The Welsh Town of Caernarfon has long been an important place in the United Kingdom. Located on the Menai Strait, it was originally a strategic defense for the Roman forces who built a fort there. Many centuries after they abandoned the area, the Normans would construct a motte-and-bailey castle to defend the lands they conquered. In the wake of this castle, a town grew up that relied on the water to provide for itself. Today, Caernarfon offers much for visitors who want to have fun, learn, and experience the town. We’ve outlined the things we think you should see below and you can let us know anything we missed in the comments.
Yr Hwylfan Fun Center
Also known as simply “The Fun Center”, Yr Hwylfan delivers on what it promises with fun for all ages. The Fun Center offers go-carts, laser tag, and a giant play area, as well as an interactive museum with artefacts from Christchurch, the building in which the fun center is located. There’s also a restaurant where parents can get a bit of peace and quiet while the kids play.
Inigo Jones Slateworks
Must of us old enough to remember used chalk slates to hone our writing skills as school children. Inigo Jones Slateworks has been producing writing slates since 1861 and remains a major producer of them today. The Slateworks offers self-guided tours of their facilities as well as a nice gift shop and a café so you can have a snack and take something home with you.
Galeri Caernarfon is a place dedicated to the arts. This cultural center for the town includes stage productions, film, dance, concerts, comedy, and more. Galeri has been a major part of the town’s revitalization and arguably part of the reason why the town center is a World Heritage Site today. Be sure to check the event calendar to see what’s on before you visit.
Welsh Highland Railway
One way to see the beauty of the Welsh mountains is to take a ride on the Welsh Highland Railway. This heritage railway runs for twenty-five miles from Caernarfon down to Porthmadog and not only offers beautiful views outside the windows but a chance to enter the locomotive cabs and see how these classic trains ran.
Menai Strait Pleasure Cruises
Another way to see the beauty of the area is by taking one of the Menai Strait Pleasure Cruises. Since the 1940s, this family-owned business has taken boat tours out into the Strait and surrounding waters, showing off the town’s man-made and its natural beauty. The cruises last approximately 90 minutes and will certainly take your breath away.
Anglesey Sea Zoo
The Anglesey Sea Zoo is an aquarium full of the sea’s most wondrous creatures. The aquarium primarily focuses on British marine life and has over 40 tanks filled with fish, rays, lobsters, seahorses, and more. Visitors, not only have the opportunity to learn about all of these lifeforms but can even adopt one to support or pick an oyster in the gift shop to see if it offers up a pearl to take home.
Located southeast of the town, Mount Snowdon is worth visiting while you’re in the area. Snowdon is the highest mountain in Wales at 3,560 feet and has several paths you can take to reach the top. Once you get there, you’ll be treated to one of the most fantastic views in England and Wales, so be sure to bring a camera to capture the memories.
Once belonging to Baron Newborough, Glynllifon is a magnificent old estate which though privately-held and operated as a hotel, still has grounds that are open to the public. Parc Glynllifon is Grade I listed and filled to the bring with plants and flowers that make a walk with your time. The park facilities also offer a café, Coleg Meirion-Dwyfor‘s agricultural college, and craft workshops.
Segontium Roman Fort
As mentioned in the intro, the Romans were the first group to settle what became Caernarfon, with the Roman military leader Segontium establishing a fort here in 77 AD after putting down a rebellion from a local tribe. Medieval builders robbed the site of much of its stone, leaving behind only the foundations which lay exposed today. Guidebooks from the town offer more information about the fort and settlement ruins that you can read as you wander amongst them.
Of course, the top reason to visit is none other than Caernarfon Castle. Constructed to help the Normans maintain control over Wales following their invasion, the original castle was of a motte-and-bailey design before the current castle was built during the 13th Century. It served a dual purpose of protecting the English from assault while conveying the grandeur ascribed to the Welsh myth of Macsen Wledig, who dreamed of “the fairest [fort] that man ever saw.” Inside the grounds are dedicated not only to the castle’s history but that of the town and its association with the Prince of Wales.