The Top 12 Things to Do in Caernarfon, Wales

View from Black Tower

Caernarfon was one of the towns recommended to me to explore on my six weeks housesitting this past summer. And it did not disappoint! The city of Caernarfon has so much to offer you on your visit from great restaurants, pubs, shops, entertainment, magnificently preserved castle, historical explorations, and Instagram worthy spots galore. Here are the top twelve things to do in Caernarfon, Wales.

The Walled TownGate on the Walls surrounding Caernarfon

Caernarfon, as the administrative center of North Wales during Edward I’s reign, warranted impressive defenses. And it got them at an extravagant price of £25,000 that would cost over £15 million today. The walls were built while the castle was under construction to protect it. In 1283 the walls were completed and included two gatehouses, eight towers, and is over 2,400 feet long that completely encloses the town. The Walled Town - Things to do in Caernarfon

Caernarfon CastleView of Caernarfon Castle from Queen's Gate

Edward I’s fortress-palace and part of the Iron Ring inspired by Roman Architecture is a fantastic castle to explore. King Edward, motivated to build this castle to control traffic along the Menai Strait, completed it in less than five years by 1287. It is by far one of the most elaborate castles that he did build. The design is unique with its figure-eight design and the only castle to have twelve multi-angled towers that are octagonal, hexagonal, and even ten-sided. These towers were more difficult to build than the traditional round towers in the other castles that Edward built during the same time. The castle is under the care of Cadw, and if you have a membership, you can get in free, which I did several times. Otherwise, admission is £9.90. Opening hours are from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. or 6 p.m. in the summertime. You can check open times here. Expect to spend a few hours to a half-day here exploring all the towers, walls, museums, exhibits, or spend some time in the courtyard relaxing. The King's Gate - things to do in Caernarfon

Game of CrownsGame of Crowns Chessboard

This giant chessboard gives an interesting historical perspective of the evolution of the Prince of Wales title. The life-sized chess pieces are color-coded to show white for the English and red for the Welsh. Each monarch and prince is depicted by size showing their importance and how powerful they were. There is a timeline for each monarch and prince leading up to the actual slate stool and throne used by Queen Elizabeth II during the investiture of Prince Charles in 1969 at Caernarfon Castle. You can find this chessboard in the Eagle Tower.

Queen EleanorQueen Eleanor Diorama - Getting married to Edward

Eleanor of Castile became King Edward’s Queen at the age of 12; he was 14. She was a well-educated princess, became a strong businesswoman with her land acquisitions, and had a strong cultural influence on the nation. She did all of these accomplishments while boring Edward six children, which one is the first Prince of Wales. You can see a beautiful diorama of her life in the Eagle Tower of the Castle.

When she died, Edward had crosses made as a memorial and placed at each stop on the funeral route. The inscription he wrote for his wife is moving, “who living we dearly cherished and whom dead we cannot cease to love.” Theirs is a surprising love match for arranged marriages back then.

Royal Welch Fusiliers MuseumRoyal Welch Fusiliers Museum

The Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum is a permanent exhibition within the Queen’s Tower in Caernarfon Castle. This museum is dedicated to the 300 years of service by the historic regiment of the British Army, the Fusiliers. There are uniforms, guns, medals, and memorabilia on display through a large section of the castle. The exhibit will probably be a little boring for children, but if you are interested in history, this is a fantastic museum. Admission is free with entry to the castle.Militia Uniforms in the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum Uniforms in the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum

Aber Swing BridgeAber Swing Bridge

One of the best vantage points for a landscape photo of Caernarfon Castle can be achieved by crossing the Aber Swing Bridge. This pedestrian-only bridge swings to allow boats on Afon Seiont. There are beautiful pathways to a park on the opposite side of the castle.Aber Swing Bridge and Caernarfon CastleCaernarfon Castle and Afon Seiont

Caernarfon Town CenterMerry-go-round in Caernarfon Town Center

After exploring the castle, take a short walk to the town center. You will find a colorful merry-go-round for the kids and many options for lunch or snacks. Most of the restaurants have outdoor seating. So, if the weather is cooperating, you can enjoy your meal outdoors. After enjoying a leisurely lunch, take a walk and browse through the shops or photograph all the colorful buildings up and down the streets of the town. Supporting local businesses is always something I enjoy doing, and hopefully, you do too.Colorful shops in CaernarfonColorful buildings in Caernarfon

