Best Things to do in Cardiff in Winter

Best Things to do in Cardiff in Winter || The Travel Tester
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Are you planning to visit Cardiff in Winter? This post will help you decide on things to do in this lovely city in Wales!

One of my resolutions for this year was to see more of the UK and to spend more time doing so with Nick, so when we both got invited to visit Wales to explore things to do in Cardiff, I was excited right away.

Cardiff is a city we both hadn’t visited before, my friend Lisa from high school lives there, it’s full of stunning architecture (Nick will tell you all about that soon!), good food and plenty to see and do and over the Christmas period the streets are covered in festive decorations and Christmas lights, so let’s get started and show you what to do in Cardiff:

THINGS TO DO IN CARDIFF CITY GUIDE

Best Things to do in Cardiff in Winter || The Travel Tester

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The Travel Tester - The Anticipation

First of all, we were very lucky with the weather. Great start!

All You Need to Know About Your Cardiff Castle Visit in Wales || The Travel Tester
Bute Park
This Cardiff Bay Architecture Walk Shows You The Best of The City! || The Travel Tester
Cardiff Bay
This Cardiff Bay Architecture Walk Shows You The Best of The City! || The Travel Tester
Mermaid Quay

 

1. Get Active at Cardiff Winter Wonderland

It makes sense to start your Christmas in Cardiff experience at the Cardiff Winter Wonderland, right? There are plenty of attractions here. How about the “Star Ride”, a 60m high chair ride, the only one of its kind in the United Kingdom? Or maybe you prefer the massive slide where you go down in the inner tube of a car tire (like I did in Canada at the beginning of this year).

Being Dutchies, we chose to go for one Winter activity that we both hadn’t done in a while… Ice Skating! While I skated the last time in January (also in Canada), Nick’s last time was a couple of years ago on that very special ice rink in Sydney… on the beach!

Together with bloggers Dylan and Amanda, we conquered the massive que, fitted our blue skates and successfully avoided full-frontal crashes, skating over little kids’ hands and wild penguins. A lot of fun!

The Travel Tester - GET ACTIVE

Best Things to do in Cardiff in Winter || The Travel Tester

Best Things to do in Cardiff in Winter || The Travel Tester
See, told you there were penguins!
Best Things to do in Cardiff in Winter || The Travel Tester
Stars Dancing on the Ice :)

Best Things to do in Cardiff in Winter || The Travel Tester

 

2. Go Shopping at the Cardiff Christmas Market

The main Christmas Market in Cardiff can be found in the city center, around St John’s church.

You can shop for Christmas decorations, find the most ugly Christmas Jumpers, taste all of the good Winter food, grab a mullet wine and browse through all sorts of handmade crafts. Great atmosphere!

The Travel Tester - See Art & Design

Best Things to do in Cardiff in Winter || The Travel Tester

Best Things to do in Cardiff in Winter || The Travel Tester

Best Things to do in Cardiff in Winter || The Travel Tester
Christmas Jumpers – So ridiculous they become fantastic. Well, a bit. Didn’t manage to get Nick to wear one.
Best Things to do in Cardiff in Winter || The Travel Tester
The markets are best visited from 4PM onward, as it gets dark and the lights go on!

Best Things to do in Cardiff in Winter || The Travel Tester

 

3. Even more Shopping at the Cardiff Market

Besides the Christmas Market, it’s also great to visit the old Cardiff Market on Saint Mary Street, full of fresh produce and other great products. Look for the stall with all the spices, or the vintage clothing shop for example!

Cardiff Market started as a farmer’s market trading in livestock and farm produce in the 1700s, but has evolved over the centuries to suit the needs of traders and customers. It has been on this place for the last 100 years and many of the old features still can be seen today.

The Travel Tester - Eat Well

Tested: Great Restaurants in Cardiff You Need To Know About || The Travel Tester

Best Things to do in Cardiff in Winter || The Travel Tester
Jane from Visit Wales tries on a funky hat… looks great!

 

4. Soak up the Atmosphere at the Cardiff Arcades

In Cardiff, you can find a maze of Victorian and Edwardian Arcades that house many individual and unique designer shops.

Up until the 1790s there were only 25 retail shops in Cardiff, most of them market stalls. The Royal Arcade opened in 1858 and that significantly increased the number of shops in Cardiff.

If you still haven’t done enough shopping by now, Cardiff also has the 6th biggest Shopping Center in the UK (The St David’s Shopping Mall), so no worries. Enough places to spend your cash, for example at the John Lewis Department store, which is the biggest one outside London. It hasn’t been there for long and everyone is still very, very excited about this.

The Travel Tester - See Art & Design

Best Things to do in Cardiff in Winter || The Travel Tester
So romantic, right? The hugging couple wasn’t even staged!!

 

5. Dive into History at the Cardiff Castle

One thing you absolutely cannot miss is a visit to Cardiff Castle. Especially around Christmas, the castle is spectacular as it’s been decorated and lights on the outside of the building will light up at night.

Originally a Roman Fort, Cardiff Castle is now a mixture of buildings from all era. But Nick will tell you much more about that in the next post, because when you have an architect as boyfriend, you should use him a bit in case like this, not?

