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TOP 20 Things To Do In Cardiff, Cardiff Bay & Near Cardiff!

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Cardiff is a fantastic city in the UK! It’s a diverse and cosmopolitan city sandwiched between the mountains and the ocean and there are so many things to do in Cardiff and so many reasons to visit Cardiff!

Whether you’re on a city break in Cardiff with friends, family or solo, or you’re popping into Cardiff whilst on a bigger Wales road trip.

In this Cardiff travel blog, I’ve got you covered with the top Cardiff attractions, things to do in Cardiff Bay (an area of Cardiff I love!), and places to go near Cardiff as it’s good to see a bit more of Wales during your stay in the city too!

Things To Do In Cardiff

things to do in Cardiff
Keep reading for all the things to do in Cardiff!

Walking: Cardiff City Centre is really easy to walk around as it isn’t that big and if you don’t fancy walking or have difficulties walking, I recommend this Cardiff hop on hop off bus to show you the best Cardiff tourist attractions.

Cycling: Cardiff has recently had OVO bikes installed and as I found out, they are a great way to see the city and there are plenty of cycle lanes in Cardiff.

I recommend hiring a bike to get from Cardiff City Centre to Cardiff Bay and for cycling around Cardiff Bay along the water so you can see much more in a shorter amount of time.

things to do in Cardiff, hiring an oyo bike to get around
Hiring one of these OYO Bikes is a great way to get around Cardiff!

Buses: Buses in Cardiff are really regular and easy to use. Go to Cardiff Bus and you’ll easily be able to plan your route. Each adult journey is £2.00 one way.

If you are staying in accommodation in Cardiff outside of the city centre, definitely look into the public bus to get you into the city and around it.

Trains: Cardiff Central Train Station is right in the middle of the city centre and has great transport links to all of the UK. For example, the train from London to Cardiff is just 2 hours making a day trip to Cardiff from London really easy!

There are many train stations around Cardiff and a few stations in the city but I find buses easier, cheaper and more regular to use than the trains inside the city.

Looking to take the train to Wales??

Search Transport For Wales to find the best price and ticket for your London to Cardiff train!

For more help on where to visit in Wales by train? Read my 10 best places to visit in Wales by train post!

Driving: Cardiff is an easy city to drive around and navigate with plenty of parking. John Lewis Car Park is a popular and good place for parking in Cardiff and so is St James Car Park which is a bit cheaper I found.

Cardiff Day Tours

If you’re looking for a day tour from Cardiff, or a way to see Cardiff with a guide, like a hop on, hop off bus, check out these options!

For adventure activities in and around Cardiff like Gorge Walking, Coasteering, and Kayaking, all organised by a reputable company with a guide, check out Blue Ocean Activities and Adventure who are pros in Outdoor Activities in South Wales!

Cardiff Map

Here is a map with all of the below places to visit in Cardiff detailed to help you plan your trip!

Places to Visit in Cardiff

Here are the top places to visit in Cardiff:

1. Cardiff Castle

When it comes to Cardiff attractions, Cardiff Castle is number 1 in the things to do in Cardiff!

The Castle is Wales’ top heritage attraction, it has been incredibly preserved and is really interactive.

It’s great for adults to visit but it’s especially good when thinking about what to do in Cardiff with kids.

You can buy tickets to enter the castle and the castle museum making it a great for things to do in Cardiff when it rains, however, if you are short on time or want to save money, you can enter the castle grounds for free and still see a lot of the 2000 years of history Cardiff Castle has to offer!

things to do in Cardiff, Cardiff Castle
Cardiff Castle is the top Cardiff Attraction!
things to do in Cardiff, Cardiff Castle outside

2. Shopping Arcades

Cardiff is known as The City of Arcades‘ because of all its beautiful Victorian & Edwardian arcades dating back to 1885 that now house over 100 independent cafes, bars and shops making them top places to visit in Cardiff.

