things to do in cardiff wales

Last Updated on: 19th June 2024, 04:53 am

Are you planning a visit to Cardiff, Wales soon? As a seasoned traveler and lover of exploring new places, I am excited to share with you my top recommendations for the best things to do in Cardiff. From its stunning historical sites and cultural hotspots to its hidden gems, Cardiff has something for everyone. Whether you are traveling alone, with family, or with friends, there are plenty of activities to enjoy in this vibrant city.

It’s no wonder that Cardiff is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the UK. With its rich history and diverse range of attractions, Cardiff offers an unforgettable experience. In this guide, I’ll share my insider tips on how to explore Cardiff and its surrounding areas, including must-visit attractions, hidden gem locations and the best way to make the most of your visit.

From taking a stroll through Cardiff Castle and Bute Park to immersing yourself in Welsh culture at St Fagans National Museum of History, there is plenty to explore. Don’t forget to enjoy the breathtaking views from Cardiff Bay and experience the vibrant nightlife and food scene in the city center. I’ll also share with you some excellent day trips from Cardiff if you want to discover the beautiful natural beauty that surrounds the city.

If you’re looking for things to do in Cardiff, Wales, this guide has you covered. Let’s dive in and discover the top attractions and hidden gems this fantastic city has to offer!

Things to do in Cardiff, Wales

1. Explore Cardiff Castle and Bute Park

As a history buff, the first place I visited in Cardiff was its most iconic landmark, Cardiff Castle. With a history dating back to Roman times, the castle has undergone many changes throughout the centuries, making for an intriguing visit. One of the most notable structures is the Norman keep, which dates back to the 11th century and offers stunning views of the city.

If you’re looking to immerse yourself in nature, Bute Park is the perfect place to explore. Located just behind Cardiff Castle, the park is a peaceful oasis in the heart of the city. With over 130 acres of parkland, Bute Park is full of beautiful gardens, tree-lined paths, and even a river to admire.

Take a picnic or enjoy a leisurely walk, surrounded by stunning landscapes, at Bute Park. You can visit the park and the castle within one day, as they are located right next to each other.

The Historical Significance of Cardiff Castle

Period Events
AD 75 The Romans build a fort on the site of Cardiff Castle.
1091 Norman work on the castle is begun by Robert Fitzhamon, who was granted the Lordship of Glamorgan by William the Conqueror.
1868 The third Marquis of Bute chose architect William Burges to transform the castle into his whimsical Gothic dream.
1947 The fifth Marquis handed over the castle and grounds to the city of Cardiff.

Fun fact: the castle’s clock tower, named the “Fanny Tower,” caused quite a controversy when it was built in the 1860s. The wife of the third Marquis of Bute, Lady Sophia, was not amused!

Visiting Cardiff Castle and Bute Park is one of the best things to do in Cardiff Wales. You can learn about the city’s history, culture and relax at one of the most picturesque places in the city.

2. Immerse Yourself in Welsh Culture at St Fagans National Museum of History

If you want to learn about the fascinating history and traditions of Wales, there’s no better place to visit than St Fagans National Museum of History. This open-air museum, located just a short drive from Cardiff city center, showcases the country’s heritage through a collection of over 40 original buildings, from farmhouses to chapels, and bakeries to schools. Walking through the museum’s extensive gardens and exploring the historic buildings is like stepping back in time and experiencing Welsh culture firsthand.

One of the highlights of St Fagans is its interactive exhibitions, which offer visitors opportunities to engage with Welsh history in a hands-on way. Try your hand at traditional crafts like weaving and pottery or learn about the Welsh language and its importance to the culture. The museum also hosts regular events and workshops, so check the calendar before you visit to see what’s on.

Don’t leave without visiting the impressive St Fagans Castle, a grand estate that dates back to the 16th century. The castle’s gardens are a stunning example of traditional Welsh landscaping, complete with ornamental lakes, woodlands, and formal gardens.

