Things to do in Cardiff
Wales’ largest city and the capital of the country, Cardiff is growing in popularity as a tourist destination for both staycationers and holidaymakers alike! As a result there are plenty of things to do in Cardiff, as well as to experience, see, eat and drink; no matter your occasion, budget or trip type.
Cardiff has seen a great degree of regeneration since the 1980s and enjoys a fantastic contrast between new and old as a result. This includes the redevelopment of Cardiff Bay waterside areas, the development of the BBC Drama Village and the construction of the Cardiff International Sports Village, as well as refurbishment of city centre and more commercial areas.
Our Top 10 Pick of Things To Do in Cardiff
This guide will cover both things to do in Cardiff and things to do in Cardiff Bay, and as much as we’d love to write about everything, we just can’t fit it all in… so here’s our top ten, and anything else, you’ll have to explore and discover yourself while on your travels!
1. Enter into the crazy world of The Welsh Games
Welsh Games are a great activity suitable for groups of all shapes, sizes and sporting abilities… and however you perform, we promise you won’t forget them anytime soon! Nestled in the beautiful greenery of the Welsh countryside, each member of the group takes part in nine games, all of which are Welsh themed. Think sheep shenanigans, dragon racing & the rugby run, and jaw-aching laughter for hours on end. The Welsh Games are regularly ranked as the #1 activity to try in Cardiff. The reviews really do speak for themselves.
2. Explore Cardiff’s historical heart at Cardiff Castle
Beautiful Cardiff Castle is a stunning medieval castle and Victorian gothic revival mansion located slap bang in the city centre. Now run as a tourist attraction and museum, there’s lots to see and do within the Castle and an ever-changing schedule of exhibitions within. The Castle also plays home to a range of events and even gigs; in recent years including the likes of Tom Jones, the Stereophonics and Green Day, attracting over 10,000 people to each! It’s one of the most popular things to do in Cardiff for tourists and residents get hefty discounts, so it need not stay just the domain of visitors.
3. Sail the seas (ish) with Cardiff Bay Boat Tour
Describing itself as the ultimate thrill, Cardiff Bay Boat Tour is one of the more adventurous and fun things to do in Cardiff. These aren’t your standard guided boat tours that serenely glide along a river with a monotonous commentary on history and architecture but instead operate high-speed motorboats to show you the sights… speedily! The standard trips are so quick they last just fifteen minutes, but there’s also 90 min coastal tours available if you’d like to take your time to look about.
4. Take tea at the Penarth Pavilion
If you’re looking for fun things to do in Cardiff this weekend, visiting the Penarth Pavilion doesn’t need any advance booking and can be done at any time of the day. The iconic pier looks out across the Bristol Channel and on a clear day, you can see England! The café on the pier stocks a wide variety of teas and coffees and is open daily 9-5 for your caffeine (or decaffeinated) fix. Some of the other activities we list here may be quite heavy, so this one can sit on your list for chilled and easy things to do in Cardiff Bay.
5. Dance on the bar at the Coyote Ugly Saloon
OK, so this one isn’t for everyone, but you could be surprised at who from your party gets up for a good… drop! The Coyote Ugly Saloon is an incredible themed bar with branches across the globe, and two in Wales: in Cardiff and Swansea. Eat great food (the portions are American-sized, so make sure you’re hungry!), enjoy fantastic drinks packages and get up and dance with the Coyotes themselves. If you’re looking for fun things to do in Cardiff, this should be top of the list – even if you’re not drinking alcohol, you’ll get swept away with the spirit.
6. Rave in a bank vault with Cellar Door
Wales’ biggest house and techno club event, Cellar Door is an event company hosting club nights all over the city; and occasionally further afield across Swansea and the Valleys too. The most interesting venue they frequent is undoubtedly The Vaults, an ex-bank vault that was built in the 1920s and decommissioned in the 1970s. It’s completely underground and makes for a unique clubbing experience that you won’t find anywhere else. True trance fans travel from all over the UK to rave here.
7. Catch a game at the Millennium Stadium (now the Principality Stadium)
The Principality stadium is something to add to your list of things to do in Cardiff this weekend, as you don’t need a ticket to nip in; providing a game isn’t on. If you can get hold of a ticket, check out the Wales national rugby team play in their home ground, but if not, take a tour and nip to the shop of the country’s national stadium.
8. Learn a new skill at the NoFit State Circus
The NoFit State Circus is the UK’s leading contemporary circus company and as well as being a great place to catch a show, they also host community classes and workshops in circus skills. These make for a really memorable experience for visitors, but also the ideal afternoon-filler for parties! Get in contact with the team there to discuss options and rest assured, they’ll be able to cater for all abilities and ages.
9. Do good and eat good at The Clink
A restaurant like no other, The Clink is one of the most fun things to do in Cardiff and one of the most rewarding! Based within Cardiff prison, the food is created and dished up by serving prisoners who are training to be chefs. Aiming to reduce reoffending rates through rehabilitation and skills training, The Clink offers those incarcerated opportunities they may never have had before through their restaurant programme. The food served is kept to a really high standard as it’s all quality controlled by City & Guilds qualification staff, so you can enjoy social gastronomy alongside the more traditional culinary variety.
10. Experience some Welsh culture at St Fagan’s Natural Museum Of History
Wales’ most visited tourist attraction, St Fagan’s isn’t as stingy as the name may suggest! It stands in the grounds of St Fagan’s Castle and has been recently refurbished and redeveloped. New buildings and galleries have opened in the last year and the museum now plays home to a variety of both static and changing exhibitions. Catch up with what’s on during your stay in the capital online and let them know if you have any access requirements; they’ll always do their best to accommodate you!
Booking Up Your Cardiff Itinerary
Whilst many of us plan ahead when booking group trips to London or other big cities, somehow Cardiff is often underestimated and so people have a tendency to ‘play it by ear’ when they arrive. This is a rookie error – we always recommend scheduling ahead!
You don’t need to map out exactly what your group will be doing hour-by-hour, but pre-booking a good variety of activities gives people the ability to choose what they’d like to and what they can afford to; without the potential disappointment of turning up and not being able to get a space.
The Welsh are traditionally very accommodating and friendly, so be upfront about any dietary, ability or access requirements, and they’ll do whatever they can to suit their activities or venues to your needs. The laws around access are the same as elsewhere in the UK and are very stringent, so there’s no need to be concerned about anyone having to miss out on anything. All publicly available written materials in Wales must appear (by law) in English and Welsh, so there’s no language barrier to worry about either; it’s very rare that you’d meet anyone who didn’t speak perfect English, particularly in the country’s capital.
Why Visit Cardiff?
Cardiff is a beautiful city and somehow still remains an unvisited one amongst many elsewhere in Great Britain.
Edinburgh and London both have their own appeal, but Cardiff has bags of potential too. Prep your group by tuning them to old episodes of Gavin and Stacey and rugby games, and you could even download a Welsh language app to hone your skills. Go all out and you’ll be captivated by wonderful Wales – there’s so much to do, see and enjoy!