Super useful & totally free Cardiff travel guides, written by locals who love Cardiff

View of the neon lights around the Roald Dahl Plass in Cardiff
Roald Dahl Plass, Cardiff

Why We Love Cardiff: Cardiff, the capital city of Wales, has a lively city centre and a spectacular bay. The city has a great food scene, buzzing nightlife and a friendly atmosphere. Cardiff is home to a wealth of rich history and culture, from contemporary art and international sports to coal mining heritage and cute cafes. As well as being an incredible city to spend time in, Cardiff is a great base for exploring further afield in South Wales.

Best of Cardiff

Things to Do

The author Ruthie Walters, "holding" the Norman Keep, Cardiff Castle
Ruthie ‘Holding’ the Norman Keep, Cardiff Castle

Cardiff has a wide variety of things to do. The city has you covered, whether you’re a history buff, adrenaline-seeker, avid theatre-goer or something else!

  • Cardiff Castle – Step into 2000 years of incredible history in the symbolic landmark of the city.
  • National Museum Cardiff – Discover history and culture from Wales and the world in a monumental building.
  • Go on a Boat Trip – Explore Cardiff by water on the Taff River or around Cardiff Bay.
  • Millennium Centre – Immerse yourself in the arts in this awe-inspiring iconic building in Cardiff Bay.
  • Techniquest – Have fun whilst learning in this family-friendly science discovery centre.

✨ Read the full list of best things to do in Cardiff.

🗺️ Where to Stay

Cardiff is a small city with good transport links so you can easily explore wherever you stay. Here are some top recommendations:

  • Cardiff Centre – The best place to be for the hustle and bustle of the heart of the city.
  • Cardiff Bay – A great central location with iconic buildings and the bonus of sea views.
  • Pontcanna – Recommended for a quieter stay in a trendy, leafy neighbourhood with nice eateries.
View of the shops and restaurants around the Church Street in Cardiff
Church Street, central Cardiff

🛎️ Best Hotels

The author Ruthie Walters, holding a cocktail on the terrace at voco St. David's Cardiff
Ruthie with a cocktail on the terrace at voco St. David’s Cardiff

Cardiff has a good range of hotels which offer budget accommodation to five-star luxury. Check out these popular hotels:

  • voco St. David’s Cardiff – A five-star luxury waterfront hotel with spa facilities and sweeping bay views. 
  • The Coal Exchange Hotel – A luxury hotel in a gorgeous, historical building in Cardiff Bay.
  • Sleeperz Hotel Cardiff – A central hotel offering good-value accommodation including family rooms.

🍽️ Best Restaurants

A plate of Indian dish from Purple Poppadom
Award-winning dish, Purple Poppadom

You can sample traditional Welsh food and produce in Cardiff, as well as cuisines from around the world! These are some favourites:

  • The Welsh House – This central restaurant is a perfect place to sample Welsh food and drink .
  • The Potted Pig – A well-renowned restaurant in a former bank vault offering mouth-watering food. 
  • Tir a Môr – Meaning ‘land and sea’ in Welsh, this waterfront restaurant celebrates Wales’ produce.
  • Purple Poppadom – The place to go for award-winning Indian dishes with a modern twist. 
  • Mina Restaurant – A Lebanese restaurant with delicious freshly cooked dishes and a laid back atmosphere.

🚗 Best Day Trips

Panoramic view of the lush landscape around Big Pit National Coal Museum
The iconic ‘winding Headgear’ at Big Pit
  • Barry Island – A popular seaside destination with a sandy beach and an amusement park.
  • St. Fagan’s National Museum of History – Explore over 40 historical buildings across acres of parkland.
  • Caerphilly Castle – The biggest of over 600 castles in Wales complete with a moat.
  • Big Pit National Coal Museum – A former working coal mine turned museum where you can go 90m underground.
  • Tenby – A charming town and popular holiday destination in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. 

🏘️ Best Neighbourhoods

View of the properties in front of the lake in Roath
By the lake, Roath
  • Roath – A leafy residential area, home to Cardiff’s most popular park and some vibrant streets.
  • Cathays – A lively area favoured by students and full of cool restaurants, pubs and bars.
  • Canton and Riverside – This popular area has great eateries and markets as well as a rich diversity of cultures.
  • Pontcanna – A trendy and upmarket area with award-winning restaurants and cute cafes.
  • Whitchurch – A village-like neighbourhood with a busy high street and open green spaces.