St Fagans National Museum of History

The History of St Fagans

“St Fagans National Museum of History opened its doors to the public in 1948. Since then, it has evolved into one of the UK’s premier heritage attractions, offering visitors an immersive experience of Welsh life from centuries past.”

St Fagans National Museum of History Website

Today, St Fagans is one of the most popular Cardiff Wales attractions, drawing thousands of visitors every year who come to explore the rich history and traditions of Wales. If you’re interested in Welsh culture, history, and architecture, this museum simply cannot be missed.

3. Enjoy the Spectacular Views from Cardiff Bay

One of my favorite spots in Cardiff is the beautiful Cardiff Bay. With stunning waterfront views and a host of attractions, it’s no wonder this area is a top tourist destination.

Take a stroll along the waterfront promenade and take in the breathtaking views of the bay. Indulge in some waterfront dining while enjoying the picturesque scenery.

If you’re feeling adventurous, explore the Cardiff Bay Barrage, a unique feat of engineering that provides protection against flooding and creates a pathway across the bay.

Looking for some family fun? Head over to the Techniquest Science Discovery Centre, where interactive exhibits and hands-on activities will engage and educate visitors of all ages.

For an even more immersive experience, take a boat trip around the bay and enjoy panoramic views of the city skyline.

4. Discover the Cardiff City Centre

If you’re a shopaholic, the vibrant Cardiff City Centre is the place to be! With a mix of high street stores, independent boutiques and vibrant markets, it’s a shopper’s paradise. Take a stroll down the popular shopping streets like Queen Street, The Hayes or St David’s Centre and indulge in some retail therapy.

However, shopping isn’t the only thing on offer in the city centre. There are plenty of other things to do in Cardiff Town Centre, including exploring the historic Cardiff Castle, taking in the beautiful sights at Bute Park, or stepping into Welsh culture by visiting the St Fagans National Museum of History.

Make sure to also discover the city’s vibrant food and drink scene while you’re wandering around the city center. From traditional Welsh cuisine to international flavors, the food scene in Cardiff is diverse and exciting.

Cardiff City Centre

Don’t miss out on the chance to discover the Cardiff City Centre and all the wonderful things it has to offer!

5. Experience Welsh Rugby at Principality Stadium

As a sports enthusiast, I highly recommend visiting the incredible Principality Stadium when in Cardiff. This legendary stadium is the home of Welsh rugby and a must-visit for any fan of the sport.

One of the best ways to experience Welsh rugby at Principality Stadium is by attending a match. Nothing beats the electric atmosphere and passionate fans that fill the stadium during a game. Make sure to check the stadium’s schedule before your visit to catch a match and witness the excitement firsthand.

If you prefer a more behind-the-scenes experience, take a tour of the stadium. Get a glimpse into the history and culture of Welsh rugby and see behind the scenes of the iconic stadium. You’ll have the opportunity to walk the halls, visit the changing rooms, and even walk onto the pitch.

To make the most of your visit to the Principality Stadium and explore the Welsh rugby culture, be sure to visit the Welsh Rugby Union Shop. Here, you’ll find an extensive range of official sports merchandise and souvenirs to commemorate your visit to this iconic venue.

“There’s nothing quite like the passion and excitement of Welsh rugby at the iconic Principality Stadium. It’s a must-visit for any sports fan or culture enthusiast in Cardiff.”

6. Visit the National Museum Cardiff

Located in the heart of the city, the National Museum Cardiff is a must-see for anyone with an appreciation for art, history, and archaeology. With free entry, visitors can explore this cultural hotspot to their heart’s content.

The art galleries in Cardiff’s National Museum house some of the most impressive art collections in the UK, from classic masterpieces to contemporary works. Art enthusiasts will be delighted by the diverse range of art pieces that span hundreds of years of artistic expression.

