Are you looking for the best castles in South Wales? From Cardiff Castle to Pembroke Castle, check out these amazing CADW sites to visit this year.
If there’s one thing Wales has a lot of (apart from sheep!) it’s castles. No matter where you are in the country, you’re never far from a castle.
In fact, Wales is often called “the land of castles” as there are over of 600 of them. Yes, you read that right – 600! This makes is the most densely populated place in the world with castles (nice little fact for you there).
As there are so many castles to visit, I wanted to show you the best castles in South Wales to help plan your trip here. These are among the best Cadw sites and the ones I’d really recommend visiting.
Obviously no trip to the capital of Cardiff would be complete without seeing Cardiff Castle. That’s probable the most accessible on the list.
Personally, I love Caerphilly Castle and Carreg Cennen Castle. The landscape surrounding Carreg Cennen Castle is just stunning, especially if you get to see it on a misty day. It just adds to the mystery and magic of the place.
For those of you planning a day out with the kids, Fonmon Castle and Swansea Castle are two of the best Welsh castles to visit. With dressing up and interatice games, there’s always something to keep the kids entertained.
Hopefully you’ll find our list of the best castles in South Wales useful when planning your next trip here!
Best Castles in South Wales
Sat in the heart of the city is Cardiff Castle, holding 2000 years of history. The great stone walls have survived Roman occupation, civil war and World War II, and the castle is now one of Wales’ leading heritage attractions.
There are so many unique elements to spot at Cardiff Castle, from the apartments where Lord Bute once lived, to the wartime shelters. I love seeing the Trebuchet in action. The 13th century military machine is fascinating!
Head to the Firing Line museum to learn all about The Queen’s Dragoon Guards and The Royal Welsh. This includes items from the Battle of Waterloo to modern conflicts like Afghanistan, so it’s a cool display to see.
One of my favourite castles by far is Caerphilly Castle. The mediaeval castle spans a whopping 30 acres – that’s three times the size of the Principality Stadium – and is the biggest castle in Wales!
Come and marvel at the refilled lakes and navigate the hidden passageways that make up the castle’s unique defence system. And don’t forget to spot the castle’s best loved feature, its leaning tower.
If you’re feeling romantic, you can get married beneath the tall stone walls. I can’t think of a more gorgeous setting for my wedding ceremony (not too sure Chloe would agree though…)
Caldicot Castle is a wonderful family day out. Set amongst serene gardens and a large country park, there’s lots to explore. Travel back in time and discover what life was like in the castle through the ages.
At Caldicot Castle you can enjoy a self guided tour where you can explore history through the ages, from the mediaeval times to the Victorian renovations. Check out the incredible Foudrayant’s cannon in the courtyard before
The castle’s tower is the perfect place to get a good view of the River Estuary. On a clear day you can even see all the way to Bristol too!
Hop across the series of stepping stones over the gorgeous river next to Ogmore Castle. Once part of a trio of castles built to defend Glamorgan, the ruins now stand proud against the landscape.
Ogmore Castle was originally built out of earth and wood in the 12th century and was quickly fortified in stone. You can still spot many of the original features, including the deep ditch around the inner ward that was built to fill with sea water at high tide.
We love to imagine what life would have been like as we walk through the stone walls and tackle the strategically placed stepping stones.
Carreg Cennen Castle
Carreg Cennen Castle is one of the most interesting Welsh castles. With a farm, tea rooms and gift shop, this visit is a fun family day out.
Carreg Cennen Castle has a rich history of occupation. Today you can see the complex defence systems that engulf the entire fortress. Entry to the castle was only granted if you could cross the small and complex walkways which could be pulled away at any moment! Now you can look into the deep pits below from a much safer wooden walkway.
No day out is complete without a trip to the working farm to marvel at the pedigree Longhorn cows. Finish off your day in the tea rooms. I’d recommend the hot rhubarb crumble cake.
White Castle, also known as Llantilio Castle, is part of the ‘Three Castles’ built to protect Monmouthshire and control the border, and is the best preserved today.
Its mediaeval name might derive from the white masonry used to build the castle walls, which are magnificent to look at. The pear-shaped inner ward once sat behind a deep moat.
