Built in the 13th century, Caerphilly Castle is a lasting reminder of medieval times in modern-day Wales. Located on the edge of Brecon Beacons National Park, overlooking the town of Caerphilly, it draws history buffs and curious visitors from the world over who come to step back in time to understand life in the Middle Ages.
The towering stone walls and man-made lakes and moats give away Caerphilly Castle’s original purpose: as a defensive outpost. Built by Gilbert de Clare in the 13th century, the 30-acre (12-hectare) castle is the second-largest in Britain and is known for being one of the first British castles to implement a concentric defensive structure. These elaborate defenses served their purpose—Caerphilly Castle was never captured.
The castle was donated to the state in 1950 and was reborn as a visitor attraction. The castle is a popular day trip from the nearby city of Cardiff (the Welsh capital) and frequently features in historical tours of the region.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Discounted tickets are available for students and seniors, and families can purchase a combined ticket.
- Parts of the castle are wheelchair accessible, but some areas of the castle have steep, narrow steps.
- The castle has a small souvenir store, but there is no on-site cafe.
- Caerphilly claims its leaning tower, attacked by Oliver Cromwell, leans more than Pisa.
How to Get There
Caerphilly Castle is located in the small town of Caerphilly, eight miles (12 kilometers) north of Cardiff city center. You can reach the castle by car, local train to Caerphilly Station, or as part of a guided tour with transport provided. Car parking is available on site.
When to Get There
The castle has seasonal opening hours, and last admission is 30 minutes before closing. In July and August, it is open 9:30am-6pm. In September and October, and from March to June, it’s open 9:30am-5pm. From November to February it’s open 10am-4pm Monday to Saturday, and 11am-4pm on Sunday. The castle is closed on major holidays. Saturday is the busiest time to visit.
Millenium Centre in Cardiff
With its copper-colored metal exterior, this arts center along the waterfront in Cardiff is known to locals as the “armadillo.” The center hosts a regular program of events, from classical music to Broadway musicals, stand-up comedy, and theater, along with free concerts and family activities. At the center you find a number of cafes and restaurants that you can enjoy whether you’re attending a concert or just coming to see the building.