Serving as an international gateway to Wales, Cardiff Airport provides easy access to the vast array of exceptional historical and cultural sites in the south of the country and beyond. With hundreds of connecting flights into the Welsh capital via airlines including Ryanair and KLM, you can dive into the deep end of Welsh water sports, step back into the nation’s past and explore its rich mining heritage.
Your travel options
Nestled in the Vale of Glamorgan, around 30 minutes from Cardiff city centre, the airport has fantastic road, rail and bus links. The Cardiff Airport Express bus service provides a route into the city centre, while the T9 service runs to both Cardiff Bay and locations in the centre of the city. Trains run from Rhoose Cardiff International Airport station to Cardiff Central, with a regular shuttle bus covering the short distance between the airport terminal and the station.
What you can do
Much of central Cardiff is pedestrianised and can be explored by foot, but if you want to explore more of the city you can rely on the extensive public transport network of buses and local rail services. Alternatively, you could opt for a hire car if you wish to head north into the valleys or explore westwards along the Welsh coast. Whichever option you choose; you’ll find that Cardiff is home to an array of enthralling attractions that are within easy reach.
1. Cardiff Castle
With its 12-sided Norman Keep, remains of Roman wall and tunnels that acted as wartime shelters, Cardiff Castle brings together many different parts of history. Having served as a key Roman and Norman site, it was latterly transformed into an astonishing Victorian Gothic fantasy palace with lavish, highly decorated rooms. The contradicting styles and architecture stand out in the fascinating castle where you can be immersed by its complex history that spans more than 2,000 years.
2. Principality Stadium
Looming over the city’s skyline since 1999, the Principality Stadium offers tours that reveal the prestigious history of sport in Wales. Capable of holding just shy of 75,000 people, the national stadium of Wales has held numerous high profile sporting events, including football, boxing and the Speedway Grand Prix of Great Britain. Uncover the nation’s rich rugby history as part of a tour and find out what role the resident Harris Hawk has to play, alongside visits to the players’ tunnel, dressing rooms and hospitality suites.
As an established science centre, Techniquest is home to numerous interactive experiences for people of all ages. Be inspired by science in the heart of Cardiff Bay and take a hands-on approach in the science theatre, planetarium and discovery centre.
4. Cardiff International White Water
Head to the only white water rafting course in South Wales for an adrenaline-pumping experience in the heart of Cardiff Bay. Located in the International Sports Village, Cardiff International White Water give you the opportunity to try out canoeing, kayaking and white water rafting, as well as paddleboarding and hot dogging. There’s even a Flowrider indoor wave machine where you can test your surf skills and an Air Trail high ropes course to try if you don’t fancy getting wet!
5. Wales Millennium Centre
Described as ‘a home for the arts in Wales’, the Wales Millennium Centre welcomes top quality productions ranging from musical theatre and orchestras to comedy, dance and cabaret. The impressive building houses a number of intimate spaces with great acoustics, a public performance area and several other smaller studios, with resident acts including the Welsh National Opera and the National Dance Company Wales. The centre is a place where can fire your imagination while enjoying a fantastic show!
6. St Fagans National Museum of History
Wales’ most popular heritage attraction, the St Fagans National Museum of History explores the history of the nation through people’s everyday lives. The open air museum features a number of buildings that have been returned to their former glory, providing unique insights into what life was like in Wales of old. Found in the grounds of the magnificent St Fagan’s Castle and gardens, the museum has brought together the national collections of history and archaeology to showcase the country’s rich cultural past.
7. National Museum Cardiff
Found in the heart of Cardiff’s civic centre, the National Museum Cardiff houses some of the country’s finest art, geology and natural history collections, as well as exciting touring exhibitions. The art collection covers 500 years of paintings, drawing, sculpture and ceramics from Wales and the rest of the world, including a hugely impressive assortment of Impressionist Art. You can also embark on a journey through time and space as part of the Evolution of Wales exhibition, which details how life has evolved in Wales from the time of the dinosaurs to the present day.
8. Rhondda Heritage Park – Welsh Mining Experience
Coal has played a vital role in Welsh history and you can experience the mines for yourself in the heart of the Rhondda Valley, the ‘home of coal’. The Welsh Mining Experience at the Rhondda Heritage Park – around 40 minutes by train from Cardiff Central to Trehafod, or a 30-minute drive – looks at the history of mining in the region and at how it shaped people’s lives. You can join former miners and follow in their footsteps on a guided tour at the Lewis Merthyr Colliery, discovering an epic tale of industry and community. Explore the restored Winding and Engine Houses, before venturing into the recreated coal seams for a taste of underground mining life.
9. Castell Coch
Perched high on the slopes overlooking the village of Tongwynlais and the River Taff, around six miles to the north west of Cardiff city centre, is the picturesque Castell Coch(Red Castle). A fantastic example of High Victorian Gothic Revival architecture, the castle, with its circular towers and conical roofs, is the product of Victorian imagination, assisted by untold wealth. Built on medieval castle foundations, the fort wouldn’t look out of place in a children’s fantasy book – within its walls you’ll find an array of over-the-top furnishings and furniture that showcases the Victorian’s fascination with the past.
10. Caerphilly Castle
The stone behemoth of Caerphilly Castle is just a 30-minute drive, or 20 minutes by train from Cardiff Central station. The 13th-century castle, and its impressive collection of water defences, moats and walls, hosts regular battle re-enactments, demonstrations and events, including a set of replica siege engines that are fired into the adjacent lake. Don’t miss your chance to see the Dragon’s Lair, home to a family of stunning dragon models, accompanied by incredible audio-visual effects.