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A Guide To The 23 Most Beautiful Castles in Wales

A Guide To The 23 Most Beautiful Castles in Wales post thumbnail image

Graced with rugged coastlines, rolling hills, and verdant valleys, Wales is truly a magical place steeped in history and mythology. 

The country, often referred to as the “land of castles,” also boasts an astonishing 427 castles — more per square mile than any other country in Europe. 

These fortresses bear witness to the country’s tumultuous past, as the Welsh people fiercely defended their lands against foreign invaders. 

From Roman ruins to medieval castles, Wales’s past is etched into every stone, making it a captivating place to visit. 

These majestic castles are not only historically significant but also some of the most beautiful in the world, attracting visitors from far and wide.

Among the most famous castles in Wales are those located in Edward I’s Ring of Stone, including Beaumaris, Caernarfon, Conwy, Harlech, and Flint.

But there are many more spectacular Welsh castles just waiting to be discovered. 

In this guide, we’ll take you through the 23 most beautiful castles in Wales, each with its own story to tell and its own distinct character. Have a look below to learn more!

Fun Facts About Welsh Castles

  • Home to 427 castles still standing or ruined and over 600 ever recorded,  Wales is the Castle Capital of Europe.
  • Caerphilly Castle is Wales’s largest castle and Britain’s second largest. 
  • The vast majority of Welsh castles were built by the English Kings and their lords. 
  • Chepstow, the oldest castle in Wales, is almost 1,000 years old.
  • Constructed in 1273, on a hill above the Severn Valley, Dolforwyn Castle, in Powys was the last castle to be built by the last sovereign Prince of Wales.
  • Several of the castles in Wales are said to be haunted. Craig y Nos Castle is said to be the most haunted castle in the country.
  • Caernarfon Castle took almost 50 years to build and cost £25,000 which is more than £20 million in today’s money. 

The 24 Best Castles in Wales

Conwy Castle

Conwy Castle, Wales, UK.

“One of the finest examples of late 13th-century and early 14th-century military architecture in Europe”. This is how UNESCO describes Conwy Castle, Wales.

Built between 1283 and 1289 by Edward I during his conquest of Wales, the castle is one of the most important surviving medieval fortifications in Britain.

Conwy Castle was built from stone on a coastal ridge, and it offerers visitors a looking out across the mountains, the verdant Welsh countryside, and the sea.

The Conwy Castle is divided into an outer and inner ward protected by 21 towers and three gateways.

On the internal part of the castle, which houses the most intact set of medieval royal apartments in Wales, you can have a sneak peek of the King’s Apartments, a restored spiral staircase, and the magnificent Great Hall.

Address: Rose Hill St, Conwy

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Caerphilly Castle

Caerphilly Castle, Wales, UK.

Caerphilly Castle is a magnificent fortress situated in the town of Caerphilly in South Wales. The castle was built in the 13th century by Gilbert de Clare, one of Henry III’s most powerful barons, as part of his campaign to maintain control of Glamorgan.

Covering 30 acres, Caerphilly Castle is the largest castle in Wales and the second-largest in the United Kingdom after Windsor Castle. 

Another feature that distinguishes Caerphilly from other castles in Britain is its shape, as this is the first truly concentric castle in Britain. 

The fortification is also surrounded by extensive artificial lakes that historian Allen Brown considers the most complex water defenses in all of Britain.

After suffering from neglect and disrepair, the castle was extensively restored in the early 20th century by the fabulously wealthy fourth Marquess of Bute, making it one of the most thorough and authentic castle restoration projects ever undertaken in Britain. 

Visitors to the castle can explore the castle’s vast network of walls, towers, and gatehouses that cover a total of 30 acres. 

Visitors can also tour the castle’s impressive Great Hall, marvel at the intricate carvings on the wooden roof, and explore the dungeons where prisoners were held captive.

Address: Castle St, Caerphilly

Caernarfon Castle

Caernarfon Castle, Wales, UK.

Situated on the banks of the River Seiont, in north-west Wales, Caernarfon Castle is widely regarded as one of the greatest buildings of the Middle Ages. 

