Castles in South Wales Image iof Caerphilly Castle at sunrise

35 Castles in South Wales

Best castles in South Wales and how to visit

Wales is Castle Central. According to the national tourist office there are 641, which is a huge amount for a relatively small country. And castles in South Wales make up a large proportion of these.

Our guide to the castles of South Wales covers 35 of these, from Chepstow Castle next to the English border in the east to several of the Pembrokeshire castles in the west.

Many of these South Wales castles were built by Norman invaders and their naturalized English descendants, keen to extend their power base in Wales. However, there are also many Welsh-built castles, constructed by princes to keep the Normans and English out.

The castles in southern Wales are greatly varied. There are medieval ruins such as the imposing Caerphilly Castle, fortified manor houses like Tretower Court and Weobley, the Victorian Gothic masterpiece at Cardiff Castle and medieval ruins staving off inundation by sand dunes.

They include some of the finest castles in Wales, and indeed Europe. Our castles in south Wales guide also includes information on getting to them and whether or not there is ticketed entry.  

Caerphilly CAstle Image of CAerphilly Castle in the snow. One of the best castles in Wales
Caerphilly Castle in the snow
Image of Caerphilly Castle at night in snow. One of the best castles in South Wales

Castles in South Wales – An Introduction

Image of Llansteffan Castle South Wales UK from the air
Llansteffan Castle from the air

The region of South Wales has hundreds of castles, including some of the best castles in Europe

It was fought over in the aftermath of the Norman Conquest (1066) and this continued for over 200 years, until England’s King Edward I finally subjugated the Welsh principality of Gwynedd (in North Wales) in 1282

Many of the castles south Wales has are of Norman origin, built by the conquerors of England to extend their authority into the Welsh kingdoms

Some of the South Wales castles were also built by the Welsh princes – especially in the kingdom of Deheubarth, in West Wales

Image of Kidwelly Castle Soluth wales UK
KIdwelly Castle

These castles were still in operation until the early 15th century, when many of them came under attack from the rebel Welsh prince Owain Glyndwr

Many of them also saw action in the English Civil War of 1642-1648

Most Welsh castles fell into disrepair after this time, being rediscovered as romantic ruins by lovers of the Picturesque from the late 18th century onwards

Many South Wales castles are managed by Cadw, the ancient monuments department of the Welsh Government

35 of The Best Castles in South Wales

1.Cardiff Castle

Image of Cardiff Castle Wales in spring
Cardiff Castle from Bute Park in spring
Image of Cardiff city skyline from Cardiff Castle keep
Cardiff skyline and Principality Stadium from Cardiff Castle keep

Cardiff Castle is one of the top tourist attractions in Wales, and possibly the most varied Welsh castle of the lot.

Some of the outer walls date back to the 3rd century AD, and the Norman keep tower from the 12th century.

Don’t miss the climb up steep stone steps for a great view of the Cardiff skyline.

After being attacked during the revolt of Owain Glyndwr in 1404, it was taken twice during the 1642-1648 Civil War. It was then developed as a stately home, most notably by the enormously wealthy industrialist the 3rd Marquess of Bute.

He commissioned Victorian architect William Burges to remodel the west wing and tower, and it’s one of the finest – and most sumptuously decorated – Gothic Revival buildings in the world.

2. Caerphilly Castle

Image of Caerphilly Castle in snow Wales UK
Caerphilly Castle in snow

Caerphilly Castle – Castell Caerffili – is the largest castle in Wales by area. It’s a real medieval monster, covering an area of over 30 acres.

It was built in 1268 for Norman Marcher lord Gilbert de Clare to control the Caerphilly basin and to thwart local Welsh leaders.

It’s one of the most impressive castles Wales has, built to a concentric design with inner and outer wards and a series of lakes providing water defences – which also make it one of the most picturesque castles in Wales.

It’s widely known for its leaning tower, which out-leans that of Pisa. The story was that Oliver Cromwell blew it up during the Civil War of 1642-1648, but it’s more likely that it was used as a quarry for the nearby Van Manor House, on a hill overlooking the Castle, in the 16th century.

I grew up within ¼ mile (400 metres) of the Castle, and have to say it has improved enormously as a visitor attraction in recent years.

