Caernarfon is a Royal town in Gwynedd, North-West Wales. Caernarfon is famous for its breathtaking castle and as a stronghold of the Welsh language. The castle and fortified complex is recognised on the UNESCO World Heritage List as one of the finest examples of late 13th-century and early 14th-century military architecture in Europe. It is one of the best places in the world to hear a living Celtic language, with over 80% of the local population speaking Welsh.
Caernarfon provides an good base for visiting other places of interest in North Wales. A few miles’ drive from Caernarfon is Snowdonia National Park which plays host to the highest mountain in Wales, and Anglesey, home of Beaumaris Castle, the last and largest of the castles to be built by King Edward I in Wales.
Opposite the castle, the Caernarfon Tourist Information Centre, Oriel Pendeitsh, Castle St, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. , makes a great port of call, offering free local advice for getting the most out of a visit to Caernarfon and its surrounding areas.
The historic town of Caernarfon is easily accessible by car, air, rail, bus and sea.
The roads are good, with Bangor and the A55 expressway around 15 minutes away. Liverpool and Manchester airports are around two hours, Dublin about three hours (including fast ferry) and Cardiff around four and a half hours.
From London allow five hours for your journey. Exit the M6/J20 onto M56. Follow signs for Queensferry / North Wales onto A55. Exit A55/J9 onto A487 then follow signs for Caernarfon onto the A487 for seven miles.
All-day parking is available behind the castle at a reasonable price, with other car parks more ideally suited to short-term parking.
Anglesey Airport (VLY IATA) is 24 miles away via the A55 and provides weekday links by Highland Airways from Cardiff, South Wales (twice daily). Caernarfon Airport is less than six miles away and has a terminal open for private aircraft. Liverpool John Lennon airport is just 90 miles away via the M56, A55 and A487. Manchester Airport (MAN IATA) is 98 miles away via the M56, A55 and A487, approximately 1 hr 45 min by car.
The nearest train station is Bangor (about 8-miles away), with trains from Chester, Crewe, Manchester, London Euston, Cardiff, and Holyhead (connecting to Dublin ferry). From London Euston takes about 3 hr 20 min.
Caernarfon is easily reached from Ireland via the port of Holyhead, and an excellent road network. Take the A55 leaving J9 (first exit after crossing Britannia Bridge) onto A487 then follow signs for Caernarfon onto the A487 for 7 miles. Foot passengers, onward travel is available from Holyhead to Bangor by train and takes 30 minutes, and then Bangor to Caernarfon by bus 20 minutes.
From London (via Chester) or Cardiff, National Express operates a daily service to Caernarfon, with numerous pick up points along the way.
The town is also served by local bus routes, mainly from other North Wales towns. There are buses every 15 minutes from Bangor (nearest train station) - just check out Arriva Bus route 5. The route takes about 30 minutes, so getting to Caernarfon by public transport is definitely an option.
Local bus companies include Express Motors, Silver Star, KMP Llanberis, Arriva Cymru and Sherpa Buses (for Snowdonia).
Caernarfon's central bus station is called Penllyn.
- 1 Caernarfon Castle (Carnarvon Castle), Castle Ditch, LL55 2AY, ☏ . Opens 9:30AM (except Su in winter 11AM), closes 4PM winter, 5PM spring / autumn, 6PM summer, last admission half an hour before closing, closed 24-26 Dec, 1 Jan. (Welsh: Castell Caernarfon). An impressive work began in 1283 by England's King Edward I as his planned seat of power in his attempt to subjugate Wales. Like Beaumaris, this castle was quite functional, although never 100% completed. Admission £4.90, concessions £4.50, family £15.
- 2 Black Boy Inn, Northgate Street, LL55 1RW, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Thought to date back to 1522, it is one of the oldest inns in North Wales. Northgate Street — 'Stryd Pedwar a Chwech' ('Four and Six Street') in Welsh — is within the medieval town walls, with low-slung black beamed ceilings and walls up to 1.5 m thick. The Inn is steeped in history, with four Inn signs each showing a 'black buoy' on one side and a 'black boy' on the other.
- 3 Doc Fictoria (Victoria Dock). Set alongside the beautiful harbour of Caernarfon, it includes a creative arts centre, a minute or two by foot from the town walls. It has a bar, cafe and restaurant, art exhibition, hosts concerts, films and events and is packed with small arty companies.
- 4 Segontium, ☏ , ✉ SegontiumRomanFort@gov.wales. Site of a historic Roman fort founded by Agricola around 77 AD.
- 1 Welsh Highland Railway, St Helens Road, LL55 2YD, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Caernarfon's the starting point for the Welsh Highland Railway, offering a journey on one of the world's most powerful 2' gauge steam locomotives through the fabulous scenery of the Snowdonia National Park and onward to Porthmadog.
- Menai Strait Cruises. Boat cruises from Caernarfon Harbour down the picturesque Menai strait.
- Walk around the mainly traffic-free streets of the walled town and along the Menai Straits. Guided tours are also available throughout the year by the North Wales Tour Guide Association.
- Cycle along the traffic-free routes along the Menai and South almost to Cricieth. Bikes can be hired in Caernarfon from Beics Menai.
- Gypsy Wood Park. An outdoor attraction well worth a visit on a sunny day. It is a relaxing attraction, with the UK's largest miniature G Scale garden railway and a great family day out for children who love animals.