🍸 Best Bars

A glass of drink at the colorful interior of Tiny Rebel
Iechyd da (Cheers)! Tiny Rebel
  • Lab 22 – An unsuspecting cocktail bar with the accolade of having ‘The Best Cocktail Menu in the world.’ 
  • Nighthawks – This exciting new and unpretentious wine bar looks right out to Cardiff Castle.
  • The Golden Cross – Wales’ oldest LGBT+ venue hosts regular entertainment from cabaret to quizzes.
  • Penny Royal – This friendly place is ranked as one of the top 50 cocktail bars in the UK .
  • Tiny Rebel – A colourful bar serving tasty (and quirky) beers brewed less than 20 miles away.

 🌳 Best Parks

View of the Welsh National War Memorial in the middle of Cathays Park
The Welsh National War Memorial, Cathays Park
  • Bute Park – A green oasis in the heart of the city situated behind Cardiff Castle.
  • Roath Park – This large leisure park is a popular destination and even has a boating lake.
  • Victoria Park – A busy family park with historic features and a modern play area and splash pad.
  • Cathays Park – This Grade I listed historic and characterful park is Cardiff’s civic centre.
  • Hamadryad Park – A green space with playing fields that flows into the Cardiff Bay Wetland Reserve. 

🛍️ Best Shopping

Exterior view of the High Street Arcade in Cardiff
High Street Arcade
  • Arcades – Explore shops, eateries and bars in Cardiff’s famous Victorian and Edwardian arcades.
  • St David’s Shopping Centre – Cardiff’s biggest shopping centre with over 150 shops, restaurants and cafes. 
  • Cardiff Central Market – A beautiful indoor market with traders selling fresh produce, and lots more!
  • Corp Market – A small independent market and community hub in Canton with a friendly bar and cafe.
  • City Road – A diverse, bustling street with shops selling goods from all over the world.

🎭 Theatres and Arts Venues

Exterior view of the unique structure of The Millenium Centre
The Millenium Centre
  • The Millennium Centre – A spectacular building housing the national arts centre for Wales. 
  • The New Theatre – Entertaining Cardiff with drama, musicals, pantomimes and dance since 1906.
  • Chapter Arts – This multi-artform venue is described as the heartbeat of creativity in Cardiff. 
  • St David’s Hall – The National Concert Hall and Conference Centre of Wales is well known for its acoustics.
  • Sherman Theatre – A theatre and production house offering a diverse range of shows written by local writers.

🏖️ Nearby Beaches

Scenic view of Barry Island Promenade in Cardiff
Barry Island Promenade
  • Penarth Seafront – Home to an art deco Pier and Pavilion, within walking distance from Cardiff Bay. 
  • Ogmore-by-sea – Hunt for fossils on this geologically important beach along the Glamorgan Heritage Coast.
  • Barry Island Beach – A much-loved sandy beach with colourful beach huts and nearby amusement park.
  • Rest Bay – Hit the waves on this Blue Flag beach in the seaside resort of Porthcawl 
  • Rhossili Bay Beach – On the Gower Peninsula, this beach often features in Wales’ top 10.

Cardiff Travel Advice

🗓️ Best Time to Visit

Cardiff changes a lot throughout the seasons. The best time to visit Cardiff is in spring, but you’ll have a great time whenever you go!

  • 🌼 Spring – A warm season when the spring flowers are in full bloom and Cardiff hosts important Welsh events.
  • 🌞 Summer – The sunniest season of the year, great for doing outdoor activities and attending events.
  • 🍂 Autumn – A rainy season with gorgeous autumnal leaves, fewer crowds and cooler temperatures.
  • ❄️ Winter – The coldest season full of festive fun and atmospheric Christmas lights and decorations.

🗓️ Read the full guide to when to visit Cardiff.

🚌 Getting In & Around

Cardiff has a good transport system within the city and is easy to explore on foot. It is also well-connected to many nearby destinations.

  • 🚶‍♀️ Walking – Pedestrianised areas and clear walking routes make Cardiff great to explore on foot.
  • 🚗 Driving – Although it’s easy to drive around, it’s not essential to have a car to explore.
  • 🚇 Trains – Regular trains connect different parts of the city and other destinations.
  • 🚌 Buses – A decent bus network provides a cheap and easy way to travel in the city and beyond.
  • 📲 Ride Share – Local taxis are easily available and provide a good service. Uber is also an option.
  • 🚴‍♀️ Cycling – There are some excellent cycle lanes around the city but it depends on the route.
  • 🛥️ Boats – A fun way to travel from the city centre to Cardiff Bay, and around the city’s waterfront.

