Criccieth is a beautiful seaside resort town on the southern side of the Llyn Peninsula, situated on Cardigan Bay. It takes approximately 45 minutes to get here by car from Capel Soar.
Known as the 'Pearl of Wales on the Shores of Snowdonia', this little Welsh coastal village seemingly has it all: ocean rollers, mountain views and an imposing medieval castle to watch over it all. Criccieth Castle dates back to the 13th century and there has been some debate about the origin of the name 'Criccieth', but many believe it comes from the Welsh words 'crug caeth', meaning 'hill of captives'. This is because the hill where the castle now stands was once used as a prison.
The town sits on the Wales coast path, and there are plenty of quiet trails running out of the town for walking and cycling. The beach is separated into two different areas, both with incredible views of the surrounding Snowdonia Mountains. The eastern part of the beach, with shallow areas of water, is ideal for families with young children, while the western part is a bit more pebbly but still offers a picturesque walk.
Criccieth Castle, perched atop a rocky promontory that rises imposingly above Tremadog Bay, was originally constructed by Llywelyn the Great, a powerful Welsh prince, in the early 13th century. The actual start date for the construction of Criccieth Castle is subject to debate. Some believe that the fortress was first conceptualised in the 1230s, which is relatively late for building a castle in Wales by the Welsh.
The earliest mention of the castle is found in the Welsh Chronicles, known as the Brut y Tywysogyon, in 1239. The location of Criccieth Castle may have been previously used as a hillfort by Iron Age inhabitants in the region around the time of Christ. Adding to the uncertainty of the construction date, there was also an existing motte and bailey structure nearby, which stood at the current site of Criccieth. Although the stone castle was believed to have been erected in the 1230s, there were various building stages and several remodeling periods that occurred.
In line with the fate of many Welsh fortresses of its time, Criccieth Castle was seized by Edward I in 1283 as part of his campaign to invade and conquer North Wales. Since then, the castle has undergone significant modifications.
Today, Criccieth Castle is a popular destination for tourists interested in history and is maintained by Cadw as a historic site. The castle attracts visitors from around the world and offers on-site exhibitions, venue rentals for filming and events, as well as a gift shop.
Criccieth boasts two stunning beaches, which are divided by the castle perched on a small headland. The eastern beach, also known as Traeth Y Promenade, is pebbly and more child-friendly due to its shallow water. This beach is the more popular of the two beaches, primarily because it is easily accessible and has better parking facilities. It is also home to the Lifeboat Station. The extensive promenade runs along the back of the beach and offers ample pay-and-display parking, including several designated parking bays for disabled visitors. In case the parking lot is full, there is another sizeable pay-and-display car park located at the Porthmadog end, just before Dylans.
The western beach is a mix of sand and pebbles, and it can provide greater protection from the prevailing Westerly winds because it is situated in the shelter of the headland with the castle atop it. Additionally, the water quality on this beach is highly regarded and has earned the prestigious Blue Flag designation.
Both beaches are relatively protected from the prevailing westerly weather and are bathed by the warm waters of the Gulf Stream. During low tide, the beaches are a popular choice for walkers who come to relish the spectacular views of Cardigan Bay and Snowdonia's mountains.
Food and Drinks
No. 46 Coffee Shop is a highly rated and popular cafe for tea and coffee or a light lunch.
Swn-y-Mor is a great place for lunch by the sea. They have a good choice of sandwiches, cakes and drinks.
Cadwaladers serve excellent coffee and ice cream with a view of the sea. The history of Cadwaladers Ice Cream dates back to 1927, when the Cadwaladers family started producing and vending their exclusive vanilla ice cream recipe through the window of the Criccieth general store.
Caffi Cwrt is a beautiful and quintessential Welsh tea room filled with ornaments, art history & antique pottery. Run by the same family since 1933, they serve a selection of teas, coffees, lovely homemade cakes, scones and sandwiches
Tir a Mor is a cafe within walking distance from the beach that serves delicious homemade and locally sourced found. There is ground floor, upstairs and outdoor seating.
Dylan's Criccieth is an award-winning restaurant located just a stone's throw from the beach, with great views. Their menu features fresh, locally sourced ingredients and the the fish/seafood choices here are very popular.
Castle Fish & Chips is a dependable option if you're craving fish and chips by the sea.
Dwyfor Rabbit Farm is about a 50 minute drive from Capel Soar and 5 minutes from Criccieth. They have been open to visitors for over 30 years. Visitors can interact with a variety of farm animals, including rare breeds. Children are permitted to handle different types of animals under adult supervision, such as rabbits and guinea pigs. They can also hand-feed larger animals such as pygmy goats, alpacas, rheas, donkeys, ponies, pigs, and lambs. You may even get to see newborn animals or witness a birth! In the courtyard, you will find the Caffi yr Efail/The Smithy Cafe, serving homemade cakes, freshly made soup, paninis, jacket potatoes, sandwiches and more. On hot days, visitors can use the picnic area to bring their own food. Check their website for opening times.
Criccieth 9 Hole Pitch and Putt Golf is a volunteer-operated 9-hole pitch and putt golf course that is enjoyable for the entire family. The course is conveniently located near the High Street in Criccieth, only a minute's walk from the Criccieth Train Station and adjacent to the Criccieth Bowling Club. It offers stunning views of Criccieth Castle. Although there is no on-site parking available, there is low-cost and free public parking available off and around the High Street, within a few minutes' walk. The prices for the course are: £5 for adults, £3 for children aged 12-16, £2.50 for under 11s, and £10 for a family ticket of 2 adults and 2 under 11s. Clubs, balls, tees, and scorecards are included in the price. Booking is not necessary, but cash is the only accepted form of payment. The course is seasonal and weather-dependent, usually open from April to late September or early October, from 10.30 am to 4 pm every day. There are toilet facilities and a children's playground nearby.