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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
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.
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!
It’s great for adults to visit but it’s especially good when thinking about what to do in Cardiff with kids.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
- 7 Cardiff Hidden Gems You Shouldn’t Miss!