This late 11th-century medieval fortress was built by Edward I between 1283 and 1330 and boasts impressive architecture.

Caernarfon has polygonal towers instead of the traditional round ones, color-coded stones, and eagle statues.

You can see all of the castle’s details and impressive architectural features by walking through the towers, from the Eagle Tower to the Queen’s Tower, which is filled with medals, uniforms, weapons, and historical displays.

Address: Castle Ditch, Caernarfon

Cardiff Castle

people walking around the Cardiff Castle

The Cardiff Castle is one of the most important historical sites in Wales. Located in the heart of Cardiff,  the castle was first originally built in the 11th century as a motte and bailey castle atop an older Roman fort dating back to the 3rd century.

It was rebuilt in the 11th century by the Normans, and then it went through significant renovations in the 19th century.

Throughout the years, Cardiff Castle was inhabited by many noble families until it passed by marriage to the Bute family in 1766.

To dive deep into the castle’s history, pick up a portable audio guide and explore the fortress’ opulent interiors designed by the brilliant architect William Burges. 

Each room has its unique features, including intricate murals, wooden ornaments, marble pieces, Mediterranean gardens, and Italian and Arabic decorations.

Address: Castle St, Cardiff

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Harlech Castle

Harlech Castle, Wales, UK.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock/Valerie2000

Harlech Castle is a medieval fortress located in the Welsh town of Harlech. Built by Edward I during his invasion of Wales, in the 13th century,  the castle has a strategic position on a rocky outcrop overlooking the sea, making it a vital stronghold during battles with the Welsh.

This colossal fortress is located close to the Irish Sea and offers jaw-dropping views of the mountainous panorama of the Welsh countryside. 

During your visit, you’ll also be inspired by the castle’s architectural features, which were artfully designed by Master James of St. George.

Built of local stone, Harlech Castle has a concentric design, grand fireplaces on the two upper floors, and high curtain walls.

You’ll also see two large towers, including the famous “leaning tower” which is now one of the most photographed towers in Wales.

Address: Harlech LL46 2YH

Pembroke Castle

Pembroke Castle, Wales, UK.

Pembroke Castle is a stunning medieval fortress located in the town of Pembroke, in the southwestern part of Wales. 

The castle was built in the 11th century by the Normans on a site that has been occupied at least since the Roman period, and it has played a significant role in Welsh history since then. 

One of the most famous owners of the castle was William Marshal, who became known as one of the greatest knights of his time. 

Pembroke Castle is also famous for being the birthplace of Henry VII, who inaugurated the Tudor Dynasty. He was born in the castle in 1457m reputedly in the tower now known as the Henry VII Tower.

Visitors can also see the remains of the castle’s impressive defensive walls and towers, as well as the Great Keep, which stands 80 feet high, is and it’s one of the best-preserved in the UK.

Address: Pembroke SA71 4LA

Criccieth Castle

Criccieth Castle, Wales, UK.

Criccieth Castle is located on the headland between two beaches in the seaside town of Criccieth. 

It was built by Llywelyn the Great of the kingdom of Gwynedd in the early 13th century to defend the area against the encroaching Normans. 

Its strategic position on a rock overlooking Tremadog Bay made it a valuable stronghold at the time. 

The castle ruins today offer jaw-dropping views over the town and across the wide sweep of Cardigan Bay.

While exploring the ruins, you’ll see the commanding twin towers of the great gatehouse, which is certainly a towering presence on the hilltop.

With imposing walls and towers that have survived over 800 years of battles and sieges, the castle offers visitors a glimpse of Wales’ turbulent past.

Address: Castle St, Criccieth LL52 0DP

Beaumaris Castle

Beaumaris Castle, Wales, UK.

Beaumaris Castle, in Beaumaris, Anglesey, Wales, was built as part of Edward I’s campaign to conquer north Wales after 1282.

Beaumaris Castle is a magnificent medieval fortress located in the town of Beaumaris on the island of Anglesey.

Built-in the late 13th century by King Edward I, the castle was part of his ambitious plan to create a chain of castles to control the population and maintain English dominance over Wales.

