If you’re not sure how to spend a day in Cardiff, this capital city is a hub for learning and enjoying what Wales has to offer. While the city expanded primarily due to the development of coal and iron ore mines in the 1800s, now Cardiff is known for having a beautiful combination of the conveniences of the city with beaches and countryside on your doorstep.
However, we know that the costs of visiting a city can add up fast. So, we’ve found a variety of things you can do in Cardiff completely free of charge, to make your next city trip something that can keep your wallet happy too!
Fforest Fawr Sculpture Trail
Fforest Fawr is an ancient woodland with several conservation areas, making it a great place to get lost in nature. Here, you can find lots of different animals, flora, and fauna to admire – including wildflowers, bluebells, wild garlic, and in August, you might even spot a Fritillary butterfly! The sculpture trail is a part of the “Industrial Heritage Trail”. This longer walk takes around 1.5 to 2 hours, so if you’re bringing children, you might prefer to just see the sculptures. Built with children in mind, Fforest fawr encourages kids to use their imagination and explore, and Simon O’Rourke’s woodland-inspired carvings bring the forest to life.
Getting to Fforest Fawr by train
From Cardiff Central station, you can get a train directly to Taff’s Well in under 20 minutes. From there, you can cycle 15 minutes to get to the heart of Fforest Fawr or take a 5-minute taxi ride.
Llandaff Cathedral is stood on one of the oldest Christian sites in Britain. Although it is not the original church from this site, Llandaff Cathedral dates from 1106 when Bishop Urban instigated the building of a larger church. Filled with beautiful arches, you’ll find this cathedral is a quiet haven away from the busy city – perfect for a quiet afternoon. The cathedral is free for all to rest or worship in, enjoy the sunlight through the stained glass windows, and see the Celtic Cross near the door of the Chapter House.
Getting to Llandaff Cathedral by train
Once you have arrived at Cardiff Central station on a CrossCountry train, there are several buses from Wood Street that can take you to Llandaff Cathedral in around 15 minutes.
St. Fagans National Museum of History
As a working museum, St Fagans is a 16th Century manor house and the perfect place to discover native livestock, the history of Welsh people, and traditional Welsh crafts. It stands on a 100-acre ground with over 40 original buildings – from a farm and school to a chapel and merchant house. With activities for adults and children alike, this is a great place to spend the day discovering the history of Cymru. The museum also offers special events throughout the year, so keep an eye on the website to see what’s on.
Getting to St Fagans Museum by train
From Cardiff Central station, take the 32 bus towards St Fagans and within 25 minutes, you’ll arrive directly outside the museum.
Cardiff Bay Trail
Right in the heart of Cardiff, you’ll find the Cardiff Bay trail. This circular trail is perfect for pedestrians and cyclists who want to see a bit more of the city. With lots of Welsh landmarks along the way, and plenty of cafes and restaurants, you can enjoy the bay even on a rainy day! It spans across to the seaside town of Penarth via Pont y Werin, so you can also settle on the rocky beach, with a picnic or an ice cream on a sunny day, to really make the most of your trip! Make sure to walk along the pier and visit the art deco Penarth Pier Pavilion.
Getting to Cardiff Bay by train
When you arrive in Cardiff Central station from CrossCountry stations around the UK, you can reach Cardiff Bay in minutes – either on a Transport for Wales train, a bus, or on foot. If you prefer to start in Penarth and work your way back to Cardiff, a TfW train will get you there in 15 minutes.
Roath Park is a public park dating back to the Victorian era, which is Grade I listed. There are plenty of ways to occupy an afternoon at Roath Park including a lake, a cafeteria, and wild gardens. Why not hire a boat from the boatstage to make some memories? If you get splashed, rest assured that you can change in the public toilets. As well as the lake, there’s an array of tennis courts, bowling greens, and sports fields (perfect for getting the kids energy out!). There are also several trails to explore for children and for adults.
Getting to Roath Park by train
From Cardiff Central Station, take a 10-minute train ride to Heath High Level. From there you can walk for 15 minutes to reach Roath Park.
Norwegian Church, Cardiff
What do Norway, Cardiff, and Roald Dahl have in common? Find out on your visit to the Norwegian Church in Cardiff! Built in 1896 to provide Norwegian sailors with a place to worship, the church is now a hub for learning about history, as well as live musical performances. They also have the Norsk Café, where you can grab some delicious Norwegian waffles. Find a small piece of Oslo in the heart of Cardiff.
Getting to the Norwegian Church by train
From Cardiff Central station, take the 6 Baycar bus towards Cardiff Bay for 10 minutes. Following that, a 5-minute walk will get you directly to the church.
If you’re planning a trip to one of the free things to do in Cardiff, don’t forget to book an Advance ticket via our website or our Train Tickets app. You can also find information on how to get cheaper train tickets via our special offers page. If you need more information, you can contact us here.
The UK is bursting with fun activities. Whether you’re visiting one of the best historical places in the UK, the best forests in the UK, or the best cinemas in the UK, you can always travel by train. CrossCountry has services running up and down the country to ensure you can get to the places you need to be.
Written by Julia