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Caernarfon is a small but perfectly formed town known for its imposing castle, a well-preserved 13th-century marvel said to be Wales' best. Climb to the top of its high walls for dramatic panoramas across the Menai Strait towards the Isle of Anglesey. Down in charm-packed Caernarfon itself, you can browse independent boutiques, drink in a tiny bar on Hole in the Wall Street and try regional specialities like seaweed-stuffed laverbread.
Hostels in Caernarfon include an early 19th-century building with a café bar serving Welsh beer and a townhouse with a kitchen-dining room that's 600 years old. Rather be in the lush green countryside? Opt for a Caernarfon hostel at a mountain lodge in Snowdonia National Park and day trip to Caernarfon (40 minutes' drive away). You can expect free Wi-Fi and some hostels also offer a free breakfast.
Markets are often held in Caernarfon's central square, which is lined with colourful houses. Around the corner, the small harbour area has the castle walls on one side and the Menai Strait on the other. Waterside Doc Fictoria (Victoria Dock) is home to the contemporary arts centre Galeri Caernarfon, where you can see films, music, dance and comedy. The buildings start to thin out by the time you get to Rhosbodrual on the outskirts of town, but it's here that you'll find a Roman fort, go-karting and an indoor climbing centre.
Set aside a couple of hours to explore Caernarfon Castle and its towering turrets, then turn your thoughts to the countryside. You can climb to the peak of Wales' biggest mountain, Mount Snowdon (or just take the train to the top!). It's about a 40-minute drive from the town. The Isle of Anglesey's hidden coves are around a 30-minute drive away from Caernarfon. On your way, stop in the town said to have the longest place name in the world to take a snap of the famous train station sign.
Caernarfon is small enough to get around on foot, but if you're heading to Snowdonia you'll need to rent a car, take a taxi or hop on the bus. If you're arriving by air, the closest public airport is in Anglesey, which has daily flights from Cardiff. Liverpool John Lennon Airport is 4.5 hours away by bus and train. From London's Euston Station, take a train to Bangor, then a bus, again taking about 4.5 hours. The bus service from Bangor runs once a day.