This post has been updated on February 15th, 2021
While talking about day trips from London, you might consider visiting Cardiff. Wales’ Capital it’s not always on the bucket list of travellers visiting the UK. However, instead of going through London, you should consider hopping on a train and within two hours, you will cross a border and enjoy a new culture.
Visiting Cardiff in one day might be enough to enjoy the city centre and the beautiful Cardiff Bay. There is plenty of architecture, culture and scenery in such a small city.
We were fascinated by Cardiff, as not many suggest it as a destination, even for just a day trip. However, Cardiff with its beautiful architecture, the Victorian Arcades, the bay facing the Channel and the incredible landscapes, has impressed us a lot. To be honest it’s not a destination where we will spend more than a couple of days, but still worth a visit every now and then. Less chaotic than London, Cardiff should be part of your tour in the UK, along with Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester, York and others.
- What to do in Cardiff in One day
- How to spend one day in Cardiff?
- Free walking tour of Cardiff
- Visit the Cardiff Castle
- Stroll around the beautiful high street arcade
- Enjoy the sunshine at Mermaid Quay
- Have dinner at a beautiful restaurant by the sea
- Food Tour in Cardiff
- Go for a scenic boat ride
- Explore Cardiff’s National Museum
- See the Millennium Centre
- Watch a Rugby Match at the Millenium Stadium
- How to get to Cardiff, Wales
- Where to stay in Cardiff, Wales
- One day in Cardiff final thoughts
What to do in Cardiff in One day
How to spend one day in Cardiff?
Free walking tour of Cardiff
The cheapest and most interesting way to explore a new place it’s to grab the opportunity to sign up for a free walking tour. Check if there are available spots.
Going on a free walking tour in Cardiff will help you to step into the city with the right foot. We love the free walking tour, first because it’s free, second because it gives us a lot of insights, which helps us to explore a place more efficiently.
Often we get distracted by the many opportunities to explore a new place, and so sometimes we skip things that are quite interesting. Over time we understand that a free tour can help you to organize your time, and one day in Cardiff will be enough to explore the city.
You can opt for two different free walking tour – An historical one and a Cardiff Bay Free Walking Tour
Both free tours are worth to do as it will give you the opportunity to get to know the history of Cardiff.
Visit the Cardiff Castle
It might be assumed as the symbol of Cardiff, and the entire country. Cardiff Castle can be dated back to the 50AD. Visit the Castle of the Wales Capital it’s the first thing to do once arrived in town.
The building it’s stunning, but it’s worth knowing that it’s a reconstruction from the 1800s. Today the castle looks like a fairy tale building, which will inspire your mind with many stories of Knights and dragons.
Entrance Fee | Standard ticket £12.50 – Discounts for Students £10.95, Kids 5-16 £9
EXTRA TICKETS | Access to the rooms and the rooftop is subject to an extra fee.
Opening hours | Every Day – Nov to Feb 9 am to 5 pm/ Mar to Oct until 6 pm
BOOK YOUR TICKET | Book your ticket in advance and jump ahead of the queue
Stroll around the beautiful high street arcade
What was impressing us more about Cardiff, was the cute city centre. The old town was completely different from our usual landscape in London. The city, while it’s capital, has many city centres, which belong to the different areas. However, what we concentrated our attention on visiting Cardiff in one Day was the old town.
The city itself offers many opportunities to go and shop. The high street arcade it’s an insanely beautiful maze of six Victorian arcades, full of boutiques, bakeries, barbershops, lively bars and cute coffee shops. The tiled floor, the arcades and the architecture, make the Cardiff Shopping Arcade one of the most instagrammable spots in Cardiff.
However the high street arcade it’s not the only space to visit as a shopping mall. Within the “Castle Quarter”, the area surrounding the castle you can also visit the Duke Street Arcade and the Castle Arcade.
Enjoy the sunshine at Mermaid Quay
However the old town it’s not the only place to stroll around in Cardiff. The Mermaid Quay it’s the beautiful harbour nestled in Cardiff Bay. Visiting Cardiff in One Day you should consider splitting your time well between the part of the city surrounding the Castle and the seaside.
The Mermaid Quay it’s beautiful day and night and offers the perfect spot for a lovely stay in town. Around Mermaid Quay you can also find many beautiful hotels if you decide to stay overnight. This is the meeting point of locals, especially in spring and summer.
Have dinner at a beautiful restaurant by the sea
The Mermaid Quay it’s the perfect place to have a beautiful dinner by the sea. There is a wide choice of places where to eat in Cardiff Bay. Just walking around Bute Street, you will have plenty of restaurants, take away shops or just coffee shops for a bite on the go.
At night the bay becomes so romantic, ideal for a dinner with your other half and a beautiful view. For a cheaper solution, you are served with Wetherspoon and many other pubs as well.
Food Tour in Cardiff
While travelling everywhere something that we found really useful to get along with locals it’s to hop on an organized food tour. You can do the same in Cardiff, enjoying the local cuisine, escorted by locals, which will introduce you to traditions, and more indeed insight about the history behind those dishes.
