Wales is filled with unexpected beauty. Although it may not be a stereotypical holiday destination, Wales has a reputation for adventure, wild landscapes and rich history. Not only are there spectacular beaches, but Wales also has rugged mountains, cute villages and ample opportunity for wild camping and hiking if you love the outdoors. Some of the UK’s best castles are in Wales and are well worth adding to your bucket list.
History lovers will enjoy these remote and ancient places where battles were won and lost, many are now ruins, and some still stand in splendour just as they have for hundreds of years. Wales is a tiny place filled with a wealth of activities, so the best thing to do is hire a car, pack your best outdoor gear and enjoy a breathtakingly remote and untouched country while visiting the best castles in Wales.
- 20 Fairytale Castles In Wales
- Castles In South Wales
- Castles In North Wales
20 Fairytale Castles In Wales
Castles In South Wales
1- Raglan Castle
Located in South East Wales, Raglan Castle dates back to the 15th century.
If you are searching for a stereotypical castle, this has all the turrets and towers you could ask for.
Built by Sir William ap Thomas in the 1430s, the castle is surrounded by beautiful gardens and terraces to enjoy in the summer.
The most well-known section of the castle is the Yellow Tower of Gwent, which is surrounded by a large moat.
You will have to buy a ticket to tour the castle, but its remote location means that it is rarely busy with tourists so you’ll enjoy it almost to yourself.
Raglan Castle is at Raglan Castle, Castle Rd, Raglan NP15 2BT.
2- Cardiff Castle
Located in the heart of Wales’ beautiful capital city, Cardiff Castle is over 2000 years old.
Nestled in lush green gardens, it has been a Roman fort, a Norman castle and a Victorian palace, so it is the perfect place to experience hundreds of years of history in one place.
The interiors, carvings and turrets are breathtaking, as are the carefully restored royal apartments filled with gilding, tapestries and stained glass.
Explore on your own or book a 60-minute tour with an expert guide that will allow you to delve deep into the rich history of this castle.
Cardiff Castle is at Castle St, Cardiff CF10 3RB.
3- Pembroke Castle
Originally the home of the Earl of Pembroke, this castle was built in 1093 but has undergone significant restoration and rebuilding since then.
Pembroke Castle is also the largest privately owned castle in Wales.
There is a five-story central keep which visitors can climb, a maze of underground tunnels to explore underneath the castle itself as well as towers and battlements for you to discover.
You can easily spend half a day immersing yourself in history here, and if you don’t happen to have a car, there is a station nearby.
Pembroke Castle is at Pembroke SA71 4LA.
4- Caerphilly Castle
Located in South Wales and covering a vast 30 acres, Caerphilly Castle is Wales’ biggest castle and Britain’s second-largest, after Windsor.
Along with its towers and battlements, it has a maze, a ‘dragon’s den’ and the stunning Great Hall, all of which will be a dream for history buffs.
On top of this, it is surrounded by a beautiful lake and you can also see the famous ‘leaning tower of Caerphilly’ which happened after an attack in 1648.
Caerphilly Castle is at LL14 5AF, United Kingdom.
5- Roch Castle
Also sitting on a high, rocky outcrop, Roch Castle is different from many on the list as you can stay inside it.
Roch Castle was constructed in the 12th century and sits on what is known as the ‘landsker line’, which is the division between English and Welsh-speaking Wales.
If you want to live a real-life fairytale, this is the place, with its 360 views of the countryside, courtesan dining room, chapel, luxuriously historic bedrooms and rooftop viewing platform, you’ll feel like the king of the castle.
Roch Castle is at Church Rd, Roch, Haverfordwest SA62 6AQ.
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6- Castell Coch
In Welsh, Castell Coch means ‘The Red Castle’, which already sounds like something from a fairytale.
With its towers rising out of the forest, this is where you’ll find a secret history hidden away.
The castle is one of the masterpieces of Victorian times due to the Marquess of Bute providing ‘unlimited money’ for the project.