Beaumaris Castle is considered one of the finest examples of military architecture from the Middle Ages, with its concentric design of near-perfect symmetry featuring multiple walls and towers, a moat, and a drawbridge.

Visitors will be in absolute awe of the castle’s beautiful proportions. Make sure to climb up to the top of the towers to enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding area, which is a scenic setting overlooking mountains and the sea, and partially surrounded by a water-filled moat.

Address: Castle St, Beaumaris LL58 8AP

Chepstow Castle

Chepstow Castle, Wales, UK.

Chepstow Castle at Chepstow, Monmouthshire, Wales is the oldest surviving post-Roman stone fortification in Britain.

Stretching out along a limestone cliff above the River Wye, Chepstow Castle was built in the 11th century by Earl William Fitz Osbern, a close friend of William the Conqueror.

Since its construction, Chepstow Castle has seen many battles and changes in ownership, and for more than six centuries the castle was home to some of the wealthiest and most powerful men of the medieval and Tudor ages.

The castle in Wales is the oldest surviving post-Roman stone fortification in Britain and one of the first Norman strongholds in Wales. Chepstow also has the oldest castle doors in Europe!

One of the most notable features of the castle is its position overlooking the river, making it strategically important for controlling trade and travel. 

It also has an impressive great hall and numerous towers and walls, including the famous “Marten Tower”. The tower, which is said to be haunted, was named after its most famous prisoner, Henry Marten, who signed the death warrant for Charles I and died in Chepstow Castle in 1680. 

The castle also offers breathtaking views of the idyllic Welsh countryside and the river below.

Address: Bridge St, Chepstow NP16 5EY

Powis Castle

Powis Castle, Wales, UK.

Built around 1200 by Welsh princes as a medieval fortress, Powis Castle has been enchanting visitors for centuries on end.

Powis sits majestically on a rock above its stunning Baroque gardens, one of the few to survive almost intact since the 1680s.

Made of mellow red gritstone, the castle displays architectural features of distinct periods, beginning with a medieval square keep and stone hall.

Inside, visitors are left in absolute awe with the opulent decor featuring fine furniture, sculptures, tapestries, and artworks.

The castle also houses the Clive Museum, home to one of the UK’s most significant collections of Indian objects.

Address: Powis Castle and Garden, Welshpool SY21 8RF

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Kidwelly Castle

Kidwelly Castle, Wales, UK.

This magnificent fortress dates back to the 12th century and was built by the Normans as a strategic stronghold to control the region. At the time, this Norman ‘ringwork’ castle was made of wood and protected only by an earthen bank and ditch.

Kidwelly Castle was dramatically altered on a number of occasions throughout the years to conform to the latest thinking in military science, making it a prime example of castle development.

Featuring sturdy walls and imposing towers, the castle was a formidable defense against the Welsh rebellion during the Middle Ages.

Today, visitors can explore the castle remains, including the imposing gatehouse, the great hall, and the castle’s commanding towers, which offer breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside.

Curious Fact: Kidwelly Castle was featured in the very first scene of ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail movie.

Address: Castle Rd, Kidwelly SA17 5BQ

Penrhyn Castle

Penrhyn Castle, Wales, UK.

Penrhyn Castle is a magnificent neo-Norman fortress that showcases the opulence and grandeur of the Victorian era. 

The castle was commissioned by the wealthy Pennant family in the 19th century, and designed by prestigious Victorian architect Thomas Hopper in neo-Norman style.

Penrhyn has a magnificent façade, complete with towers, turrets, and crenellations — a true testament to the wealth and power of its former owners. 

The extravagant interiors of the castle feature a lavish grand hall, a stunning dining room, and opulent bedrooms. These accommodations are decorated with oak, ebony, and marble furnishings engraved with fantastical beasts, faces, and patterns.

Inside, you’ll also find a fascinating collection of art and antiques, including works by famous artists such as Canaletto and Stubbs. 

Extensive gardens, which include a vast array of plants and trees, are a joy to explore, with winding paths, hidden corners, and breathtaking views of the alluring Welsh countryside. 

