Panoramic view of the Cardiff Bay, Wales

Itineraries for Your Trip to Cardiff

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3 Days in Cardiff for First Timers

Curated by Lauren CockingLauren is a Mexico City–based writer, editor, and translator from Yorkshire with bylines at CNN, BBC Travel, and Al Jazeera. She’s currently working on her first full-length literary translation in between harassing her cat, drinking smuggled Yorkshire Tea, and blogging about Latin American literature at

Three days in Cardiff let you experience the best sights and sounds of the Welsh capital, as well as giving you time to explore further afield to Brecon Beacons, Barry Island, or even across the border to England. With that in mind, here’s how best to spend three days in Cardiff.

Day 1

There’s no need to rush on your first day in Cardiff. Get to grips with everything the city has to offer, including Cardiff Castle, by purchasing admission tickets in advance and arriving early in order to guarantee a hassle-free experience. Afterwards, discover Cardiff’s architectural highlights, such as City Hall and Cardiff University, on a hop-on hop-off bus tour, which lets you explore the city at your own pace. Don’t miss the Victorian arcades—the ideal spot to grab lunch—or sprawling Bute Park, either. 

Skip the logistics of exploring Cardiff independently on a customizable, local-led city tour that can cover local cuisine or Doctor Who filming locations. Round out the day by taking a boat to Cardiff Bay, dining by the water, and catching a show at the Millennium Centre.  

Day 2

On day two, go beyond Cardiff on a day trip to the nearby Brecon Beacons—where even novice hikers can summit the Pen y Fan hill in a few hours—or Barry Island, the home of fictional sitcom characters Stacey and Nessa from Gavin and Stacey. Here, enjoy amusement arcades, sandy shores, and fairground rides.

Alternatively, visit one of Cardiff’s lesser-explored neighborhoods, such as Grangetown or Pontcanna; both have plenty of quirky bakeries, coffee shops, and markets to explore. Down at Cardiff Bay, get your culture fix at the Norwegian Church Arts Centre or learn about Welsh life at The National Museum in St Fagans. If you’re a sports fan, you may prefer to catch a soccer or rugby match at Principality Stadium or watch cricket at the SWALEC.

Day 3

Cardiff’s proximity to the border means visitors can easily cross into England for jaunts to either Bath or Bristol on a day trip. Admire Roman architecture and, of course, visit the historic baths in Bath, or go vintage shopping and visit art galleries in Bristol.

Alternatively, skip England in favor of nearby Welsh destinations such as the imposing Castle Coch; Caerphilly, home to one of Britain’s largest medieval fortresses; and Carmarthen, the legendary birthplace of Merlin. Day trips also transport you west along the coast by either train or private vehicle to Swansea, where you can stroll through The Mumbles, replete with eateries, beaches, and art galleries, or go further still until you reach the picturesque harbor town of Tenby.

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