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You are here: Things to Do > Cardiff Bay

Cardiff Bay

Cardiff Bay

The old Cardiff docklands have been redeveloped in the last decade to create Cardiff Bay, home to a large freshwater lake for sailing and water sports; the stylish five-star St David’s Hotel and Spa, and Mermaid Quay – a restaurant hotspot with everything from Caribbean to Turkish cuisine. As well as this the bay is home to exciting attractions and hosts events throughout the year.

Explore Cardiff Bay below with this new interactive panorama featuring Mermaid Quay, the Norwegian Church and Techniquest. Simply click the thumbnails to load each scene and use the navigation buttons to zoom in and out, go fullscreen (highly recomended), and move the image left, right, up and down.

Click here to see the Cardiff Bay 360 tour


Past

Cardiff's docklands have always played a major role in Cardiff's development. In the late 19th century coal from the Welsh valleys was transported through the docks to destinations across the world - powering the industrial age and powering Cardiff's development. The coal industry helped fund buildings including City Hall, the Coal Exchange and the New Theatre and helped the Third Marquess of Bute, who owned the docks, become the richest man in the world at the time.

As Cardiff exports grew, so did its population; dockworkers and sailors from across the world settled in neighbourhoods close to the docks, known as Tiger Bay, and communities from up to 45 different nationalities, including Norwegian, Somalian, Yemenese, Spanish, Italian, Caribbean and Irish, helped create the unique multi-cultural character of the area.
 
After the second world war the coal industry declined and the docklands fell into disuse, but in 1999 new life was given to the area with the construction of the Cardiff Bay Barrage, which transformed an area of tidal mudflats into a 200 hectare freshwater lake and sparked the development of the surrounding area.


Present

Cardiff Bay, just a mile from the city centre, is now a popular part of any visit to Cardiff. Visitors can enjoy a wide range of restaurants, bars and shops in Mermaid Quay, cruise or sail on the water, or explore attraction such as the impressive Wales Millennium Centre, Norwegian Church, Doctor Who Experience, Red Dragon Centre, World of Boats or Techniquest - an interactive science discovery centre.

Cardiff Bay is now a mecca for Doctor Who fans from around the world. The Doctor Who Experience sits next door to BBC Roath Lock Studios. The series is filmed around Cardiff and South Wales and you can spot many filming locations in Cardiff Bay. Why not take the unofficial guided 1 hour walking tour of locations with Brit Movie tours.  

Regular free festivals and events, such as the International Food and Drink Festival and Cardiff Harbour Festival, take place during the summer.

Find out more about Cardiff Bay - www.visitcardiffbay.info. Click here to download the leaflet of the Waterfront Partners (615kb, pdf) which includes a map of the Cardiff Bay. 

Find out more about the award winning Cardiff Harbour Authority - www.cardiffharbour.co.uk.


Cardiff Bay Walks

Visitors to Cardiff Bay can now walk to the barrage and across to Penarth Head, with the opening of the Cardiff Bay Barrage Coast Path from the Inner Harbour to the barrage. The route provides a safe pedestrian and cycle route with direct access to and from the Inner Harbour, linking with the existing footway, cycle way and transport network through to the city and beyond. Find out more here.

The Pont-y-Werin bridge enables pedestrians and cyclists to cross between Penarth and the International Sports Village.

Find out more about other Cardiff walks here.


Flat Holm Island

Five miles from Cardiff, in the middle of the Bristol Channel, is Flat Holm Island - a Site of Special Scientific Interest. The island is home to a large gull population and other wildlife including slow worms and shelducks. Visitors can join day tours to the island during the summer, or stay on Flat Holm as part of a residential art, photography or wildlife course. Find out more here.


How to get to Cardiff Bay

It's so easy to get to Cardiff Bay by public transport so why not leave the car at home for a change?

By bus: To get between Cardiff city centre and Cardiff Bay, just hop on the BayCar or 'Bendy Bus' (no.6). This service runs 7 days a week, every 10 minutes during the day and every 15 minutes during the evening and weekends. The route runs anti-clockwise around Cardiff city centre and on down to the Bay where it stops outside the Doctor Who Experience and Wales Millennium Centre. For more details visit www.cardiffbus.com

By train: Frequent rail services operate Monday to Saturdays with connections at Queen Street Station from the rest of the Valleys and Cardiff local routes network. For details call the National Rail Enquiries (24 hours) on 08457 48 49 50 or visit www.nationalrail.co.uk

By boat: The aquabus runs a regular time tabled service between Cardiff city centre and Mermaid Quay, including the Barrage.

By bike: Cardiff's flat landscape makes the journey between the city centre and the bay, perfect for bikes. You'll find plenty of bike parking available outside the Wales Millennium Centre.

Traveline provides transport information on all bus and rail services in Wales on Tel. 0870 608 2 608 from 07h00 to 22h00 daily or visit www.traveline.org.uk

By car: If you're coming from outside Cardiff it's easy to reach the Bay from the M4. Either leave at Junction 33 and follow the A4232 all the way to the Bay, or if you're coming from the east you can also leave at Junction 29, take the 3rd exit off the A48 and follow the signs to Cardiff Bay. Once you're there follow the signs to your nearest car park.

For maps of Cardiff Bay as well as the city centre click here.

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