If you’re looking for the best day trips from Cardiff, there are many breathtaking places to discover within 3 hours of the Welsh capital.
I’m from South Wales, and I’ve enjoyed exploring many incredible places accessible on a Cardiff day trip.
In this guide, I’ll share 19 Cardiff day trips. We’ll cover all the well-known destinations, but I’ll let you in on some hidden gems that are underrated. Oh, and I’ve also got a guide to the best things to do in Cardiff for those days you aren’t up for a day trip.
Table of Contents
- Best Cardiff Day Trips
- Barry Island (Ynys y Barri)
- Big Pit National Coal Museum
- St Fagans National Museum of History
- Chepstow & Tintern
- Tenby (Dinbych-y-pysgod)
- Caerphilly Castle
- Ogmore-by-Sea Beach
- Bannau Brycheiniog National Park
- Castell Coch
- Waterfall Country
- St David’s (Tyddewi)
- Swansea (Abertawe)
- Celtic Manor Resort
- Dyffryn Gardens
- Eryri (Snowdonia National Park)
- FAQs About Cardiff Day Trips
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Best Cardiff Day Trips
Barry Island (Ynys y Barri)
A quintessential seaside destination with a hint of the Caribbean.
🗺️ Distance from Cardiff: 28 minutes by car or 23 minutes by train | 📍 Google Maps
Ok, Barry Island isn’t exactly the Caribbean. But the town IS affectionately known as ‘Barrybados’! On a sunny day, the long sandy expanse of Whitmore Bay beach can look quite tropical for South Wales.
Visit the arcades and Barry Island Pleasure Park, which offers entertainment for children and adults alike. If you’re a big fan of the British sitcom Gavin and Stacey, get yourself on the official tour of the show’s filming locations.
It’s easy to get around the pretty seaside town and all-terrain wheelchairs are available to hire too.
Big Pit National Coal Museum
Experience Wales’ coal mining and industrial history set in the UNESCO World Heritage site of Blaenavon.
🗺️ Distance from Cardiff: 45 minutes by car, 1 hour 12 by train and bus | 📍 Google Maps
You can’t talk about South Wales’ history without mentioning coal.
A day trip to Big Pit National Coal Museum (or, just ‘Big Pit’) will give you an authentic insight into this industrial cultural heritage.
Big Pit National Coal Museum is a former working mine where you can go 90m underground in ‘the cage’ (it’s not as scary as it sounds!). Above ground, visit the excellent multimedia exhibitions and displays.
Big Pit is in the area of Blaenavon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can combine a day trip here with visiting Blaenavon Ironworks, the World Heritage Centre, or the Blaenavon Heritage Railway.
Few tourists can say they’ve been to Monmouth. But this small market town nestled in the lower Wye Valley is worth a visit.
I’ve often taken for granted how beautiful my hometown is.
Monmouth is home to a notable medieval river bridge and the Shire Hall, an impressive 18th-century court. You can find Wales’ oldest theatre, the Savoy Theatre, on Church Street. This cobbled street also has some independent cafes and shops with friendly owners, like ‘Creates’ and ‘RT jewellery’.
There are stunning hikes around the town and through the Wye Valley. Although it is one of the least well-known day trips from Cardiff, Monmouth won’t disappoint!
St Fagans National Museum of History
This time machine through Wales’ history is my favourite museum (ever).
St Fagans National Museum of History is an open-air museum set in the parklands of St Fagans castle that brings Welsh history alive. I’ve visited countless times and the novelty has never worn off!
You can visit over 40 buildings from different periods which have been painstakingly rebuilt from all around the country. My favourite is the Rhyd-y-car Terrace, a row of 6 houses each from a different era.
St Fagans National Museum of History makes for a great day trip from Cardiff for people of all ages!
Chepstow & Tintern
Get two-for-one on this dreamy day trip in the Wye Valley.
Chepstow is a picturesque border town. It has an impressive 900-year-old castle that towers over the river Wye and a pretty high street which is often decorated with bunting.
The Wales Coast Path and the Wye Valley walk start/end in Chepstow. The drive from Chepstow to Tintern along the River Wye is stunning.
In Tintern, you can visit the 18th Century Cistercian Abbey. Cross the River Wye and walk up to Devil’s Pulpit for spectacular views across this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Or head to Abbey Mill for traditional Welsh food and to browse local crafts.
I’ve done many day trips here with friends! I recommend combining both Chepstow and Tintern into one day trip, as they’re very close to each other.