Address: Bangor LL57 4HT

Carreg Cennen Castle

Carreg Cennen Castle, Wales, UK.

Spiked like a gem on a great limestone crag nearly 300ft above the River Cennen, Carreg Cennen Castle is a formidable fortress that has stood for over 800 years. 

Erected in the 13th century, the Welsh originally constructed the castle as a stronghold against the English invasion. 

There is archaeological evidence (Roman coins and prehistoric skeletons have been found unearthed at the site) that the Romans and prehistoric peoples occupied the craggy hilltop centuries earlier.

Carreg Cennen was later seized by the English crown and underwent significant renovations to become the impressive fortress that it is today. 

While visiting the castle, you’ll catch a glimpse of its impressive ruins, which include an imposing gatehouse, medieval towers, and underground tunnels and caves, which served as a refuge for its former occupants.

A visit to Carreg Cennen Castle is not complete without a stroll through its beautiful gardens, which include a variety of plant and flower species, as well as a vineyard that produces award-winning wines. 

Address: Trapp, Llandeilo SA19 6UA

Denbigh Castle

Denbigh Castle, Wales, UK.

Denbigh Castle was constructed in the 13th century by the English monarch King Edward I, as part of his efforts to control the rebellious Welsh.

Located atop a hill that may have been occupied long before the Middle Ages, the castle was designed by master architect Master James of St. George and is considered a beautiful example of military architecture of the 13th century.

The castle features massive walls and a powerful gatehouse, which are mostly ruined but still manage to impress.

During the visit, you’ll certainly be impressed by Denbigh’s massive remains framed by the emerald-green countryside — a true sight to behold!

Address: Castle Hill, Denbigh LL16 3NB

Aberystwyth Castle

Aberystwyth Castle, Wales, UK.

Aberystwyth Castle is a stunning ruined fortress that was built in the late 13th century by King Edward I in response to the First Welsh War, replacing an earlier fortress located a mile to the south.

Highlights of a visit to Aberystwyth Castle include exploring the castle’s ruined towers and walls, which offer heartwarming views of the surrounding rolling hills countryside and the beautiful Cardigan Bay in West Wales. 

The remains of this majestic castle combined with the sea breeze, and the sound of crashing waves create an air of mystery and enchantment that’ll transport you straight to the Middle Ages.

Aberystwyth Castle is also a popular spot for picnics, and its picturesque location makes it an ideal spot to relax and soak up the stunning scenery of Wales.

Address: Aberystwyth Castle, Aberystwyth

Chirk Castle

Chirk Castle, Wales, UK.

Chirk Castle was built in the 13th century in the heart of the Welsh countryside, near the border with England, by the powerful Welsh prince, Gruffydd ap Madog.

The castle was one of several medieval Marcher fortresses along the Welsh-English border, built to keep the Welsh under English rule.

In the centuries that followed, the castle was expanded and improved by subsequent owners, including the powerful Myddelton family, who made it their home for over 400 years.

Today, Chirk Castle is one of the finest examples of medieval architecture in the country, and its impressive walls and towers are proof of the skill of its builders.

You can visit Chirks Castle’s medieval towers and dungeons, and visit the 17th and 18th-century rooms of the Myddelton family home, including the historic laundry.

A must-see is the 5.5 acres of award-winning garden with stunning views over the Cheshire and Shropshire plains.

Address: Chirk Castle LL14 5AF

Caldicot Castle

Caldicot Castle, Wales, UK.

Caldicot Castle is an extensive stone medieval castle located in the town of Caldicot, Wales. It was built in the late 12th century by the Normans as part of their campaign to conquer Wales.

Over the centuries, the castle was owned by a number of powerful Welsh and English families, including the de Bohun family, who greatly expanded and improved the castle in the 14th century.

Today, Caldicot Castle is a popular destination for visitors, who can explore its many highlights and features.

The castle’s impressive gatehouse, with its towers and drawbridge, is particularly noteworthy, as are the stunning views from the castle’s battlements.

