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
How To Get Around Cardiff?
Living in Cardiff really made me appreciate how walkable it is, how bike-friendly it is and how good the public transport is!
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.
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??
For your upcoming trip to Wales, Transport for Wales has a fantastic advance sale starting from 15th January so you can book cheaper trains to and around Wales by clicking here!
And for more help on where to visit in Wales by train? Read my 10 best places to visit in Wales by train post!
Get 12 train tickets for the price of 6!
TfW is having a Multiflex sale between 9th January and 31st January. Customers will be able to get 12 journeys for the price of 6! Multiflex can be used in any direction between a chosen origin and destination station at any time of day and are available to buy on the TfW app.
Click here to find out more and purchase your half-price tickets available to use between stations in Mid-Glamorgan, South Glamorgan, RCT & Vale of Glamorgan.
Search Transport For Wales to find the best price and ticket for your London to Cardiff train!
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!
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
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!
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
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!
- For more of my posts on and around Cardiff to get the most out of your stay see:
- 16 Beaches Near Cardiff To Visit, All 1 Hour From Cardiff!
- How To Spend One Day in Cardiff! A Lush Cardiff Itinerary!
- 16 GREAT Day Trips From Cardiff In Wales & England!
- How To Do A Cardiff Day Trip from London With Things To Do 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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!
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.
Here’s my post on how to visit Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve.
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!
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!
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!
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 Near Cardiff
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!
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.
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.
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!
I hope you have found these things to do in Cardiff, things to do in Cardiff Bay and places to visit near Cardiff helpful!
- For more of my posts to help you plan your trip and see more of Wales see:
- Wales Road Trip Itinerary & 56 Places To Stop On Your Wales Road Trip!
- How To Spend 3 Days in Wales! Perfect 3 Day Wales Itinerary!
- How To Spend 1 Week in Wales! BEST Wales Itinerary!
- Complete South Wales Itinerary For A Lush 1 Week in South Wales!
- How To Do The Brecon Beacons Waterfalls Walk to 4 Waterfalls!
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!