The Best Things to Do in Cardiff: A Handpicked List

So you’re visiting Cardiff, the capital city of Wales, and wondering what are the must-dos during your trip. As a frequent visitor to Cardiff myself, I’ve got you covered. Cardiff has no shortage of attractions to keep you entertained for days. From exploring the city’s medieval castle and vibrant bay area to cheering on your favorite rugby team, there are so many great ways to experience the Welsh culture in Cardiff. Whether you want to dive into history, get outside in nature, catch a show, or just eat and drink your way through the city, Cardiff has something for everyone. Over the next few minutes, I’ll share my personal recommendations for the best things to do in Cardiff based on your interests. By the end of this article, you’ll have an itinerary jam-packed with unforgettable experiences that will make your trip to Cardiff one for the books. Sound good? Then let’s dive right in!

Things to Do in Cardiff
Things to Do in Cardiff

The Best Things to Do in Cardiff: A Handpicked List

Explore Cardiff Castle

Cardiff Castle is a must-see on any visit to the Welsh capital. This historic castle complex in the center of the city is filled with centuries of history and culture.

Once you enter the castle grounds, spend some time just soaking in the atmosphere. The castle keep, outer walls and towers have stood since the 11th century. As you wander the grounds, imagine what life was like for the stonemasons and servants who lived and worked here so long ago.

Be sure to take a guided tour of the castle apartments and staterooms. The décor and furnishings span from the Gothic to the Victorian era, including elaborate wood carvings, stained glass windows and opulent bedrooms. The castle was home to the Bute family for over 400 years, so you’ll get a glimpse into the lifestyle of aristocracy.

The castle’s grounds and gardens are also worth exploring at your leisure. Check out the Norman keep, the clock tower with amazing city views, and the WWII air raid shelters. The beautiful gardens surrounding Cardiff Castle are also popular for picnics on sunny days.

There are events and festivals held at the castle year-round as well, like concerts, jousting tournaments, and Christmas celebrations. Whether you want to learn some history, marvel at the architecture, or just enjoy a nice day out, Cardiff Castle offers an experience you won’t soon forget.

Stroll Through Bute Park

A trip to Cardiff isn’t complete without visiting the sprawling Bute Park. This massive green space right in the heart of the city provides the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle.

Spread over 130 acres, Bute Park has gardens, lawns, and trails aplenty to explore. Take a stroll along the River Taff or through the Rose Garden to enjoy the gorgeous blooms and sweet floral scents. The park is especially stunning in spring and summer when the flowers are in full bloom.

If you’re feeling active, hire a bike to cycle around the park or play a round of mini golf. There’s also a cafe, playgrounds, and sports fields if you want to stop for a snack or let the little ones burn off some energy.

Animal lovers should visit the Animal Wall and keep an eye out for the herons, kingfishers, and otters that call the river home. The park is also home to rare whitebeam trees, so see if you can spot one of these beauties with their striking fall foliage.

At only a 15-minute walk from Cardiff city center, Bute Park is a perfect escape from the city without going too far. Whether you want to go for a jog, read a book in the sunshine, or simply sit back and people watch, Bute Park has something for everyone in the Welsh capital. Add this oasis of green to the top of your Cardiff bucket list.

Visit the National Museum Cardiff

No trip to Cardiff is complete without visiting the National Museum Cardiff. This world-class museum is home to art, natural history, and geology galleries housing everything from artworks by famous European masters to fossils dating back over 200 million years.

Art Galleries

The museum’s art collection includes masterpieces by Monet, Rodin, and Turner, as well as a strong collection of modern and contemporary art. Don’t miss the Impressionist gallery, with its serene landscapes and seascapes that provide insight into the artistic movement. The contemporary art gallery features cutting-edge video installations, photography, and interactive exhibits.

