The best things to do in Cardiff take full advantage of the fact that it's one of the cultural hotspots of the UK. The capital city of Wales seamlessly blends a long and colourful history with innovation and modernity. Walking the streets, you'll see a mix of old Victorian shopping arcades and super-modern stadiums. The one constant is the great atmosphere you’ll find throughout.

    A fairly compact place, many of the best things to do in Cardiff are found immediately around the city centre. There are plenty of interesting little quirks and curios to discover, so it pays to just explore. However, it helps to have somewhere to start, which is why we’ve prepared this list of the must-see places.

    What are the best things to do in Cardiff?


    Cardiff Castle

    Centuries of Welsh history in one place

    • History
    • Photo

    Cardiff has had a castle since the Romans were in Britain, and it’s been built on and developed ever since, making it quite an eclectic display of history. The Norman keep stands atop a small hill, surrounded by impressive defensive walls which were used as air raid shelters during the Second World War. There’s a Georgian mansion in one corner and a museum of Welsh army regiments in another. It’s a very convenient and interesting place to explore, being just north of the city centre, and has a guide app for Android and iOS. The Clock Tower is especially worth visiting, but tours are only available on weekends. The Animal Wall along Castle Street is also worth a photo.

    Location: Castle St, Cardiff CF10 3RB, UK

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 6 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)29 2087 8100


    Castle Quarter

    Check out the arcades

    • Shoppers
    • History

    Castle Quarter is the main shopping hub of Cardiff, containing several of the city’s famous Victorian and Edwardian shopping arcades. High Street runs right through the area and, like most High Streets in the UK, it’s lined with high-end stores and cafés, including the House of Fraser department store. Off this, you’ll find the beautiful covered shopping streets of High Street Arcade, Castle Arcade and Duke Street Arcade, each of which is packed with independent stores. Castle Arcade, in particular, contains a great selection of cafés and restaurants. Come back to Castle Quarter after dark because this is also the nightlife hub, full of the city’s best pubs and clubs.


    Bute Park

    Explore one of the UK's largest city parks

    • Families
    • Couples
    • Photo
    • Budget

    Bute Park is like a little countryside oasis in the middle of Cardiff, just next to the castle. It borders the River Taff, and is undoubtedly the most beautiful part of the Taff Trail, a cycling route which starts by Cardiff Bay. The 130-acre garden contains several self-led nature and walking trails and contains an amazing array of tree and plant species. At the heart of the park is an education centre, where you can pick up trail guides and learn more about the park’s resident wildlife.

    Location: North Rd, Cardiff CF10 3DX, UK

    Open: Daily from 7.30 am to 30 minutes before sunset

    Phone: +44 (0)29 2087 2730


    The Royal Arcade

    Souvenir shopping in the city centre

    • Shoppers
    • Luxury

    Among the many beautiful Victorian-era shopping arcades around Cardiff, the Royal Arcade is the oldest and perhaps the most luxurious. It’s a great place to find real local souvenirs, including Welsh gifts and homeware. Check out Cardiff Antique Centre if you’re looking for something really special, and maybe have a bite at Wally’s Delicatessen, which has been open for decades and is practically an antique itself.

    Location: St. Mary's St, Cardiff CF10 1AE, UK


    photo by Jon Candy (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    Cardiff Central Market

    Local eats in a Victorian-era shopping mall

    • Shoppers
    • Food
    • Budget

    Right in the centre of the city, a short walk south of the castle, Cardiff Central Market obviously deserves its name. Lava bread, on the other hand, is a bit deceptive. Obviously it’s not a loaf made of molten rock. It’s actually pureed seaweed, and is particularly good as a breakfast, rolled with oats, fried and served with bacon. Even if you don’t fancy trying the local flavours, the Central Market is rightly known as one of the cheapest places in Cardiff for a fried breakfast, as well as groceries, second-hand books and more. The glass-roofed building itself has a distinctive charm, making it worth the visit just to look around.

