Top 10 things to do in Cardiff
Cardiff is a vibrant and multicultural city that has something for everyone. Home to a castle, the world’s oldest record store Spillers, and Welsh rugby and football, Cardiff has been named the most affordable university city in the UK for 2022 as well as the third greenest city for 2021.
Wales’s largest city is known for its culture and entertainment – it is a modern haven for a multitude of different people from foodies and music loves to sports fans and fashion lovers. Whether you enjoy live sports, big concerts or browsing endless number of shops, there is plenty to do in the city which is responsible for producing a variety of Welsh legends. Some of the notable names from Cardiff include musicians Dame Shirley Bassey and the Super Furry Animals, amazing authors like Roald Dahl and football stars Gareth Bale, Rachel Rowe, and Jess Fishlock.
Here are our top 10 picks of what to experience in the Welsh capital:
1. Go back in time at Cardiff's very own castle
A trip to Cardiff would not be complete without a visit to its iconic castle in the city centre. Cardiff Castle is packed with history going back around 2,000 years, including a Roman fort, Norman stronghold and even bomb shelters during World War II.
Tickets cost between £10 and £14.50 to view the ancient site, however if you choose to live in Cardiff while you study with us, you can apply for the Keys to the Castle allowing you to see beyond the walls of the fort for free.
2. Enjoy an afternoon of history with the National Museum
If you want to continue your history fix, visit Cardiff’s very own museum. National Museum Cardiff has a variety of exhibits to capture your imagination, whether you’re interested in prehistoric creatures like dinosaurs and woolly mammoths, beautiful geology collections or Welsh art and culture.
Sat in Cathays Park, the museum is easy to find as it is only a ten-minute walk from Cardiff Castle or a five-minute walk from Cathays train station. Open from 10am to 5pm, Tuesdays to Sundays, the museum is also free to enter for all guests.
3. Explore the capital as you peruse the shops
Whether you’re looking to do some window shopping or go home with bags full of new treasures, Cardiff has a wealth of shops for all interests and budgets. From music and music shops to the newest fashion, alternative clothing or even toys, looking around the many businesses can be a great way to spend an afternoon.
Some of the top locations for shopping in the capital include St David’s Two shopping centre, The Queen’s Arcades shopping centre, Queen’s Street and The Hayes to name only a few.
Here are just some of the shops you will find in St David's Two:
- Build A Bear
- Flying Tiger
- John Lewis
- New Look
Each location also has a vast selection of places to eat and drink when you need to boost your energy between shops. In St David’s Two you can find various coffee shops – including Starbucks, Costa, and Muffin Break – spaced out nicely between shops to help you refuel.
4. Find hidden treasures in the Arcades
If you are planning a shopping spree around Cardiff, don’t forget to visit the arcades. The Victorian and Edwardian arcades are a unique addition to the city, taking you on a maze of unique businesses including places to eat and shop between the old buildings.
Built to shelter shoppers from the weather, there are seven historical arcades in the city centre including Castle Arcade, High Street Arcade, Duke Street Arcade, Dominions Arcade, Morgan Arcade, Royal Arcade, and Wyndham Arcade. Exploring the arcades is a fantastic opportunity to enter the roots of Cardiff to see hidden businesses from vintage clothes and boutiques to board games shops, hairdressers, independent restaurants, and cafes all the way to joke shops, cocktails, and crystals.
5. Browse fresh produce at Cardiff Market
Looking to buy something different? How about some fresh local produce? Take a trip to Cardiff Market where you will find a whole host of strange and wonderful items for good prices. Under the glass roof you can find everything from some of the best pizza in Cardiff, to fresh fruits and vegetables, to rock ‘n’ roll, and even psychic readings.
While the 19th Century building has something for everyone, it’s a great location if you fancy window shopping just to see what is on offer at this buzzing and lively market.
6. Get back to nature at one of the parks
You may decide you want some time away from the traffic and the buildings in a more green and peaceful setting. Why not venture to one of Cardiff’s beautiful parks such as Bute or Roath Park? Bute Park surrounds the river and is closer to the centre, however Roath Park features Roath Lake and is in the beautiful Roath area of the city.
Both parks are easy to get to on foot or via public transport, and they both offer big, beautiful trees wild birds like swans, ducks and geese, and a way of feeling back to nature in the middle of a bustling city.
7. Take in the views at Cardiff Bay
Cardiff Bay is a fantastic addition to any visit to the capital city. Sat on the waterfront, there’s a lot to explore from the International Sports Village to the many shops to the beautiful Cardiff Bay Wetlands nature reserve. The Bay also comes with an array of places to eat and drink whether you want modern Japanese food at Yakitori #1 or Spanish and Italian food at Demiro’s. There is also the annual food festival in Cardiff Bay which sees small businesses from across the UK gather to serve their delightful and unique dishes to revellers.
You can watch a musical or a play at the Millennium Centre, take in some history from the Roald Dahl Plass, or have fun with science at Techniquest. Don’t forget to check out the pretty Norwegian Church, the Marina or go look for popular sites from Doctor Who and Torchwood while you’re in the area.
8. Taste what Cardiff has to offer as a food hotspot
After a busy day in the city, you’ll want somewhere to refuel. Cardiff has plenty of options which fit different dietary requirements, making it a brilliant destination for foodies. From ‘proper tidy’ burgers at The Grazing Shed to giant ice-creams at Coco Gelatos or mouth-watering pizzas at Calabrisella, we’d be surprised if you don’t find something to eat when you visit. You can also enjoy a pint of Welsh craft ale on Womanby Street from Wales’s own Tiny Rebel.
You don’t have to stay in the centre of Cardiff to enjoy good food. Areas in Cathays and Roath, like City Road, have a huge variety of restaurants and bars too.
9. Walk in legends' footsteps at the Principality Stadium
The iconic Principality Stadium stands proudly in the centre of Cardiff where it welcomes millions of people every year. The proud home of Welsh rugby, the stadium hosts everything from sports to world-famous music-concerts and tours to more unusual events like wrestling and monster trucks.
In the last year, the Principality Stadium has welcomed international stars such as pop icon Ed Sheeran, German metal legends Rammstein and the incredible WWE’s Clash at the Castle. In between events, you can join a tour of the legendary Welsh stadium.
10. Meet new friends with a variety of entertainment and activities
If you are looking to enjoy an evening in the city, there are a lot of options which can fit all tastes and budgets. Womanby Street is a haven for music lovers with venues such as Fuel Rock Bar for metalheads and rockers, the famous Welsh club Clwb Ifor Bach, and the Full Moon Club. There are also venues such as Vodka Revolution, Metros, Tiger Tiger, and Pryzm if you prefer a more conventional club night.
Cardiff is also known for being an inclusive, LGBT+ friendly city as it boasts venues like The Queer Emporium café and store, and Mary’s nightclub which are both safe spaces for members of the community looking to socialise.
If you prefer an evening playing games with friends, why not look at board game venue Scaredy Cats Café Bar near St David’s Centre, videogame bar Kong’s on St Mary’s Street or tabletop game venue Firestorm Games on Sloper Road. There are also escape rooms available within the city as well as activities like laser quest, bowling, axe throwing at Boom Battle Bar, or darts at Flight Club.
You could also see a band at the Cardiff International Arena or St David’s Hall or catch a play at The New Theatre. If you’re prepared to travel to the Bay, there is also the Millennium Centre. Cardiff welcomes millions of people every year for its incredible, World-class events.