Welsh Highland RailwayWelsh Highland Railway

On a separate trip to Caernarfon, I scheduled a ride on the Welsh Highland Railway. The train ride is a half-day round trip through the stunning landscape of Snowdonia to Porthmadog, which is another lovely little harbor town. You can schedule seats in a Pullman car, sit inside or outside in an open-air car. I choose to be one of the crazy few that sat in the open-air car even through the rain so that I could get photos on either side of the train. Although I did go inside to eat a bacon bap sandwich in the dining car. Welsh Heritage Train

Caernarfon StreetAerial View of Caernarfon Street

In the summer months, you can enjoy some Instagram moments on Caernarfon Street. You will find 170 colorful umbrellas overhead. While you are enjoying a meal in one of the restaurants or just pretending that you are holding them, these umbrellas are beautiful and add to the wonderment of this town. Caernarfon is trying to woo more visitors and boost its economy with this and other art projects around the city. I can’t wait to go back and see what they’ve come up with next.Colorful Umbrellas on Caernarfon Street

The Book CaveInside the Book Cave in Caernarfon

As most of my friends and family know that I love reading print books. Nothing beats having a couple of books by the bedside and picking one up to read before I fall asleep. Traveling makes it challenging to carry books as I tend to buy one at any bookstore that I go in. This is where will power comes in. I was surprised to find the Book Cave inside a Jewelry store. I went into the building to see what kind of selection they had, and they have more than I thought in this little store. Bookshelves are overfilling with books upstairs and even more in the basement. Be forewarned that the basement has a musty smell that some people might not like or able to endure for a while. But, if you can, there are some exciting finds down there.The Book Cave

Nemo’s Fish & ChipsNemo's Fish & Chips - things to do in Caernarfon

No trip to the UK would be complete without eating Fish and Chips. Sometimes for picky eaters like me, fish and chips is a safe bet for a meal. And Nemo’s Fish and Chips restaurant makes excellent fish and chips. This was without the standard mushy peas, but I didn’t miss those at all. The fish was perfectly cooked with a crunchy outside covering a flaky inside. And it is a perfect portion size to give you an energy boost to finish exploring Caernarfon.

Bar BachBar Bach

If you are looking for a place to wet your whistle while exploring Caernarfon, step into the Bar Bach. This self-proclaimed smallest bar in Wales is a great place to grab a pint. You can even order some food to take a break from exploring this fabulous town.

Street ArtWoman and Owl

Street art, murals, or graffiti, whatever you want to call them, is a beautiful way to express your feelings, beliefs, dreams, or show off your talent. Caernarfon hasn’t a lot of murals that I’ve found. Although the two that I have found are amazing! They are definitely on par with the ones that I have seen in Bratislava, New York City, and Detroit. I’m wondering if there are more hiding in this town.Street Art in Caernarfon

Afon SeiontAerial view of Afon Seiont

The Afon Seiont runs on the south side of the castle into the Menai Strait. It is believed that supplies for the castle took this route and were brought up to the Queen’s gate as the harbor entrance. Spending time in Wales, I am fascinated by sailors that moor their boats in the middle of the river. I have a hard time figuring out how they get to their boats when the tide comes in. But, somehow, they do.View of Caernarfon from Afon Seiont

SummaryAerial view of Caernarfon Castle

Caernarfon is slowly becoming one of my favorite towns in North Wales. Alright, there are a few contenders for the top spot, but this is one of them. So much so, that I visited Caernarfon several times during the summer. I kept coming back and finding more things to do and am still looking forward to returning soon. I hope that you enjoyed this list of things to do in Caernarfon and found something worth trying out when you visit. Let me know if I missed anything that needs to be on this list, and I’ll make updates.

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Further Reading

If you are coming to Wales for a visit, check out these posts for further travel inspiration:

4 Comments

  • Cindy 23February2020 at 11:24 AM Reply

    My husband’s family comes from the Caernarfon area, so it is on our list for our summer travels. Excited to see that it is such a great place to visit for other reasons too!

    • Heather 23February2020 at 2:12 PM Reply

      Caernarfon is a great town and I plan on going back again to see more of the Roman ruins. I didn’t even get to that part of the town last summer. So much to see so little time…

  • Lisa 21January2020 at 2:51 AM Reply

    I visited Caernarfon a couple of years ago and loved it so much there! This post really brought me back! 🙂

    • Heather 21January2020 at 11:06 AM Reply

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Lisa!

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