Cardiff, the capital city of Wales is popular as a tourist destination and is easily accessible by train. It is a cosmopolitan city that is packed with attractions and activities that keep everyone interested. Cardiff also makes an ideal base for exploring, and with a wide choice of accommodation, it’s perfect for a holiday.
Cardiff saw a rapid population expansion in the 1800s thanks to the coal mining industry, was granted city status in 1905 and by 1956 was declared the capital of Wales. As a result, Cardiff is home to many important buildings including the Senedd, the iconic Millennium Centre, and the Principality Stadium where the national rugby team trains and plays.
Enjoying yourself in Cardiff need not break the bank as there are numerous fun things to do that cost absolutely nothing whilst still allowing you to have a great time.
1. Discover History at St Fagans National Museum
St Fagans Museum, part of the National Museum of Wales, offers a unique approach to history, giving visitors the opportunity to experience life in centuries past. Consisting of over 40 relocated and reassembled buildings from all over Wales, it covers a vast 100 acres of land in the grounds of St Fagans Castle.
A Grade I listed Elizabethan manor house, St Fagans Castle dates from the late 1500s and has seen many changes over the years, including being the home of the Earl of Plymouth, Lord Windsor and a war hospital for wounded soldiers with the banqueting hall taken over by 40 beds. It’s also home to the museum named by Which? magazine as the UK’s favourite museum.
The buildings show not only the architecture of Wales but also give a detailed insight into the social lives of their inhabitants. The museum includes a chapel, schoolhouse, pigsty and tannery, along with displays showing traditional crafts such as farriery, pottery and clog making. Alongside the museum is a small working farm dedicated to preserving traditional Welsh breeds of livestock, and two watermills, one for wool and the other grain. The produce from these ventures is available in the on-site shop, and you can enjoy meals made with these home-produced ingredients in the cafe.
Free to enter, there’s so much to see and experience throughout St Fagans Museum, you’ll keep coming back for more.
- Learn through adventure
- Experience living history
- St Fagans National Museum Website
2. Explore Cardiff Bay
Europe’s largest waterfront development, Cardiff Bay exists thanks to the barrage creating a huge freshwater lake. The derelict dockland buildings around the lake have been transformed into almost eight miles of newly constructed premises that offer a multi-cultural community.
Home to numerous attractions, Cardiff Bay itself is completely free to explore, and always has a lot going on. With a regular market selling locally produced crafts and other treasures, shopping centres with all the high end big names, art galleries, and restaurants, the Bay is the perfect place to while away hours at a time.
- Europe’s most exciting waterfront development
- Something for everyone
- Cardiff Bay Website
3. Enjoy a Culture Fix at the Norwegian Church Arts Centre
Located in Cardiff Bay, the iconic Norwegian Church Arts Centre was originally a centre of worship for Scandinavian sailors and their community in Cardiff. Cardiff, along with Liverpool and London, was one of the major centres for the Norwegian fleet, and the Little White Church, as it was known, became a meeting place for these sailors.
The celebrated children’s author Roald Dahl was born to Norwegian parents in Cardiff and both him and his sisters were baptised in the church. Dahl had been involved with the church ever since, including fund raising, which led to him becoming the first president of The Norwegian Church Preservation Trust.
Today, the church is the cultural hub of Cardiff Bay, with galleries and exhibitions showcasing local artists in a wide variety of media. Keeping its close ties with Dahl, there is an annual celebration of his work, and in 2016, the centenary of his birth was recognised by a number of events throughout Cardiff, led by the Norwegian Church.
Having fun in Cardiff doesn’t depend on your bank balance, there are plenty of attractions that are free for everyone to enjoy.
- Perfect for art lovers
- Culture, coffee and cake in one place
- Norwegian Church Arts Centre Website