Additionally, the museum boasts an extensive collection of archaeology and natural history. Explore the evolution of Wales from prehistoric times to the present day. Families can enjoy interactive displays that allow for a hands-on experience while learning about geology and different animal species.

National Museum Cardiff

Don’t miss out on the chance to visit this treasure trove of art, history, and natural history. Spend the day exploring the exhibits and learning about the rich cultural heritage of Wales.

7. Step into Nature at Cardiff’s Parks and Gardens

As much as I love exploring the city, sometimes, a break from the hustle and bustle is essential. Cardiff boasts an array of beautiful parks and gardens for visitors to enjoy. If you’re a nature lover, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

Rush to Roath Park

Roath Park is a serene destination that’s perfect for travelers who enjoy a peaceful atmosphere. Whether you’re walking around the lake, indulging in an ice-cream or relaxing on the well-kept grass. Don’t forget to catch the spectacular views of the park from the swan paddle boats.

Victoria Park

A bit far from the city center, Victoria Park is perfect for travelers who enjoy expansive green spaces. Keep yourself awake and refresh your mind while taking a glimpse of the European rose garden and the Alpine garden. If you’re heading there on a Sunday, be sure to visit the Farmers’ Market for fresh food and drinks.

Pet a Goat at Bute Park

A stroll around Bute Park will definitely refresh you. Home to a wide range of wildlife, travellers can enjoy walking in the woodland and orchard or visit the secret garden café. Be sure to feed some of the goats on display and learn about the history of the park from the guides.

Parks in Cardiff Gardens in Cardiff Outdoor Activities in Cardiff
Roath Park Elysian Park Cycling in Bute Park
Bute Park Alexandra Gardens Picnicking in Victoria Park
Viktoria Gardens Rose Gardens Regional Park Excursion

The Best View in Pontcanna Fields

Just 5 minutes walk from the city center through Sophia Gardens, you’ll find Pontcanna Fields, with its breathtaking views of the castle battlements. Visitors can explore various fields featuring rugby pitches and playgrounds. An ideal spot for walking and cycling around.

From roaming the serene Roath Park to getting lost in the Bute Park woods, Cardiff has plenty to offer for the avid nature lover. So, take a break, and breathe in the fresh air. Nature awaits you!

8. Experience the Vibrant Nightlife in Cardiff

As the sun sets, Cardiff transforms into a lively destination with a buzzing nightlife scene, offering a plethora of entertainment options for locals and visitors alike. Whether you’re in the mood for a laid-back evening with a pint of beer or an energetic night of dancing, Cardiff’s bars, pubs, and entertainment venues have something for everyone.

Nightlife in Cardiff:

  • Experience the best of Cardiff’s craft beer scene at the Tiny Rebel, voted the best bar in Wales numerous times. With a rotating selection of creative brews and a relaxed vibe, it’s the perfect spot to unwind with friends.
  • Jazz lovers won’t want to miss a night at Dempsey’s, a live music venue offering everything from funk and soul to blues and jazz.
  • For a night of laughter, head to The Glee Club, a stand-up comedy venue featuring both local and international talent.
  • Looking for a trendy cocktail bar? Look no further than Pennyroyal, an intimate speakeasy-style bar with a selection of unique and delicious cocktails.

Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or just looking for a fun night out, Cardiff’s nightlife won’t disappoint.

Nightlife in Cardiff

9. Discover Cardiff’s Surrounding Natural Beauty

As much as I love exploring the city, the natural beauty surrounding Cardiff is something not to be missed. If you have some extra time during your visit, take a day trip to discover the breathtaking landscapes nearby.

The natural beauty near Cardiff is diverse and impressive. One of the most popular attractions is the Brecon Beacons National Park, with over 500 square miles of majestic mountains, valleys, and forests. It’s perfect for hiking, cycling, or simply enjoying the stunning views. Don’t forget your camera!

