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30 Exciting Things to Do in Cardiff On Your Next Trip

10 min
Uploaded on
Nov 29, 2022
Last updated on
Nov 11, 2023
Uploaded on
Nov 29, 2022
Last updated on
Nov 11, 2023
Things to do in Cardiff
Reign-y days at Cardiff Castle!

In the United Kingdom, although Cardiff is best known for its coal production, visitors will learn that it’s so much more with so many things to do. If you’re planning a trip to Cardiff and need a hand planning your itinerary, we’ve got you. Here’s a list of some of the top things to do in Cardiff. 

Cardiff Bucket List

1. Admire Cardiff Castle’s wondrous architecture

“Lovely castle. And very pretty scenery around it. I was very pleasantly pleased with what I saw. Would definitely go back.”

Holding the position as one of the most visited tourist attractions in Cardiff as well as all of Wales, this ancient monolith has been at the heart of Cardiff City for almost 2000 years. Many would declare it one of the best preserved of the numerous castles of Cardiff and Wales. Some might even consider it a romantic destination owing to its impressive exterior adorned with gothic-style interiors. Every room of this castle tells enchanting stories of its former residents using displays. This is certainly one of the best starting points when looking for things to do in Cardiff.

Price: Entry to the castle grounds is free. Tickets to the castle and museum are available for £13.50.

2. Travel to the past at St Fagan’s Castle

“St Fagans was amazing. The effort that the staff put in to move buildings from one side of Wales to the other was fabulous. A great way to preserve history.”

An open-air museum that offers visitors a chance to explore the day-to-day of Welsh people of the past, through realistic costumed characters portraying the traditional skills and crafts of Wales. Visitors might even call the experience time travel, with original and reconstructed buildings and machinery to aid the illusion. Make sure to check the official website for any special events and festivals taking place.

Price: Free entry

3. Enter a fairytale at Castell Coch

“This is an architectural masterpiece located in the Welsh Mountains and truly a jewel of the UK.”

A mere 15 minute drive away from Cardiff, Castell Coch is a castle seemingly belonging to a childhood fairytale. This 19th century gothic-style castle is obscured in the woods and was funded by the 3rd Marquis of Bute, former richest man in the world, during the Victorian era. If you’re looking to save time and money, you can gaze at the castle’s beauty during a stroll through the woods and then get onto the next item on your list of things to do in Cardiff.

Price: £8.30 for adults

4. Walk through the rooms of Cardiff City Hall

“I attended a conference here and was impressed by how well organised it was. The building from the outside is beautiful but some of the interior could do with some TLC.”

Located in the city center is another venue worth checking out - the Cardiff City Hall. Although it is mainly used for events, the old building is open to the public. On your tour through the city hall, observe the remarkably well restored interiors dating all the way back to the Edwardian times. One famous feature would be the Marble Hall, with a series of marble statues and columns to show off. You might also find yourself curious about Assembly Room which previously held ceremonies, giving the locals a chance to rub shoulders with royalty. The facility also has its very own art collection. 

Price: Free entry

5. Reward yourself with knowledge at National Museum Cardiff

“Small but perfectly curated exhibition about the BBC in Wales. Great for all ages. Took me back to my 70s childhood and great to see artefacts from Dr Who, Torchwood, Sherlock, Keeping Faith, His Dark materials and more!”

If ‘art collection’ gets your ears perked up, you’re in for a treat! The National Museum Cardiff is not only a museum but also an art gallery, with unmatchable collections of artefacts depicting the rich history and culture of the country of Wales. Housed in the Edwardian-style Civic Centre building near Council City Hall, the museum holds several zoology, botany, and geology displays. The art gallery itself treasures several pieces by notable Impressionists including Monet and Picasso, and sculptures by Rodin. 

Price: Free entry

6. Lose yourself in the city’s history at The Museum of Cardiff

“Friendly and helpful staff showed me how to explore the museum, and excellent displays on the history of Cardiff.”

Sometimes known as the Cardiff Story Museum and not to be confused with the National Museum Cardiff, the Museum of Cardiff is an excellent start for visitors of the town, on the search to learn more about the city’s long and rich history. Through the use of educational displays and original artefacts from various periods, visitors can witness the city’s development themselves. 

