I used to live in London and now I live in Cardiff, so when getting the train from Cardiff to London recently to see some friends, you can imagine my delight when I realised the London to Cardiff train is less than 2 hours and it made me think just how easy it is to do a Cardiff day trip from London!
I loved doing day trips from London when I lived there but I always thought Cardiff was a bit too far, how wrong I was!
Aside from the quick train time, the other reason a Cardiff day trip is a great idea and very doable is because when you arrive in Cardiff everything in Cardiff City is very central and easy to get to.
Cardiff is only a small city to get around with good public transport links meaning there are lots of things to do in Cardiff on a day trip, and easy places to visit in Cardiff in one day!
So, in this Cardiff and London travel blog, I’m going to detail ways to get from London to Cardiff, including day tours from London to Cardiff, plus what to do in Cardiff in one day so you can see the best of the Welsh capital on a day trip!
Cardiff Day Trip from London
What is the best time to visit Cardiff?
Any time of year is a good time to visit Cardiff! As long as you have the right clothing!
For a day trip, winter, spring, summer or autumn are all good and beautiful times to visit. Cardiff does get wet and grey but as long as you pack an umbrella and dress up warm you will enjoy your day in Cardiff.
Even if it rains, there are plenty of things to do in Cardiff when it rains which I’ll detail below and if it’s nice and sunny then even better as Cardiff is beautiful in the sunshine!
When it comes to planning this London to Cardiff day trip the only thing I would say to keep in mind is if you visit in the winter months, because of the 2 hour travel time to Cardiff it’s likely you will have to leave early in the morning like 8 am and will get back at about 7 pm which means you will be on the transport in the dark but that shouldn’t be a problem.
Cardiff By Train From London
Out of the ways to get to Cardiff my advice is to get the train because the London to Cardiff train is quicker than driving and with fewer possibilities of delays.
The only Cardiff to London train is from London Paddington Station to Cardiff Central Station and takes just 1 hour 57 minutes!
From my last experience, the train on this line is a brand new train with food service, it was pretty fancy and very enjoyable and once you arrive in Cardiff Central Station you will be in the heart of Cardiff ready to start exploring Cardiff!
I admit the only problem with getting the train is that London to Cardiff train tickets can be quite expensive.
I recommend Transport For Wales to book your train to Cardiff as I love how easy it is to compare the prices on different dates and times.
From my experience of train travel in the UK, it is best to book a ticket a few weeks in advance, and definitely a few days in advance to get the best price!
Search Transport For Wales to find the best price and ticket for your London to Cardiff train!
Cardiff From London Bus
There are coaches that run from London Victoria Coach Station to Cardiff Coach Station. The Cardiff to London bus is much cheaper than the train but it takes longer at approximately 3 hours and 25 minutes.
Check Coach fares and times on The Train Line here!
Cardiff From London Drive
Lastly, if you have a car in London your can drive from Cardiff to London. The drive is around 3 hours depending where you leave London from.
I’d say that driving from London to Cardiff is a good idea, a great idea in fact, if you are spending a few days in Wales like 3 days in Wales or 1 week in Wales on a Wales Road Trip.
However, for a day trip to Cardiff from London it is not worth the risk that the traffic could be bad and will take hours from your day trip in Cardiff!
Cardiff Day Tours from London
If you like the idea of having your Cardiff day trip from London all planned for you, then there are a few day tours from London to Cardiff on offer.
1 – The cheapest Cardiff Day Tour from London via Viator!
This tour includes luxury coach travel from London to Cardiff and back. A tour guide with you all day. A coach around Cardiff’s top attractions and a stop at the impressive Caerphilly Castle just outside Cardiff – Click here to look into prices and availability! It sells out fast!
2 – Day Trip to Cardiff Tour where your train tickets are booked for you from London to Cardiff along with the Hop on Hop Off Bus in Cardiff to see all of the top Cardiff attractions! – Click here to look into prices and availability!
3 – Cardiff Day Tour from London by bus from London to Cardiff with a tour guide plus a sightseeing bus in Cardiff to see the top attractions and a unique visit to Caerphilly Castle just outside of Cardiff! – Click here to look into prices and availability!
Things To Do in Cardiff on a Day Trip
Cardiff is a pretty small city which is why it makes such a good city to visit on a day trip.
With 1 day in Cardiff, you can do quite a lot from seeing historical places like Cardiff Castle and the Victorian Shopping Arcades to seeing a modern and cosmopolitan side down at Cardiff Bay and seeing some of the beautiful nature and impressive views that Cardiff and Wales are known for.
Here are the top things to do in Cardiff which you can do in just a few hours!
Be sure to save this page and pin these places on your map so when you get to Cardiff you can start seeing these top Cardiff attractions straight away!
This is one of Wales’ top heritage attractions so you have to visit when on a day trip in Cardiff! Cardiff Castle is located in the middle of the city at the top of High Street about a 10-minute walk from Cardiff Central Station and it is open every day.
You can buy tickets to enter the castle and the castle museum, this is especially good if it’s raining or cold when you’re in Cardiff so you can be inside. However, if you think you’ll be short on time, you can enter the castle grounds for free and still see a lot of the 2000 years of history Cardiff Castle has to offer!
Cardiff Shopping Arcades
As a local to Cardiff I want to tell you about the Cardiff gem’s that are the shopping arcades! Cardiff is known as ‘The City of Arcades‘ because of all its beautiful Victorian & Edwardian arcades that now house over 100 independent cafes, bars and shops.