The thriving food scene in Cardiff will let you understand the traditional Welsh food heritage. That will take you from local street food to more delicious fine dishes. The real tradition of Wales it’s made by their unique markets and festivals. However, those are just in a particular time of the year but can be experienced in Cardiff every day through the varied cafes, pubs and restaurants.
Go for a scenic boat ride
Cardiff, it’s beautiful and the good things it’s that you can experience this beauty in many ways. Getting a scenic boat ride from the Mermaid Quay, will give you a different point of view about Cardiff.
The boat ride starts at Bute Park, just next to Cardiff Castle, so will let you go through the River Taff, ending at the Mermaid Quay. The whole journey it’s short, just about 25 minutes. However, this is one of the cheapest experiences to do in Cardiff. The fee’s just about £2 – £4. Despite the public one, this boat ride it’s also possible booking a private boat. Check the availability.
Explore Cardiff’s National Museum
Cardiff has got a National Museum and it’s another iconic building of the Wales Capital. The National Museum of Cardiff it’s right next to Cathays Park. The beautiful Museum offers a huge collection of contemporary art and will get you through the history of this country.
The most interesting thing in this museum it’s the collection of wild ancient animals found in the area. You will be astonished seeing a woolly mammoth and the skeletons of dinosaurs, once roaming freely around this part of the world.
See the Millennium Centre
The huge building that takes the whole landscape of Cardiff Bay it’s the Millennium Centre. It’s relatively a new landmark of the city and offers many activities to locals and tourists. The Millennium Centre it’s an art centre hosting plays, movies, learning classes, galleries and also concerts.
The huge auditorium it’s one of the most incredible in the whole country. The high-standards of this centre can be compared to the west-end performances in London. Check the schedule of the Millenium Centre if you are into musicals, opera, ballet, or also in contemporary dance, hip hop. However the centre it’s open also to the comedy, diversified art exhibition and workshops. The centre also offers behind-the-scenes backstage tours, but we saw that too late to experience it. Don’t make our same mistake and check in advance.
Watch a Rugby Match at the Millenium Stadium
This is the National Sport, and people in Wales are very proud of it, and also competitive. The Millennium Stadium it’s a temple for the people of Cardiff and not only. The beautiful Stadium is located between the seaside and the old town, it’s beautiful and stunning already from outside. If you are a fan of this sport or just curious about this stadium, you should visit the inside.
The stadium’s also hosting football matches, one of the latest more representative was the final of UEFA Champions League. The locals often refer to this as Principality Stadium, and they are very proud of this gem, unique in the whole United Kingdom.
How to get to Cardiff, Wales
It’s easier than you think to visit Cardiff from London. There are many choices to go for a one day trip to Cardiff. From London Victoria Station you can reach Cardiff in about 4 hours by bus.
There are about four rides per day with Megabus, but there are many other companies to do the same trip at a different time of the day. The ticket for this trip is going from £5 to 15£, booking in advance will give you a cheap fee.
If you want to reach Cardiff from London by train, you can take it from Paddington Station, toward Cardiff Central. The train ride it’s about 2 hours without changes. The ticket price might change, before you book it, cheaper it is. Get your ticket here.
Where to stay in Cardiff, Wales
Cardiff, it’s not the ultimate destination for travellers, but being a capital has got many options about accommodations, plenty of hotels, AirBnb and even hostels.
Depending on your needs, we suggest you look for accommodation by the marina. This place it’s insanely beautiful all year round, especially in summer. Below we handpicked some suggestions for you to check out. Feel free to comment below your experience.
Apartments & Hostel
One day in Cardiff final thoughts
We might understand your concern regarding such a not advertised city. However like many others in the UK, Cardiff it’s coming behind London as a destination for travellers. Despite this huge overshadow, Cardiff it’s an underrated gem in the country. If you are planning a trip around the UK, you should consider spending at least one day in Cardiff.
We loved the city and made it a great escape from the chaos and the routine from London. The quiet lifestyle, make the perfect vacation, but not that far. A destination to reach without the stress of reaching the airport, going through the security check and passport control, but with the vibes of passing a border. We highly suggest you plan a trip to Cardiff, even if just for a weekend.
What can you do in Cardiff in one day?
Below we’ve listed all the things that you can do in Cardiff in one day:
– Visit Cardiff Castle
– Go for a free walking tour
– Explore Cardiff’s National Museum
– Admire the Millennium Centre
– Enjoy the sunshine at Mermaid Quay
– Go for a Scenic Boat Ride
– Watch a Rugby Match at Millennium Stadium
– Go for a food tour
What can you do in Cardiff for free?
How many days do you need in Cardiff?
Wales’ capital city is a great place to plan a day trip from London. One day in Cardiff will give you the opportunity to explore the city. If you have an extra day, we highly recommend you to spend 48 hours in Cardiff. Spending 2 days in Cardiff would be great to enjoy the city without rushing!
Is Cardiff Castle free?
Unfortunately no. There is a small fee to pay to visit the Castle! Here you can book your ticket and enjoy the visit to the Castle. However, if you wish to enjoy the open space of the Castle, this would be free of charge.