The Castle Route of North Wales1st Jun
A Journey Through Time
Historical enthusiasts from across the globe flock to North Wales to visit and explore the region’s rich abundance of impressive, unique, and imposing castles.
Described as the ‘Castle capital of the world’, whilst many have been lost through the centuries, a considerable number remain in various states from glorious ruins to full restorations.
We’ve selected a handful of the region’s must-visit castle destinations as part of a circular tour, taking in the Snowdonia 360 route.
And here’s where we begin…..
Gwrych Castle, Abergele
Built between 1812 and 1822 in a picturesque spot overlooking the pretty coastal town of Abergele is Gwyrch Castle. The castle closed to the public in 1985 and began to fall into disrepair, however, the Gwyrch Castle Preservation Trust purchased the castle in June 2018, with an aim to restore the castle to its full glory. Visitors can meander amongst the ruins and explore its 250 acres of gardens and grounds.
For those brave enough for an out-of-hours visit, the Trust runs ghost hunts believed in what is believed to be one of the most paranormally active areas of the castle, the tower, haunted by the Countess herself.
Other nearby places of interest to visit? Try Welsh Mountain Zoo
Conwy Castle, Conwy
An imposing fortress built in 1823, Conwy Castle stands tall, high above the River Conwy, an imposing building that dominates the landscape.
With 21 towers and three gateways in total, this site has a fascinating and rich history. Make sure you keep an eye out for medieval re-enactments that regularly take place inside the courtyards, perfect family-friendly entertainment.
Other nearby places of interest to visit? Try Conwy Valley Railway, The Great Orme Tramway
Penrhyn Castle, Bangor
Designed by renowned architect Thomas Hopper, Penrhyn Castle was built in the mid 19th century for English MP George Hay Dawkins Pennant, who appointed local craftsmen to help in the design and build of castle furniture.
The castle has since come under the care of the National Trust allowing visitors to explore the interiors and wander around the beautifully kept gardens and grounds.
Other nearby places of interest to visit? Try Storiel, Zipworld, Greenwood Family Park
Beaumaris Castle, Beaumaris
Beaumaris Castle was the largest of the four great castles and last of Edward I’s castles constructed for his conquest of North Wales, but remained unfinished due to his untimely death. The castle was restored and repaired in the 20th century and is now managed by Cadw and draws thousands of visitors a year. Here, you can walk around the walls and take in the beautiful views of the Menai Strait.
Other nearby places of interest to visit? Try Anglesey Sea Zoo, RibRide
Situated near Penmon, on the Isle of Anglesey, is Aberlleiniog Castle a hidden gem and Scheduled Ancient Monument.
Nestled in a peaceful woodland Nature Reserve, close to the shores of the beautiful Menai Strait, it owns a magical and rich history packed with colourful characters, including Welsh Princes, Norman overlords, Viking raiders, traitors, pirates, Civil War commanders, wealthy estate owners, and Georgian naturalists!
Other nearby places of interest to visit? Try RibRide Anglesey Sea Zoo
Caernarfon Castle, Caernarfon
A popular historical site set on the magnificent Menai Straits, Caernarfon Castle gave Edward an important vantage point during his invasion of Wales.
Once used for unloading supplies off ships, this site has two gateways and is impressive throughout with visitors attracted to its atmospheric corridors and stairways.
Other nearby places of interest to visit? Try Yr Hwylfan , Gypsy Wood, Plas Menai, Inigo Jones Slate Works
Criccieth Castle, Criccieth
This stunning coastal castle was built and later destroyed by powerful Welsh princes. A commanding and imposing structure positioned between two beaches, Criccieth Castle offers outstanding views over the town and bay.
Built by Llewellyn the Great and completed by his grandson, Llewellyn the Last, this fortress was broken during the invasion of Edward I who took the castle and extended and improved it further himself.
Other nearby places of interest to visit? Try Nant Gwrtheyrn, Glasfryn Parc, Portmeirion, Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway
Dolwyddelan Castle, Betws-y-Coed
Dolwyddelan Castle is an early 13th-century fortress, once again built by Llewelyn the Great and acted as a base from which to control the road between Snowdonia and Conwy.
Sadly the former garrison was unable to stand the test of time and by the early 19th century, Dolwyddelan was a romantic ruin that remains popular with landscape artists.
Other nearby places of interest to visit? Try Adventure Parc Snowdonia
Harlech Castle, Harlech
Perched high on a rocky clifftop overlooking the sea is Harlech Castle. Built between 1283-1290 by Edward I, the castle is considered unique in its design combining both an inner and outer wall for protection.
A brilliant site of exploration for all the family, visitors can climb up the round towers and walk around the walls.
Other nearby places of interest to visit? Try Cambrian Line Railway, Talyllyn Railway, King Arthur’s Labyrinth, Bala Lake Railway
And here’s where our journey ends! And what a journey it’s been!
For those of you, however, who are joining the trail from the Midlands or the South, your adventure will begin at Castell y Bere, following the route from the opposite direction.
Castell y Bere
Considered an absolute magnet for any castle lovers, Castell y Bere embodies the true spirit of North Wales’ finest castles.
Set amongst a jagged rocky outcrop at the foot of Cader Idris, Castell y Bere was built by Llywelyn the Great in 1221 with the castle remaining in use until 1294.
Whilst its domineering location gives it huge strength and presence, it is considered of great architectural importance featuring two gatehouses with drawbridges recognised as extremely advanced for its time.