If you’re looking for a coastal experience, head to Penarth, a picturesque town with a charming pier, cafes, and restaurants. Walk along the beach, watch the waves crash on the shore, and breathe in the fresh sea air.

Other day trips from Cardiff worth considering include the lush Wye Valley, the romantic Tintern Abbey, and the tranquil Southern Wales Coast, known for its sandy beaches and hidden coves.

As you can see, the Cardiff Wales attractions are not limited to the city itself. With so much natural beauty surrounding it, exploring the countryside is a must-do during your visit to Cardiff.

Conclusion

In conclusion, my time exploring Cardiff has been nothing short of amazing. The city has so much to offer, from its rich history to its vibrant culture and stunning natural beauty. I loved wandering through the beautiful Bute Park and visiting the impressive Cardiff Castle, as well as immersing myself in Welsh culture at St Fagans National Museum of History.

Cardiff Bay was another highlight for me, with its stunning waterfront views and diverse range of attractions. I also enjoyed exploring the city centre, with its abundance of shops, restaurants, and bars. And let’s not forget about the passionate Welsh rugby culture at Principality Stadium.

The National Museum Cardiff was a treasure trove for art enthusiasts, and I found myself appreciating the beauty of Cardiff’s parks and gardens. The city’s vibrant nightlife was also a pleasant surprise, with plenty of entertainment options to choose from.

If you’re looking to explore the natural beauty near Cardiff, there are plenty of day trips waiting to be discovered, from the Brecon Beacons National Park to the charming coastal town of Penarth. Overall, I highly recommend visiting Cardiff and experiencing everything it has to offer. You won’t be disappointed!

FAQ

What are the top things to do in Cardiff, Wales?

Some of the top things to do in Cardiff, Wales include visiting Cardiff Castle and Bute Park, immersing yourself in Welsh culture at St Fagans National Museum of History, enjoying the spectacular views from Cardiff Bay, exploring the Cardiff City Centre, experiencing Welsh rugby at Principality Stadium, visiting the National Museum Cardiff, stepping into nature at Cardiff’s parks and gardens, experiencing the vibrant nightlife in Cardiff, and discovering the surrounding natural beauty on day trips from Cardiff.

What attractions are there in Cardiff, Wales?

Some of the top attractions in Cardiff, Wales include Cardiff Castle, Bute Park, St Fagans National Museum of History, Cardiff Bay, Cardiff City Centre, Principality Stadium, National Museum Cardiff, and the parks and gardens throughout the city.

Where can I find cultural hotspots in Cardiff?

Cardiff has several cultural hotspots, including St Fagans National Museum of History, National Museum Cardiff, and various art galleries and theaters throughout the city.

What outdoor activities can I do in Cardiff?

Cardiff offers several outdoor activities, such as exploring the parks and gardens, visiting Cardiff Bay Barrage, taking boat trips around the bay, and venturing on day trips to the surrounding natural beauty, such as Brecon Beacons National Park and Penarth.

What is there to do in Cardiff City Centre?

In the Cardiff City Centre, you can explore a mix of high street stores, independent boutiques, vibrant markets, and enjoy the city’s food and drink scene.

Can I experience Welsh culture in Cardiff?

Absolutely! Cardiff offers opportunities to experience Welsh culture, such as visiting St Fagans National Museum of History, attending Welsh rugby matches at Principality Stadium, and immersing yourself in the city’s vibrant nightlife scene.

Where can I enjoy the nightlife in Cardiff?

Cardiff has a vibrant nightlife scene with a variety of bars, pubs, entertainment venues, and live music and comedy shows. You can explore popular areas such as Cardiff Bay, City Road, and the city center for a memorable night out.

What day trips can I take from Cardiff to explore the surrounding natural beauty?

There are several day trips you can take from Cardiff to explore the surrounding natural beauty. Some popular options include visiting the breathtaking Brecon Beacons National Park, the picturesque coastal town of Penarth, or exploring the nearby countryside and castles.