The arcades date back to 1885 which is when the first one was completed which is High Street Arcade.
Make sure you add Castle Quarter Arcades, High Street Arcade, Royal Arcade and Morgan Arcade to your list of places to see in Cardiff on your day trip.
For more history, to see some Welsh culture and to try the best Welsh Cakes in Cardiff, head to Cardiff Market which is in the middle of the city and just a few minutes walk from the Castle.
Here you’ll find row’s of independent shops and cafes selling local products. Cardiff Market is known as the beating heart of Cardiff and it’s something you can’t miss.
Because the market is all undercover, this is another one of the top places to visit in Cardiff when it’s raining!
For the best Welsh Cakes, be sure to buy some from Cardiff Bakestones!
Cardiff Hop On Hop Off Bus
Even though Cardiff is fairly small to walk around and it’s all pretty flat if you don’t fancy walking from attraction to attraction and you want a guided tour to learn more about the Welsh Capital on your Cardiff from London day trip I recommend booking a ticket on the Hop On Hop Off Bus!
The Cardiff Hop On Hop Off Bus offers 11 stops throughout the city which is a great way to see a lot of the city in a short time and just want you need on a day trip to Cardiff!
From Cardiff Castle, the National Museum of Cardiff, Principality Stadium, The Norwegian Church, Cardiff Bay and many more stops, you really will visit the top things to do in Cardiff on this bus!
National Museum Cardiff
The National Museum Cardiff is the top museum in Cardiff and not only is it full of interesting pieces and history from art to dinosaurs, but it is also free to enter and it’s a beautiful building from the outside.
Even if you don’t want to go inside I still recommend adding the National Museum Cardiff on your list of things to do in Cardiff on a day trip because it will get you to see another really cool side of the city where it’s popular for students to hang out.
Mermaid Quay, Cardiff Bay
After exploring the above places to visit in Cardiff City Centre I recommend heading to Mermaid Quay which is in Cardiff Bay on the water.
To get from Cardiff City Centre to Cardiff Bay you can either walk down Lloyd George Avenue which will take about 15 minutes or you can check Cardiff Bus for nearby bus stops.
Mermaid Quay is full of restaurants, bars and cafes and it is a really cool place to walk around and enjoy the ocean views from. It’s a good place to stop for lunch on your Cardiff day trip from London.
Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve
For some nature and to see a good view of the water and nearby Penarth, head to Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve which isn’t far from Mermaid Quay.
Norwegian Church Arts Centre Cardiff Bay
This is a really unique white church where many Norwegian sailors lowered their anchors on arrival at Cardiff port.
The church is now a thriving arts centre with a cafe and home to a gallery celebrating Cardiff’s most famous writer, Roald Dahl who was born in the area to Norwegian parents so it’s also a must-visit when in Cardiff Bay!
10km Cardiff Bay Trail Walk
If you have the time, and the right shoes, the best way to see Cardiff Bay and one of the top things to do in Cardiff is to do the 10km circular Cardiff Bay Trail.
There are signs showing the direction of the circular trail throughout the bay so you can’t get lost, the footpath is also on Google Maps.
So why not take yourself for a walk out onto the water over the barrage and back round for a unique and impressive look at Cardiff!
Places near Cardiff to visit:
If you arrive in Cardiff on your London to Cardiff day trip and decide you don’t want to spend time in the city and you would rather get out into the countryside a bit or by the coast, you can!
Cardiff is well connected by train and bus, so I would recommend the following things:
- Penarth Beach
- Barry Beach
- Castle Coch
- Caerphilly Castle and Caerphilly Mountain Walk
- Garth Mountain Walk
- Bute Park
For even more information, have a look at my 1 day in Cardiff itinerary post here to help you fully plan your day trip in Cardiff!
Search Transport For Wales to find the best price and ticket for your London to Cardiff train!
FAQ about a Cardiff Day Trip From London:
Is Cardiff worth a day trip from London?
Yes! Whether you live in London and want to explore a city that is slower paced but steeped in history and on the water, or you’re a visitor to London and want to experience another capital city in the UK, Cardiff is worth the day trip from London, just make sure you start your day early to get a full day!
How much is the train from London to Cardiff?
Train tickets from London to Cardiff vary in price from £65.00 to £100.00 depending on the day, time and when you book the ticket! To get the cheapest London to Cardiff train, I advise trying to book a few weeks before.
What can you do in Cardiff for one day?
Cardiff is a fairly small city so with one day in Cardiff you can see the top attractions like Cardiff Castle, Cardiff Shopping Arcades and Cardiff Bay.
What are good day trips from London?
Cardiff is a good day trip from London, other good day trips from London are to Oxford, Bath, Cotswolds, Stonehenge, Brighton, Hastings, Cambridge, Bristol.
I hope this helps you plan your Cardiff day trip from London!
- More of my day trip from London posts to help you see more of the UK:
- 26 Day Trips from London By Train!
- How To Visit The Seven Sisters Cliffs from London On A Day Trip!
- How To Visit White Cliffs of Dover From London On A Day Trip!
- 10 Things To Do On A Brighton Day Trip from London! & By Train!
- 12 Things To Do On A Day Trip To Oxford From London! By Train or Bus!
- 12 Day Trips From London in Winter To Explore And Get Cosy in!