Colourful houses and a sandy beach start in this postcard-perfect seaside town.
Tenby is a seaside town with a holiday vibe that always makes me smile. Tenby’s colourful houses and long sandy beaches are picture-perfect. I always enjoy wandering around the art galleries and cute shops. My favourites are ‘Equinox’ and ‘Guy Manning’s art room’.
Some unforgettable boat tours start from Tenby Harbour. Highlights include: a Seal Safari boat ride to get up close to wildlife, and a trip to the holy Caldey Island inhabited by monks.
Take a slight detour to visit nearby Pembroke or Laugharne Castle if travelling by car.
I really can’t put into words how big this castle is – you have to see it for yourself!
🗺️ Distance from Cardiff: 26 minutes by car or 32 minutes by train | 📍 Google Maps
Caerphilly Castle has 30 acres of water defences, walls, towers, and gatehouses. In the 13th Century, you wouldn’t have had much luck entering this huge castle. But now, you can just buy a ticket and visit!
Caerphilly Castle is a magical place to explore for all ages. Note that, while there is ongoing restoration work, there is still plenty to see. With Caerphilly mountain in the background, it is nearly impossible to take a bad photo of this castle. Don’t miss the famous leaning tower!
An eclectic city bursting with culture, history, shops, boats (and lots more!)
Bristol is a vibrant city across the river Severn. When I travel by train from Cardiff, I love catching a Bristol ferry down the harbor from behind Temple Meads train station.
There are some very varied neighborhoods. In Clifton Village, you could peruse classy boutiques like Grace and Mabel. Whilst in Stokes Croft, you could admire street art and sip a coffee in the popular Cafe Kino. Head to the iconic SS Great Britain, the world’s first great ocean liner, or the M shed museum to see some of Bristol’s fascinating history.
The city of Bristol is easy to navigate on foot, bike or bus, making it one of the best day trips from Cardiff without a car.
There’s enough in Bristol to extend your day trip to a couple of days. For a unique place to stay, check out this quirky indoor caravan complex.
Keep a lookout for fossils, sea life, and wildlife on this special beach.
🗺️ Distance from Cardiff: 40 minutes by car or 55 minutes by train and bus | 📍 Google Maps
Ogmore-by-Sea is one of the most popular beaches along the Glamorgan Heritage Coast. It boasts fertile rockpools, a wealth of fossils, fascinating geology, a sandy beach, and a nearby Norman castle. The River Ogmore estuary is a great place for fishing and birdwatching.
The rare rock formations are interesting to look at – but don’t get stranded on them! Always check the tide times before going for a walk along the beach.
To extend your coastal day trip from Cardiff, stop off at Nash Point lighthouse on your way back.
Bannau Brycheiniog National Park
A trip to Wales isn’t complete without breathing in some Welsh mountain air!
Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons National Park) is one of three National Parks in Wales and covers over 500 square miles. It includes many picturesque towns such as Abergavenny and Brecon.
You could have a calm day trip from Cardiff and just take in the mountain backdrop from the towns.
For a more active adventure, go hiking up a mountain, canoeing on the canals, mountain biking down a hill – or even take this unique paragliding tour!
👉 Local Tip: You can find a wealth of high-quality Welsh food and drink in this area. Head to the Sugarloaf vineyard near Abergavenny to try local wine, or the famous Abergavenny food festival in September!
This unassuming small town boasts the largest amount of Roman legionary remains in Britain.
🗺️ Distance from Cardiff: 35 minutes by car or 41 minutes by train and bus | 📍 Google Maps
It still boggles my mind that Caerleon (or ‘Isca’, if you were a Roman!) was at the farthest corner of the Roman Empire. But well-preserved fortress baths, barracks, and an amphitheater still stand proudly in this small Welsh town on the river Usk.
Look out for special events such as Saturnalia (the Roman winter festival) and don’t forget to try dressing up as a Roman soldier!
A fairytale castle set in ancient woods – just follow the river Taff up from Cardiff to reach this magical place.
🗺️ Distance from Cardiff: 17 minutes by car, 40 minutes by bike, or 44 minutes by bus | 📍 Google Maps
Castell Coch is like something from a children’s book. It is beautiful on the outside and has a stunning interior. The two-turreted castle is set in an ancient woodland which changes throughout the seasons. I always try to come when the bluebells are out!
A scenic, traffic-free bike route runs from central Cardiff to the castle alongside the Taff River. You could rent a nextbike from Cardiff and leave it in Tongwynlais. Then wander up the hill to feast your eyes on the castle!