One of Caldicot’s most impressive features, however, is the castle’s surrounding parkland. Encompassing 55 acres, the Caldicot Country Park comprises thick woodland, a reach of the River Nedern, and a wildlife pond home to a variety of wildfowl. The perfect setting for an idle afternoon stroll!

Address: Church Rd, Caldicot NP26 4HU

Bronllys Castle

Bronllys Castle, Wales, UK.
Photo Credit: Visit Wales

Bronllys Castle is a small motte and bailey castle located in Powys, Wales. It was constructed during the 12th century by the Normans to protect the nearby road crossing of the River Llynfi and as a part of his expansion strategy in the Welsh Marches. 

The castle changed hands several times over the years, with the Welsh eventually retaking it during the 13th century. 

Although the castle is now in ruins, it’s easy to imagine how impressive it would have been in its prime. Visitors can wander around the site to see the remains of the keep, which include an intact first-floor hall and the ruins of an upper-floor chamber. 

It’s also possible to still climb the castle’s tower, which offers amazing views of the surrounding rural landscapes.

Address: Bronllys, Brecon LD3 0HL

Dolwyddelan Castle

Dolwyddelan Castle, Wales, UK.

Framed by the rugged mountains of the Snowdonia National Park, Dolwyddelan Castle is thought to have been built in the early 13th century by Llywelyn the Great, Prince of Gwynedd, and Wales.

The castle has an elevated position atop a rocky outcrop, serving as a strategic defensive stronghold and royal residence during the Welsh Wars of Independence.

What you’ll see during a visit to Dolwyddelan consists of the beautiful castle remains, including the imposing keep, walls, and gatehouse.

There is a nice exhibition about the history of Dolwyddelan Castle castle housed in the keep’s main room To get to the top of the keep, climb the stairs from the display room — you’ll be greeted by some spectacular scenery.

It’s truly the beauty of the surrounding countryside that draws visitors to this place.

Address: A470, Dolwyddelan LL25 0JD

Ewloe Castle

Ewloe Castle, Wales, UK.

Ewloe Castle stands out from other Welsh castles thanks to its unique location. Built by the Kingdom of Gwynedd near Ewloe, the castle is set amidst serene, lush woodland, as opposed to the towering vantage points where other Welsh castles are located.

At the time it was built, in the 12th century, the castle was used to control a strategic pass through the area. 

It was later captured by English forces and was abandoned at the beginning of the invasion of Wales by Edward I in 1277

Today, Ewloe Castle is a well-preserved ruin that offers a glimpse into the medieval history of the region. 

Visitors can explore the remains of the curtain walls and towers, as well as the well-preserved entranceway. 

The castle’s surrounding wooded area makes it a lovely spot for a picnic or a stroll through nature.

Address: 61 Maes Deri, Deeside CH5 3BZ

Coity Castle

Coity Castle, Wales, UK.

Coity Castle is a picture-perfect ruin located in the village of Coity. The castle was constructed in the 11th century by Sir Payn de Turberville, one of the legendary Twelve Knights of Glamorgan.

Built as a defensive structure to protect the local area from potential invaders, the castle went through a series of modifications in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries.

Coity’s remains consist of age-old walls, towers, and gatehouses of a variety of architectural styles.

When visiting Coity Castle, you can explore the castle’s ruins and take in the breathtaking views of the Welsh countryside that surrounds the fortress.

Address: Coity, Bridgend CF35 6BG

Raglan Castle

Raglan Castle, Wales, UK.

Raglan Castle is one of the last medieval castles in Wales. Erected in the 15th century, the castle was commissioned by Sir William ap Thomas, a Welsh nobleman who was a prominent figure during the reign of Henry VI. 

This late Medieval castle was designed to be a luxurious residence, with ornate features such as carved fireplaces, stained glass windows, and an elegant great hall. 

One of the castle’s most striking features is its impressive gatehouse, which has a tower with six sides and a steeply pitched roof. 

Head to the castle’s visitor center to see castle treasures like a fine piece of Tudor wooden paneling rescued from a cow shed in the 1950s.

Visitors to Raglan Castle can also explore the castle’s surrounding parkland, water gardens, and terraces.

