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Coast meets culture in Caernarfon

Why should I visit Caernarfon?

Well, this harbour town in Snowdonia has got a lot to offer visitors, that’s why! Edward I’s imposing and impressive castle is an obvious choice for discussion. But for a relatively small town it also packs a punch in the food and drink stakes too.

If you’ve read any of my other blog posts, you’ll know by know that whilst I adore Anglesey with its sandy beaches and sweeping pastures, for me the mainland offers such a variety of vistas that it’s hard to beat. Let me talk you through why I think you should add Caernarfon to your North Wales travel itinerary!

Heritage at its heart

I have a Masters in History so, unsurprisingly, the rich tapestry of Caernarfon’s past is one of the main reasons I’m in love with the place! The castle, which has World Heritage status, makes up one of Edward I’s ‘Iron Ring’, built to keep the Welsh in check (we’ve always been an unruly lot!); it’s a sight to behold and can offer a great deal for those interested in the history of the British Isles. If Military history is something you’d like to know more about, there’s actually a Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum (my dad spent a long, long time in this exhibit!). If you love a good view, then some of the best over the River Seiont are from the towers and viewing platforms within the castle. It’s worth every penny of the entry fee, in my opinion.

Fun fact: the castle was the venue of Prince Charles’ investiture in 1969 when he was officially given the title of ‘Prince of Wales’. Find out more about the castle by seeing it for yourself!

Food, glorious food!

As I mentioned earlier, Caernarfon really does have a lot to offer foodies, no matter your tastes. Scoops is a place to look out for, especially if you love a pancake or ice cream (or, like me, a combination of the two). If you have a sweet tooth I recommend the banana and peanut butter pancake. Otherwise, I’d suggest the chorizo, goats cheese and olive filling – it’s divine! If you fancy good quality pub grub and like a beer (or two), head over to my absolute favourite place, The Black Boy. They have a good menu with reasonable prices, portion sizes that would put some American establishments to shame, and a superb selection of real ales; often with a choice from one of my favourite South Walian breweries Tiny Rebel.

If you’re more in the mood for antipasti, I highly recommend Osteria. This Tuscan restaurant is small but offers an intimate dining experience. The meat, cheese and bread platters are delightful! If you want to pick up a bottle of good quality wine, real Welsh ale or cider to take home with you, head to Iechyd Da (that means cheers in Welsh, by the way). The owner is really knowledgeable and whilst it’s got a relatively small selection, it’s all good stuff.

Insider’s Tip: Hole in the Wall Street is the place for foodies and those who like a tipple. Osteria, Blas and Iechyd Da are all along this stretch.

Shopping, anyone?

Caernarfon has some great shops that are definitely worth a browse! For cocoa lovers there’s Ty Siocled (literally meaning chocolate house); art enthusiasts should head to Oriel Pendeitsh. There’s plenty of independent retailers dotted about too, including jewellery shops, small boutiques and a very sweet florist.

If you love a garden centre, I highly recommend you make a trip to Fron Goch, which is just outside the town. Beautiful plants, super helpful staff and an array of lovely goodies inside including high-quality baking equipment, gorgeous jewellery and fab furnishings. That’s not even mentioning the amazing cafe with its delectable cakes, bakes and mouth-watering food (both hot and cold).

Events

Caernarfon castle is currently hosting the ‘Weeping Window’ poppy installation by artist Paul Cummins and design Tom Piper. It features thousands of hand-crafted ceramic poppies that were first seen at the Tower of London. Caernarfon will host a number of events over the coming three years as part of the Cymru’n Cofio (Wales Remembers) 1914-1918 national centenary programme of remembrance.

There’s also an annual Food Festival in the spring which is well worth a visit. Food and drink stalls and live entertainment fill the streets surrounding the castle and go down towards the pretty Quay. Don’t plan anything for your supper and pick up something local and tasty whilst you’re there (craft beer also available…I don’t have issues, I promise!!).

Piqued your interest? Great! Caernarfon is easy to get to whether you’re already staying in Snowdonia, basing yourself on the Llŷn Peninsula, or enjoying a break on Anglesey. However, ditch the car and live like a local for a few days by staying in one of our marvellous self-catering cottages. See all of our holiday cottages in and around Caernarfon right here.

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