    Location: 49 St. Mary St, Cardiff CF10 1AV, UK

    Open: Monday - Saturday from 8 am to 5.30 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +44 (0)29 2087 1214


    photo by Ungry Young Man (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Cardiff International White Water

    Get wet and wild without leaving the city

    • Families
    • Adventure

    Cardiff International White Water is an Olympic-standard set of artificial rapids. Under the guidance of experienced coaches, you can try your hand at white water rafting, canoeing, kayaking, and even surfing on the indoor wave machine. The centre is on the outskirts of the city, about 4 miles south of Cardiff Central train station, but the No. 13 bus will drop you right at the door. You’ll find other activity facilities nearby, including an ice rink, swimming pool and yacht club.

    Location: Watkiss Way, Cardiff CF11 0SY, UK

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm (Wednesdays and Fridays until 8.30 pm)

    Phone: +44 (0)29 2082 9970


    photo by Gareth James (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    Cardiff Story Museum

    An innovative city museum

    • Families
    • History
    • Budget

    Cardiff Story Museum is one of the more creative city museums in the UK. While it boasts a collection about 3,000 objects and artefacts, it presents them in fun, interactive way. The story told by the free museum is quite an exciting one, with the Welsh capital growing from a small market town to one of the busiest ports in the UK to the diverse destination you see today. Backpackers will appreciate the luggage lockers which are also available in the beautiful historical building, which is close to the Central Market.

    Location: The Old Library, The Hayes, Cardiff CF10 1BH, UK

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 4 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)29 2034 6214


    photo by Seth Whales (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Principality Stadium

    Enjoy one of Wales' favourite sports

    Widely known by its original name of Millennium Stadium, the national stadium of Wales is home to many exciting sporting events. While it has hosted boxing, motorsport, concerts, conventions and has even been a film set a few times, it’s best known as a rugby stadium. Watching a match of Wales’ favourite game is an unforgettable experience as the atmosphere of being in a crowd of over 70,000 fans is beyond description. The stadium is conveniently close to Cardiff Central train station, making it very easy to get to.

    Location: Westgate St, Cardiff CF10 1NS, UK

    Phone: +44 (0)844 249 1999


    photo by David Roberts (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Wales Millennium Centre

    Visit the heart of Cardiff culture

    • Nightlife
    • Couples
    • Photo

    Affectionately known as “The Armadillo” because of its unique design, the Wales Millennium Centre is a hub of culture in Cardiff. The schedule is packed with concerts, operas, shows and plays in the main theatre and two smaller halls, including top West End shows. The onsite restaurant is very highly rated and there are several cafés and bars to try. The iconic copper-coloured building is surrounded by other important social and cultural sites, including The Senedd (the Welsh parliament) and Roald Dahl Plass, a public plaza and amphitheatre named after the famous children’s author.

    Location: Bute Pl, Cardiff CF10 5AL, UK

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 7 pm (until late on show nights)

    Phone: +44 (0)29 2063 6464


    Dinner at Cardiff Prison

    Clink glasses at The Clink

    • Food
    • Couples
    • Unusual

    No, that’s not a typo – you really can dine at Her Majesty’s pleasure in Cardiff. You don’t need to suffer prison food, either. The Clink is a gourmet dining experience and an opportunity for prisoners to rehabilitate and gain new skills and experience in the hospitality industry. It works, too – those who prepare and serve your delicious food are much less likely to reoffend. Expect first-class cuisine made with fresh local ingredients and served in quite an elegant setting. Just don’t expect any alcohol because it’s banned on prison grounds.

    Location: HMP Cardiff, Knox Rd, Cardiff CF24 0UG, UK

    Open: Monday - Tuesday from 9 am to 3 pm, Wednesday - Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm and from 6.30 pm to 9.45 pm, Sunday from noon to 3 pm

    Phone: +44 (0)29 2092 3130

    Ben Reeves | Compulsive Traveller

    Start planning your trip

    Keep exploring

    Back to top