Caernarfon is situated right along the water — the Menai Strait — which lies east of the town. To the west you’ll see the peaks of Snowdonia National Park. And there are trees and fields nearby too. It’s really a lovely location. The other great aspect to the location of Caernarfon is that it sits along a main road, so it’s quite convenient. Don’t worry though as this does not detract from the beauty as much of the historical town sits back from the main road. The best parts of Caernarfon are definitely tucked away on the Medieval streets.
Without a doubt, this is the best reason to visit Caernarfon Wales. Caernarfon Castle is one of the most impressive castles — period. It was a castle of sorts back in the late 11th century. However it was in 1283 that King Edward I of England began to replace it with the current stone structure after England defeated Wales in 1283. The town walls — which we’ll get to — were also built at the same time. Caernarfon is one of 8 major castles built by King Edward I in Wales — North Wales in particular. For about 2 centuries, Caernarfon was essentially the capital of North Wales and the castle was the center of life. But war broke out again in the early 15th century. And while the castle was still in good condition for a while, it began to fall into disrepair in the 1600’s and was severely neglected until the 1800’s when the state funded the repairs. This was money well spent, in my opinion, as it is magnificent. Caernarfon Castle is a special place for many reasons.
Caernarfon is big and architecturally remarkable. It stands out from the other 7 Edwardian castles for sure. The last thing is that this is the castle of the Prince of Wales. When Edward I and his queen, Eleanor, had their son — Edward II — he became the first Prince of Wales. Even though, technically, he was English. Yeah, you can see that this was not easy for the Welsh people to take. But today, it’s where every Prince of Wales — the first born son of the King and Queen of England — is crowned. So Prince Charles was crowned here in an elaborate, traditional ceremony in 1969. Caernarfon Castle is definitely the highlight of the town. You can walk on the ramparts, go up in towers, visit the museums that are housed in some of the buildings and enjoy the lovely courtyard in the middle of it all — if the weather cooperates. Allow plenty of time to really experience this amazing castle.
Walk along the water and the city walls. A two-fer! I love two-fers! So after you’ve had your fill of the castle and maybe a bite to eat you’ll want to walk along the water. And by walking along the water you are also walking just outside the city walls of Caernarfon Wales. Because this town was very much a fortified town. As you walk along the path you’ll have the Menai Strait with the views over to the isle of Anglesey on one side and these towering walls on the other. It’s a cool juxtaposition. And this walkway is a wonderful spot to sit and take in the views — as long as the weather is good. Don’t miss this!
I’m not a huge shopper but I do like to pop into local shops just to see what folks are selling. Caernarfon definitely has some shops worth patronizing. I’m a fan of artisan shops so I visited Ann Catrin Evans Jewelery shop. This shop has some beautiful, hand made jewelry and sculptures. Do stop in especially if you love to support local artisans. Her creations are gorgeous! Palas Print is a wonderful independent book shop that specializes in Welsh books and Welsh language books. For book lovers this is a must. Lynn and I dropped in after our dinner. And yes, we walked out with some books. Looking for some Welsh souvenirs? Then check out Occasions Welsh Greeting Cards & Gift Shop. Caernarfon Wales seems to have lots of fun shops for everyone — from made in Wales products to jewelry and sculptures to books to toys.
Wander the streets. Obviously the castle is the focal point and has made Caernarfon an intriguing town to visit. But do wander about the streets and look for pieces of history. Pop into shops. Stop for a Welsh beer. Or maybe have a meal. Meander the winding Medieval streets. Look for plaques for old historic buildings. Notice where the town walls are. This is a delightful town to walk around for sure.