- Redline Indoor Karting, ☏ . A purpose built indoor karting track, popular with locals and tourists alike. The perfect option for all weather family fun. Viewing Area Refreshments. Cibyn Industrial Estate. Llanberis Road. Sat Nav LL55 2BD
- Welsh Language - Caernarfon is probably the best place to see, hear and speak the Welsh language. Over 80% of the population speak Welsh, so it is an ideal place to practice a few sentences or just to soak up the authentic Celtic heritage.
- Learn Welsh on a residential course at the Nant Gwrtheyrn Language and Heritage Centre, situated in a spectacular coastal location around half an hour's drive from Caernarfon.
- Caernarfon Golf Club. Great place if you fancy a few rounds, with very reasonable green fees.
Caernarfon has some nice independent shops in the pleasant streets of the walled town. Palas Print sells books, music and coffee, with a good Welsh language selection.
There is also a nice small clothes and accessories shop. Na Nog on the square is an option for presents with a local flavour, like children's clothing with a Welsh theme. For a larger choice of shops, head to Bangor, Llandudno or perhaps Conwy.
There are a decent number of places to eat within and around the old town walls, in particular the small streets nestled along the western town wall. There are also a few places on the town square. Serving hours can be odd, and without good planning you could end up hungry. However there are still places which serve food all day, including the Black Boy Inn and Anglesey Arms.
- Black Boy Inn - Popular with both locals and tourists. It has a great locally sourced menu.
- Anglesey Arms - Great setting on sunny day, with good hearty food and stunning views of the Menai straights.
- Y Castell - Hotel on Y Maes (town square) formerly known as 'the Castle', refurbished and serving excellent food all day and evenings.
- Ouzo and Olive, 14 hole in the wall street (by the castle in Caernarfon). 6:30PM-9PM. This is a very nice Greek restaurant. Very peaceful and relaxing. Open all year round.
Cafes in Caernarfon include:
- Crempogau-Just Pancakes - friendly service, offering the best pancakes in town!
Takeaways in Caernarfon include:
- Bella Pizza Offering good, reasonably priced pizzas just down the road from the Celtic Royal. Vaguely friendly service.
- Lee's One of the best Chinese takeaways in Caernarfon.
Drinking is a popular option for nights in Caernarfon. There is a decent selection of small pubs in and around the walls.
Hotels and inns
- 1 Black Boy Inn, Northgate Street (LL55 1RW), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Situated within the medieval town walls, very close to the Castle. It is one of oldest Inns in North Wales and has been restored to a very high standard. The Inn is well worth a visit, if only to experience its unique character and atmosphere. Bedrooms are of a high quality, each with an en-suite bathroom. The locals' favourite, so it can get very busy. Reservations are strongly recommended.
- Celtic Royal, Caernarfon, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. A large hotel in Caernarfon's city centre, it is also one of the more expensive establishments. This fills up in the summer months, so make sure you have reservations beforehand, although you may get lucky. This hotel is also a few blocks outside of the old town walls and a short jaunt away from the castle.
- Bryn Mor Beach Hotel, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 4* Visit Wales Award
- Carmel, Pontllyfni, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 4* Visit Wales
- 2 Plas Dinas, Bontnewydd LL54 7YF, ☏ . Exceptional country house hotel with fine dining, once the abode of the Armstrong-Jones family. No children under 12. B&B double £130.
B&Bs, hostels and self-catering cottages
An array of accommodation options are dotted in and around the Caernarfon area comprising B&Bs, hostels and quality-assured self-catering facilities ranging from modern flats, converted units on farm complexes to fully residential traditional Snowdonia farmhouse cottages.
- Totters, Plas Proth Yr Aur, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. A family-run hostel within the city walls.
- Snowdonia Cottage Breaks, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Large Wales Tourist Board 'Excellent' accredited traditional Snowdonia Farmhouse. Self-catering family and group accommodation with views to Mount Snowdon and the Sea.
Holiday parks and camping
There are several high quality holiday parks and caravan sites in an around Caernarfon offering stunning views and access to plenty of great outdoor activities.
- Brynteg Holiday Park, Llanrug, Near Caernarfon, LL55 4RF, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Five-star holiday park just outside Caernarfon. Park facilities include swimming pool, spa, children's play area and country club.
- Coed Helen Holiday Park Caernarfon, Coed Helen, Menai Strait, LL54 5RS, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. A holiday park with camping and touring facilities, an outdoor pool, sun terrace, onsite pub/restaurant and a collection of holiday homes.
- 3 Caernarfon Bay Caravan Park (Caernarfon Bay Holiday Park), Dinas Dinlle (from Caernarfon take the A499 Pwllheli road. Stay on this road for about six miles until you come to a large walled estate on your left, called Glynllifon. Just past the entrance to the estate there is a clear sign for Dinas Dinlle and Caernarfon Airport. Turn right here and follow this road until you come onto the seafront, take the first right turn between the shop and the cafe. Then sharp right again.), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 10AM. Caravan park with holiday bungalows in Dinas Dinlle.
A number of World Heritage Sites and stunning castle towns lie less than a few miles drive away from Caernarfon, making it a great base for exploring North Wales:
- Snowdonia National Park - 3 miles
- Anglesey - 11 miles
- Beaumaris - 13 miles
- Conwy - 25 miles
- Harlech - 27 miles
- Porthmadog - 20 miles