Caernarfon is known for one thing more than anything else: its mighty castle. This immense fortress dates back to the end of the 13th century – King Edward I of England had begun his Welsh conquest, taking the town of Caernarfon in 1283. The pre-existing motte and bailey structure was demolished under his instruction, and in its place began work on the impressive stone structure we know today.
Caernarfon Castle’s accompanying town walls were not completed until 1330, at an immense cost of more than £20,000 (for the time), but unfortunately, work on the castle itself was never quite finished, due to economic struggles (also known as Edward’s invasion of Scotland).
However, the imposing castle was complete enough to be used, serving as both a seat of English government in Wales and as a royal palace.
These days, the castle is still standing, and is in remarkably good condition for something roughly 7 centuries old. Designed to echo the dream castle of Welsh legends, the castle’s uniquely polygonal towers make it truly impressive and like no other castle built since. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the castle attracts tens of thousands of visitors each year.
Within the building, there is plenty more than just the architecture to be interested in. You can visit the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum, which tells of the 300-year history of Wales’ oldest infantry regiment, as well as numerous other exhibitions and displays within the walls.
Although the castle is arguably Caernarfon’s biggest attractor of tourists, it is not the only thing in the town worth visiting. It is a bustling market town with a busy port, as well as magnificent views over the Menai Strait, the channel that separates Anglesey from mainland Wales. The waterfront itself merits a visit, having been recently redeveloped. It’s a beautiful place to stop for a bite to eat.
The Welsh Highland Railway is also here, sedately carrying you the 25 miles to Porthmadog in style and comfort. This heritage railway takes you on a picture-book beautiful journey, running alongside the foot of Snowdonia’s majestic mountains and along through the Aberglaslyn Pass. Ride in first class for the ultimate in luxury and comfort, dining on freshly cooked meals that are brought directly to you in your seat.
Dinas Dinlle is nearby, a small settlement with a large, sandy beach. Come when the tide is out, as the beach is simply massive at this time – ideal conditions for building sand castles and sunbathing. On the cliff overlooking the beach you will find the remains of an Iron Age hill fort.
Plane enthusiasts will love the Airworld Aviation Museum found in Caernarfon Airport, with its varied collection of aircraft, while those more inclined to the equestrian arts will find a great deal of pleasure going for a mountainous ride with the Snowdonia Riding Stables – the experience is simply awe-inspiring.
Snowdonia National Park is only a few miles from Caernarfon, making the royal town a good place to stop for a few days and use as a base to get stuck into the mountains and forests of North Wales. Click here for our accommodation options in the region.
Situated on the coast looking out towards Anglesey it is reached by the A487 from Bangor (to the east) or Porthmadog in the south.
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Probably the most famous of all the many castles in Wales, and for good reason – its sheer scale dwarfs the others, and the town walls are still remarkably intact. Tourists can walk along a small part of the walls, which offers some fantastic views over the town. Also houses the museum of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.
Mount Snowdon is known in its native Welsh as Yr Wyddfa, and it is the highest mountain in Wales. It is known as the busiest mountain in Britain, because it is so popular with hikers and climbers.
The Isle of Anglesey is a beautiful part of Wales, set apart from the Welsh mainland by the Menai Strait, and it is well worth spending at least a few days on in an effort to see and experience as much of its natural beauty as possible.
Base yourself in the Caernarfon area to explore this historic castle town and the Snowdonia area. The Welsh Highland Railway starts from Caernarfon to Porthmadog, a great way to see the countryside. The Llyn Peninsula is also easily accessible. Find a your holiday cottage here.
Explore the most Westerly part of North Wales with its many beaches and green rolling countryside. A cottage in the Lleyn Peninsula is the perfect way to explore the area - visit Whistling Sands Beach, the spectacular golf course in Nefyn with its picturesque fishing village, a boat trip to Bardsey Island or spend time in one of the local towns such as Abardaron, Abersoch, Pwllehli or Criccieth.
Choose a cottage in the Snowdonia area for qucik access into the Snowdonia National Park. From remote cottages overlooked by soaring mountains to cottages in small villages you can find the right level of "countryside" for you.