It’s not too much to say that Cardiff surprised us. The little Capital of Wales was a regular trip that turned out to be very interesting. It’s fair to say that there are few activities to do in Cardiff and all of them are fun and cool. This guide to the best free things to do in Cardiff will take you to some of the coolest experiences in Cardiff.
From free walking tours in Cardiff to photo spots and places to hang out. One of the most famous cities in the United Kingdom was an amazing day trip from London, away from the chaos of the big city and a more intimate trip.
If you decide to spend a day in Cardiff, make sure to check out the list of the amazing things to do in Wales, down below.
15 Free things to do in Cardiff
All you should know about our free Things to do in Cardiff
Things to do in Cardiff
- Free Walking Tour of Cardiff
- Stroll around Cardiff’s Arcades
- Cardiff National Museum
- St Fagans National Museum of History
- Admire the Pierhead Building
- Free Walking Tour of Cardiff Bay
- Grab a bite at the Wales Millennium Centre
- Enjoy the Senedd
- Stroll on the Promenade down Penarth Pier
- Walking in Bute Park
- Discover Cardiff’s Street Art
- Step in the Llandaff Cathedral
- Smells and flavours of Cardiff Market
- Visit the World’s Oldest Record Store
Free Walking Tour of Cardiff
Enjoy an amazing introductory tour of Cardiff for Free. This amazing walk along some of the pretty streets of Cardiff, visiting awesome spots of the city should be on top of your list of free things to do in Cardiff.
Visit the external walls of the Cardiff Castle, pass by the St. John the Baptist Church and between the stalls of Cardiff Market with a local guide. Delve into the fascinating history of the Wales Capital, learning about the Victorian age, and getting into the soul of traditional pubs.
The meeting point for this free activity in Cardiff is under the statue of John Batchelor at The Hayes, around the Cardiff Story Museum. This is the perfect tour, a way to explore a few things to do in Cardiff city centre even if you are visiting the Capital for short time.
ENJOY A FREE WALKING TOUR OF CARDIFF
Shop around the Cardiff Arcades
Once we stepped out of our bus from London, we walked to the city centre of Cardiff. These amazing streets feature some of the best arcades we have visited so far. We discovered that Cardiff is often recognized as the “City of Arcades”.
You will get lost through the maze of charming Edwardian and Victorian style arcades.
If you are not in the rush to visit Cardiff, you can lose one entire day just roaming through the beautiful boutiques, bistros, bakeries, cafes and antique shops. Delightful little quintessential shops, one after another that will rape you and take the whole trip.
Every arcade features particular shops, in total there are seven beautiful arcades. This is the commercial core of Cardiff, hosting business from generation to generation. It’s easy to hunt and find treasures in the quirky vinyl and records shops, vintage boutiques and jewellers.
Following High St. and then St. Mary Street, right in front of the main entrance of the Castle of Cardiff, you will find arcades opening on both sides of the road. During the weekend this road is close to the traffic and completely walkable. The High St. arcade is one of the best-preserved and stunning from the entrance. Check out the High Street Arcade, one of the best things to do in Cardiff for free.
Other than that you can also visit the Morgan, Wyndham and Royal Arcade. Don’t forget to pass by the beautiful Hayes Pl, a huge square full of restaurants, where the shopping street starts. If you are looking for more hidden gems in Cardiff, you should check out the Duke Street Arcades.
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Visit the National Museum
Looking for the best things to do in Cardiff for free you should place on your list a visit to the National Museum. This beautifully mixed collection of geology pieces, artworks and also focusing on natural history will drive you crazy. This museum is free and hosts a unique vision of Wales’ history. You can find next to each other (not literally) fossils and paintings, which is incredible and not often seen in museums.
The museum often hosts private collections and exhibitions, so watch out for the next event. Go to the Museum website.
You can discover the marvellous things this museum has to offer every day from 10 am to 5 pm, excluding Monday. Check before your visit if there is any national holiday.
Best Tours in Cardiff
Check the best activities in Cardiff and enjoy an amazing experience in the Wales Capital
St Fagans National Museum of History
From one museum to another, however, this is away from the city centre and ideal only for visitors for a few days in Wales. Not only that, this is an incredible 100-acres open hair museum that will leave you speechless. The St. Fagans National Museum of History is easy to reach from Cardiff city centre in just about 20 minutes by car.
