful castle stands within 250 acres of gardens which currently feel like a magical secret garden.
This Grade I listed castle is an incredible medieval fortress, but the real draw is its proximity to the beauty of Harlech Beach. Explore the castle and grounds and admire the stunning views from the towers before making your way across the sand dunes to the gorgeous golden beach.
Caernarfon Castle is the main attraction in the pretty town of Caernarfon as the grand fortress dominates the quayside. The castle and town walls appear to be incredibly well preserved, so from the outside it looks like a perfect, fairy-tale castle. The inside has not survived as well but it still makes an exciting place to explore. There is also accommodation within the castle walls that is available to rent via The Landmark Trust for a unique and historic holiday!
Castell Coch, or Red Castle in English, is a fairy-tale Gothic castle with romantic towers that create a dramatic silhouette against the ancient forest. Located in Tongwynlais, just north of Cardiff, Castell Coch is a must-visit for anyone visiting Wales’ capital city.
Chepstow Castle in Monmouthshire is a stunning cliff-top fortress hovering on the cliffs above the River Wye. It’s the oldest surviving post-Roman stone fortification in Britain and construction began in 1067. The castle was used as a filming location for Dr Who for the 50th anniversary episode so superfans of the show will have an extra reason to visit!
Kidwelly Castle in Carmarthenshire was originally a wooden castle which was replaced by stone in the 1280s. The castle appeared in the first scene of ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’, putting it firmly on the map of famous Welsh film locations!
Cardiff Castle provides a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. There are almost 2,000 years of history on this piece of land as the castle was built on a series of forts from the 1st century AD! The stunning gardens are now an attraction themselves and the grounds are home to festivals, live music and theatre productions. The castle provides an incredible backdrop for world-famous musicians and events.
This incredibly well preserved fortress creates a dramatic welcome into the walled town of Conwy. The contrast between the enormous defensive wall and the quaint little town is striking. Climb the great towers of the castle and admire the breath-taking views across the mountains of Snowdonia, before wandering around the town in search of fish and chips!
Caerphilly Castle is the largest in Wales and is second only to Windsor Castle. This incredible medieval castle covers an enormous 30-acres and the sprawling defences are an enchanting place to explore. Children will love Gilbert’s Maze and taking wonky photos next to the Leaning Tower.
Raglan Castle is said to be the grandest castle ever built by Welshmen and the beautiful fortress-palace was intended to impress and intimidate in equal measures. Visitors will love walking through the caverns beneath the castle and imagining the wealthy residents living a lavish lifestyle in the towers and rooms.
Laugharne Castle in Carmarthenshire was originally built in 1116 and was a Tudor manor house in the 16th century. The castle’s most famous resident was Dylan Thomas who wrote some of his most famous work while sitting in the castle’s glorious summerhouse overlooking the Taf Estuary.
The incredible ruins of Dinefwr Castle sit proudly atop of the hills overlooking Tywi Valley. Explore the crumbling ruins and be sure to visit Newton House within Dinefwr Parkland. This beautiful 800 acre estate is a place to appreciate the beautiful countryside alongside the fascinating Welsh history.
Chirk Castle is a popular family day out thanks to the array of activities and events hosted by the National Trust. The Grade I listed castle located near Wrexham is incredibly well preserved and visitors can visit the interior to see the fully furnished rooms which are decorated exquisitely at Christmas! Explore the dungeons and tower, the perfect gardens and the areas of the castle that have been refurbished for modern use such as the wonderful cafe, the Home Farm Kiosk and the adventure play areas.
The lonely fortress that is Dolbadarn Castle was built in the 13th century to guard Llanberis Pass, a winding road running through Snowdonia. It was a symbol to show Prince Llewelyn’s power and now stands as an incredible example of a Welsh round tower. There may not be an awful lot to see now but Dolbadarn Castle is located in one of the most beautiful areas of Wales and is a worthy stopping point for visitors enjoying the beauty of Llanberis Pass.
Beaumaris is one of the prettiest towns in all of Wales and the castle is the cherry on top for visitors. Located on the edge of the town, Beaumaris Castle and its imposing six towers provide a wonderful insight into the history of the area. The castle is often referred to as an unfinished masterpiece because, despite work on the castle beginning in 1295, it was never finished or used to its full potential.
Criccieth Castle is a popular option for visitors touring the beautiful beaches of North Wales. Located between two beaches in Criccieth, the imposing castle stands on the headland for all to see from the beaches below. Tickets are available to enter the castle, but the main attraction is seeing the castle from afar with those incredible views out to sea.
The imposing square stone keep was built in the 13th century and now provides a stunning and historical place for a walk around the mountains of Dolwyddelan. The castle is a memorial for Llewelyn the Great, a much loved ruler of Gwynedd in the early 1200s.
Powis Castle near Welshpool is a National Trust site that allows access into the magnificent manor house. The decor within is luxuriously splendid, but if gardens are more you thing then you won’t be disappointed. The formal, terraced gardens are spectacular and the regular events within the gardens will keep the whole family entertained.
Cilgerran Castle is another National Trust site with magnificent gardens to explore alongside your visit to the 13th century ruins. Located in Pembrokeshire, the castle sits on a rocky cliff overlooking the River Teifi and is twinned with Cardigan Castle which sits on the opposite side of the river just three miles downstream. The famous artist, Joseph Mallord William Turner, was inspired by the castle and he created beautiful paintings ‘looking upstream’.
There may not be much remaining of Castell Dinas Bran but it’s still an incredible historical site and a great adventure to reach it. The medieval castle sits proudly on a hilltop overlooking the popular town of Llangollen. It’s a steep hike to reach the top of the hill but it’s worth it for the gorgeous views over the picturesque countryside and to see the crumbling remains of the castle. Allow around two hours for the walk so it’s worth packing a picnic to enjoy at the top.
Pembroke Castle, located beside the Pembroke River, is a stunning example of a medieval castle and is extremely well preserved following extensive restoration in the 20th century. The castle is best viewed from the opposite side of the river where the imposing reflection shimmers in the water. Pembroke Castle has a recent claim to fame as it was a film location for the 2016 film adaptation of Jojo Moye’s novel Me Before You.
I’m the founder of The Travel Hack, one of the UK’s leading travel blogs focusing on travel tips and hacks to make your travels as easy and affordable as possible. I began blogging in 2009 during a two year backpacking trip through Asia and Australia when I lived and travelled in an old VW campervan. I studied journalism when I returned home, but quickly realised traditional media wasn’t for me. I now live in Wales and have two little boys, so I also blog about family travel and my weekend adventures around Wales.