Conwy Castle, Plas Mawr, Caernarfon Castle, Dolbadarn Castle, Caerphilly Castle and Castell Coch are in the care of Cadw. Register with the Cadw Tour Operator Scheme (CTOS) to become a member of Cadw’s online group booking scheme. Members benefit from preferential trade rates and discounts, complimentary admission for your tour leader, complimentary introductions to Cadw monuments, enhanced information for existing tours and invoicing following your visit. Site Entry tickets are currently released one week in advance of visit. See Cadw Admissions for more information.
Start the tour at the historic walled town of Conwy which is dominated by the 13th century Conwy Castle that was built by Edward I and today has UNESCO World Heritage Status. Inside the castle it is easy for visitors to identify the great hall, chambers and kitchen and even a royal chapel so it doesn’t take too much to imagine 13th century life in the castle!
Afterwards, explore the town walls, over three quarters of a mile long and guarded by no less than 22 towers - one of the finest in the World.
Take a walk around Conwy, with a visit to the quayside and the smallest house in Britain, built as a one up and one down fisherman’s cottage measuring only 1.8m wide. Also Conwy Mussel Museum – Conwy was once the most important pearl fisheries in the country and today musseling is still carried out in the same traditional way many pubs and restaurants in the town serve them in season (September to April).
Plas Mawr is a wonderfully restored Elizabethan townhouse and a visit is recommended for its ornate colourful plasterwork and fine furnishings.
Coach drop off is possible in the town centre. Coach parking is available at nearby Morfa Bach car park or Builder Street West Coach Park in Llandudno.
After lunch, take the A55 towards Bangor stopping en route at National Trust’s Penrhyn Castle. This stately home is designed as a gigantic Neo-Norman fantasy castle built by the stonemasons, joiners and carvers of North Wales. It provides endless fascination with its industrial railway museum, collection of old master pictures and Victorian walled garden.
Group rates are available for pre booked groups. Touring passes are also available for 7 and 14 days for international visitors. Average length of visit is around three hours. On-board coach welcome and introductory talks are available. Out of hours tours can also be arranged. There is a drop off point outside the castle before returning to the car park (which is free).
If time permits, visit Zip World Penrhyn Quarry nearby at Bethesda, which is less than 15 minutes away. The 19th century quarry was owned by The Pennant family of Penrhyn Castle and is now home to Zip World Velocity 2, the fastest zip line in the world and longest in Europe. The bistro-style Blondin Restaurant is a great place to enjoy food whilst watching zippers ‘fly’ at about 120 miles per hour! Quarry tours with ex quarry men are available or for the brave the zip wire experience is about 1h 30mins. Group bookings are available.
Approximate distance: Conwy - Bangor 18 miles (29km)
Approximate driving time: 30min
Overnight suggestion: Caernarfon
Start at Caernarfon Castle – again built by Edward 1 in 1283 and the venue for the current Prince of Wales’ Investiture in 1969. Caernarfon is a World Heritage listed site and was conceived not just as a military fortification, but also as a royal palace and seat of government. It was inspired by the Welsh folk tales of the Mabinogion.
There is a designated coach drop off point at Castle Square. Long term parking can be found at Victoria Dock Car Park, just off Balaclava Road, behind Morrisons superstore.
Continue to Dolbadarn Castle that was probably built by Welshman Llywelyn ab Iorwerth ('the Great') early in the 13th century. In contrast to the Edward I castles, it is dominated by a round-towered keep 50 feet (15.2m) high (free entry). There is room for coaches at ‘Parking for Snowdon’ car park which can be found at postcode LL55 4TD. The castle is an 8 minute walk along the A4086.
Follow the A4086 for a scenic drive along the dramatic Llanberis Pass through the mountainous Snowdonia National Park and continue eastwards to the small town of Llangollen for the overnight stop
Approximate distance: Caernarfon – Llanberis – Llangollen 57 miles (92km)
Approximate driving time: 1hr 45min
Overnight suggestion: Llangollen
Plas Newydd in Llangollen is a black and white cottage that has a gothic style, colourful stained glass windows and elaborate wood carvings. It was home to the ‘Ladies of Llangollen’ Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Sarah Ponsonby between 1780 and 1829. An audio tour brings their story to life as they were well known in society due to the story of their friendship and often welcomed guests including Wordsworth, Sir Walter Scott and the Duke of Wellington. For groups of over 15 people, Plas Newydd offers a fascinating free talk about the story of the house and its occupants. Booking is essential. The house is only open from Good Friday / April 1st (which ever is earlier) until the end of September – however, the grounds are open throughout the year. Coach parties can drop off their clients before returning to park in the designated coach spaces at Market Street.