Natural History

For natural history enthusiasts, the Evolution of Wales gallery chronicles how the country’s geology and wildlife have changed over the last 600 million years. See fossils of long-extinct creatures, rocks formed during the Ice Age, and recreations of what life was like in ancient Wales. The biodiversity gallery highlights the flora and fauna found across Wales today, from the tiniest lichen to the magnificent red kite.

Something for Everyone

No matter your interests, the National Museum Cardiff has something to spark your curiosity. Families will enjoy the hands-on science and nature activities, while history buffs can learn about life in Wales during World War II and the Industrial Revolution. The ever-changing temporary exhibits feature topics as diverse as manga comics, ancient Egypt, and the history of medicine. With free admission and events, it’s an affordable attraction you can visit again and again.

The National Museum Cardiff is a must-see on any visit to the Welsh capital. You’ll come away with a deeper understanding of the natural world, art, and the culture of Wales. No two visits are the same, as there are always new exhibits, events, and discoveries to experience at this world-class institution. Don’t miss the chance to explore a national treasure in the heart of Cardiff.

Check Out the Principality Stadium

Things to Do in Cardiff
Things to Do in Cardiff

No trip to Cardiff is complete without visiting the Principality Stadium, Wales’ national stadium and one of the city’s most iconic landmarks.

Catch a Match or Event

  • The 74,500-seat stadium is home to Wales’ national rugby and football teams, so try to catch an international match while you’re there. The atmosphere will be absolutely electric.
  • Major concerts, boxing matches, and other events are also held at the stadium. Check their schedule ahead of your trip to see if any events match up with your itinerary.

Take a Tour

  • If there are no events going on, you can still get a behind-the-scenes look at the stadium through guided tours. Tours run daily and last about an hour.
  • You’ll get to explore the pitch, team dressing rooms, royal box, media center, and more. Tours provide a wealth of information about the stadium’s architecture and history.
  • The stadium is an iconic example of contemporary architecture, with a striking red dragon design. Your tour guide will fill you in on all the details of how it was constructed.

Dine at One of the Lounges or Restaurants

  • For casual dining with pitch views, head to the Millennium Club Bar & Brasserie or the Food Village. The former is open on non-event days, while the latter is open for major events.
  • For a special occasion or event, book a table at the Captain’s Club or Chairman’s Club. These executive lounges offer fine dining, premium drinks, and luxury facilities in a setting with unparalleled stadium views.
  • You don’t have to have tickets to an event to dine at the stadium’s restaurants. However, reservations are recommended, especially on event days.

A trip to the Principality Stadium is a must for any sports fan visiting Cardiff. Even if you can’t catch a match, the behind-the-scenes tours and dining options provide a memorable way to experience this Welsh institution. Make sure to book tickets for events and tours in advance through the stadium’s official website.

Shop at St David’s Dewi Sant

No trip to Cardiff is complete without exploring St David’s Dewi Sant, Wales’ premier shopping center. This modern complex located in the heart of the city center has everything you could want under one roof.

Shop ‘til You Drop

With over 200 stores, you’ll find both high street and designer brands at St David’s Dewi Sant. Some of the major retailers include John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Zara, and River Island. There’s also an Apple store, Victoria’s Secret, and Hamleys toy store. If you get tired of browsing, recharge with a coffee or light meal at one of the many eateries, like Wagamama, Jamie’s Italian, or Leon.

Indulge Yourself

What’s a shopping trip without a little pampering? Head to the St David’s Spa for a facial, massage, or manicure. There’s also an on-site gym if you want to squeeze in a workout. If movies are more your thing, catch the latest blockbuster at the Vue cinema. The center is also home to a casino, bowling alley, and adventure golf for some after-hours entertainment.

Something for Everyone

No matter your tastes or budget, St David’s Dewi Sant aims to please. In addition to the standard shops and dining options, you’ll find stalls featuring Welsh crafts and locally made goods. The center hosts regular live music performances, activities for kids, and seasonal events like a winter wonderland at Christmas time. There really is something for visitors of all ages at this premier Cardiff attraction.

