There are a LOT of castles in Wales, there are actually over 600. Although, many of these are now nothing more than grassy mounds with a few protruding stones there are over 100 castles which are still standing. They are often referred to as ‘Welsh’ castles but most are in fact English castles built in the 13th century by Edward I.
These castles were built with the sole purpose of conquest and subjugation of the native Welsh people. However, 800 years later we view these this magnificent structures as part of our Welsh heritage, well most of us.
So when you do visit Wales you must see at least a few of these architectural masterpieces, the chances are, you won’t be staying that far away from one.
To help you with your castle tour we’ve put together some useful tips that hopefully, will help your trip go a little smoother so you can get the most out of your time in Wales.
Touring The Castles
A car will give you the freedom to explore in your own time and visit a couple of castles on the same day. Many of the smaller castles are grouped together so you can get to see them all in a day (if you don’t get too ‘castled‘ out).
Many of the larger castles such as Caerphilly, Caernarfon and Cardiff are in the centre of town and are easy to reach, but many of the others are not. So the best way to get around and see the castles in the more dramatic locations or off the beaten path such as Carreg Cennen and Ogmore is to rent a car.
The castles are often grouped together, for example, from Dunraven Castle to
Parking And Facilities
For castles in the towns and cities, the only real option for parking is in the public car parks. Due to the lack of space, there is very rarely a dedicated car park for the castle. Many smaller towns still use those antiquated pay and display machines (some are nearly as old as the castles themselves). Despite modern technology everywhere else in our life, these machines still only accept coins, no cards and are unable to give any change.
In the country, you can usually find free parking and sometimes a dedicated carpark for the castle.
The individual facilities at the castles can vary from nothing to toilets, gift shops and coffee shops. Many of the castles are managed by the Welsh government’s historic environment service Cadw so it is worth checking their website for current opening times, facilities and any ongoing renovation work.
What To Wear
This may seem trivial but most castles were built to repel unwanted visitors so easy access wasn’t top of their list. Stairs can be steep and narrow, floors uneven, ruins can be wet and slippery and in some castles, sheep roam leaving their usual deposits so good non-slip footwear is essential.
Also, some of the castles have their very own caves (no dragons), these can be cold and damp so a jacket may be useful whatever the time of year.
Opening Times And Entry Prices
Entry price can vary from free for some of the smaller castles which are unmanned to around £9 to £10 for the large castles such as Caernarfon. The castles with entry fees usually have far more facilities, tours and events and you can easily spend a good part of the day there.
The castles with free entry usually have their opening times online but a lot are easily accessible at any time.
No Drones Allowed
Honestly speaking, flying your drone won’t really be appreciated by other visitors and Cadw do not allow flying drones at any of their sites, although, as mentioned many sites are unmanned so if you go early you may get away with it.
Most of these castles were built 800 years ago, so they weren’t really designed to be seen from the air. Also, the novelty of drone footage is becoming slightly tiresome.
We hope you have a chance to visit Wales very soon and to see some of these impressive castles for yourself, we’re sure you’ll love it.