Stopping by this pretty medieval welsh town is a must for your Wales itinerary.
From the medieval castle to the picturesque beach and the lovely market to the scenic railway, here’s our top recommendations for what to do in Caernarfon for the day.
What To Do In Caernarfon
Visit Caernarfon Castle
The main attraction in Caernarfon is an absolute show stopper and is what draws most visitors to the town. The mighty Caernarfon Castle. The immense fortress dates back to the 13th century when the English King Edward I began his quest to conquer Wales.
Despite £25,000 and 47 years, it was never actually completely finished. This was due to his invasion plans for Scotland needing attention – greedy much? But nevertheless for a time it was a royal palace and also held a seat of English Government.
With its unique polygonal towers it’s design is rather different to most other castles built around this era. For that reason, along with the sheer enormity of it, Caernarfon Castle and it’s accompanying town walls were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1986.
Inside you’ll also find a fascinating museum dedicated to the Royal Welch Fusiliers. It covers a 300 year history of Wales’ oldest and widely acclaimed regiment.
Note, you can only visit with a pre-booked ticket. And it does get extremely busy over popular months so it’s best to reserve a spot well in advance.
Walk Around Caernarfon Harbour
Set against a backdrop of the Snowdonia Mountains in one direction and a vista over the Menai Strait to the Isle of Anglesey in the other, one of the best things to do in Caernarfon is to simply take in the glorious views.
Situated at the mouth of the River Seiont, Caernarfon town was built around a natural harbour. There’s been quite a lot of investment gone into the stylish waterfront in recent years. It makes an excellent starting place for a wander.
Shopping in Caernarfon Market
Wander through the quaint narrow streets to Castle Square, or Maes as it is locally known, to the heart of Caernarfon. Here every Saturday (and Monday too during summer) you’ll find a beautiful local market.
Selling everything from clothes to fresh produce to books, there’ll no doubt be something that catches your eye. During the summer the Caernarfon Food Festival is also held here, an excellent addition to what to do in Caernarfon, Wales.
Welsh Highland Railway Trip
Caernarfon also marks one end of Snowdonia’s newest railway, the Welsh Highland Railway. Starting just beneath the walls of Caernarfon town, this train journey traces a 25 mile route through some of Wales’ most spectacular scenery.
Rising up from sea level to 650ft you’ll pass the foot of Snowdonia’s majestic mountains. The train then dramatically winds down the steep hillside to Beggelgert, deep inside Snowdonia National Park.
From there the journey travels along the gorgeous Aberglaslyn Pass, before arriving in the delightful town of Porthmadog and returning later in the day.
Alternatively if you prefer the slower pace of a traditional steam train, you can take the Ffestiniog Railway train just to Beddgelert and back.
You’ll find all the information about the different train services in this area here.
Things To Do Near Caernarfon
Speaking of Beggelgert. Even if you don’t opt to ride one of the Caernarfon train journeys, you may want to make a stop here. This small village tucked away in the valley is where the River Glaslyn meets the River Colwyn and it is seriously picturesque.
A short walk (less than a mile) from Beggelgert you’ll find the historical feature of Gelert’s Grave. The legend after which the village is reputadly named. Gelert was apparently a faithful hound of the medieval Welsh Prince Llewelyn the Great.
The folklore goes that he left his trusty dog to watch over his infant son. But when he returned he found Gelert and the ground covered in blood and the child gone. Mistakenly assuming that the dog had killed his heir, he immediately dispatched of the dog with his sword.
Only to learn after his son was nearby unharmed and the blood was in fact that of a wolf which Gelert had heroically fought off in order to protect his son. By all accounts, the grief stricken and remorseful prince never smiled again.
If you still have some energy to burn off, climbing Moel Hebog to a viewpoint overlooking the whole village is also recommended. Or if not, head instead to one of the little cafes for some coffee and cake.
Really recommended when it comes to things to do near Caernarfon, Wales.
Chill at Dinas Dinlle
Dinas Dinlle beach or Traeth Dinas Dinlle to give the welsh name is just a 15 minute drive. It’s well worth a slice of your time when considering what to do in Caernarfon for the day.
From the golden sands you can see right across the bay to both Anglesey and the Llyn Peninsula. Due to the amount of natural habitats, the area is a designated Site of Special Scientific interest. If you’re lucky you may also spot a porpoise or dolphin just off the shore.
There’s free parking, a beach cafe that serves an excellent welsh breakfast and public toilets. The beach has a Blue Flag Award and it’s pristine, calm waves are safe for swimming in.
Good Places To Eat & Drink
Osteria | Tucked away in the Hole in the Wall Street, this traditional Tuscan restaurant is a must if you have a hankering for some seriously good Italian food.
Black Boy | The oldest public house in Caernarfon, this Waterside Inn is said to be haunted with many ghosts from time gone by.
Y Gegin Fach | A short walk from Caernarfon Castle, this cafe serving traditional Welsh grub will be right up your street if you’re after some tasty comfort food.
Directions To Caernarfon
Situated along the eastern shore of the Menai Strait, opposite the Isle of Anglesey, the A487 road runs through Caernarfon between Bangor to the North and Porthmadog to the South. It therefore makes for an excellent stop off for anyone travelling between the south and North.
Places To Stay in Caernarfon
Victoria House B&B | The most highly rated place to stay in Caernarfon, elegant Victorian House dates back to the 1890’s. It’s located right near Caernarfon Castle and the waterside.
Plas Dinas Country House | Once the home of Lord Snowdon, this magnificent place is just 10 minutes from town. Expect beautiful grounds and an award winning resident chef.
Bron Menai Guest House | This homely and centrally located 4 star B&B is close to all local amenities, offers off road parking and does an excellent traditional welsh brekkie.
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