There is now access to far more areas of the Castle, and there’s a fire-breathing dragon in a pit for the kids. Definitely one for the Wales bucket list.

Location: Caerphilly (20 minutes by train from Cardiff Central).

Type: Medieval 1268

Prices & Opening Hours: Check website here

Other Castles nearby: Cardiff Castle & Castle Coch

3. Castell Coch

Image of Castell Coch castle near Cardiff Wales
The fairytale Castell Coch has been voted the most popular building in Wales

Castell Coch – the Red Castle – looks out over Cardiff and the Taff Gorge from the forest outside the village of Tongwynlais.

It’s a very striking sight, and has long been one of the most popular landmarks in Wales. What you see today is a 19th century Gothic Revival rebuild on the site of an earlier fortification destroyed in the early 14th century.

Castell Coch – sometimes anglicized to Castle Coch – was built by architect William Burges for the Third Marquess of Bute, for whom he also worked on Cardiff Castle.

From the outside it looks like something out of a fairytale with its conical towers peeking out above the surrounding trees. Inside, it’s a lavish High Victorian extravaganza, with the intricately painetd and carved Drawing Room and the Moorish style Lady Bute’s Bedroom.

Getting there: by bus 26 or 132 from Cardiff, then a 15-minute walk. The nearest train station is Taffs Well, 25 minutes’ walk away

Operated by: Cadw

Entry: with tickets, see Cadw’s Castell Coch page for more information

4. St Fagans Castle

Image of St Fagans Castle Cardiff Wales UK
St Fagans Castle is part of the National Museum of History

St Fagans Castle is actually a large manor house, built around 1590.

St Fagans is a small village on the outskirts of Cardiff which is also home to Wales’ National Museum of History.

In 1946, the Earl of Plymouth donated the castle and surrounding area for use as a national open-air museum.

St Fagans is one of the best places to visit in Wales and one of the best day trips from Cardiff, with around forty buildings from around Wales painstakingly taken down and reconstructed around the site.

The formal gardens around the Castle are beautiful throughout the year, especially during spring.

Getting there: bus 320 from Cardiff or by car

Operated by: St Fagans National Museum of History

Entry: free

5. Chepstow Castle

Image of Chepstow Castle Wales at night
Chepstow Castle and the River Wye at night

It’s one of the biggest castles in Wales, and one of the earliest. Chepstow Castle (Castell Cas-gwent) was the first Norman castle to be built in Wales, begun the year after the Norman Conquest in 1067 right next to the river Wye which is the historic border between Wales and England.  

Chepstow Castle is one of the finest castles South Wales has, and it was used as a springboard to conquer the Welsh kingdom of Gwent – roughly corresponding to today’s Monmouthshire and Newport counties.

There are plenty of things to do near Chepstow, including a visit to nearby Caldicot Castle and the stunning romantic ruin at Tintern Abbey.

Getting there: Chepstow is on the Cardiff-Gloucester-Nottingham train line, and on several local bus and National express coach routes

Operated by: Cadw

Entry: with tickets – see Cadw’s Chepstow Castle page for details

6. Raglan Castle

Image of Raglan Castle South Wales UK
Raglan Castle in springtime

One of the prime castles in Monmouthshire, Raglan Castle was one of the last medieval castles to be built in Wales.

It was begun in the 15th century, at a time when existing castles were being modified and turned into grand residences, so Raglan was both formidable militarily and an impressive status symbol.

It was transformed by Sir Willliam ap Thomas and his son, William Herbert, and was widely recognized as one of the finest castles in Britain at the time.

Its main military action came during the Civil War, when it eventually succumbed to a long siege by the Parliamentarians in 1646.

Getting there: by bus from Newport or Monmouth, or by road on the A40 or A449

Operated by: Cadw

Entry: with tickets – see Cadw’s Raglan page for details

7. Fonmon Castle

Image of Fonmon Castle Vale of Glamorgan South Wales
Fonmon Castle, a stately home within an 800-year-old castle

Fonmon Castle is one of the newer places to visit near Cardiff.

The Castle dates back to 1180, and remarkably has only ever been lived in by three families in over 800 years.

It has been developed as a tourist attraction in recent years, with a medieval farm, wildlife walks and dinosaurs around the Fonmon estate.