12 major waterfalls in this small area of Bannau Brycheiniog give it the name “Waterfall Country”!
Waterfall Country is on the south-westerly side of Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons National Park).
Waterfall Country is one of the best day trips from Cardiff for nature and adventure lovers. The ‘Four Falls Trail’ is a popular 5.5-mile hike around a well-signposted route. Just be sure to always stick to the path.
You can also visit one or two of the waterfalls without doing the full circular hike if short on time. My favourite is Sgwd-yr-Eira waterfall.
On the other hand, if you’re up for an adventure, take this unique Gorge Walking Tour, which has over 100 five-star reviews.
Think bookshops, cute cafes, spectacular views of the Wye Valley … and bookshops!
Hay-on-Wye is a small market town that has twenty bookshops and hosts a world-famous annual literary festival in the spring.
My favourite bookshop is the Literature Laboratory, which I suggest browsing before working up an appetite by strolling by the River Wye. Then head to one of Hay-on-Wye’s many independent cafes, such as the Granary – a photogenic spot with great food.
On your way to Hay (as it’s known locally), stop off in Llanthony Priory, an awe-inspiring medieval building in the Black Mountains.
St David’s (Tyddewi)
Step foot in Britain’s smallest city and on the spectacular Pembrokeshire coast path.
🗺️ Distance from Cardiff: 2 hours 15 minutes by car | 📍 Google Maps
Don’t expect big city lights from Britain’s smallest city! Expect to see an ancient cathedral settlement, gorgeous streets, and spectacular beaches. According to tradition, the patron Saint of Wales, St David, was born in the nearby St Non’s Chapel.
You can explore the Pembrokeshire coast path from St David’s by walking – or doing a boat trip! A sunset walk on the nearby Caerfai beach will end your day trip beautifully.
St David’s is one of the longer day trips from Cardiff but is worth it. I’d recommend staying at least a night at this hotel in the heart of St David’s if traveling by public transport.
A city day trip with lush beaches is a stone’s throw away.
I love Swansea because you can be in the lively city centre and on a beautiful beach on the Gower peninsula within a short space of time.
Head to the National Waterfront Museum to learn about the industrial and maritime history of Wales. Or visit the Dylan Thomas centre to learn about Wales’ literary legend. Swansea’s vibrant nightlife is also a big draw, but keep in mind that the train to Cardiff doesn’t run all night.
When you’ve soaked up the culture, check out the beaches. The Gower is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and has some of the most popular beaches in South West Wales.
Celtic Manor Resort
From having a luxurious spa treatment to playing adventure golf, the Celtic Manor has got you covered.
The Celtic Manor Resort offers many activities and is a great option for a day trip from Cardiff (especially on rainy days!)
Highlights for families include adventure golf courses, archery, high ropes, and an indoor inflatable obstacle course. Couples, friends, and individuals can treat themselves to a spa day.
You will need to book in advance for some activities – including the Instagrammable afternoon teas.
The Celtic Manor Resort is a 5 star hotel and home to world-class golf courses. Stay the night here to make the most of all the facilities.
An ever-changing Edwardian garden on the outskirts of the capital.
Every time I visit Dyffryn Gardens, something has changed! The garden is always evolving due to the seasons as well as the ongoing, ambitious restoration project.
The Dyffryn Gardens were ranked by the British Tourist Authority as one of the top 100 gardens in the UK. The garden holds a labyrinth of garden rooms, trees, flowers, and lawns. You’re bound to return to Cardiff feeling rejuvenated after a day trip to this peaceful garden oasis.
Eryri (Snowdonia National Park)
Wales’ largest national park is a paradise of mountains, waterfalls, lakes, and woods.
Eryri National Park (Snowdonia National Park) always amazes me. It covers 9 mountain ranges, coastlines, lakes, woodland, towns, and more! You’ll need to stick to the southern areas of Eryri for a Cardiff day trip.
There are over 823 miles to explore in the national park. Head to Dolgellau if you’re not sure where to start. Dolgellau is a beautiful town with easy access to lakes, waterfalls, and adventure sports.
You’d need to stay a night if you want to ascend Wales’ highest peak, Yr Wyddfa. This hostel is a popular choice among walkers.
FAQs About Cardiff Day Trips
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👉 Read Next: Best Time to Visit Cardiff
I hope you now have a clear idea of some of the amazing day trips from Cardiff on offer. Have fun exploring!
If you’re heading to England’s capital, check out some great day trips from London.
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