Price: Free entry

7. Feed your curiosity at Techniquest

“Fantastic science museum and the talks were fantastic - well worth a visit!”

In Cardiff Bay, you’re sure to find several tourist attractions, including Techniquest, a science and discovery museum. With interactive exhibits about the Welsh culture, innovations and inventions,visitors are sure to be impressed by the close connection the city has with science.

Price:  £10 with donation

8. Roam around Cardiff Bay

“Buzzing! Full of character and history. Easily the most impressive building in Cardiff Bay is The Pierhead. A must see.”

With something new and entertaining around every corner, it’s easy to lose track of time here as there are several things to do in Cardiff Bay. Torchwood fans can pay their respects at Ianto’s Shrine, which is a shrine dedicated to a fictional character that died more than a decade ago. Cyclists can take the Cardiff Bay Trail to watch the landmarks pass by as they keep fit. Several of the city’s best attractions can be found quite close to the bay, from the Senedd to Mermaid Quay and Roald Dahl’s Enormous Crocodile. 

9. Cheer on at Principality Stadium

Red jerseys, face paint, daffodil hats, inflatable sheep and buckets of beer - sound familiar? Yes, it’s the International Rugby Day in this city. Celebrated in a carnival-like fashion, fans rush to the large Principality Stadium to get the perfect seat and watch the Six Nations Championship. Those who can’t get a ticket, make their way to a nearby pub, watching the game with fellow enthusiasts. This is an unparalleled experience that no sports fan would want to miss.

10. Catch a game of football at Cardiff City Stadium

Not a Rugby fan? How about football? The Welsh team might be known for being beaten in Georgia, but be assured those days are long gone. With a new generation of players bringing in an entirely new level of talent, home games played at the Cardiff City Stadium have given sports fans an incomparable and exceptional atmosphere. 

11. Watch a performance at Wales Millenium Centre

Another one for the art geeks, a trip to the Wales Millenium Centre is an unmissable bucket list item. Home to the BBC National Orchestra, the Hijinx Theatre and The National Dance Company of Wales, this performance facility will satisfy your craving for the arts. Performances range across a diverse array of genres, including classical music and opera, ballet, modern dance, literary events and much more. Not only this, the centre also holds educational events, workshops and lectures. You can check out the official website for more details on their guided tours and activities. 

12. Feast your eyes at Norwegian Church Arts Centre

“This little church based in Cardiff bay is absolutely beautiful. We didn't visit the coffee shop, however the drinks smelled lovely. It's free to look around and is rich with history.”

Back in the Industrial Revolution, when it was called the Norwegian Sailors Church, the church would act as a place of security and worship for Norwegian Sailors who worked on the coal ships in Wales. Now a renowned landmark cherished by many, the Arts Centre is cherished by many, especially South Wales’ Nordic community. Located on Cardiff Bay’s waterfront, this attraction features an art gallery displaying local exhibits. Hungry from all that exploring? Grab a bite at the arts centre’s very own cafe and bar overlooking the Bay’s tranquil waters. 

13. Discover Bute Park’s secrets

Doesn’t the weather look great today? It's the perfect time for a stroll through the parks of the city. First on the list is Bute Park, a botanical paradise near Cardiff Castle, spanning 130 acres of land that connects to Cardiff Bay via ferry. Landscaped by Capability Brown himself, Bute Park hides away numerous secrets that visitors can explore, including the Animal Wall and 21 mystifying sculptures. 

14. Go fishing at Roath Park

Another well-known park is Roath Park, established back in 1894 and deemed a local favourite. One of the city’s first public parks, this garden has maintained a Victorian ambience and offers visitors the chance to fish and row, with the park’s iconic lighthouse nearby. A conservation area, home to a large variety of birds and water fowl, the park also features a Botanic Garden and a “Wid Garden”, with a remarkable collection of shrubs, trees and flower displays. Visitors looking for active pastimes can also try out different sports here such as tennis, basketball and lawn bowls. 