It’s within easy reach of Cardiff, just off the B4265 road that runs through the south of the Vale of Glamorgan, and just outside the perimeter of Cardiff Airport.

Getting there: it’s just off the B4265, to the west of Cardiff Airport

Operated by:

Entry: ticketed

8. Old Beaupre Castle

Image of Old Beaupre Castle Vale of Glamorgan South Wales UK
Old Beaupre, a castle converted into a manor house in the Vale of Glamorgan countryside

Deep in the Vale of Glamorgan countryside to the west of Cardiff, the ruins of Old Beaupre Castle can be found among fields and farmland. 

It’s part-castle (dating from the 13th century) and part manor house, the latter having been added in the late 16th century Tudor period.

It’s one of the least known castles near Cardiff, but if you’re in the area well worth a detour. The nearest town is Cowbridge.

Getting there: by car is the only real option, it’s 1 mile (1.6 km) from the village of St Hilary, which is just off the main A48 road

Operated by: Cadw

Entry: free

9. Ogmore Castle

Image of Ogmore Castle South WSales UK
Ogmore Castle and its famous stepping stones

Ogmore Castle, which may have been founded as early as the late 11th century, is built on a strategic site overlooking the Ogmore River (Afon Ogwr in Welsh).

It would have been of considerable size at its peak, which was prior to the attack by Owain Glyndwr’s forces in the early 1400s.  It’s one of the most iconic attractions in South Wales, at least among locals, because of the ancient stepping-stones which cross the river next to the Castle.

Check the tide times before visiting – if you plan to make the crossing, only attempt it at low tide as the tidal currents on the Ogmore River are among the strongest I’ve seen anywhere.

Getting there: it’s on the B4524 road, and bus 303 from Bridgend also stops close by

Operated by: Cadw

Entry: free

10. Coity Castle

Image of Coity Castle Bridgend South Wales UK
Coity Castle in silhouette

Coity Castle – Castell Coety – dominates the small village of the same name on the outskirts of the town of Bridgend.

It was founded in the 12th century by Sir Payn de Turberville, one of the Twelve Knights of Glamorgan who conquered the south Wales county for Robert Fitzhamon, Lord of Gloucester.

The living quarters were remodelled in the 16th century – the chimneys you see in the photograph date from this time.

Overall it’s considerably more impressive than the nearby Newcastle Castle, on a hill across the river from Bridgend town centre.

Getting there: 2 miles (3 km) north of Bridgend off the A4061

Operated by: Cadw

Entry: free

11. Candleston Castle

Image of Candleston Castle and Merthyr Mawr sand dunes Wales UK
Candleston Castle – still holding its ground against the encroaching sand dunes

Candleston Castle is well off the beaten path Wales.

One of the smaller castles of Wales, it’s located at the edge of Merthyr Mawr Warren, a vast dune system around 1 km from the pretty village of the same name, and a similar distance as the crow flies from Ogmore Castle.

It’s a fortified manor house built in the 14th century, and its name is believed to derive from the Cantilupe family who were long-term tenants.

It is situated right next to one of the highestthe Merthyr Mawr sand dunes, which are constantly moving towards the woodland and Castle.

Getting there: by road, 1 mile from Merthyr Mawr village in Bridgend County

Privately owned

Entry:  free

12. Margam Castle

Image of Margam Castle Port Talbot Wales UK
Margam Castle and its superb Country Park

Margam Castle is an early Victorian mock-Gothic castle, built for the wealthy industrialist Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot, who founded the nearby town and ironworks of Port Talbot.

It’s the centrepiece of the beautiful Margam Country Park less than five minutes’ drive off the M4 motorway, which also includes an ancient herd of deer and a medieval abbey church.

Getting there: it’s just off the A48 5 miles from Port Talbot

Operated by: Neath Port Talbot County Council

Entry: free

13. Cyfarthfa Castle

Image of Cyfarthfa Castle Merthyr Tydfil Wales
Cyfarthfa Castle is surrounded by a beautiful Park

Cyfarthfa Castle is a castellated 19th century mansion, complete with an array of towers and turrets, built by the local Ironmaster, William Crawshay II.

Crawshay could see his Cyfarthfa Ironworks from the property, lighting up the sky at night. Merthyr Tydfil was, for a time, the iron-producing capital of the world, and made him and his family extraordinarily wealthy, while his workers lived in squalor and had to contend with outbreaks of cholera. 