Make sure you add these shopping arcades in Cardiff to your list of places to see in Cardiff as you walk through the city.

  • Castle Quarter Arcades
  • High Street Arcade
  • Royal Arcade
  • Morgan Arcade
things to do in Cardiff, Shopping Arcade from outside
The shopping arcades are not really well known places to visit in Cardiff, but a local like me knows to visit them!
things to do in Cardiff, Shopping Arcade inside

3. Cardiff Market

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 minute’s walk from the Castle.

Here you’ll find rows of independent shops and cafes selling local products. Cardiff Market is known as the beating heart of Cardiff making it one of the top places to go in Cardiff and things to do in Cardiff!

For the best Welsh Cakes, be sure to buy some from Cardiff Bakestones!

things to do in Cardiff, Cardiff Market inside
Cardiff Market is one of the great places to go in Cardiff to see local products!
things to do in Cardiff, Cardiff Market welsh cakes
You have to try a Welsh Cake in Cardiff!

4. Cool Cafes

Whilst planning your activities in Cardiff and Cardiff sightseeing, be sure to plan in brunch, lunch, or a coffee and cake at one of the many cafes in Cardiff.

There are so many independent cool cafes in Cardiff city centre and I particularly like the ones located in the shopping arcades so you can really enjoy the architecture of the arcades.

Waterloo Tea in Wyndham Arcade is my favourite but I also like Uncommon Ground and Corner Coffee.

things to do in Cardiff, Waterloo cafe coffee and cake

5. National Museum Cardiff

The National Museum Cardiff is located next to Cardiff City Hall which is a hugely impressive grand building and worth visiting just to see it from the outside.

Entrance to the museum is free making this one of the free things to do in Cardiff.

Inside you’ll be able to visit one of Europe’s finest art collections and 500 years of paintings, drawings, sculptures, silver, and ceramics from Wales and across the world.

things to do in Cardiff, national museum cardiff
If you like museums, make sure the National Museum Cardiff is on your Cardiff things to-do list!

6. Bute Park

Attached to Cardiff Castle and next to the National Museum Cardiff is Bute Park.

Bute Park is a huge park really popular with locals and students, especially on the weekend making it one of the places to visit in Cardiff to get a feel of local life.

It is made up of different areas with plenty of gardens, walking paths, cycle paths, playing fields, benches and cafes.

If you are visiting Cardiff for a few days, I really recommend going for a walk or bike ride in Bute Park to easily see a part of the city that the locals love.

things to do in Cardiff, Bute park
Bute Park is great for walking around and enjoying nature in, especially if you’re in Cardiff for a few days.

7. Cardiff Boat Trips

Something that not even the locals know is a popular activity in Cardiff is the boat tours that run from Bute Park into Cardiff Bay.

You can get on in either Cardiff Bay or Cardiff City Centre in Bute Park near the Castle and use the Cardiff boat cruise as a way to get between the two parts of the city, or you can stay on for the whole 1-hour journey getting off where you started and enjoying the commentary and what you’re passing by on the cruise.

Check out Cardiff Boat for their updated timetable and prices.

things to do in Cardiff, Cardiff boat trips

8. Cardiff Nightlife

Cardiff is known for its great nightlife and going on a night out in Cardiff is popular with stag and hen do’s. People come from all around the country to have a night out in Cardiff.

It’s also great for students to go out in thanks to its University.

Here are the best nightclubs in Cardiff and the best places to go out in Cardiff!

Things To Do in Cardiff Bay

Cardiff Bay is a great area of Cardiff City, here are the best things to do in Cardiff Bay:

9. Mermaid Quay, Cardiff Bay

What makes Cardiff a loved city for locals and for visitors is its location right on the water and Cardiff Bay is the place you can appreciate this from.

Cardiff Bay is actually quite big and a lot of it is just residential, so as a tourist to Cardiff, Mermaid Quay is the place you’ll want to go.