👉 Tips & Things to Know

  • 💬 – Language – Welsh (Cymraeg) is an official language in Wales and things are often in Welsh and English.
  • 📅 – Keep Plans Flexible – You might want to change plans last minute depending on the unpredictable weather.
  • 🏟️Events – Traffic, crowds and prices rise when Cardiff hosts big events, so check dates in advance.
  • 🚌 – Bus travel – Buses are a great way to travel around Cardiff. Download the Cardiff Bus App!
  • 🛬 – Flights – Cardiff airport is small but international visitors could fly to London, Birmingham or Bristol and travel to Cardiff.

🧳 What to Pack

  • 🧥 – Raincoat – It rains a lot in Cardiff! Come prepared with a decent raincoat that’ll keep you dry in wet and windy weather.
  • 😎 – Suncream – Even if it isn’t super hot on a sunny day, the UV rating can be high so remember to protect your skin.
  • 👖Layers – The weather is unpredictable and can change in any season. Bring layers so you can easily adapt. 
  • 💳 – Cash and card – Bring cash (GBP) and a card – some places only accept one or the other!
  • 🔌 – Plug adapter – If you’re an international visitor, remember that the UK uses plug type G, with three rectangular pins.

🤓 Facts & Info

  • Census Population (2021) – 362,400 (Cardiff)
  • Time Zone – Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and British Summer Time (BST) (UTC/UTC+1 during daylight savings)
  • Area Codes – +44
  • Airports – Cardiff (CWL)
  • Nickname – The ‘Diff, City of Arcades 
  • Demonynm – Cardiffian
  • County – Cardiff
  • CountryWales, United Kingdom

💵 Costs & Budgeting

  • 3 Star Hotel Room – £65/night
  • 1 Bedroom Apartment Rental – £100/night
  • Rental Car – £85/day
  • Public Transport Ticket – £2 (£8 to airport from centre)
  • Taxi from City Centre to Airport – £30-£45
  • Take Out Meal for Two – £25-£45
  • Sit Down Dinner for Two – £30-£60
  • Draft Beer – £4-£6 / pint

FAQs About Visiting Cardiff

Is Cardiff safe for tourists?

Cardiff is a safe city for tourists to visit. Crime rates in Cardiff are lower than in other major UK cities. Tourists should remain vigilant and take care, especially at night, just like when visiting any city.

Is Cardiff worth visiting?

Cardiff is definitely worth visiting. Cardiff is the capital city of Wales and is full of history and culture. There are several incredible attractions, a great food scene, buzzing nightlife and a friendly atmosphere. Cardiff is a green city with beautiful parks and a lively waterfront.

Is Cardiff a walkable city?

Cardiff is a very walkable city. It is a small city with large parts of the city centre pedestrianised. There are lots of parks and green areas to walk around in the city and a path along the River Taff.

What is Cardiff best known for?

Cardiff is best known for its castles, arcades and waterfront. Cardiff is home to a castle that is over 2000 years old, and seven arcades. Cardiff Bay was once a busy docklands area and is now a modern, lively destination where you’ll find some of Cardiff’s most iconic buildings.

Is 1 day enough in Cardiff?

One day is not quite enough in Cardiff. Cardiff is a small city and you can see some of the city centre in one day. However, you need two or more days to see the many popular attractions in the city and explore the outskirts of the city.

Meet Our Cardiff Travel Expert

Ruthie Walters, Travel Lemming writer

Ruthie Walters

Ruthie Walters is a freelance writer from Cardiff. She is passionate about sharing travel tips for Wales and is always excited to discover new Welsh destinations. When not exploring her home nation, she can be found in far-flung corners of Europe, or farther afield. Ruthie has a background in languages, communications and campaigning. She’s now pursuing her love of writing and writes about travel and other topics on her site Thought Bubbles.

👉 Read Ruthie’s Articles

📰 Cardiff Travel Guides

There’s lots to explore in Cardiff and Wales, as well as other destinations in the UK! Check out our other articles for ideas, information and top tips shared by locals to help you plan:

🗺️ Cardiff Map