Castle Tour of Wales
The Welsh landscape is crammed with castles – brooding stone reminders of the country’s turbulent history. There are 641 in all. Essentially there are three types of castle in Wales: those built by the Normans, those by the Welsh, and those by Edward I. The native Welsh castles were built in some of the most dramatic places in the country, utilising craggy outcrops and steep, isolated hills as natural defences.
Perfect Time To Go
April - October
Number Of Nights
Arrival into Manchester Airport. Collect rental car and transfer to Chester, a walled Roman city on the Welsh borders. Walking around the walls and enjoying the historic pubs after a shopping spree around the Rows are some of the best ways to spend your free time here. Overnight Chester area
Depart Chester. Your proposed route today will allow you to visit native Welsh Ewloe Castle set serenely within peaceful woodland; Denbigh Castle, which was one of the largest castles in Wales built by Edward 1; Bodelwydden Castle, which is now an outpost of the National Portrait Gallery, and the stunning Marble Church opposite; and Edward’s Rhuddlan Castle. Overnight Beaumaris, Anglesey.
A suggested circular tour for today includes the medieval walled town of Conwy, dominated by the picturesque castle built by Edward 1. Conwy is a World Heritage Site with history stretching back to Roman times. Heading south, terraced Bodnant Garden covers 80 acres of ground and dates to the late 1800’s. Swallow Falls, outside Betws-y-Coed, have been one if the areas most visited attractions since Victorian times. Return to Beaumaris, which was once the chief port and commercial centre for North Wales, in Victorian times is became a popular resort town. Moated Beaumaris Castle was never completed – the money ran out – but it is a technical triumph dating back to 1295. Overnight Beaumaris, Anglesey
Depart Beaumaris. One of the most famous castles in Wales looms over the busy town of Caernarfon. An enormous structure, almost a town in itself, the construction of the castle took around 40 years. The castle also houses the museum of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. No visit to Wales is complete without a visit to Snowdonia. Llanberis is the starting point for the Snowdon Mountain Railway, the narrow gauge railway that runs nearly five miles up the mountain to the café at the summit. Ruined Dolbardarn Castle, built in the 13th century by the mighty Llywelyn the Great, predates the English fortresses of Edwardian conquests. Overnight Criccieth.
Start the day by exploring ruined Criccieth Castle and the Chapel of Art. Nearby on the coast is the unique Italianate village of Portmeirion, the creation of architect Clough Williams-Ellis. Further south, Harlech Castle, perched dramatically on a rocky outcrop was protected by the sea, which has now receded. It was once the headquarters of the Welsh resistance leader Owain Glyndwr. Overnight Criccieth.
Depart Criccieth. Journey south today through Dolgellau, home of the Quaker Heritage Centre, and Machynlleth, home of Celtica which aims to bring to life the history and culture of the Celts. The remains of Aberystwyth Castle are to the south of the town centre; built in the late 13th century it withstood many sieges. Continue south through Cardigan (castle not open to public) to Llawhaden Castle, a fortified palace of the Bishops of St Davids. Overnight Pembroke.
Pembroke Castle was first built in 1093, was reconstructed in 1204 but much of the building was destroyed on Cromwell’s orders during the Civil War. Tenby Castle is now a museum and art gallery, the town’s Welsh name means “Little Fort of Fishes” and it grew up around the Norman castle. The 19 mile Gower Peninsula was the first area in Britain designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the National Trust owns much of the coastline. Overnight Cardiff.
Day at leisure in Cardiff. Places to visit within the city include Cardiff Castle, the Museum of Welsh Life, St John’s Church, The Arcades, National Museum and City Hall. Venturing north you can visit Caerphilly Castle, the second largest castle in Europe, it is spread over 30 acres of land, it inspired Tennyson to write, “it isn’t a castle – it’s a town in ruins”.
Drop off rental car and depart for home.
8 nights on a bed and breakfast basis in 3 star standard hotels throughout Wales
Hire of automatic Nissan Quashqui (or similar) including collision damage waiver, excess reducer, third party insurance and VAT
Pick up and drop off at Manchester Airport
7 Day Wales CADW Sightseeing Pass