Car-free adventures aroundCardiffSouth Glamorgan
GWR trains run direct from London Paddington to Cardiff in less than two hours. Avoid the motorway hassles and relax on a classic railway journey to Wales. Although it’s one of Europe’s youngest capital cities, Cardiff boasts 2000 years of history, from the 12th century castle on its grassy mound to the gleaming Millennium Building beside Cardiff Bay. It’s easy to get around on foot and is a great hub for car-free journeys. Here are some of the best: a stroll round the city, St Fagan’s outdoor museum by bus, Cardiff bay by boat, and the Taff Trail by bike. It's an ideal city for staycations - scroll to the end for a few more tips.
1. A something-for-everyone itinerary
This whistle-stop day or more leisurely weekend tour takes in some of the city’s most famous sights. From Cardiff Central railway station, it’s a twenty minute stroll through the city to the National Museum for a colourful start to the day.
- Start at the National Museum with a breakfast-sized helping of Impressionist art: Cezanne’s colourful oranges, misty Monet sunrises, rainy Van Gogh wheat fields…
- Turn right out of the museum, past the City Hall and Law Courts, under the road into Bute Park. Turn right just after the bridge, alongside the Mill Leat, left at the sign for the Secret Garden Café, and left again by the water and through ornamental gardens.
- The Taff Trail, and bike hire, is on the far side of the river (see 4 below).
- From the landing stage near the Pettigrew tearooms, you can take a twenty-minute boat trip to Cardiff Bay (see 2 below).
- Back in the city centre, admire the animal wall near Cardiff Castle and buy welsh cakes in Cardiff Market (you can see them being made).
- Head into Westgate for a half hour bus ride to the outdoor museum at St Fagans (see Good Journey directions and 3 below).
2. Boat to Cardiff Bay
Hop on the boat from the corner of Bute Park near Castle Street.
- Boats leave at half past the hour every hour and travel up the River Taff to Cardiff Bay.
- Overlooking the bay, older landmarks like the whitewashed Norwegian church (now a café and exhibition centre) coexist with newer ones, like the gleaming Millennium Centre; its bilingual inscription reads (in English): “IN THESE STONES, HORIZONS SING”.
- There are plenty of places to have lunch here, overlooking the wide waters of the bay.
3. Bus to St Fagans
The huge open-air Museum of Welsh History at St Fagans is definitely worth a trip. It won the Art Fund’s Museum of the Year award for 2019.
- Catch bus 320, which runs a few times per day, from stop KN on Westgate. Follow Good Journey’s directions.
- Soon after passing flowery Victoria Park (kids’ playground, crêperie on the corner), the bus bursts out of the Cardiff suburbs into the hilly Welsh countryside, winding into St Fagans past woods and thatched cottages.
- The museum itself, which is free, is one of those places where you can easily spend a whole day. From the reconstructed bronze-age huts deep in the forest at one end to the elegant, terraced castle gardens at the other, St Fagan’s is full of contrasts. A mini-fairground and a choice of shops and cafés make for an excellent family day out.
- Those looking for more adventures in the area might like to hop on bus 320 from St Fagan’s church (or direct from the same stop in Cardiff) and visit the beautiful Llanerch Vineyard for afternoon wine-tastings.