The Cyfarthfa Castle Museum is well worth an hour of your time, and the surrounding Cyfarthfa Park a most pleasant spot to linger.

Getting there: it’s on Brecon Road, just off the A470 and A465 Heads of the Valleys Road. Several buses from Merthyr Tydfil bus station stop at the Park entrance.

Operated by: Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council

Entry: the Park and Gardens are free to enter, while there’re is a small charge for entry to the Museum inside the Castle

14. Tretower Court & Castle

Image of Tretower Castle Powys South Wales UK
Tretower Castle cathcing the last light of the day

Tretower Castle is an impressive fortress dating from the late 12th and 13th centuries which once withstood an attack from the army of Welsh prince Owain Glyndwr.

It was built and owned by the Picard family, who later added residential buildings a short distance. Gradually the new buildings – Tretower Court – superseded the original Castle.

The Court is a superb example of a fortified medieval manor house, and it’s an extraordinary state of preservation. It’s one of the finest historic sites in Wales and one of the best things to see in the Brecon Beacons.

Getting there: on the A40 from Abergavenny or Brecon

Operated by: Cadw

Entry: ticketed – see Cadw’s Tretower page for details

15. Weobley Castle

Image of Weobley Castle Gower Peninsula Wales UK
Weobley Castle overlooking the north Gower coast

Weobley Castle is well off the beaten path but one of the Gower attractions you should try to make time to see.

It’s a fortified manor house built by the wealthy de la Bere family, who were stewards to the Lord of Gower, William de Braose.

It was built in the early 14th century in a strategic position overlooking the north Gower coast, including the vast Llanrhidian saltmarshes, the Loughor estuary and the coast of eastern Carmarthenshire.

Getting there: the 116 Gower bus stops right outside, otherwise follow the minor road to Llanmadoc, it’s on your right

Operated by: Cadw

Entry – ticketed – see Cadw’s Weobley Castle page for details

16. Oxwich Castle

Much of the original Oxwich Castle – overlooking wondrous Oxwich Bay beach – was built over in the 16th century by Sir Rice Mansel.

What you see today is a fortified late-medieval manor house built as a residential country house to impress their friends and peers. It was later used as a farmhouse, and narrowly avoided demolition in the 20th century.

Getting there: the 117 bus stops close by, but car is much more convenient

Operated by: Cadw

Entry: ticketed – see Cadw’s Oxwich Castle page for details

17. Pennard Castle

Image of Pennard Castle Three Cliffs Bay Gower Wales
Pennard Castle and its picturesque valley below

The romantic ruin of Pennard Castle overlooks one of the finest Gower beaches, Three Cliffs Bay.

What remains is one of the smallest South Wales castles, but it has survived around 800 years. We know that it was in the ownership of prominent local lord William de Braose around the end of the 13th century.

It was built to guard the valley of the Pennard Pill below, but gradually fell into disrepair because of the encroachment of massive sand dunes.

The Castle is one of the most intriguing things to see in the Gower Peninsula, and the views from there over Three Cliffs Bay are exceptional.

Finally, one for fact fans, it’s the only Castle in Wales located on a golf course (Pennard Golf Club).

Getting there: on foot from Parkmill, Penmaen or Pennard Cliffs. The nearest place to park is Penmaen.

Privately owned

Tickets: Access is free at all times

18. Oystermouth Castle

Image of Oystermoputh Castle Swansea Wales
Oystermouth Castle overlooks Swansea Bay and the Mumbles

Oystermouth Castle overlooks the village of Mumbles, the seaside village suburb of Wales’ second largest city, Swansea.

It may not be one of the most famous castles in Wales, but Mumbles is one of the best days out in south Wales and the Castle is only a short walk up the hill from the shore and fascinating for all ages.

Much of what you see today dates from the 12th century and it spent a considerable time as the fortified residence of the Lords of Gower, the aforementioned de Braose family.

It’s surrounded by a lovely park, and a climb to the top of the gatehouse is rewarded by a splendid view of Mumbles, its Pier and lighthouse.

