With museums, sports facilities, arts centres and more, you won’t be stuck for things to do in Cardiff Bay.
Sights to see
There are plenty of things to see and do when you visit Cardiff Bay – why not take a boat ride across the bay to Penarth to see the impressive barrage? There you can watch the 40m-long locks in action as boats sail in and out of the bay. There’s also a small exhibition dedicated to Scott of the Antarctic, who set sail from Cardiff on his ill-fated voyage to the South Pole. Other sights to see include the Norwegian Church that was brought to Cardiff from Norway during the Industrial Revolution for the Norwegian seamen who worked in the Docks, and the glass and slate Senedd building, which is where the National Assembly of Wales meets – go inside and watch the debating chamber in action. If you’re looking for things to do at night, head to the Wales Millennium Centre. The arts centre plays host to a changing programme of concerts, operas, musicals and ballets.
Explore the Cardiff coast with a walk around Cardiff Bay. The 10km (6.2 mile) Cardiff Bay Trail takes you past the Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve and along the River Taff to the International Sports Village, which is home to a 50m swimming pool, ice rink and the Cardiff International White Water centre, where you can go white water rafting or try your hand at indoor surfing. On to the neighbouring town of Penarth, the trail continues over the 1.1km-long barrage, past the Doctor Who Experience, the BBC’s television studios and the Norwegian Church, to the Senedd and the Wales Millennium Centre. The walk ends at the Roald Dahl Plass, which hosts many Cardiff Bay events such as the annual Cardiff International Food and Drink Festival each July, and the bars, cafés and restaurants in Mermaid Quay.
Entertain the kids
Looking for ideas to amuse the kids? Children can learn while they play at the Techniquest science discovery centre, which is home to more than 120 hands-on science exhibits and a 360o planetarium where you can learn about the solar system. If your children are fans of Doctor Who, don’t miss the Doctor Who Experience. There you can go behind the scenes of the popular TV show, take part in an interactive adventure, see the Tardis sets and view numerous props and costumes from the show. You can also join a 75-minute walking tour around more than 40 filming locations in the bay area. For children who enjoy arts and crafts, the Wales Millennium Centre runs free craft workshops for kids every Saturday.
Eating and drinking
Whether you’re looking for a quick cup of tea, an ice cold beer or a hearty meal, you’ll find it all in Cardiff Bay’s Mermaid Quay. There are lots of restaurants to choose from and all manner of cuisines on offer, including French, Italian, Indian and Latin American, as well as cafés, bars and pubs. On warm days, do as the locals do and stop off at Cadwalader’s for an ice cream but be warned; the queue often stretches around the block! Away from Mermaid Quay, you’ll find cafés inside a number of the visitor attractions including the Norwegian Church, the Senedd, the international swimming pool and the Wales Millennium Centre. For a sweet treat, Nata & Co on Bute Street sells a variety of delicious Portuguese cakes and tarts.
Cardiff Bay is a large freshwater bay where the Rivers Taff and Ely meet, so if you’re hoping for a Cardiff beach visit you’ll have to go a little further afield. Nearby Barry Island has recently undergone a makeover and the seaside resort, which was featured in the television show Gavin and Stacey, boasts classic seaside amenities such as a sandy beach, a funfair and games’ arcades. The Vale of Glamorgan coast is filled with small pretty coves and bays that make for a nice day trip and popular local beaches include gothic Southerndown with its ruined castle, windswept Ogmore and the secluded Monknash. While the Gower Peninsula and its picture-perfect sandy beach is only a two-hour drive away.