This museum is hosted in the beautiful St. Fagans Castle which also features Saint Teilo’s Church on the banks of the River Ely. This is a national heritage site, free to enter, ideal for a day out in Cardiff. The beautiful complex can be dated back to the 16th-century. Every year the St. Fagans area hosts festivals and traditional events.
This is a proper step back in time, with some of the shops still using traditional tools to craft products. This is a proper living museum that was donated to the people of Wales by the Earl of Plymouth in 1948. Since then, locals have been active to create the right environment, recreating the old atmosphere, raising buildings following the original look. Walk in a local shop and get your special souvenir from Cardiff.
Admire the Pierhead Building
Let’s go back to the city centre and continue with our guide to the 10 incredible free things to do in Cardiff. The Pierhead is the symbol of Cardiff Bay. Taking a huge part in the composition of the landscape of the seaport of the city, Pierhead is an unforgettable location to visit in Cardiff.
Officially built by the Bute Dock Company in 1897 as their headquarters, the Pierhead is today a listed building part of the Senedd, the Welsh Parliament. Unofficially this is referred often to as the “Little big ben”.
Having been there for over 200 years, the Pierhead is standing over the significant changes of Wales. This beautiful red brick building is today still welcoming sailors in Cardiff bay and is free to visit.
Free Walking Tour of Cardiff Bay
I think you didn’t know that you can book in advance a free walking tour of Cardiff Bay. Check this out!
Through this amazing walking tour on the seaside of Cardiff, you will walk through Wales’ history with a local guide. Discover some facts about Wales, walking along the promenade.
Willing to have free stuff in Cardiff? Check out this walking guide to Cardiff Bay for Free. You will discover the history behind the Norwegian Church, the Pierhead Building, the art centre Wales Millennium and many others. Thanks to a local guide you will get tips on the most popular attraction in one of the most attractive districts in the capital. This is also one of the best places to chill in Cardiff and you will understand soon why.
CARDIFF BAY FREE WALKING TOUR – RESERVE YOUR SPOT IN ADVANCE
Grab a bite at the Wales Millennium Centre
The Wales Millennium Centre is another beautiful building along Cardiff Bay, right in the heart of the area is a modern building is a 360 entertainment centre.
The Millennium Centre offers activities for everyone and is the core of the performing arts for the whole of Wales. The centre often offers free activities and is worth checking out before your trip to Cardiff. The venue is also often crowded with people attending performances, festivals or music concerts. Other than that, some performances are free to attend in the Lobby Area, or named as Glanfa Stage. You can also enjoy the cafes and restaurants in the National Arts Centre of Wales, or just admire the stunning architecture of this building.
Enjoy the Senedd
Already familiar with this word, that we mentioned before talking about the Pierhead Building, as part of the Senedd. This is the proper parliament, which is located in a unique position overlooking Cardiff’s Bay.
The Wales Parliament officially opened its doors in 2006, inaugurated by Queen Elizabeth II. The Senedd is on the waterfront of Cardiff and is free to enter for the public. However, you should book your spot in advance, and also have access to the debate in the public gallery. This is another incredible landmark in Cardiff you should not miss.
Stroll on the Promenade down Penarth Pier
Staying focused on Cardiff Bay, walking down the Promenade toward the Penarth Pier you can enjoy one of the most hidden gems of Cardiff. We understand that this location in Cardiff is a bit far away from the main sightseeings, however, it is worth it.
The UK seaside towns are full of Victorian piers, unique installations that go along the sea waves from the riverfront. The Penarth Pier is a beautiful art deco structure that in some ways reminds us of Brighton Promenade. This has stood on the Cardiff Seaside since 1898 and has since been adjusted and preserved many times. Explore the surrounding area and enjoy the local shops and restaurants.
We suggest you check the Penarth Pier in the afternoon, at sunset this spot is amazing.
Free activities to do in Cardiff
Walking in Bute Park
Another landmark of Cardiff is Bute Park, the green lung of the Welsh Capital. One of the best parks, we have ever seen, featuring all sorts of activities, with a river running through the meadows, full of cafes, pitches, picnic areas, a sculpture trail and also a secret garden cafe. Bute Park is not only one of the most beautiful parks, but it’s also the largest in the UK, with its 56 hectares.
Have a walk in this incredible park, which is a unique feature in our list of free things to do in Cardiff. The park is ideal at every time of the year with trails adapted to adults and kids, however, in the wind some of them are close.
Discover Cardiff’s Street Art
Following our instinct to find incredible photo spots in Cardiff, we looked out for graffiti and street art. Surprisingly Cardiff features some incredible places for street art. Also, we learned that Cardiff is hosting every year the Empty Walls Festival.