Now you can explore the castle and its large grounds without worrying about defending the castle from attackers. Check out the ruins as you overlook the landscapes from the top of the hill.
Pembroke Castle is a fun day out for all the family. From guided tours and exhibitions to delicious cakes in the Castle Kitchen, there’s so much to do and see.
The castle was first built around 1093 by Arnulf de Montgomery and it continued to have a fascinating history, being the only castle in Britain to be built over a natural cavern. Visit Wogan’s cavern on your guided tour and spot the Pipistrelle bats. It’s even rumoured to be home to a dragon so watch out!
In the exhibition rooms you can see a replica model of the castle throughout the centuries, demonstrating how it has changed over time, a dramatic recreation of the Civil War and The William Marshal Tapestry. Don’t forget to step on the largest map of Wales!
Swansea Castle is the true heart of the city. Withstanding war, murder, the Blitz and more, the ruins now stand proud amongst the modern architecture.
The castle was first made of timber in 1106 to defend the city from knoll above the River Tawe. Now you can admire the dressed stonework carved from a quarry near Ogmore, and see the arrowloops and gun-ports which were used to defend Swansea castle.
Family’s can follow the Swansea Castle family trail and immerse themselves in hundreds of years of history. Follow the trail to discover key components of the castle and learn all about the different people that once occupied it.
Kidwelly Castle is a breathtaking Norman castle overlooking the River Gwendraeth and the town of Kidwelly. The castle is also known as Cygweli which means ‘swan’, perfectly encapsulating the elegant structure.
Kidwelly is a castle within a castle, making it difficult for people to conquer. First you had to get through the gatehouse next to the river before tackling the four inner towers. Today you can explore the stunning stone structure that remains.
Did you know, Kidwelly Castle appears in Monty Python and the Holy Grail? Keep an eye out for the castle in the first scene!
Chepstow Castle sits upon the limestone cliff above the River Wye – one of the longest rivers in the UK. History is kept within the perfectly preserved stone walls. The grade I listed building is one of the best castles in South Wales and was even used for filming in the Doctor Who 50th anniversary episode!
See how the castle adapted to destruction and battle weapons over the years, being owned by some of the most powerful figures of the mediaeval and Tudor ages. See if you can spot the prison, 12th century door to the gatehouse and the Great Tower.
I definitely recommend attending one of the special events where you can walk along the battlements and into the Marten’s Tower.
Castle Coch, also known as the ‘Red Castle’, sits upon Fforest Fawr and is surrounded by ancient beech trees like something out of a fairytale. There’s a good reason it’s voted as the public’s favourite building in Wales.
Castle Coch is an incredible example of a mediaeval castle combined with 19th century Gothic revivals. The castle has a beautifully decorated interior and rich furnishings to represent the castle in the Victorian era.
Check out the red sandstone and grey limestone exterior and the interior rooms, including the banqueting hall and Lady Bute’s bedroom, which are designed as they would have looked.
Coity Castle showcases the stunning remains of a once romantic castle with a rich history. It was originally built as an earth castle around 1100 AD by Sir Payn ‘the Demon’ de Turberville, who was one of the legendary Twelve Knights of Glamorgan!
As you walk towards the castle you will discover the stone keep and curtain walls which were added towards the end of the 12th century. Each stone tells the story of many sieges and reconstruction to strengthen its defences.
Try and spot the remains of the central octagonal pier for the vaults of Coity Castle, which were a part of the reworks in the 14th century, or look out for the remains of the ground floor service room.
Rounding off our list of the best castles in South Wales is Fonmon Castle. From dinosaurs and a mediaeval farm to the Victorian gardens and the Grade II listed castle, this is a fantastic day out for all the family.
Step back in time to learn what life was like in the mediaeval age. Discover the pirate adventure and take on the Boudica challenge. You can even milk the goats, which is why kids love this place so much.
There’s woodland walks and wildlife lookouts for green fingered friends, the elegant castle for history buffs, and dinosaur dig pits for little ones and big kids alike. Honestly, this is such an amazing place to visit as a family – I have no doubt you’ll love it here.
What’s your favourite castle in Wales to visit? You can let us know in the comments below!
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