Castle Culture in Wales: 7 must-visit castles near Cardiff

Wales has more castles per square mile than any other country in the world. If you want to really get to know the country you have to visit one… here are seven within easy reach of Cardiff. 

Wales, the ‘Castle Capital’, is more per square mile than anywhere in the world, famous for the rich and longstanding castle culture. With over 600 castles, wherever you go on holiday in Wales you won’t be too far from a historic site.

If you want to be away from the hustle and bustle of the city and are planning a historical day out on weekend, then there are some good destinations around Cardiff.

Caerphilly Castle 

Caerphilly Castle is the biggest castle in Wales and the second only to Windsor in the whole of Britain. It covers a total of 30 acres, three times the size of Principality Stadium. In addition to its immense size, Caerphilly castle has another special feature – a leaning tower, which is even more eccentric than the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The man-made lake surrounding this 13th century castle is also considered by historian Allen Brown to be “the most elaborate water defences in all Britain”.

Distance: 12km

Driving Time: 28min


Caerleon Roman Fortress and Baths 

Caerleon Roman Fortress and Baths was like the leisure complex for the civilians who lived here 2,000 years ago. And it is absolutely a good choice for a rainy-day trip as the heated changing rooms, hot and cold baths and an open-air swimming pool are all now safely undercover. If you come here, you can not only but also experience the daily life of former residents of Roman Isca with interactive items covering everything from cosmetics to clothing, gambling to military equipment. 

Distance: 32km

Driving Time: 40min


Castell Coch 

Castell Coch, or the “Red Castle”, is a 19th-century Gothic Revival castle built and regularly voted by the public as their favourite building in Wales. Castell Coch is a beautiful castle of the Victorian era, you are able to imagine the magnificence of the medieval period when you walk into it. David McLees has describe it as “one of the greatest Victorian triumphs of architectural composition.”

Distance: 11km

Driving Time: 25min


Chepstow Castle

Chepstow Castle is the oldest surviving post-Roman stone fortification in England, and has the oldest wooden castle doors in Europe. Here, you can see how the castle has evolved to be a fortress which are more adaptable to destructive weapons. This castle towers above the River Wye and is an important gateway to Wales.

Distance: 52km

Driving Time: 48min


Llancaiach Fawr Manor

The historical Manor House has been restored and furnished as it would have been in 1645. Visitors step inside to be taken on a journey back to the 17th Century. You can have an first person interactive experience with staff dressed up as castle servants, and immerse in the Civil War era. What’s even more interesting is that Llancaiach Fawr hosts an annual ghost tour season, if you dare to experience the grotesque, here is a must-go for you.

Distance : 29km

Driving Time : 45min


Fonmon Castle

Fonmon Castle is a 12th Century castle and is the last residential castle in Wales. Now it also become an immersive attractions for family trips. It’s more of an amusement park than a site. There are not only medieval grange and Welsh folklore story trail, but also multiple play areas, woodland walks, and children can even experience Jurassic Wales here. If you and your family like to have fun, Fonmon Castle is a great choice for a weekend trip.

Distance: 23km

Driving Time: 42min


Tintern Abbey

Tintern Abbey is a national icon in Wale. Although without a roof, it has very beautiful willow Windows and towering arches, and is one of the masterpieces of English Gothic architecture. If you are a lover of architecture, then it will surely give you an unforgettable day out around Cardiff.

Distance: 59km

Driving Time: 54min