11 Most Impressive Castles in Carmarthenshire
Did you know that Wales has more castles per square mile than any other country in Europe? With over 600 sites to visit, you’d be amiss to plan a Welsh holiday that didn’t include a trip to some of the best castles in South Wales.
Whether you’re looking for remote ruins or haunted hallways, there are plenty of castles to visit in South Wales. Ramble around Raglan Castle or keep your eyes peeled for the ghost of Princess Gwenllian at Kidwelly Castle. Alternatively, just enjoy the glorious views from the heights of Llansteffan Castle.
Not sure where to start? To make your selection process easier, we’ve put together a list of the best castles in Carmarthenshire for you. Read on to learn more.
The top castles in Carmarthenshire
1. Dinefwr Castle
This 12th-century castle offers scenic views across the River Towy, and surrounding Dinefwr Park boasts some serious folklore. In fact, the White Park Cattle of Dinefwr are associated with the Lady of the Lake of Llyn y Fan Fach. It’s said that staring into the lake of reflections at Dinefwr might just bring a sudden windfall of wealth your way. Whether or not you believe in these legends, Dinefwr Castle has plenty of history and heritage for you to sink your teeth into.
2. Dryslwyn Castle
Once one of the most important seats in the ancient South Wales kingdom of Deheubarth, Dryslwyn Castle is located on a hilltop above the Twyi Valley. Now mostly ruins, the site is nonetheless evocative of a lost time and is a Grade I listed building as a result of its history. As you climb the hill up to the castle, you’ll see the layout of the medieval town that once dominated the valley.
3. Kidwelly Castle
Rising above the River Gwendraeth, Kidwelly Castle is a formidable site and one of the better-preserved castles in South West Wales. A Norman stronghold, it served the Normans in great defensive stead against attacks from the Welsh and still rises magisterially from the surrounding landscape. Plan a visit and conjure images of the many battles fought over this stronghold. Be sure to keep your wits about you – you may just spot the headless ghost of Princess Gwenllian, who is said to roam the castle grounds.
4. Carreg Cennen Castle
Voted the most romantic ruins in Wales, Carreg Cennen Castle offers glorious views across the Carmarthenshire countryside. Explore the natural cave and vaulted passage cut into the cliff-face of the limestone crag on which the castle is perched. Located in a remote corner of the Brecon Beacons National Park, you could always plan a picnic at the castle to break up a long hike and take in some stunning scenery.
5. Raglan Castle
It’s not difficult to imagine Raglan Castle in its glory days, as knights strode the battlements. Arguably one of the grandest castles ever built in South Wales, Raglan offers the chance to escape to a bygone era. The castle was the boyhood home of Henry Tudor – later King Henry VII – and played a significant role in the battle between the Welsh and English. Raglan stayed loyal to the monarchy and has maintained its discerning silhouette over the landscape for centuries. Keep a lookout for events based around poetry, plays, singing and dancing, if you want to combine your history with some appreciation for the creative arts.
6. Caerphilly Castle
You can’t have a list of castles to visit in South Wales and not include Caerphilly Castle. The largest castle in Wales and second largest in Britain, this castle dates back to the thirteenth century and is a mighty medieval fortress. Built over thirty acres, the fortress has been home to many and has a northern lake and hunting park too. Don’t miss what’s known as the Leaning Tower – it’s even wonkier than the one in Pisa!
7. Laugharne Castle
Laugharne Castle was loved by the poet Dylan Thomas – so much so that he actually references it in his work – and it’s easy to see why. Built in the 13th century, the castle is in the town of Laugharne near the River Taf. It was then later rescued from ruin by the Elizabethan courtier Sir John Perrot. Particularly picturesque, Laugharne is a beautiful place to while away an afternoon.
8. Llansteffan Castle
Free to enter, Llansteffan Castle offers sumptuous views across the Twyi Estuary and Carmarthen Bay. Historically important, the castle dates from the late 12th century. However, it also encloses an Iron Age promontory fort that was occupied in 600 BC. Admire the towering Great Gatehouse and take in sweeping views of the surrounding landscape.
9. Newcastle Emlyn Castle
Timeworn but still grandly beautiful, the ruins of Newcastle Emlyn Castle look over a loop of the River Teifi. Head through the Dragon Gates to the main castle and admire the view. The castle was actually blown up in the Civil War, which is why it’s perhaps slightly dilapidated, but it’s nonetheless worth a visit.
10. Llandovery Castle
Take in the remains of the twin-towered gatehouse and imagine the bloody history of Llandovery Castle as you wander its ruins. Located at the confluence of two rivers, the ruins are still imposing. Can you imagine how much of a defensive stronghold the castle was in its heyday?
11. Carmarthen Castle
It would be amiss to create a list of castles in Carmarthenshire that didn’t include Carmarthen Castle. Dating from at least the 12th century, Carmarthen Castle overlooks the River Twyi. It has a storied history – including a period in the 18th and 19th centuries where it served as a prison. There are interactive boards and audio presentations dotted around the site to give you a taste of the castle as it once was.
Learn more about the many castles in Wales on our blog, or if you love your history and you’re on the hunt for accommodation, why not book an overnight stay in a castle? Yes, you really can do that!