Mermaid Quay has lots of restaurants, cafes, bars and top Cardiff Bay attractions like the things to do in Cardiff Bay I’m going to go into next!

Things to do in Cardiff, things to do in Cardiff Bay, Mermaid Quay from water
When in Cardiff, make sure you head to Mermaid Quay for more Cardiff attractions.
Things to do in Cardiff, things to do in Cardiff Bay, Mermaid Quay restaurants

10. Cardiff Bay 10km Trail

For the best way to see Cardiff Bay and get some fresh Welsh air, I recommend taking the 10km trail around Cardiff Bay.

You can pick the trail up at any point but starting and ending in Mermaid Quay is a good idea and you’ll see helpful signs along the way pointing you in the right direction.

If you have time you can walk the trail but doing the trail by bike is easier and quicker. You can easily hire one of the OVO bikes in Cardiff Bay and drop it off at any other stand when you have finished.

The Cardiff Bay trail will take you to most of the below places to see in Cardiff, so it’s a good way to see a lot of Cardiff and get some exercise along the way!

Things to do in Cardiff, things to do in Cardiff Bay, Cardiff Bay Trail
I love this view back at Cardiff City from the Cardiff Bay Trail, one of the top things to do in Cardiff!

11. Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve

A short walk from Mermaid Quay is the Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve, it’s not a big area but there is a great viewing platform looking over the water and lots of chances to learn about nature in Cardiff Bay because this is a biodiversity hot spot!

Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve is one of the great places to go in Cardiff to get away from the city traffic and things to do in Cardiff with kids as they can run around and will learn something from the many nature signs.

Things to do in Cardiff, things to do in Cardiff Bay, Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve
For things to do with kids in Cardiff, let them explore the Wetlands.

12. Techniquest

Techniquest is a science and discovery centre located near Mermaid Quay in Cardiff Bay.

It’s a really interactive museum and great for children, especially on a rainy day in Cardiff! Not only will you learn more about science but you’ll also learn about Welsh culture in this Cardiff museum.

For things to do in Cardiff, especially for children, this is a great idea!

Things to do in Cardiff, things to do in Cardiff Bay, Techniquest
Techniquest is one of the best things to do in Cardiff Bay for all the family.

13. Cardiff Aqua Park

For one of the really fun things to do in Cardiff, look into Cardiff Aqua Park!

It’s an inflatable Aqua Park in Cardiff Bay open all summer offering fun, adrenaline and lots of laughs!

Cardiff is popular for stag and hen do’s so if you’re looking for activities in Cardiff, this would be a brilliant group activity to challenge everyone!

Things to do in Cardiff, things to do in Cardiff Bay, Cardiff Aqua Park
For fun things to do in Cardiff and fun activities in Cardiff, look no further than the Aqua Park!

14. Norwegian Church Arts Centre

Whilst in Cardiff Bay and Mermaid Quay, I recommend walking down to the Norwegian Church. This is one of the unique Cardiff attractions and something you wouldn’t expect to see in the built-up Cardiff Bay Area.

The Norwegian Church and Arts Centre is a 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!

Things to do in Cardiff, things to do in Cardiff Bay, Norwegian Arts Church
The Norwegian Arts Church is one of the good places to see in Cardiff Bay.

15. Cardiff Bay Barrage

To see an incredible view of the water, city and mountains and see a cool bridge, take the Cardiff Bay Trail right around to Cardiff Bay Barrage and Harbour.

Cardiff Bay Barrage is a harbour barrier for pedestrians and bikes to cross from Cardiff Bay to Penarth.

It’s a really unique structure and one of the Cardiff places to visit I recommend for a good view of the city and a place that locals love to visit too!

Things to do in Cardiff, things to do in Cardiff Bay, Cardiff Bay Barrage
I love this cycling and walking track to the Barrage from Mermaid Quay.