Getting there: buses 2, 2A and 3A from Swansea bus station all pass very close

Operated by: City of Swansea Council

Tickets: Yes

19. Dinefwr Castle

Image of Dinefwr Castle South Wales UK
Dinefwr Castle and the River Tywi

Dinefwr Castle, a mile or so (2 km) west of the market town of Llandeilo, looks fairly small from across the river Tywi, but don’t be deceived – this was the seat of the west Wales kingdom of Deheubarth.

For a period during the 12th century it oversaw a period of prosperity and cultural growth, but this came to an end after the death of Lord Rhys. 

One of the most important castles in south west Wales, it can be visited via the National Trust’s Dinefwr Park, which also includes historic Newton House and an 18th century landscaped garden and Deer Park.

Getting there: 1 mile west of Llandeilo town centre

Operated by: Cadw

Entry: free, but if you’re travelling by car there’s a £5 parking fee unless you have National Trust membership, in which case it’s free

20. Dryslwyn Castle

Dryslwyn Castle, a few miles downstream from Dinefwr Castle, is another Welsh-built castle, part of a network of Deheubarth castles guarding the strategically important Tywi Valley.

It’s located on a small hilltop overlooking the river and with a view of local landmark Paxton’s Tower. It’s a magnificent site, and if you happen to be in the area with a sunrise in the offing, it’s well worth the climb for some awesome early-morning views. 

The castle, like its neighbours, eventually fell into English hands.

Getting there: It’s on the B4297 between Llandeilo and Carmarthen

Operated by: Cadw

Entry: free

21. Carreg Cennen Castle

Image of Carreeg Cennen Castle South Wales
Carreg Cennen Castle, the most dramatically sited castle in Wales

Carreg Cennen Castle is probably the most dramatic – and romantic – of all the Welsh castles.

It is a Welsh-built castle, one of several in the medieval kingdom of Deheubarth, though it was eventually captured by English forces and subsequently remodelled by the new occupants

Carreg Cennen attracts relatively few visitors because of its remoteness and lack of public transport links – the nearest train station is 4 miles (6 km) away.

But it is so worth the effort – I’d go so far as to say that it’s one of the best things to do in south Wales.  We rate it one of the most beautiful castles in Europe because of its setting – atop a sheer limestone cliff, overlooking a valley below, and in the shadow of the brooding Black Mountain escarpment.

It’s also a unique visitor experience – you enter through a farmyard, before climbing the steep hill to the ruins.

Getting there: by minor road to the village of Trap from Llandeilo

Operated by : Cadw

Entry: ticketed – see Cadw’s Carreg Cennen page for details

22. Kidwelly Castle

Image of Kidwelly Castle Wales
Kidwelly Castle and the Gwendraeth River

Kidwelly is one of the most formidable castles in Wales, a stout, solid fortress with its origins in the 12th century.

It guards the Gwendraeth Fawr river as it approaches its estuary in Carmarthen Bay, where we will encounter several other castles in west Wales.

Kidwelly Castle’s moment in the spotlight came in 1403 when it was besieged by the army of rebel Welsh prince Owain Glyndwr.

This was a prince who captured Harlech Castle, one of the finest castles in North Wales, but he could not crack Kidwelly.

The castle also famously featured in the first scene of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, moments before the argument with the guards about whether or not a swallow could carry a coconut. 

Getting there: by train from Cardiff, Swansea or Carmarthen, or by road it’s just off the A484 Llanelli-Carmarthen road

Operated by: Cadw

Entry: ticketed – details on Cadw’s Kidwelly Castle page

23. Carmarthen Castle

Image of Carmarthen Castle Wales UK
Carmarthen Castle

Carmarthen Castle – Castell Caerfyrddin –  is a medieval castle overlooking the river Tywi in the county town – and the largest in the area – of Carmarthenshire.

The stone castle originates from the 12th century, and has served both as a fortification and prison. It is one of the most blighted castles in Wales because the ugly County Hall building was thrown up next to it in the 1930s.

But looking on the bright side some space has been cleared around it, greatly improving the view in the process. 

Getting there: Good rail and bus links from all over south and west Wales; by car via the A40

Operated by: Carmarthenshire County Council

Entry: free

24. Llansteffan Castle

Image of Llansteffan Castle Carmarthenshire Wales at sunset
Llansteffan Castle and the Tywi estuary at sunset

Llansteffan Castle occupies one of the most dramatic sites of all castles in southern Wales,on a cliff overlooking the estuary of the river Tywi – one of the most beautiful rivers in Wales – on the Carmarthenshire coast.