As you can see there is a vibrant street art scene in Cardiff, and this is mainly recognizable if you walk around the local stadium. This stretch of road north of the Principality Stadium, not far away from the city train station (Which by the way has given the marks to the Colombo Train Station in Sri Lanka), is the perfect location for local spray artists. Check out also the Millennium Walkway and Bute Terrace for other incredible pieces of Street art in Cardiff.
Step in the Llandaff Cathedral
Continuing in our tour of things to do in Cardiff for free, it’s now time to show you how beautiful Llandaff Cathedral is. This Christian Church is the seat of the Bishop of Llandaff. This is one of the most beautiful Cathedrals in the Country, part of the local heritage, featuring gorgeous architectural details. The original Cathedral was built in the 12th century on the foundations of an early church. The Church is in the borough of Llandaff, once not part of Cardiff. Today’s shape is the result of modification over time due to storms, invasions, fires and many other events.
The classical interiors of the three Naves feature the architecture of the major Cathedrals in Europe. Visiting the Llandaff Cathedral is free, be mindful if there are ceremonies taking place.
Smells and flavours of Cardiff Market
While talking of the beautiful Cardiff Arcades we didn’t mention that there is also another awesome building just behind some of the most famous ones. We love to roam around local markets while exploring a new city, and we did the same in Cardiff. The smell of new flavours, seeing colours and talking with local producers, make us feel the vibes under the skin and understand a place even more.
Cardiff Market reflects the surrounding architecture. The Victorian Building has that old retro touch, preserving the soul of Cardiff. We definitely have to say that this is not only one of the best free things to do in Cardiff, but also an incredible photo spot.
The Art deco sign and the big clock make the perfect backdrop for your shots. This is just the entrance from St. Mary’s Street, however, if you are getting inside from the Hayes, you will find a beautiful garden, where locals enjoy their lunch breaks. The market is open every day.
Visit the World’s Oldest Record Store
With a step in the past, we couldn’t miss visiting some old boutiques, hunting rough gems. This is free right? We are just talking about free things to do in Cardiff, however, check out also our list of things to do in Cardiff in one day.
Not many know that Cardiff features one of the Oldest Record stores in the world. I am a Vinyl addict, even if I don’t have a player or collect it, I love to go around and check out the shops. Spiller’s was established in the Morgan Arcade in 1894, opened by Richard Spiller, and is still selling disks like the first day.
How to get to Cardiff
There are many ways to arrive in Cardiff, depending on where you are arriving. The best way to reach Cardiff from overseas is flying into London. This is practical and easy flying into Heathrow or Gatwick Airports and then by train or bus to Cardiff.
Located west of London, Cardiff is 3 hours away by car from the England Capital, and about 1 hour and 50 minutes by train. You can also fly into Cardiff using the local airport. Worth checking if you have a direct flight from your location, however, many require a connecting flight, which ends up taking longer compared to taking the train from London.
From the UK, you can reach Cardiff easily by train. Check out how to reach Cardiff from your location.
BUY YOUR TRAIN TICKET TO CARDIFF IN ADVANCE
Driving to Cardiff is fun, passing from the beautiful Cotswold if you are starting in London. This is an easy trip, renting a car in London. Check the best car deals.
Renting a car can give you the chance to visit the surrounding area, exploring the Brecon Beacons National Park and the Wye Valley or stretch your trip to other beautiful places in Wales like Swansea.
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Where to stay in Cardiff
If you are looking where to stay in Cardiff, you should consider our suggestions
Q&A Best things to do in Cardiff
What can you do in Cardiff for free?
AMAZING FREE THINGS TO DO IN CARDIFF
– National Museum of Cardiff
– Pierhead Building
– Norwegian Church
– A walk in Bute Park
– Free Walking Tour Cardiff Bay
– Visit the Senedd
– Enjoy the Street Art in Cardiff
What to do in Cardiff in One day
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.
What is Famous Cardiff?
The amazing Cardiff Castle
Wales Millennium Centre
The Principality Stadium
Bute Park – The largest in the UK
Is Cardiff expensive?
No. Compared to other UK major cities we found Cardiff very affordable. Definitely, Cardiff is cheaper than London, also for regular products like breakfast, coffee, general attractions tickets and experiences.
Is Cardiff Castle free?
No. You can enjoy the outer spaces and green meadow, however, the entrance to the castle is subject to a fee. The ticket price is £12.50 per adult and £9.00 per Child.