Things To Do Near Cardiff

Cardiff and the surrounding areas are not that big so there are many things to do near Cardiff which you can easily pair with visiting the city centre:

16. Penarth Beach

For beaches near Cardiff, Penarth Beach is the best one to visit because it’s the closest!

It’s easy to drive from Cardiff to Penarth, and get the bus or the train which is why it’s top of my list of places to visit near Cardiff.

Penarth Beach is a huge beach although it is not a sand beach. It has a pier and Penarth Pier is open all year round to walk along and has cafes, restaurants and stalls nearby for food and drink.

This really is one of the top things to do in Cardiff and things to do near Cardiff all year round to see another side of Cardiff and get some fresh sea air!

things to do in Cardiff, places to visit near Cardiff, Penarth Beach
Penarth Beach and Pier

17. Castle Coch

Castle Coch is a 15-minute drive from Cardiff city centre and well worth visiting if you are looking to visit great Castles in Wales because this is one of the top ones!

Castle Coch is a 19th Century castle built in a gothic style in the woods. It is open to visitors but if you are just passing by trying to save time or money it can also be appreciated from the outside only with a walk through the nearby woods.

For Cardiff tourist attractions, Castle Coch is the best one to visit as it is so unique looking.

things to do in Cardiff, places to visit near Cardiff, Castle Coch

18. Caerphilly Castle

Another really good castle in Cardiff is Caerphilly Castle. This is the biggest castle in Wales and the second biggest in Britain with only Windsor Castle bigger than it so it has to be on my list of things to do in Cardiff!

Visiting Caerphilly Castle from Cardiff city centre is easy by bus, train or by driving and it’s a good way to see more of Wales without going too far out of Cardiff city.

To make the visit to Caerphilly more worth it, be sure to head up to Caerphilly Mountain afterwards!

19. Caerphilly Mountain

Whilst you’re in Caerphilly which is just 15 minutes from Cardiff city centre, from the Castle you can head towards Caerphilly Mountain and walk to the top.

Caerphilly is not a big mountain so don’t worry, it’s more of a hill and if you have a car to drive you from the castle to the start of the Caerphilly Mountain walk then it’s even easier.

Related Post: How To Do Caerphilly Mountain Walk! Easy Walk Near Cardiff!

I really recommend adding this to your places to visit near Cardiff because you get to see amazing views of the Welsh countryside and the ocean and city in the distance, without going too far from Cardiff city centre at all.

things to do in Cardiff, places to visit near Cardiff, Caerphilly Mountain
Top of Caerphilly Mountain

20. Garth Mountain

Lastly, another walk and mountain but also, another mountain that isn’t that big because Garth Mountain is also more like a hill.

Related Post: How To Do Garth Mountain Walk! Easy & Hard Route!

This walk gives you another look at the beautiful countryside surrounding Cardiff.

It’s also in the same direction as Castle Coch so if you are looking to spend 1 day outside of Cardiff, or half a day, you could visit Castle Coch and then do the Garth Mountain Walk, but you’ll still be within 15-20 minutes from Cardiff city centre!

things to do in Cardiff, places to visit near Cardiff, Garth Mountain
Top of Garth Mountain

I hope you have found these things to do in Cardiff, things to do in Cardiff Bay and places to visit near Cardiff helpful!


Wednesday 20th of July 2022

Thanks for sharing this article. I visited Cardiff and Penarth on a 3 day trip and wanted to really explore things so used your recommendations as a guide. Everything was spot on like you described it with the exception of easy driving within Cardiff City Centre as many roads were closed to vehicles as they are pedestrianising it heavily. I ended up entering into a bus/taxi lane by error so that will be a nice PCN present next week ha! Another suggestion would be to write about food to try in Wales like traditional Welsh dishes. But thanks for all the rest, was truly useful and appreciated :)


Wednesday 20th of July 2022

Hello! So glad you followed this guide, thank you for letting me know! Oh no, that's happened to me in Cardiff before! I had no idea until I got the letter!