15. Explore Caerphilly Castle

“Absolutely incredible, this place has a lovely feeling to it. Great views of Caerphilly and wonderful for all historians. Loved every minute of it.”

Yes, there’s yet another castle on the list and this one is located just a 15-minute drive away from the city. Built in 1628 and the largest castle in the country since then, it was one of the many castles built by the English to maintain control of the Welsh countryside. Its impressive features include two enormous drawbridges, a deep moat, and a variety of displays of old weaponry and armour, much of it was actually used in wars. A bit further from Caerphilly Castle is the Caerphilly Mountain, which is an easy hike for many. This combination makes the trip worth it and gives visitors a chance to witness some incredible views of the countryside, sea and city.

Price: £10.10 for adults

16. Visit a “vintage” vintage records store

In Morgan Arcade, you’ll find a vintage records store by the name of Spillers Records, which claims to be the first of its kind. Whether this is true or not, music fans must include this spot on their Cardiff bucket list. With walls covered in merchandise and vinyl filling every corner of the shop, Spillers Records is a shrine to everything rock ‘n’ roll. 

17. Stop to shop at the shopping arcades

With the highest number of Victorian, Edwardian and contemporary indoor shopping arcades in the UK, the city’s nickname of “City of Arcades” is no wonder. Make your way to these shopping arcades for the best shopping experience. 

Castle Quarter Arcade

Connecting High Street to Castle Street, this is a small Victorian-style shopping arcade. 

High Street Arcade

Best known for having a wide range of fashion stores, sophisticated cafes, and restaurants, you can find some local favourites here such as the New York Deli, Corner Coffee and Barker Tea House. 

Royal Arcade

The first of the many shopping arcades in the city, you’ll be able to find a variety of 5-star coffee shops, restaurants and cafes here, including Uncommon Ground coffee and Wally’s Delicatessen. 

Morgan Arcade

Some might argue this is the best preserved shopping arcade in the city, with popular stores such as Route One, Dr Martens and Spillers Records. 

18. Go white water rafting at Cardiff International White Water

With a plethora of things to do in Cardiff Bay, you might want to ty out this sport if you’re looking for something thrilling to bond with your loved ones and make new friends over. Both beginners and seasoned experts can do this activity as an expert coach accompanies every raft ride.

Price: £60 per person

19. Tour the city in a boat

Tired of touring the city on foot or public transport? Try out one of the popular boat tours of the city such as the Princess Katharine, a 90 seat waterbus, joining Cardiff Bay to Bute Park. You’ll be able to enjoy cruising in comfort while getting commentary on the history of each major location you pass. 

20. Take the Taff Trail

Beginning at Roald Dahl Pass (Cardiff Bay), the Taff Trail stretches more than 50 miles (80 km) and leads to Brecon Beacons National Park. Break the trail down over 5-7 days and when you reach the end, make sure to see Pen y Fan, which is an incredible vista. 

21. Follow the Cardiff Bay Trail

To get around Cardiff Bay, follow the 10km trail starting and ending in Mermaid Quay. You’ll find helpful signs along the way guiding you in the right direction. Walk the trail or hire one of the OVO bikes and drop it off at a stand when you finish the trail. The trail will take you to most of the things to do in Cardiff Bay while getting some exercise along the way!

22. Walk the Centenary Walk

Set up in 2005 as part of the city’s centennial celebrations, the Centenary Walk stretches 2 miles (3.6km) through the city centre and passes up to 41 attractions, historic sites, and landmarks! With waymarkers on the pavement directing you to the next one, you can tour the city without a guide on this trail. 

23. Tour the filming locations of Doctor Who

With the Doctor Who BBC studio located in the city, this tour no doubt tops the list of things to do in Cardiff for fans of the British sci-fi series. The Dr Who TV Locations Tour is a 3-hour bus tour stopping at filming locations with commentary from experienced guides (who are also fans). 

Price: £15 for adults

24. Bar crawl in the city

Known for its nightlife, this city is the go-to place for a memorable night out among people from all over the country. With a university nearby, it’s also a good option for students in the city. Some of the best pubs in Cardiff are Tiny Rebel and Pen and Wig. If you’re looking for a place to groove, Cardiff has several amazing nightclubs that will be the perfect place to bust out your moves.