The lavish interiors, furnishings and immaculate details and paintings on every wall are breathtaking, and its location on the outskirts of Cardiff makes it a must-visit if you’re in the capital.
Castell Coch is in the village of Tongwynlais in South Wales.
7- Chepstow Castle
Towering down from the clifftop above the river Wye, the construction on Chepstow Castle began in 1067, and you will find almost 600 years of history here.
The castle was one of the first Norman strongholds in Wales and fell into disrepair after the Civil War but was expertly restored for visitors.
Some of its attractions include the prison, the Great Tower, Marten’s Tower and the battlements which you can walk along for beautiful views over the river.
Chepstow Castle is at Bridge St, Chepstow NP16 5EY.
8- Kidwelly Castle
Famous for featuring in the opening scene of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Kidwelly Castle dates back to the 12th century when it was actually made of wood.
It was reconstructed from stone in 1280, making it the impregnable fortress you can see today.
It is not quite in ruins, but much of the castle has fallen away, allowing you to see the layout of the fortress, consisting of four towers joined by the outward wall and an imposing gatehouse at the entrance.
If you are superstitious, the surrounding countryside is said to be haunted by a headless horseman.
Kidwelly Castle is at Castle Rd, Kidwelly SA17 5BQ.
9- Carew Castle
Encompassing both Carew Castle and Tidal’s Mill, this area contains almost 2000 years of history.
The castle itself is a fascinating mix of architectural eras, from the Elizabethan north wing to the Norman fortress on the west side.
The Tidal Mill is great to visit in the summer and is the only restored mill in the country.
Nearby is also an 11th-century Celtic cross, a medieval bridge and a picnic area connected by a mile-long footpath for you to enjoy.
Carew Castle is at Castle Ln, Carew, Tenby SA70 8SL.
Castles In North Wales
10- Caernarfon Castle
A world heritage site, Caernarfon is recognised by history buffs as one of the most historically impressive castles in the world.
Taking 47 years to build, and created by Edward I, it is one of Wales’ most well-known historical sites.
It is eight miles southwest of Bangor, so it is easily accessible, and tourists can walk along the smaller walls of the castle, which provide beautiful views over the town.
The town is also not far from Snowdonia, so this makes for a great detour for the day, and you can also wander around the museum of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.
Caernarfon Castle is at Castle Ditch, Caernarfon LL55 2AY.
11- Conwy Castle
Also built by King Edward I, Conwy castle is located in North Wales and is one of the country’s most well maintained and restored castles, meaning it is as close to its original state as possible.
Walk the entire length of the battlements here and enjoy lovely views over Conwy and its harbour.
Only taking a mere four years to build, it also has the best-preserved royal apartments in Wales.
There is a lot of walking as the castle has eight towers in total, so make sure to bring your walking boots.
Conwy Castle is at Rose Hill St, Conwy LL32 8AY.
12- Chirk Castle
Purchased by a privateer in 1595, Chirk Castle is now managed by the National Trust.
It is the last castle from this period that is still occupied to this day.
Inside there are three staterooms, a chapel music room and the servant’s hall to be explored.
It also has 5.5 acres of beautifully kept gardens which are lovely to stroll in the summer, as the castle is in an area of outstanding natural beauty.
There are excellent views over the Cheshire plains and 480 acres of total estate land to walk around.
Chirk Castle is at Chirk Castle LL14 5AF.
13- Powis Castle
Powis Castle is in East Wales, a short way over the border from England. and a 45-minute drive from Shrewsbury.
It was built in 1200 and is perched on a rock above the gardens, which are as famous and stunning as the castle.
Not only does Powis Castle contain one of Wales’ finest collections of historical furniture and paintings, but the world-famous gardens have been embellished by each generation of the family who lived here and is beautiful in the summer.
If it’s warm, you can grab a welsh cake and a coffee in the terrace café and enjoy spectacular views over the countryside.
