• Krista the Explorer

5 Days in Northern Wales

Updated: Aug 10, 2018

Who doesn't love a good road trip? I personally think they're amazing, and the best way to see more of a country. Last September I embarked on a 5 day road trip to Northern Wales, with the intent of seeing as many castles as possible. It was a great time to go as there was hardly anyone in the castles we visited, even the more popular ones. I did my research beforehand, planned out which days we would go to which castles, and the time it would take to travel to them. There are so many castles in Wales, but I think I did a pretty good job of seeing the main ones in the north. We stayed in the gorgeous coastal town of Llandudno, which was the perfect base camp for our daily trips. There are a lot of hotels to choose from, but we opted to use Airbnb just so we had the option to use our own kitchen. Depending on how many castles you're wanting to visit, I would definitely recommend taking a look at the Explorer Passes. I saved a lot on castle entries by getting a pass, and who doesn't like saving money? We also threw in some stops that weren't castles, but were close enough that we didn't have to take too much of a detour!


1. Llandudno
There’s so much to do in Llandudno and it caters for all ages! One of its main attractions is the pier, which provides amazing views of the town and you can grab a bite to eat while there as well.

If you do one thing here, make sure you go on The Marine Drive. It’s a 4 mile scenic drive around the Great Orme (another popular tourist attraction), and was stunning at every turn. It’s a toll road but doesn’t cost much, and if you don’t have a car there is a bus that drives on the route as well. You can also take a detour and drive up the Great Orme for even more incredible views!

Did I mention it's also the home of Alice in Wonderland? I was so excited to come here solely for that reason. Lewis Carroll met a girl called Alice while she was on holiday in the town, which gave him the inspiration! There are carved statues placed all over the town depicting the different characters from the novel, and you can download the trail app right to your phone!

2. Flint Castle
Our first stop on the way to Llandudno! Although it now stands as a ruin, it was the first Edward I built during his conquest of Wales in the 13th century, and was strategically very important. For those of you who love Shakespeare, the castle features famously in Richard II. It’s free to go in (bonus), but if it looks like it’s going to rain, there isn’t many places to take shelter, as we learned the hard way.
3. Rhuddlan Castle
Next stop, Rhuddlan Castle! It’s only a short drive from Flint Castle so there’s no excuse to drive by it. It sits atop a hill overlooking the River Clwyd, which Edward I had diverted specifically to give him access to the sea. It was also built at the same time as Flint Castle. We were the only ones there (yay!) so they gave us a special key to unlock and climb up one of the towers!
4. Caernarfon Castle
One of Wales’ most impressive castles. It’s steeped in history, but one of my favourite facts is that the walls were built to reflect those of Constantinople. It’s also famous for being the site of Prince Charles’ investiture as the Prince of Wales. If you have time you could make a day of it, as it’s set in a charming town with lots of great places to eat.

View from above!
5. Beaumaris Castle
This was the castle I was really excited for. It’s located on Anglesey and I think it’s the only castle I’ve visited so far that has water still in the moat and a bridge crossing it! Not only that, but it was built in perfect symmetry and was the last great castle built by Edward I during his Welsh campaign (he never actually finished it). You can walk along the top of the castle walls as well and look out across the water to the Welsh mainland. There’s also a dragon popping its head out of the ground if you can spot it!

Dragons are found in various castles across Wales, I was lucky enough to find one.

Walking on top of the castle walls and looking across to the mainland.
6. Conwy Castle
Another stunning castle. The height of the castle walls is just immense. It’s set along a river and you can climb the various towers, giving you an amazing vantage point of the layout of the castle, as well as its surroundings.

There are also some baby dragons hanging around if you can find them!

BONUS: The Smallest House in Great Britain

A little further on from the castle is the Smallest House in Great Britain. Not going to lie, I wasn’t expecting it to be as small as it was, I hardly fit inside it.
7. Criccieth Castle
A castle on top of a hill, overlooking a town on one side, and water on the other. It’s a bit of a steep climb, but oh so worth it in the end. The castle was very important strategically for both English and Welsh armies, and it isn’t hard to see why.

Having explored the remains of the castle, I sat on the hillside and took in the spectacular views. The town also has a lovely café to get a snack at once you’re done exploring!
8. Harlech Castle
This was another castle I was really looking forward to, having researched it while at university. It didn’t disappoint! I’m not going to bore everyone with architectural features and military designs, but it is stunning. Edward I definitely knew how to build an imposing castle, and he certainly liked his hills. They’ve recently added a “floating bridge” from the information centre to the castle, making it accessible for everyone! Sadly, this was our last castle of the trip.

The views are alright, I guess.
The ultimate tourist village. I had no idea this even existed until I was researching the area. It was built in the style of an Italian village and was used in the 1960s television series The Prisoner. You can actually stay in some of the buildings, and it’s filled with quaint shops and restaurants.

Harry Potter vibes.

We may have got stuck in torrential rain ... but it didn't take away from its beauty.

Contact me if you have any recommendations of other great Welsh castles or locations I should visit!

Welcome!

My name is Krista, and like many people I love to travel! I think it's important that people share their travel experiences, so I hope that mine help you in some way in your own travels, or inspire you to travel more! 

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© 2018 by Krista the Explorer