The vibrant capital city of Wales is one of the best places to explore in the United Kingdom. But if you’ve only got a short time in the city, there are plenty of things to do in Cardiff that you can cram into one day. Here’s how to get the most out of 24 hours in Cardiff.
Take a tour of Cardiff Castle
Your first stop of the day is Cardiff Castle, the historic jewel of the city. The castle is around 2,000 years old, dating back to the 11th century. You can take a private tour to discover all the intricate rooms and lush grounds.
It’s had a number of refurbishments over the years, including a lavish 19th-century makeover by architect William Bruges. He was inspired by a fascinating fuse of Gothic, Arabian and Mediterranean styles. Be sure to stop by the famous Animal Wall, and climb to the top of the 1,000-year-old Norman keep for spectacular views over Cardiff.
Wander through beautiful Bute Park
Discover the green lungs of Cardiff at Bute Park in the city centre. The park is a refreshing burst of greenery and you can even watch for wildlife. It’s a great spot to enjoy a picnic and walk along the River Taff that runs through the park.
If you’re after some morning tea, be sure to visit the Secret Garden Cafe in the heart of the park. The cafe uses local produce to create delicious vegetarian and vegan dishes, and its surrounded by flower beds and sunny outdoor seating.
If you’re up for some cycling, you can hire quality bikes next to the park. Take a trip down part of the Taff Trail, a popular route between Cardiff Bay and Brecon. You can also check out the Principality Stadium, home of the Welsh Rugby Team, just a few minutes walk from Bute Park. Stick around the city a little longer, and you might even get to see the Dragons in action!
Have lunch at Cardiff Market
After a morning of adventure, head to Cardiff Market, a historic covered market in the city centre. You’ll find all different kinds of stalls selling everything from vintage clothes and records to books and crafts. There’s also plenty of food stalls offering local treats. Don’t miss the freshly baked Welsh cakes!
Shop ’til you drop
Fancy a spot of shopping during your 24 hours in Cardiff? Once you’ve refuelled at the market, hit the nearby stores. You’ll find a massive vintage vinyl collection at Kelly’s Records, an iconic Cardiff institution. Or head to the nearby Morgan Arcade to visit Spiller’s, the world’s oldest record shop. It opened in 1894 and is filled with racks of historic records and live performances.
Continue your shopping adventure down the boutiques of Morgan Arcade, or visit other charming arcades like Queens Arcade and Royal Arcade. For even more, head to St. David’s Hall shopping centre, or The Hayes and Queen Street, the two major shopping strips of Cardiff.
Discover the local history
Make a stop by Yr Hen Lyfrgell (translates to ‘The Old Library’), where you’ll find the National Museum of Cardiff. This fantastic museum and art gallery houses collections on geology, archaeology, zoology, botany and fine art, with millions of items lining the halls. There are several interactive exhibits where you can discover the history of Cardiff with films, photographs and stories.
Be sure to visit the gift shop before you leave. It’s full of Welsh goodies including Melin Tregwynt Welsh wool blankets and delicious bars of Nom Nom chocolate made in West Wales – the perfect souvenirs for your 24 hours in Cardiff!
Explore the Bay Area
For a relaxing afternoon, head to the beautiful Cardiff Bay. You’ll find a bunch of wonderful sights like the Welsh Parliament Building, the Roald Dahl Pass, and Mermaid Quay. You can also see the dazzling wave-shaped Millennium Centre, home to the Welsh National Opera, and ballet, theatre, music and comedy performances.
Make a pit stop at one of the bars or restaurants along the bay and enjoy some people watching. Or visit Craft in the Bay, an old port building that’s now home to the Maker’s Guild in Wales. You can buy ceramics, jewellery, furniture and glassware made by talented local artists.
If you’ve got time, hitch a ride on the Aquabus. It will take you on a 45-minute cruise around Cardiff Bay with interesting commentary on the bay’s sights. Keep a lookout for the Welsh Assembly Building, the Norwegian Church and the barrage.
Sample the goods at Llanerch Vineyard
Located just 30 minutes from Cardiff, Llanerch Vineyard is a fantastic stop to squeeze into your 24 hours in Cardiff. The family-owned vineyard produces award-winning sparkling wines, and it’s the second oldest and largest commercial vineyard in Wales.
When you travel Wales with Trafalgar, you’ll get a unique insight into this historic vineyard. Of course, we wouldn’t let you leave without indulging in a delicious meal of seasonal produce and a refreshing glass of Cariad sparkling wine.
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Enjoy a traditional Welsh evening
Soak up the unique culture of Cardiff with a traditional Welsh evening of music, food and humour. We’ll take you to The Blue Anchor, a 14th-century thatched inn. You’ll be served a delicious Welsh country dinner, and entertained with a performance by a Welsh harpist presenting the beautiful music of Wales. The perfect end to an incredible day in Cardiff!
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And if you still have the energy…
If you fancy a bit more action after dinner, head over to Womanby Street for some of Cardiff’s best live music venues. It’s one of the oldest streets in the city and a hub for local musicians. For more music, head to the Chapter Arts Centre in Canton, where they also play art house films.
If you’re keen for a few more drinks, stop by the City Arms and enjoy a pint in one of Cardiff’s oldest pubs. Or head to Mill Lane, where you’ll find a strip of trendy bars and dance floors to boogie the night away.
After a whirlwind 24 hours in Cardiff, where will you head next? Perhaps you’ll cross the Irish Sea to Waterford, the oldest city in Ireland famed for its Waterford Crystal. Or make the journey across the Severn Estuary to England, and stop by the UNESCO-listed city of Bath. You could even head to the lively British city of Liverpool, the hometown of the ‘Fab Four’, where you can visit The Cavern Club where The Beatles once played.
What’s your favourite thing to do in Cardiff? Let us know in the comments below…