A day exploring the shops and amenities at St David’s Dewi Sant is time well spent in the Welsh capital. You’ll likely find a few souvenirs to remember your trip and may even spot a celebrity or two. Bring your wallet, appetite, and walking shoes—you’ll need them for this retail adventure!

Catch a Show at Wales Millennium Center

The Wales Millennium Center is a world-class performing arts center and a must-visit in Cardiff. Catching a show here should definitely be on your list of things to do.

Variety of Productions

The Wales Millennium Center hosts a wide range of productions from dance and comedy shows to musicals and plays. Some of the most popular musicals in recent years have included The Lion King, Wicked, and Les Misérables. They also feature productions from Welsh National Opera, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, and National Dance Company Wales. There’s something for everyone.

Architecture and Design

Even if you don’t catch a show, the building itself is an attraction. Designed by renowned architect Jonathan Adams, the modern design is inspired by an armadillo’s shell. The beautiful curved facade is clad in multi-colored slate and copper, giving it a unique appearance that stands out along Cardiff Bay. Take a free guided tour to learn about the architecture and backstage areas.

Dining and Drinks Options

Make a night of it and dine at one of the onsite restaurants before the show. The stylish waterside restaurant Ffresh offers a seasonal menu with locally-sourced ingredients. Or for a quick bite, check out the cafe, bar, or grab snacks from the kiosk. Curl up on a sofa in the lounge areas with a coffee or cocktail and enjoy the atmosphere.

Family-Friendly Fun

The Wales Millennium Center aims to inspire people of all ages. They offer family-friendly shows, workshops, and events throughout the year like kids’ comedy shows, interactive tours, and craft activities. School groups frequently take educational trips to the center to experience live performances and learn about careers in the arts.

Whether catching a West End musical, enjoying a meal with a view, or simply exploring the iconic building, the Wales Millennium Center is a highlight of Cardiff with something for everyone. Make this a must-do on your trip!

Take a Boat Tour Along Cardiff Bay

Things to Do in Cardiff
Things to Do in Cardiff

Cardiff Bay is a popular destination for its picturesque waterfront, shopping, dining and entertainment options. One of the best ways to take in the sights is on a boat tour along the bay.###

A boat tour offers a unique perspective of the bay that you just can’t get from walking around. As you glide through the water, you’ll get panoramic views of the bay’s landmarks like the Pierhead Building, the Norwegian Church, and the Wales Millennium Center. Some tours even cruise out towards Penarth, a seaside town with a pier and beach huts straight out of the 1920s.

  • Look for tour companies like Cardiff Boat Tours, The Cardiff Explorer, or Cardiff Sealife Safari that offer bay cruises ranging from 30 minutes to 2 hours. Most run seasonally from April to October.
  • Pick a tour time that fits your schedule. Morning and afternoon cruises are ideal if you want to continue exploring the bayfront after. An evening cruise lets you see the bay lit up at night.
  • Consider upgrades like a cream tea cruise with scones and pastries or a wildlife cruise to spot local birds like puffins, seals, and porpoises in their natural habitat.
  • Bring a jacket as it can get windy out on the water. And don’t forget your camera—you’ll get amazing photo ops of the bay’s landmarks and skyline.
  • Purchase tickets in advance on the tour company’s website. Tours often sell out, especially on weekends and holidays.

A boat tour of Cardiff Bay offers a unique vantage point to take in the area’s scenic surroundings and attractions. Gliding through the waters, with the fresh sea air and panoramic views, is a memorable experience you won’t soon forget. Make it a highlight of your trip to the Welsh capital and get out on the bay!

Spot Street Art in the City Center

Cardiff has a thriving street art scene, with colorful murals and installations throughout the city center. Take a stroll around town and you’ll spot the work of prolific local and international artists.

