Cardiff travel guide

Cardiff Tourism | Cardiff Guide

You're Going to Love Cardiff

Cardiff is a real crowd-pleaser. Often called the "city of castles", it's known for romantic historic landmarks, modern attractions like the Wales Millennium Centre, and for its proximity to the Vale of Glamorgan and the Glamorgan Heritage Coast.

Shopping, sightseeing, fine dining, outdoor pursuits, and sports are just some of the activities you can find to keep you busy in the Welsh capital. Cardiff also has more green space per head than any other UK city, including centrally located Bute Park.

Its music scene is the envy of many larger cities and its museums, galleries, and theaters host a wide range of events all year round. Cardiff is also a great choice for families and the perfect base from which to explore the surrounding region.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Cardiff

1. Cardiff Bay

The Cardiff Bay regeneration project has transformed the dockland area previously known as Tiger Bay, without losing any of its historical highlights. You can still see the wonderful Norwegian church where writer Roald Dahl was christened and the Neo-Gothic Pierhead alongside sparkling modern additions like the massive Wales Millennium Centre and National Assembly for Wales.

2. Its Musical Legacy

The Cardiff region gave the world top rock bands like Super Furry Animals and Manic Street Preachers. It's home to the world's oldest record shop: Spillers Records in Morgan Arcade, which was established in 1894. Add to that some of the best live music venues in Wales; rock, hip-hop, and alternative fans can try the Full Moon in Womanby Street, while Jazz lovers should head to Café Jazz at the Sandringham Hotel in St. Mary Street. Or, for the latest local bands, visit Clwb Ifor Bach.

3. Non-Stop Shopping

Cardiff's six Edwardian arcades are filled with bookstores, clothing shops, art galleries, and antique shops. When it's time for a rest, you'll find the best coffee in the city at The Plan in Morgan Arcade.

4. Cardiff Castle

The city is famous for its five castles and Cardiff Castle is its crowning glory. Once home to the illustrious Bute family, the castle played a pivotal role in the city's most important growth period from the 19th to the early 20th century. Visit the fascinating apartments, stroll in the gardens, or try to catch one of the many concerts and events that are staged in the castle grounds.

5. There's a Great Beach Nearby

Take the train to Barry Island for a taste of an authentic British seaside resort. Barry has shrugged off its tacky holiday camp tag and although you'll still find the obligatory funfair and amusement arcades, you'll also discover a picturesque pier and one of the UK's nicest blue flag beaches Whitmore Bay.

What to do in Cardiff

1. Cardiff Castle: Travel Back to World War II

At the heart of the city center lies the Cardiff Castle. Take a house tour and discover the web of tunnels sandwiched between the ground floor and the battlement level that were an air-raid haven during World War II. Explore the fabulous castle apartments and gawk at the lavish interiors. Enjoy a spectacular view of the three fortresses in the castle while savoring a variety of daily chef's special at the Caffi'r castell. Before leaving, get an eclectic selection of beautiful castle-themed keepsakes and gifts at the gift shop. The castle is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm.

2. Wales Millennium Centre: The Ultimate Entertainment Experience

Located in Cardiff Bay, the Wales Millennium Center is considered to be among the top performing arts centers in the country as well as an important cultural landmark in Cardiff. Sitting on approximately five acres, the Wales Millennium center showcases a wide selection of performances including music concerts, comedy shows, ballet performances, and musical productions. Wine and dine at the Cote Brasserie and get fabulous keepsakes at the Portmeirion Gift Shop.

3. National Museum Cardiff: The Exclusive Art Center

Situated in the Cardiff's impressive Civic Center, the National Museum Center is home to the country's art, geology, natural history, and archaeological selections. Travel back in time to when the dinosaurs existed and awe at the rich display of Bronze-Age weapons and fossils. Admire the spectacular collection of ceramics, sculptures, and paintings spanning over five centuries. Worth noting is the spectacular collection of impressionist art. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday between 10 am and 5 pm.

4. Doctor Who Experience: Who's About to Save the Universe?

This mecca of everything Doctor Who is located adjacent to the studio where the series is filmed. Be a part of the adventure yourself and journey through the world of this renown BBC series. Go on a real-life adventure with Dr. Who himself to try to save the universe! Explore the exhibition hall and step behind the scenes into the vast array of artifacts and props, which include the iconic costumes from 1963 to date. Get exclusive gifts and souvenirs from the Official Doctor Who Shop. While you're there, stop by the World of Boats which displays a unique assortment of vessels from around the world.

5. Llandaff Cathedral: Standing the Test of Time

Situated right in the middle of the city, the Llandaff Cathedral prides itself in having magnificent medieval architecture. The cathedral dates back to 1107 and is located in the "City of Llandaff" which is currently a conservation area. Gaze at the amazing sculpture which bears Christ aloft and was designed by Sir Jacob Epstein. You can get a comprehensive guided tour through the cathedral, but be sure to book in advance. The Llandaff Cathedral is open daily from 9 am to the last service.