Powis Castle is at Powis Castle and Garden, Welshpool SY21 8RF.
14- Beaumaris Castle
A little further afield, on the beautiful but remote Isle of Anglesey, Beaumaris Castle is the fourth of Wales’ great castles (Conwy, Harlech & Caernarfon).
Unfortunately for Edward I, his dreams of a huge symmetrical fortress were never quite finished.
Although less imposing than the others, Beaumaris is the most technically perfect castle ever built.
It stands at the end of Castle Street, so it is the ideal attraction if you are visiting Anglesey.
You will also enjoy breathtaking views over the nearby mountains and sea.
Beaumaris Castle is at Castle St, Beaumaris LL58 8AP.
15- Harlech Castle
Another one of Edward I’s ‘iron-ring’ castles, Harlech, sits high on a hill with the mountainous region of Snowdonia national park as its backdrop.
It took just seven years to construct, and for the first time, you can now enter the castle via a ‘floating footbridge’, which the architect, James of St George, originally intended it.
Its historical significance also lies in its location, as its position would have been impregnable, and the sea would have once risen up to the castle moat.
Whether you are passing through or staying nearby, this is the perfect day trip, especially if the weather on Snowdon is looking temperamental.
Harlech Castle is at Harlech LL46 2YH, United Kingdom.
16- Bodelwyddan Castle
Another of Wales’ famous castles that has recently been transformed into a hotel, Bodelwyddan Castle is a beautiful place to stay for a special occasion.
While it has all the modern amenities, the medieval building and interiors that date back to 1460 and the surrounding gardens will make you feel like you are living in history.
Its close proximity to Snowdonia makes it the perfect overnight stay for some culture.
Although you cannot explore the entire castle (the main section was closed in 2019), the hotel can provide you with information about the rich history of where you are staying.
Bodelwyddan Castle is at Castle Hotel, Bodelwyddan, Rhyl LL18 5YA.
17- Rhuddlan Castle
Located in Denbighshire, Rhuddlan Castle was one of the few that Edward I decided not to build by the sea, instead, diverting miles of river to provide supplies.
It was also Edward I’s residence for a while and is rumoured to be the birthplace of his daughter, Elizabeth I.
Although almost two of the four castle walls are in ruins, the castle itself is the perfect example of a diamond-shaped fortress and can be easily visited if you are driving through the area.
Rhuddlan Castle is at Castle St, Rhuddlan LL18 5AD.
18- Penrhyn Castle
One of Wales most imposing and spectacular castles, Penrhyn sits on the Menai Straits with Snowdonia in the distance.
As well as its quarry, parkland, walled garden and views over Puffin Island, the castle’s interiors are lavish, and it houses a well-preserved fine art collection.
You can also visit the castle’s railway museum and adventure playground, which is fun for all ages.
Penrhyn Castle is at Bangor LL57 4HT.
19- Ruperra Castle
Also located in Caerphilly, this is a listed building which sadly is now in ruins.
Ruperra Castle was built in 1626 and an example of a Jacobean castle.
Although you can’t do a tour as in many of the other castles, the Trust that is trying to save this beautiful site encourages people to visit either on foot or by bicycle.
You can park nearby and explore the ruins, grounds and gardens to hopefully raise funding to maintain it and continue its legacy as a historical tourist attraction.
Ruperra Castle is at Lower Machen, Newport NP10 8GG.
20- Gwrych Castle
Arguably the most spectacular castle on the list, Gwrych Castle dominates the hilltop on which it stands, and you may find it familiar if you watch I’m a Celebrity UK.
It was built in 1810 and became a popular destination in the 1950s but is now owned by the Gwrych Castle Preservation Trust.
The aim is to restore and renovate this castle to its former glory.
Visiting the castle is a great way to support the restorations of such an important historical site.
You won’t want to miss the sweeping views over the Irish Sea, Llandudno and all the way to Liverpool on clear days.
Gwrych Castle is at Llanddulas Road, Abergele LL22 8ET.