The best views of the castle are from across the estuary at the village of Ferryside. The site was inhabited and fortified as far back as the Iron Age, and the castle dates from the 13th century.

It was built by the Normans, and changed hands between them and the Welsh on numerous occasions, falling to Owain Glyndwr at one stage.

Getting there: by bus from Carmarthen, or via the B4312 by road

Operated by Cadw

Entry: free

25. Laugharne Castle

Image of Laugharne Castle South Wales UK
Laugharne Castle

Laugharne Castle – Castell Talacharn – sits on the ‘heron-priested shore’ of the Taf estuary, a short walk from the boathouse where Welsh poet Dylan Thomas resided and wrote for several years.

Its foundation was in the 12th century, and it went back and forth between English and Welsh hands several times before being ransacked by the latter in 1257.

The Castle also played a pivotal part in Owain Glyndwr’s rebellion, which faltered there with an ambush costing him 700 of his men.

Part of it was later turned into a Tudor mansion by Sir John Perrott in the late 16th century, and it saw action during the Civil war in the 1640s.

Getting there: by the 222 bus from Carmarthen, or by road via the A4066 from St Clears

Operated by: Cadw

Entry: tickets – see Cadw for more details

26. Manorbier Castle

Image of Manorbier Castle Pembrokeshire Wales
Manorbier Castle with daffodils in springtime

One of the best things to do near Tenby is to seek out the village of Manorbier, a few miles west of the town.

First stop is the superb 12th century castle – one of the first castles I visited as a child, so full of special memories for me – which overlooks a valley on one side and the lovely Manorbier Beach on the other.

There is also a 12th century church – St James’s – just across the valley, and some of the most enjoyable walking on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path either side of the beach.

Getting there: via the B4585 from Tenby; the 349 bus from Tenby also stops outside

Operated by:

Entry: ticketed

27. Pembroke Castle

Pembroke Castle is the mightiest of the Pembrokeshire Castles, occupying a small hill above the Pembroke River Mill Pond.

It’s around a mile (1.6 km) from the strategically vital Milford Haven waterway, and was built by the powerful William Marshal in the late 12th and early 13th centuries.

The largest of the Pembrokeshire castles was also the birthplace of Harri Tudur, who would become king Henry VII of England in 1485.

Getting there: it’s located in Pembroke town centre, with good road, bus and rail links

Operated by:

Entry: ticketed

27. Carew Castle

Image of Carew Castle Wales UK
Carew Castle has a wonderful riverside setting

A trip to Carew Castle – Castell Caeriw – is one of the best things to do in Pembrokeshire.

It’s one of the most beautiful castles in Wales, in a magnificent position on the bank of the tidal River Carew.

The first castle was founded there by Gerald de Windsor in the early 12th century, and it was eventually rebuilt in stone, going through the iterations from military castle to Elizabethan (late 16th century) manor house.

The 18th century Tidal Mill is also worth a visit, and be sure not to miss the Carew Cross, one of the finest Celtic crosses in Wales, next to the car park.

Getting there: Carew is near the junction of the A477 and A4075, and buses 360 and 361 pass close by

Operated by: Pembrokeshire Coast National Park

Entry: ticketed

28. Llawhaden Castle

Llawhaden is probably one of the least-known places to visit in Pembrokeshire, hidden off the main A40 road to the east of county town Haverfordwest.

It comes as a very pleasant surprise, its imposing gstehouse at the end of a pretty country lane. It wasn’t a military castle, rather a fortified palace for the Bishops of St David’s, built on an earlier site by Bishop David Martin in the 14th century.

Getting there: 1 mile north of the A40 6 miles east of Haverfordwest

Operated by: Cadw

Entry: free

29. Picton Castle

Image of Picton Castle Pembrokeshire Wales UK
Picton Castle, one of the grandest stately homes in Wales

Picton Castle, like Fonmon in the Vale of Glamorgan, started out as a bona fide medieval fortified castle, only to be transformed into a grand stately home centuries later.

It was in the ownership of the Philipps family for over 400 years, and some time during this period the Walled Gardens were developed.