Cardiff CastleCardiff Castle
Wales Millennium CentreWales Millennium Centre
National Museum CardiffNational Museum Cardiff
Doctor Who ExperienceDoctor Who Experience

1. Cardiff Castle: Travel Back to World War II

At the heart of the city center lies the Cardiff Castle. Take a house tour and discover the web of tunnels sandwiched between the ground floor and the battlement level that were an air-raid haven during World War II. Explore the fabulous castle apartments and gawk at the lavish interiors. Enjoy a spectacular view of the three fortresses in the castle while savoring a variety of daily chef's special at the Caffi'r castell. Before leaving, get an eclectic selection of beautiful castle-themed keepsakes and gifts at the gift shop. The castle is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm.

2. Wales Millennium Centre: The Ultimate Entertainment Experience

Located in Cardiff Bay, the Wales Millennium Center is considered to be among the top performing arts centers in the country as well as an important cultural landmark in Cardiff. Sitting on approximately five acres, the Wales Millennium center showcases a wide selection of performances including music concerts, comedy shows, ballet performances, and musical productions. Wine and dine at the Cote Brasserie and get fabulous keepsakes at the Portmeirion Gift Shop.

3. National Museum Cardiff: The Exclusive Art Center

Situated in the Cardiff's impressive Civic Center, the National Museum Center is home to the country's art, geology, natural history, and archaeological selections. Travel back in time to when the dinosaurs existed and awe at the rich display of Bronze-Age weapons and fossils. Admire the spectacular collection of ceramics, sculptures, and paintings spanning over five centuries. Worth noting is the spectacular collection of impressionist art. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday between 10 am and 5 pm.

4. Doctor Who Experience: Who's About to Save the Universe?

This mecca of everything Doctor Who is located adjacent to the studio where the series is filmed. Be a part of the adventure yourself and journey through the world of this renown BBC series. Go on a real-life adventure with Dr. Who himself to try to save the universe! Explore the exhibition hall and step behind the scenes into the vast array of artifacts and props, which include the iconic costumes from 1963 to date. Get exclusive gifts and souvenirs from the Official Doctor Who Shop. While you're there, stop by the World of Boats which displays a unique assortment of vessels from around the world.

5. Llandaff Cathedral: Standing the Test of Time

Situated right in the middle of the city, the Llandaff Cathedral prides itself in having magnificent medieval architecture. The cathedral dates back to 1107 and is located in the "City of Llandaff" which is currently a conservation area. Gaze at the amazing sculpture which bears Christ aloft and was designed by Sir Jacob Epstein. You can get a comprehensive guided tour through the cathedral, but be sure to book in advance. The Llandaff Cathedral is open daily from 9 am to the last service.

Cardiff CastleCardiff Castle
Wales Millennium CentreWales Millennium Centre
National Museum CardiffNational Museum Cardiff
Doctor Who ExperienceDoctor Who Experience

Top activities & attractions in Cardiff

Where to Eat in Cardiff

Whether you want fast food, curry, or haute cuisine, you'll find it in Cardiff. Pub chains are popular - try the J.D .Wetherspoon-run Prince of Wales in St. Mary Street. Vegetarians and vegans are well catered for each evening at Caban Cardiff on Clifton Street, while curry fans can try upscale cooking at Mint and Mustard or Mango House. Looking for something a little special? Enjoy superb views of Cardiff Castle grounds at Castell's Restaurant in the Angel Hotel. Expect to pay £10 for a quick lunch in the city or from £45 for dinner for two in a plush restaurant.

When to visit Cardiff

Cardiff in January
Estimated hotel price
$27
1 night at 3-star hotel
Cardiff in January
Estimated hotel price
$27
1 night at 3-star hotel

Summer, from May to late August, is the best time to visit Cardiff if you want warmer weather and open air events at Cardiff Castle or Cardiff Bay. Sports fans aiming to see the Welsh National team in action during the Six Nations tournament should check fixture dates from February to March. Schedule a stay in December for Cardiff Christmas Market and a host of dazzling seasonal events, or plan shopping trips or weekend getaways during the spring (March to April) or fall (September to October) periods to take advantage of lower hotel rates.

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Temperatures
Average
Fahrenheit (°F)
Data provided by weatherbase

How to Get to Cardiff

Plane

Cardiff Airport (CWL) is in the Vale of Glamorgan and just 12 miles southwest of the city. Buses leave from the airport for Cardiff Central and Cardiff Bay every 20 minutes, and a single ticket is £5.

Train

You can reach Cardiff easily by train as the city is connected to the extensive UK rail network. All intercity trains terminate at Cardiff Central Station in the heart of the city and close to many of its main tourist attractions.

Car

The easiest way to get to Cardiff by road from London and the southeast of England is via the M4 motorway and Severn Bridge. The M4 is also the best route for drivers coming from the Swansea and the west of Wales. If you're driving from the north or Scotland, take the M50 and M5 to link with the M4 for Cardiff.

