Travelling on a budget and looking for free things to do in Cardiff? Visit Cardiff can help...
Cardiff is a great city to visit if you’re travelling on a budget, providing you know where to go and what to check out. There is a surprising number of free attractions tourists can visit and enjoy in Cardiff, ranging from museums and galleries and fantastic architecture to historical monuments, parks, and walking trails. Luckily for you the Visit Cardiff team have put together a comprehensive list of free things to do in Cardiff when visiting on a budget, using our insider knowledge of the Welsh capital city.
Housing Wales’s national art, natural history and geology collections, National Museum Cardiff should be on everyone’s Cardiff bucket list. If you’re visiting on a budget then this should be at the top of that list as the museum is free to enter.
If you want to stand and stare, there’s plenty to please your eye – from Impressionist paintings to gigantic dinosaurs. The museum occasionally holds temporary exhibitions and events which will cost extra to access, but these are very reasonably priced.
Step back in time at Wales’ most popular heritage attraction. The museum, which is free to enter, stands in the grounds of the magnificent St Fagans Castle and gardens, a late 16th-century manor house donated to the people of Wales by the Earl of Plymouth in 1948.
Since 1948 over forty original buildings from different historical periods have been re-erected in the 100-acre parkland, among them houses, a farm, a school, a chapel and a splendid Workmen’s Institute. Traditional crafts and activities bring St Fagans alive, in workshops where craftsmen still demonstrate their traditional skills.
Throughout the year, St Fagans comes to life as traditional festivals, music and dance events are celebrated.
The Pierhead has been a central part of the Cardiff Bay landscape, having witnessed colossal change in the last century. Since 1897 it has helped Wales forge its identity. Visit their interactive exhibition and experience the stories that have put Cardiff Bay at the forefront of Welsh economic and civil identity for the best part of 200 years.
A landmark building on the Cardiff Bay waterfront and a renowned cultural venue, The Norwegian Church Arts Centre holds a wide range of events from cultural and art festivals to craft markets. It has an exhibition space, a café, and is free to enter. Just outside you will spot a mosaic sculpture to commemorate Captain Scott, the famous explorer. A great place to stop and have a snack and a drink, and take a look at an exhibition if you’re in Cardiff Bay.
Visit the home of Welsh democracy. Situated overlooking the waters of Cardiff Bay, this public building is one of Cardiff’s most outstanding pieces of contemporary architecture and is a Parliament for the people of Wales.
Opened on St David’s Day 2006 by Queen Elizabeth II and renowned architect Lord Richard Rogers, The Senedd is situated in a prime position on the waterfront alongside the Pierhead, also belonging to the Assembly estate.
Take a free tour or watch a debate taking place in the Welsh Parliament via the public gallery.
A fun, free museum for visitors exploring the city’s heritage and uncovering its story.
The perfect place to start your visit to Cardiff. The Museum of Cardiff is the first museum where Cardiffians and visitors alike can discover the story of the city through the eyes of those who know it best – its people.
The green heart of Cardiff, Bute Park is one of the UK’s largest and most beautiful parks.
At 56 hectares (equivalent to 75 football pitches), it is one of the largest urban parks in Wales and comprises a broad mix of historic landscape, urban woodland, sports pitches, arboretum, horticultural features, sculpture trail, a secret garden café and river corridor. You can spend a whole day here and still not see everything there is to discover.
Cardiff is a fantastic city for street art, with murals from prolific street artists from all around the world. The Empty Walls Festival, which enjoyed 3 years of successful programming, filled vacant walls with colour and ink in the suburbs and city centre of Cardiff. See how many you can track down…
The Wales Millennium Centre, situated at the heart of Cardiff Bay, is the nation’s home for performing arts and world class entertainment.
The Centre is one of the most unique and lively performing arts centres in Europe. The building is made entirely out of Welsh materials such as slate, steel, copper and wood and is one of the most architecturally significant buildings in Cardiff. The centre has featured in Torchwood, Gavin and Stacey and Dr Who.
The Building is free to enter and look around and there are a number of cafes, restaurants and bars inside as well as a gift shop. There are often free activities and cultural performances taking place in the lobby area for people to enjoy.
The trail is located in a woodland area adjacent to the fairy-tale castle, Castell Coch. The path is approximately one and a half miles in length and is designed to take you on a magical journey through the forest. In 2018 10 new sculptures depicting animals which would have once roamed the Welsh forest were added to the fantastic trail. A great way to reconnect with nature or find some peace and quiet, and it’s all free.
Get lost in our ‘City of Arcades’. With over 7 Edwardian and Victorian arcades to explore it’s a perfect way to spend your time. Discover each arcades’ unique character and charm, embrace the cities café culture, take in fantastic architecture and become acquainted with Cardiff’s boutiques, bistros, delicatessens, and a delightful array of independent stores. From vintage fashion to record stores, and high end designers to jewellers Cardiff has it all.
One of our favorite gems of the city, not explored and experienced enough by tourists and day-trippers alike, Roath Park and lake is a fantastic free day out for anyone and everyone. Whether you’re interested in local wildlife and horticulture, want to take a lovely meander in an idyllic setting, or have children who want to go wild in a large play park, Roath Park and lake is for you.
Take a stroll along the Cardiff Bay Barrage, take in the views across the bay and Bristol chanel, and enjoy the sea breeze. The Bay Trail is 10 Km in length and passes many attractions along the way from The Norwegian Church, Wales Millennium Centre, Y Senedd and more. Download the trail map here or pick one up from the Tourist Information Centre.
Visit one of the UK’s most stunning cathedrals, take in breath-taking history, heritage and architecture.
The cathedral lies in the ancient “City of Llandaff” and stands on one of the oldest Christian sites in Britain. The Cathedral Church of SS Peter & Paul, Dyfrig, Teilo and Euddogwy is the mother church of the Diocese of Llandaff.
G39 is a contemporary art gallery located in Roath. The gallery often holds exhibitions which are free and open to the public, they have hosted artists in all stages of their career and some of which have gone onto be some of the most prestigious contemporary artists in the world.
Cardiff Market is an impressive Victorian structure which offers a unique shopping experience. Cardiff Market has been trading in one form or another since the 1700s, located in the centre of the city, the market is well and truly the beating heart of Cardiff.
Under one great glass roof you will find a buzzing, lively market filled with local independent businesses and a wealth of products ranging from traditional Welsh cuisine to artisan street food and vintage clothing to second hand records. Although you’ll need money to purchase anything in the market, it’s a great place to get delicious food if you are travelling on a budget.
Victoria Park is a Grade II-listed park in the western suburb of Canton with a playground, sports courts, and the iconic Billy the Seal statue. One of the park’s most exciting features is the Splashpad, including sprays, jets, and a tipping water bucket, across separate areas for toddlers and juniors. It’s free to enjoy and open 10am until 7pm during the school holidays.