Cardiff Castle: Castle St, Cardiff CF10 3RB, Wales, United Kingdom
Do your kids like to play dress up? Do they ever pretend that they are a knight in shining armour or a princess overlooking her kingdom from the top of a tower? Well, a family vacation to Wales can give you the chance to visit hundreds of castles all over the country! We had the opportunity to get an in depth tour of Cardiff Castle in the center of Cardiff and learned about the history of the castle and it’s importance to Welsh history. We also had the chance to meet the falconer and his owl, Hector, who gave me quite a thrill before climbing to the top of the keep to get a beautiful view of the city of Cardiff.
Located in the center of Cardiff, this 11th century castle is a great way for kids, parents and grandparents to learn more about the Medieval history of Wales. There is a fun trail for families to follow and discover bits of information about the castle and the people who lived there. The Cardiff Castle website also has games, word searches and educational activities that can be downloaded before your trip. I find keeping kids engaged with these types of activities will help them remember the experience.
You can explore the castle grounds on your own or you can take a variety of tours that are offered. You’ll want to start your visit with little ones at the Interpretation Center where there are costumes, a puppet theater and crafts for them to try. Don’t miss exploring the remains of the Roman fort walls, climbing up the stairs to the top of the keep or visiting with the many birds such as owls and peacocks who roam the grounds. We learned from the falconer that his owl Hector weighs about four pounds and that long ago falconers would use owls to hunt for food. It was exciting to hold Hector and see him up close!
Several tour companies offer visits to Wales, including a stop at Cardiff Castle. If you don’t want to plan a trip on your own, you might want to consider a family vacation with CIE Tours who will do the planning for you. We found that their guides were incredibly informative, but still gave families the freedom to explore on their own. The tour also included a banquet at the castle with costumed servers, music and all! If you are touring the castle on your own and not part of a tour such as CIE Tours, you can still make a reservation for a banquet experience through the castle.
Special events take place throughout the year. Generally held in the summer-time, visitors can sign up to view ajoust competition. The day is full of fun for the whole family with storytelling, parades and, of course, a jousting competition! Other events include dragon tales, a Roman weekend and Tafwyl Fair, a Welsh language festival.
Your trip to Cardiff might inspire you to make some fun craft projects when you get home! We like the DIYMarshmallow Catapult, the Knight’s Shield and thePrincess Castle crafts we found on Pinterest. Books about castles are also wonderful inspiration before or after your trip. Here are some we’ve found:
• A nice list of books about Wales posted by Julia Eccleshare in The Guardian
• Books by author Roald Dahl who was born in Llandaff, Wales
• Rainbow Garden by Patricia St. John
• A Child’s Christmas in Wales by Dylan Thomas
• At the Upper Villa Tyde by Ophelia Phinsen
Some Additional Tips & Fun Facts
• When touring Cardiff Castle, be sure to check out the jousting tournaments held there! Actors reenact the ancient warfare sport live for all audiences.
• Other events take place such as fights, concerts, ghost tours, and many more!
• You’ll want to wear good, supportive walking shoes. You will be more focused on the beauty of the castle without worrying about your feet!
• Several TV shows film segments at the castle. Film Location tours are available.
• Many other tours are offered including a Ghost Tour.
• Audio guide is FREE and is available at the Interpretation Center and there is even a guide for children
• Bute Park is just a short walk from the castle
• Play I Spy to find all of the animals depicted on the castle’s Animal Wall.