Address: Raglan Castle, Castle Rd

Laugharne Castle

Laugharne Castle, Wales, UK.

Laugharne Castle is a fascinating medieval castle once owned by the famous Welsh poet and writer Dylan Thomas. In fact, the author wrote “Portrait of the Artist” in the castle summerhouse perched above glorious views of the Taf estuary.

Located in the quaint picturesque town of Laugharne, the castle was originally established in 1116 and rebuilt as a Norman stronghold in the 13th century.

The ruins of this mythical castle lie on a low cliff by the side of the Coran stream, overlooking the estuary of the river Taf.

You can see the two strong round towers on the north and the impressive northwest tower that still retains its fine medieval domed roof.

The ruined keep rewards visitors with breathtaking views of the lush countryside and the glittering Taf estuary.

Address: King St, Laugharne, Carmarthen SA33 4SA

Cilgerran Castle

Cilgerran Castle, Wales, UK.

Cilgerran Castle is a medieval ruined castle located in Cilgerran. The first castle on the site was believed to have been built by Gerald of Windsor around 1110–1115, and it changed hands several times over the following century between English and Welsh forces. 

After passing through successive families, Cilgerran Castle was left to ruin and eventually abandoned by 1400. 

The castle lies on top of a rocky promontory overlooking the River Teif where it merges with the Plysgog stream, an area that served as an important trade route and defensive barrier.  

During your visit, you’ll see two enclosures, or wards. The outer ward is entered by a small gatehouse and contained ancillary buildings such as stables.

The inner ward is protected by two large circular towers; the East Tower and West Tower, connected by a parapet walk.

From the parapet walk, you’ll get show-stopping views over the castle’s ruins and up the wooded gorge of the River Teifi below. 

Address: Cilgerran Castle near, Cardigan SA43 2SF

FAQ

How many castles are there in Wales?

According to the Welsh Government, there are 427 castles in Wales.

What is the best castle to visit in Wales?

The top castles in Wales are:

  • Conwy Castle
  • Caerphilly Castle
  • Caernarfon Castle
  • Cardiff Castle
  • Harlech Castle
  • Pembroke Castle
  • Criccieth Castle
  • Beaumaris Castle
  • Chepstow Castle
  • Powis Castle
  • Kidwelly Castle
  • Penrhyn Castle
  • Carreg Cennen Castle
  • Denbigh Castle
  • Aberystwyth Castle
  • Chirk Castle
  • Caldicot Castle
  • Bronllys Castle
  • Dolwyddelan Castle
  • Ewloe Castle
  • Coity Castle
  • Raglan Castle
  • Laugharne Castle
  • Cilgerran Castle

What is the oldest castle in Wales?

Built in 1067 by Earl William Fitz Osbern, Chepstow Castle is the oldest castle in Wales.

What is the best-preserved castle in Wales?

Built between 1283 and 1287, Conwy Castle, North Wales is one of the best-preserved castles in Wales. This castle is home to the most intact set of medieval royal apartments in Wales.

What is the biggest Welsh castle?

Set on a 30-acre site, Caerphilly Castle is the largest castle in Wales.

How big is the biggest castle in Wales?

Caerphilly Castle, the biggest castle in Wales, covers an area of 30 acres.

What is the most visited castle in Wales?

Caernarfon Castle in North West Wales is the most famous castle in Wales with over 310,000 visitors a year.

What is the best free castle in Wales?

Aberlleiniog Castle, in North Wales, is a must-visit castle that is open to the public all year round, free of charge.

What are the “Big 4” castles in Wales?

Beaumaris, Caernarfon, Conwy, and Harlech are the four most famous castles in Wales. Together, they’re designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

What is the biggest castle in the UK?

Some claim Dover Castle is the largest castle in England, and some claim that Windsor Castle is the biggest.

Dover Castle is the largest in the UK, while Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world.

Are there 641 castles in Wales?

According to the Welsh Government, there are 427 castles in Wales. However, most of these are ruins and some are just earthworks.

What is the smallest Welsh castle?

Weobley Castle is the smallest castle in Wales.

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