Following the tour of the house, visitors can wander through the gardens that have spectacular views to the Berwyn Mountains and Castell Dinas Brȃn (legend states it’s where the Holy Grail is still hiding).
If your clients are feeling energetic they can walk to see the ruins of Castell Dinas Brȃn and enjoy lovely views. A round trip from Plas Newydd is just over 3 miles (5.2km), or longer if you search for the Holy Grail!
Afterwards, your clients can enjoy a walk and lunch in Llangollen.
This afternoon, continue to Erddig near Wrexham. This stately home and garden is owned by The National Trust and is most famous for its 250 year story of the family’s endearing relationship with its servants.
A real ‘upstairs and downstairs experience’! Visitors discover the large collection of servants’ portraits, photographs and poems. It was a family tradition started by Philip Yorke 1743–1804. Upstairs houses collections that include fine furniture, textiles and wallpapers as the family never threw anything away.
Visitors can wander around the 18th-century formal garden, with trained fruit trees, herbaceous borders, avenues of pleached limes, formal hedges and a nationally important collection of ivies. There is also a 486-hectare (1,200-acre) landscape pleasure park, the ‘cup and saucer’ cylindrical cascade and explore the earthworks of a Norman motte-and-bailey castle.
Pre booked groups can have a talk detailing a quick potted history, an atmospheric private house tour or join the head gardener for a tour of our grade I listed garden. Group rates are available for pre booked groups. Touring passes are also available for 7 and 14 days for international visitors.
Erddig can accommodate three coaches per day in the coach park. When arriving, please follow the brown signs and not GPS directions.
Approximate distance: Llangollen to Erddig – 10 miles (16.1km)
Approximate driving time: 25min
Overnight suggestion: Llangollen
The first stop is Powis Castle and Garden. Originally a medieval castle, it was built on a rock that today is above the gardens, with scenic views. The Italian and French themed garden terraces retains the original lead statues, an orangery and an aviary. The castle contains one of the finest collections of paintings and furniture in Wales, including the Clive of India artefacts. Group rates apply to groups of 15 people or more. Average length of visit: is 3 hours. The gardens and house are open for everyone to enjoy at their own leisure but guided garden tours are available on request. Knowledgeable volunteers are on hand daily to share the history of the house.
Group rates are available for pre booked groups. Touring passes are also available for 7 and 14 days for international visitors. Special interest tours available.
Continue on a scenic drive westwards via Aberystwyth towards Aberaeron.
Llanerchaeron is an early Georgian villa house was built in 1790 by John Nash who later went to build Regent Street and Buckingham Palace in London. Llanerchaeron has the rare opportunity to experience a complete, self-sufficient 18th-century Welsh minor gentry estate. The villa, service courtyard, mature walled gardens, pleasure grounds with ornamental lake and home-farm complex with traditional outbuildings, enables visitors to experience historic times.
Group rates are available for pre booked groups. Touring passes are also available for 7 and 14 days for international visitors.
Approximate distance: Llangollen – Welshpool - Aberaeron – 85 miles (137km)
Approximate driving time: 2hr 30min
Overnight suggestion: Aberaeron
Head towards Llandeilo and visit the 13th century Carreg Cennen Castle which was voted by readers of the UK BBC Country File magazine as the most romantic ruin in Wales. It was built 300ft (90m) above the River Cennen on a limestone rock and a can be seen for miles over the Carmarthenshire countryside. Today visitors can explore the barbican, twin towers, natural cave and vaulted passage as well as the farm with its famous longhorn cattle. In the 1960's the castle was purchased by the late Gwilim Morris and family of Castell Farm, when Lord Cawdor's legal team made a mistake in the wording of the deeds and the castle were included as part of the farm! Today, the castle remains privately owned and managed but it is maintained by Cadw. Groups of 15 or more get 10% discount, check with the venue directly for coach parking.