Womanby Street

This narrow alleyway located just off Castle Street features ever-changing murals from renowned street artists like Phlegm, Aryz, and Amigo. New pieces frequently appear, so you never know what you might discover. Some of the most iconic works are the giant pink bear and the woman in the red dress.

Centro District

The area around the Hayes in central Cardiff, known as the Centro district, is a hotbed for street art. Walk along Charles Street, Church Street, and St. Mary Street to see massive wall paintings, stencils, and stickers. Highlights include the huge painting of the girl on Church Street and the psychedelic abstract designs on Charles Street.

Thompson’s Park

Nestled between Splott and Adamsdown, this small park has become an open-air street art gallery. The Friends of Thompson’s Park commission street artists to create murals each year, resulting in a collection of over 20 large-scale paintings throughout the park. Subjects range from wildlife and nature scenes to cultural icons. It’s a perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon exploring.

•Other spots to check out include the walkway behind Cardiff Market, the underpass at Callaghan Square, and the alley behind 10 Feet Tall bar.

•Many tours offer street art walking tours if you want to learn about the artists and meaning behind the murals.

•Take photos and share on social media to help promote Cardiff’s street art scene.

•New pieces are constantly going up, so keep an eye out for the latest murals and installations appearing around the city.

Cardiff’s street art brings color and character to the city and reflects the creative spirit of its people. Spend a day discovering its open-air gallery and you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the city’s cultural identity. Happy hunting!

FAQ: Commonly Asked Questions About Visiting Cardiff

Cardiff is a popular city, so you probably have some questions about visiting. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

How do I get to Cardiff?

Cardiff is easily accessible by train, bus, car or plane.

  • By train: There are frequent rail services to Cardiff Central Station from London, Bristol, Birmingham and other major UK cities. The journey time is around 2 to 3 hours from London.
  • By bus: National Express and Megabus offer bus services to Cardiff from many UK destinations. The bus station is right next to the train station.
  • By car: Cardiff is about 2 to 3 hours’ drive from London and Birmingham. It’s connected to the M4 motorway. There are over 6,000 parking spaces in the city center.
  • By plane: Cardiff Airport is about 30 minutes from the city center. There are flights from Belfast, Edinburgh, Glasgow and London City Airport.

What’s the weather like?

Cardiff has a temperate maritime climate with mild winters and warm summers.

  • Summers: June to August. Average high of 70 F. Little chance of rain. Perfect for sightseeing.
  • Winters: December to February. Average high of 45 F and low of 37 F. Rain is common but snow is rare. Dress in layers, waterproof jacket and comfortable walking shoes recommended.

What should I wear?

Pack a variety of clothes for different weather conditions:

  • Comfortable walking shoes – There’s a lot of ground to cover walking between attractions.
  • Waterproof jacket – Useful no matter the season. Cardiff gets a fair amount of rainfall.
  • T-shirts and shorts – For summer. But also bring pants, jumpers and a light jacket for cooler days.
  • Scarf, hat and gloves – For winter. Temperatures rarely drop below freezing but the wind can make it feel colder.
  • Smart casual evening wear – If dining at upscale restaurants or attending evening entertainment.

How long do I need?

To experience the major highlights, 3 to 4 days is ideal. If you also want to explore surrounding areas like the Brecon Beacons or Welsh coastline, plan on staying at least a week.

Conclusion

So there you have it, some of the very best things to do during your visit to Cardiff. With its rich history, culture, food, nightlife and natural scenery, you’ll be spoiled for choice in the Welsh capital. Whether you want to explore Cardiff Castle, catch a match at the Principality Stadium, stroll through Bute Park or bar hop along Chippy Lane, this city has something for everyone. And as you wander the streets soaking in the atmosphere, don’t forget to grab a drink or a bite at one of the many independent businesses that give Cardiff its character. However you choose to spend your time, one thing is for sure – you’ll fall in love with the warmth and charm of the city and its people. Cardiff awaits, so start planning your adventure! There’s no time like the present to discover all this fantastic city has to offer.