The Getaway
Things to Do in Cardiff You Can't Anywhere Else

Cardiff is Wales's capital and principal city, an ancient Celtic country whose chief exports are coal, aerospace components, and consonants. A stop in Cardiff is a must if you're anywhere near the mountains of Cymru. Of course, your trip will be much more productive if you have some idea of what to do before you get there, and there's no shortage of things you can do in and around this ancient Welsh city.


01 Take the Wandering Bard walking tour

Chepstow Castle Maxian / Getty Images

The Wandering Bard was a famous Welsh storyteller, writer, singer of songs, teller of tales, and weaver of yarns who holds a place of honor in the history of Wales. The Wandering Bard walking tour puts you with a professional historian of Wales who can lead you around town for 8-9 hours and show you all the places where the Bard sang, recited, and bought rounds of drinks for his appreciative audiences.


02 Take a bus tour

Public transportation may not be your first choice for a must-see vacation, but the Cardiff buses are a little different. Reserve a seat on one of the city's double-decker hop-on/hop-off buses, and you can tour the historic bits of town at your own pace from any of the route's 11 stops. Millennium Stadium and Cardiff Castle are on the route, and you can get recorded commentary to know what you're hopping off to look at.

03 The Doctor Who walking tour

Cardiff is not actually Gallifrey, but quite a lot of Doctor Who has been filmed there. Take the Doctor's walking tour to visit some iconic filming locations, including the TARDIS library. This 2-3 hour tour is hosted by volunteers who are among the Doctor's biggest fans, and they're a wealth of behind-the-scenes information about nearly every episode of every series.

04 Visit the local castles and other Medieval stuff

Cardiff Castle, Wales poechri / Getty Images

The Normans conquered Wales during the 12th century, but it didn't go quietly. Throughout the Middle Ages, the Plantagenet kings of England had to cover Wales with huge castles to keep the place under control. Today, many of these castles are open to the public. Cardiff Castle is one of the most popular to visit, and it has all the nice crumbly stonework and excitingly blocky battlements you'd expect in a proper Medieval castle.


05 Relax in Roath Park

Clock tower in Roath Park Lake in Cardiff Ceri Breeze / Shutterstock

Having conquered Cardiff's castles and walking tours, you might be in the mood to relax for a bit. Roath Park is one of the most inviting green spaces in any urban area in the UK. For several acres in the heart of Cardiff, you can relax on the grass, feed the geese and the ducks, or bring the kids to see exotic flowers at the adjacent botanic gardens.


06 Spend a couple of hours at St. Fagans

St. Fagans National Museum of History is an open-air interactive museum that traces the history of Wales back to prehistoric times. Period-accurate wattle-and-daub huts are open to the public to explore, including kids, and informative exhibits entertain and educate about how the people of Wales lived all the way back to pre-Roman times. Entry fees are charged by the car rather than per person, so this can be a very affordable stop for big families.

07 Get some culture at Cardiff's National Museum

Home to one of the finest collections of art in Europe, which is saying something, Cardiff's National Museum displays 500 years' worth of fine painting, cultural heritage, and the world's leading collection of Impressionist paintings. Displays at the museum include authentic silver and ceramic pieces, as well as location-specific artifacts of tin from the bronze Age when Wales was one of the few places in the world to get the metal.

08 Cheer for the boys at rugby

Rugby is close to a minor religion in Wales, and Cardiff is where some of the best games are played. Stopping by Principality Stadium for a game puts you in a historic stadium with the UK's first retractable roof, rooting for the Welsh Rugby Team, and enjoying the scrum a mere few meters from the field where all the mud is flying.

09 Fun for the whole family at the Fforest Fawr

A short hop out of Cardiff on the A470 takes you to the mythic realm of Fforest Fawr. This moorland was once a heavily wooded hunting preserve, where King Arthur and his surviving knights lay sleeping away somewhere, awaiting the next golden age of British history. Here, on the easy-to-walk circular trail, you can find Merlin's Cave, the Isle of Avalon, and Castell Coch, where King Arthur and Queen Guenivere were wed.

10 Bring your camera to the Wales Coast Path

Ogmore by Sea Martyn Ferry / Getty Images

Your trip to Wales isn't over until your memory stick is full of amazing pictures. You can get your fill of scenic vistas pretty much anywhere along the Wales Coast Path. Starting at the delightfully named village of Ogmore-by-sea, your walking trip takes you through sweeping views of the Irish Sea to a ferry launch, which is the jumping-off point for boat tours of the entire sandy coast.


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