The Castle can be seen on a guided tour, and the Gardens can be visited without a guide,. There is also a Lawnmower Museum on the site.

It’s located a few miles to the east of the town of Haverfordwest, and is fairly low profile, but one of the most surprising Pembrokeshire attractions.

Getting there: by minor road off the A4o 4 miles (6 km) east of Haverfordwest

Operated by:

Entry: ticketed

30. Skenfrith Castle

Image of Skenfrith Castle Monmouthshire Wales
Skenfrith Castle in the Monmouthshire countryside

The Three Castles walk in Monmouthshire is one of the best walks in South Wales, and Skenfrith Castle (Castell Ynysgynwraidd) is my favourite place on the route.

It’s situated within metres of the English border and the slow, drifting River Monnow, with a fine medieval church to one side and one of the best restaurants in Wales, The Bell at Skenfrith, across the road.

It’s also the most picturesque of the three Border Castles, surrounded by green hills with a fine central keep tower protected by lower red stone walls.

Getting there: By car north of Monmouth via the B4347 and B4521

Operated by: Cadw

Entry: free

31. Grosmont Castle

Image of Grosmont Castle South Wales UK
Formidable Grosmont Castle

A drive around the Three Castles makes for one of the most enjoyable days out South Wales has to offer.

Grosmont is one of the prettiest villages in south Wales with some lovely cottages along the quiet main street.

The Castle, a short walk away, is another Norman stronghold built to quell Welsh insurgency. It’s an impressive ruin surrounded by a deep ditch, and compared to some of our other castles in South Wales saw very little action. It was besieged by Owain Glyndwr during his uprising in the early 1400s, but held firm.

Getting there: it’s 10 miles (15 km) north-east of Abergavenny, and just off the main A465 Abergavenny to Hereford road on the B4347

Operated by: Cadw

Entry: free

32. White Castle

The third of the Three Castles lordship is White Castle, Castell Gwyn, which can be found in the remote Monmouthshire countryside near the village of Llantilio Crossenny, to the east of the town of Abergavenny.

It’s the most imposing of the three, possibly built by William fitz Osbern, Earl of Hereford. It was built to consolidate the Norman hold on the region, changing hands between Hubert de Burgh and rival William de Braose at one point in the 13th century.

After the Welsh threat diminished with Edward I’s invasion in 1282, things quietened down andf by the 16th century it had fallen out of use.

Getting there: by car, via minor road from llanvetherine village on the B4521

Operated by: Cadw

Entry: ticketed, see Cadw’s White Castle page for further details

33. Hay Castle

Image of Hay Castle Hay-on-Wye Powys South Wales UK
Hay Castle is surrounded by bookshops

The Welsh borderlands were a turbulent place in the early Middle Ages, and the bucolic booktown of Hay-on-Wye was no exception.

Hay Castle was built in the 13th century by local Lord William de Braose, who had his fingers in a great many pies across South Wales at the time.

The Castle was taken by Welsh Prince Llywelyn Fawr (Llywelyn the Great) in 1231 and later rebuilt under the auspices of English King Henry III.

The keep tower survives from this period, along with the adjacent partially intact Jacobean (early 17th century) mansion. For any years the Castle housed a bookshop, and the grounds still house a large Honesty Bookshop.

Browsing here has always been one of the best things to do in Hay-on-Wye, which still has around 15-20 bookshops.

Hay Castle is in the process of being resotoed and turned into an arts and learning centre, due to open in 2021.

Getting there: It’s in Hay-on-Wye town centre

Operated by: Hay Castle Trust

Entry – prior to restoration, entry was always free

34. Roch Castle

Have you ever thought of staying in a castle? One of the best things to do in St Davids, the tiny cathedral city in the far south-west of Wales, is to stay at Roch Castle, a restored 12th century castle overlooking the glorious Pembrokeshire coast.

Like Llawhaden, it was built by Norman knight Adam de Rupe on the ‘Landsker’ line, an invisible boundary between southern, English-controlled Pembrokeshire and the Welsh-occupied north of the county.

It’s now a six-room 5-star hotel, and an amazing and atmospheric place to stay. 

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David Angel
David Angel is a British writer and photographer who has been travelling and photographing Europe for over 25 years.  His work is regularly featured in worldwide media including the BBC, the Guardian, the Times and the Sunday Times.