One Day In Cardiff: 5 Things To Do

One Day In Cardiff
View from Norman Keep

Cardiff or Caerdydd in Welsh located in South Wales is a harbour city and the capital of Wales, and, only two hours away from London the capital of England.

It is a great destination for a weekend getaway but also for a day trip if your short on time. So if you decide to spend one day in Cardiff here are the 5 things to do in this charming city.

One Day In Cardiff: 5 Things To Do

Day trips are some of my favourite thing to do when I travel and don’t have much time. It gives me a good insight of the city or town I visit and allow me to do the main attractions of the city and if I would like to come back in the future for a longer period.
My one day in Cardiff went pretty smoothly, I adored the vibe of the city and I would love to come back for an extended period and explore more of Wales!

How To Access Cardiff

From London

Trains to Cardiff Central from London depart from London Paddington and as I said above, it takes only 2 hours and 15 minutes to be precise to go to the Welsh capital.
The average cost of a return journey is about £95. However, if you choose a super off-peak cost £81.30, slightly cheaper.
You can purchase cheaper tickets, however, the journey is much longer around 4 hours, which would make an 8 hours journey in one day. I reckon it’s not really worth it for a day trip.

From Bristol

Cardiff is one of the best day trips you can take from Bristol as it is only a short hour of train ride away and it’s pretty cheap. The return ticket from Bristol Temple Meads to Cardiff Central on an off-peak train cost £13.90 and £19 for an anytime day return ticket.

I like to use the trainline to check out the timetable and prices of the tickets.
Also, if you rather arrive in the Bay area of the city you can take a train to Cardiff Bay instead of Cardiff Central.

Things To Do In Cardiff In One Day:

Obviously, you can not do everything in one day, however, you can still make the most of your time and here are some things to do in Cardiff if you only have one day in the city.
The city centre has a lot to offer within walkable distance so you don’t need to spend a lot on transportation, which is good.
Also, if you don’t fancy walking and create your own itinerary there is always the option of hop bus that shows you every landmark.

Cardiff Castle

what to do in cardiff in one day
Cardiff Castle

One of the main landmarks of the city, Cardiff Castle is a must-do if you visit the city. I easily spent over two hours and a half there reading about the history of the place and visiting every corner of it.

One Day In Cardiff
Clock Tower
  • Clock Tower Tour
    he clock tower is the first thing you can see with the castle from a distance. One of the most recognisable landmarks of the city, within the tower you can find some stunning rooms.
    Although if you do struggle with stairs the ones in the tower are quite steep and uneven sometimes.
    It will cost you an additional £4;50 if you wish to visit it.

  • Castle Appartments
    The history of the Victorian Gothic castle spans over two thousand years, the rooms you can find inside are truly amazing. They are all beautiful within their own right, full of gold, statues and amazing art pieces that count you the history of the castle.
    I’m sure this is the case for many people but my favourite room was the Arab Room the ceiling is one of the most beautiful design I have ever seen. Following close by the luxurious library.

  • The Norman Keep
    The Norman Keep is the remain of a fortified tower. You can visit the inside to climb on top of it to see Cardiff Castle from up there; the view is really nice. (See the first photo of the post). However careful the stairs to get there are very steep!

  • Wartime Shelters
    During the WWII the tunnels within the walls that surround the castle were used as shelters to protect the inhabitant from air-raid, it could offer shelter to around 1800 people. You can find bunk beds, a kitchen area and so on inside.
    They also air some music and background noise to immerse you more into what it was during this horrible period of history.

Price: £13.00
You can pay an additional £3.35 to get a House Tour to explore some extra rooms. I didn’t take it and regret it later on, so make sure not to make the mistake!

Bute Park

Bute Park can be found near Cardiff Castle, this was then my second stop of the day.

  • Blackfriars Friary

You can find inside the park the location of a former Dominican Friary that was dissolved in 1538.

You can find a 3D model reconstruction to show you how the site would have looked during the medieval age, as well as two panels that tell you about the history of the place.

Bute Park, Cardiff day trip itinerary
  • Bute Park Animal Wall

The animal wall is one of the most interesting features of the park, in my opinion, also the most photographed feature. The wall was erected in the 1890s with a few original animals, some only came in later.

They can be distinguished from their glass eyes. Glass eyes that the 6 additional animals which were added to the wall when it was relocated west of the castle in 1923 don’t have.

You can see the difference in the pictures above, the pair of racoons don’t have glass eyes. There’s a total of 15 depicted on the wall.

If you’d like you can take a boat that will take you down to Cardiff Bay in the park. Another interesting thing to see in Spring and Summer is the Herbaceous Border in full bloom.

Cardiff Story Museum

The museum is interactive, well presented and teaches you about the history of the city, its customs and industry evolution. It gives you a good insight into how the city evolved over the year. It’s ideal for a first visit.

It’s also a good activity to do with a kid if you would like to bring your kids there and worry they might be bored.

Cardiff Story museum is located in the centre of the city thus not so far from the train station. The visit doesn’t take a huge chunk of time of your journey and it’s a nice insight into the city.

Price: Free.


Cardiff Market

Cardiff Market or Marchnad Ganolog Caerdydd in Welsh is a victorian build indoor market composed of two floors where you can find a wide range of products, fresh foods and treats.

One Day In Cardiff
Cardiff Market

I bought a traditional Cardiff biscuit in the market, naively thinking it was filled with chocolate chips. Turns out the welsh treat is filled with raisin.

Cardiff Bay

Cardiff Bay is the harbourside of the city, you can find there several restaurants and bar as well as an entertainment area. So, it’s basically a leisure centre.
While the weather wasn’t the best during my day trip to Cardiff it was still nice nonetheless to walk along the Bay and see its landmarks.

You can find several statues scattered along the Bay, the most famous one being the one below: People like Us

  • Mermaid Quay
  • Pierhead Building
  • Wales Millennium Centre

Bonus: Cardiff is the best destination for Dr Who’s fans as you can find the Doctor Who Experience there! I didn’t do it but I know some of my friends who would have loved to do the Doctor Who Experience there!

To conclude Cardiff in one day is a good experience, however, I wish I had spent a few more days to explore the city and its surrounding more in-depth. Even with such a short time span, I loved the vibe of the city and exploring its street and arcades. I will definitely come back in the future to visit it at a slower pace and visit more of Wales. *

One Day In Cardiff: 5 Things To Do

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  1. 21/12/2019 / 04:59

    Cardiff looks great! After living in England for the past 2 years, I keep meaning to make a trip to Wales but still haven’t been. It’s going on my list for 2020 destinations! Thanks for an informative post 🙂

  2. April
    21/12/2019 / 15:28

    Sadly, Wales is the one country in the UK I haven’t been to and I really need to fix that! Cardiff will be a wonderful jumping off point, so thank you for a wonderful post!

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