Bus

Bus travel is an affordable alternative if you're on a budget and operators like National Express and Megabus run services to the city each day. A typical journey from London Victoria Coach Station with National Express costs £12. National Express buses arrive at Sophia Gardens, which is a 15-minute walk from the city center. The Megabus service stops at Cardiff University, Park Place close to the entrance to Cathays Railway Station. From there you can take the Arriva Trains Wales train to Cardiff Central for £2.40.

Airports near Cardiff

Airlines serving Cardiff

Lufthansa
Good (1,339 reviews)
KLM
Good (293 reviews)
Air France
Good (289 reviews)
Delta
Excellent (2,643 reviews)
British Airways
Good (919 reviews)
SWISS
Excellent (344 reviews)
Iberia
Good (640 reviews)
TAP AIR PORTUGAL
Good (360 reviews)
Ryanair
Good (1,141 reviews)
Etihad Airways
Good (196 reviews)
Vueling
Good (255 reviews)
ITA Airways
Good (30 reviews)
easyJet
Good (321 reviews)
Aer Lingus
Good (286 reviews)
GOL
Good (181 reviews)
Wizz Air
Good (236 reviews)
Virgin Atlantic
Good (186 reviews)
Kenya Airways
Excellent (30 reviews)
Jet2
Excellent (19 reviews)
Wizz Air UK
Okay (25 reviews)
Show more

Where to stay in Cardiff

Romantic boutique hotels, cozy bed & breakfasts, mid-range or luxury hotels - you'll find them all in Cardiff. Clayton Hotel Cardiff, Ty Rosa Boutique b&b, and Hotel Ibis Cardiff are good inexpensive options, while the Radisson Blu Hotel Cardiff and SACO Cardiff - Cathedral Road Serviced Apartments are perfect for couples getaways or family vacations.

Popular neighborhoods in Cardiff

Cardiff Central – just to the north of Cardiff Bay, this district covers the southern part of the city. Cardiff Castle lies at its heart, and the area is bordered by the River Taff to the west.

Cardiff Bay – one of the city's trendiest neighborhoods, Cardiff Bay is home to the National Assembly for Wales and the Wales Millennium Centre. The bars and cafes on Mermaid Quay are popular with locals and visitors.

Cathays Park – known for its late Victorian and Edwardian buildings, Cathays Park is the city's civic center. Notable landmarks include the Welsh Government, Cardiff University, and Alexandra Gardens.

Where to stay in popular areas of Cardiff

Most booked hotels in Cardiff

Gwaelod Y Garth Inn
Excellent (9.4, 86 reviews)
$132+
voco St. David's Cardiff
Excellent (8.6, 4201 reviews)
$145+
Future Inn Cardiff Bay
Excellent (8.4, 7513 reviews)
$91+
Clayton Hotel Cardiff
Excellent (8.3, 5995 reviews)
$91+
Holiday Inn Express Cardiff Airport
Excellent (8.2, 510 reviews)
$102+
Radisson Blu Hotel, Cardiff
Good (7.6, 5005 reviews)
$94+
See all hotels

How to Get Around Cardiff

Public Transportation

The Cardiff Bus system offers visitors an easy and convenient way to get around. You'll need the exact fare (£1.70) if you're paying on board, or you can purchase a handy Day to Go pass for £3.40 from stations and kiosks. If you're planning to venture further afield, the Network Day Rider pass gives you unlimited access to all bus services in southeast Wales for £7.70.

Taxi

Licensed taxis operate in the city center and at the airport. You can hail them on the street and a five-mile trip costs from £8. Minicabs are also readily available and can be booked in advance.

Car

It's relatively easy to drive in Cardiff, and you can rent a large compact car for £23.50 per day from leading brands like Enterprise or Avis. On-street parking is limited but there are several parking facilities in the city center. Expect to pay £3.10 to £3.40 for up to two hours at Castle Mews Car Park or Sophia Gardens Car Park.

The Cost of Living in Cardiff

Shopping Streets

Discover quirky stores like the Madame Fromage cheese shop in Castle Arcade, or shop for clothes, accessories, and electronics in one of Cardiff's malls; the Queen Street, St. Mary's Street, and the Hayes combines with St. David's shopping center to make the UK's largest indoor retail precinct. Visit the Cardiff Central Market for arts and crafts made from Welsh slate, or pick up souvenirs at gift shops all over the city.

Groceries and Other

You'll find branches of all the leading UK supermarkets in Cardiff as well as late night grocery stores and corner shops. Some of the most popular supermarkets include Morrisons, Sainsbury's, and Asda and you'll pay £0.89 for a quart of milk and £2.39 for 12 eggs.

Cheap meal
$12.51
A pair of jeans
$64.09
Single public transport ticket
$2.25
Cappuccino
$3.06
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