Newton House was originally built in 1660 and has undergone many renovations and today visitors can see the Gothic façade from the 1850s, although the interior include the grand staircase and ornate ceilings from the 17th century. Guided tours of the house include ‘Hidden House Tour’, ‘Servants Tour’ and intriguingly named ‘Quirky Stories Tour’. The house is part of the Dinefwr Estate famous for the rare White Park Cattle and deer park.
Llanelly House is located in the centre of Llanelli and is one of the best examples on an 18th century town house in South Wales. In 2013 a £6m restoration and conservation was completed. Using modern technology a tour of the house enables visitors to learn how the 18th century owners Sir Thomas and Lady Stepney influenced Llanelli and the industrial landscape of South Wales as well as how they lived. Also witness the court proceedings of an upstairs downstairs scandal during its Victorian era.
Approximate distance: Aberaeron – Llandeilo - Llanelli – 60 miles (95.5km)
Approximate distance: Aberaeron – Llandeilo – Llanelli - Swansea – 72 miles (116km)
Approximate driving time: 1hr 50min / 2hr 20min
Overnight suggestions: Llanelli or Swansea
Llancaich Fawr Manor as seen today was built in c1550 for Dafydd ap Richard and was designed to be easily defended during the turbulent reigns of Tudor kings and queens. It is one of the best examples of a semi-fortified manor in Wales today.
Modern day visitors experience the Manor House as it would have been in 1645 and are welcomed by the servants of Colonel Prichard. All the furnishings in the rooms are accurate reproductions of items from the time of the Prichard’s in the 16th and 17th centuries and many of the originals can be found at the St Fagans National Museum of History.
Group rates apply for groups of 25 or more. The group organiser and coach driver have free entry to the manor and a meal.
Caerphilly Castle is the largest fortress in Wales. Rich in history, clients will see and learn how it worked. The imagination and wealth of the fourth Marquess of Bute restored the castle since its collapse in the Middle Ages. He was able to restart the economy of Caerphilly in 1928 following the Great Depression, providing many jobs to reconstruct the building. A wooden statue of the Marquess can be seen holding up the famous leaning tower. Crescent Road car park provides parking for coaches with a pick-up and drop-off point opposite the bandstand at Castle Court Shopping Centre.
Castell Coch looks like a fairytale castle but it was built on the ruins of a 13th century castle. It was inherited by The Third Marquess of Bute (the richest man in Britain at the time) along with Cardiff Castle. Together with his architect William Burges designed this elaborate summer house and today it is often used for film and TV locations. Parking is available for up to four coaches but operators should contact the castle in advance of visiting.
Fonmon Castle is the oldest private residence in Wales. Visitors to this castle can learn about its 800-year history including rare medieval military architecture, 17th-century kitchen and 18th century plasterwork ceilings considered ‘the finest in Wales’ as well as many of the characters who have lived and worked in the castle over the years.
Approximate distance: Llanelli – Nelson – Caerphilly - Castell Coch - Rhoose – Cardiff – 98.3 miles (158.2km)
Approximate distance: Swansea – Nelson – Caerphilly - Castell Coch - Rhoose – Cardiff – 89.3miles (143.7km)
Approximate driving time: 2hr 50min / 2hr 40min
Overnight suggestion: Cardiff
Cardiff Castle is located in the heart of the capital city of Cardiff and enjoys a history spanning nearly 2000 years. The highlight is a guided tour of the spectacular castle apartments. They were created in the 19th century by eccentric architect William Burges for the very rich Third Marquess of Bute. Designed as a medieval fairytale home, the rooms are filled with ornate fireplaces, gilded ceilings, intricate stained glass as well as carved and painted animals throughout. House Tours can be arranged in English, Welsh, French and Spanish and audio guides of the complete site are available in English, Welsh, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Mandarin Chinese and Portuguese. The café offers views of the Norman Keep and castle and a gift shop is available.
For over 500 years, Tredegar House was home to one of the greatest Welsh families, the Morgans, later Lords Tredegar who owned more than 40,000 acres in Monmouthshire, Breconshire and Glamorgan by the end of the 18th century. Visitors today can visit the 17th century house gardens and parkland. Interesting characters include Captain Morgan the 17th-century Welsh privateer / pirate thanks to his sea fairing adventures in the Caribbean is still known today thanks to the Captain Morgan rum! The 1930’s era highlights the boxing kangaroo in the grounds of the house and a parrot who was only taught naughty words!
Group rates are available for pre booked groups. 7 and 14 day touring passes are also available for international visitors.