25. Grab a bite at Penarth Beach

Easily one of the best things to do in Cardiff is the Penarth beach. Although it isn’t a sand beach, the beach is quite large and features Penarth Pier. You can get some fresh air and see the city from a different angle from one of the restaurants and cafes here. 

26. Try a Welsh cake at Cardiff Market

If you’re looking to shop in this city, Cardiff Market is one of the best things to do in Cardiff. A Victorian-style indoor market located in Cardiff City Centre’s Castle Quarter, the impressive market was designed in the 1890s and offers a range of food and non-food items in limitless varieties. 

27. Take a break with nature at Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve

“The wetlands are really beautiful. There is lots of wildlife. Walk on the jetty, it's a good view. We cycled through the wetland whilst exploring Cardiff. It's a relaxing place.”

Not far from Mermaid Quay, the Wetlands Reserve is one of the city’s hidden gems. Learn more about the city’s flora and fauna here and enjoy the view from a platform overlooking the waters. If you want to get away from the bustling traffic of the city, this is the perfect place to be. 

Price: Free entry

28. Walk across Cardiff Bay Barrage

“Nice walk over the locks and barrage into the bay. A nifty piece of engineering to be admired and a good walk over to the bay area. I'm not a fan of Cardiff Bay, but the walk is good.”

A harbour barrier enabling cyclists and pedestrians to travel from Cardiff Bay to Penarth, this unique structure is an incredible photo spot with the mountain as a backdrop, and a popular walking spot with the locals as it offers superb views of the city. Taking in the view here is one of the best things to do in Cardiff and makes the city one of the best places to visit in the UK.

29. Take in the beauty of the Senedd

“The building is architecturally fascinating, the individual tour was done by a very passionate Welsh woman who was bursting with detail. Interesting inside and out.”

Located on Cardiff’s Bay, this is where the politicians of Wales meet to debate the day’s issues. You can stop by to admire the wonderful architecture of the building with an impressive wooden ceiling. Guided tours are available if you book them ahead of time. 

Price: Free entry and tours

30. Give in to the music at St. David’s Hall

“The acoustics here are the best in Cardiff. This is an amazing place to come for a concert or performance.”

Running out of things to do in Cardiff? Check out St. David’s Hall, which is the country’s largest performing arts venue and is sure to have something interesting going on. With a consistent yet diverse schedule, there’s no reason the national concert hall cannot be called a home of melody and harmony. Be sure to keep an eye on the website as tickets sell out pretty quickly. 

Where to Eat in Cardiff

With so many things to do in Cardiff, all this exploring is bound to make you hungry. Here’s a list of some of the best places to eat in Cardiff, according to the locals. 

Where to eat in Cardiff

1. The Grazing Shed (St Mary street)

2. New York Deli

3. Bosphorus

4. Moksh

5. Cote Brasserie

6. Wagamama

7. Fresh the Baguette Bar

8. The Hellenic Eatery

9. Wahaca’s

10. Madeira

11. The Clink

12. Pie Minister

13. Cardiff Market

14. The Urban Taphouse

15. Heaney’s

One coffee, please

With so many things to do in Cardiff, jumping from attraction to the next can get a bit stressful. So, take a break and catch your breath with coffee at one of the cafes of the city. There are several cafes to choose from so we’ve made it a bit easier for you. Here are the top three cafes in the city according to locals. You can also check out the pubs in Cardiff.

1. Waterloo Tea (Wyndham Arcade)

2. Uncommon Ground

3. Corner Coffee

Things to do in Cardiff for free

And there you have it! With all these things to do in Cardiff, you’ll never want to leave the place. If you do find yourself looking for accommodation nearby, you know where to look! With the Cardiff University close by, it’s no wonder this city is a popular student destination. We’ve also got a housing guide to make things simpler for you. To satisfy your caffeine craving make sure you checkout best cafes in Cardiff. If you like to party make sure you checkout best clubs in Cardiff.

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30 Exciting Things to Do in Cardiff On Your Next Trip
10 min
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