The Travel Tester - Learn New Things

Best Things to do in Cardiff in Winter || The Travel Tester

All You Need to Know About Your Cardiff Castle Visit in Wales || The Travel Tester
The interior of the castle is decorated beautifully during the Winter months.
All You Need to Know About Your Cardiff Castle Visit in Wales || The Travel Tester
There is also a Norman Keep in between the Walls of the Castle!

 

 

6. Explore Welsh Life at the St Fagans Museum

If are interested to find out a bit more how the people traditionally lived in Wales, I can recommend a visit to the St Fagans open-air museum. You will find lots of original buildings that you can go into and where you’ll find yourself back in time.

While there is much more activity in the Summer (you can see the people at work in the craft workshops or on the farm), in Winter it’s still worth to visit.

First of all the museum is free, so you can always come back to see more and the fire is burning in most houses where staff can tell you more about life back in the days. And there are definitely no crowds in Winter, so great if you’re not a fan of that and would like some quiet wandering.

The Travel Tester - Learn New Things

Discovering Slow Life at St Fagans Museum of Wales in Cardiff || The Travel Tester

Discovering Slow Life at St Fagans Museum of Wales in Cardiff || The Travel Tester
We spotted many Red Robins at St Fagans! 

Discovering Slow Life at St Fagans Museum of Wales in Cardiff || The Travel Tester

 

7. Walk around Lively Cardiff Bay

Cardiff Bay is the former docks area of the city and it used to be the largest port in the world. Over the last 10 years it has been transformed into a lively place that’s perfect for shopping, eating out and entertainment.

The Mermaid Quay is the part right next to Cardiff Bay and it’s full of stylish restaurants, fun bars and cafes with cuisines from all around the world.

The Travel Tester - Relax a Bit

Best Things to do in Cardiff in Winter || The Travel Tester

Best Things to do in Cardiff in Winter || The Travel Tester
Santa’s Grotto in Cardiff Bay
This Cardiff Bay Architecture Walk Shows You The Best of The City! || The Travel Tester
The Wales Millennium Centre is home to seven of Wales’ major cultural institutions, including the Welsh National Opera. You can enjoy many free performances here, that vary from day to day.
This Cardiff Bay Architecture Walk Shows You The Best of The City! || The Travel Tester
The Norwegian Church is an old seaman’s mission in which the Cardiff born author, Road Dahl was christened. You can find a nice bar overlooking the bay and an art gallery in the church today.

 

8. Taste the Local Delicacies of Wales

If you’re looking to indulge on food a bit while you visit wales, Cardiff is a great place for you. There are bars, pubs, food shops, markets and restaurants everywhere you look!

I’ve tasted some of the best food during my stay in Cardiff and I will tell you more about it soon, but here are some of my top suggestions for places to eat in Cardiff:

(read more in our post about restaurants in Cardiff!)

The Travel Tester - Eat Well

For Breakfast:

Discovering Slow Life at St Fagans Museum of Wales in Cardiff || The Travel Tester
Start the day with Tasty Scones (with jam and butter), for example from the bakery at St. Fagans Museum

 

As a Snack:

Tested: Great Restaurants in Cardiff You Need To Know About || The Travel Tester
Taste the experimental Liquid Nitrogen Ice-cream at Science Cream – Castle Arcade

 

For Lunch:

Best Things to do in Cardiff in Winter || The Travel Tester
Have a nice stir-fry at Wagamama! 

 

For High Tea:

Tested: Great Restaurants in Cardiff You Need To Know About || The Travel Tester
‘Festive Spice’ Welshcakes at Fabulous Welshcakes – Cardiff Bay

 

As Entree:

Tested: Great Restaurants in Cardiff You Need To Know About || The Travel Tester
Feast on the best cheeses and Cawl (traditional Welsh stew) at Madame Fromage – Castle Arcade

 

For Dinner:

Tested: Great Restaurants in Cardiff You Need To Know About || The Travel Tester
Red-Leg Partridge with seasonal vegetables at The Potted Pig – City Center

 

For Dessert:

Tested: Great Restaurants in Cardiff You Need To Know About || The Travel Tester
Pecan Tart with Maple Syrup Ice-Cream at Ffresh – Cardiff Millennium Center
Best Things to do in Cardiff in Winter || The Travel Tester
Psst. Don’t forget to open your Christmas Cracker!

 

What is your favourite Winter Activity? Would you Visit Cardiff?

 

The Travel Tester - Practical Information

Plan Your Trip to Cardiff, Wales

 

Location:

 

Where to Stay: If you’re tired from walking around Cardiff, I suggest to do what we did and rest at Cathedral 73, a great hotel in the city center. Nick and I had the Suite on the top floor, that not only had a massive living room, but even a loft for the bedroom. Su-weet! So fancy, but still cosy. And as it was almost bigger than our entire apartment, we could only love it. And cry a little when we had to leave again. 

See best prices on Booking.com >>

Looking for something more budget? I also stayed at the NOMADS hostel, which is a great option if you’re backpacking (solo) or just want cheap accommodation. 

See best prices on Booking.com >>

 

Visit Cardiff, Wales:

What to do in Cardiff?

Restaurants in Cardiff

 

GOT MORE TIME?

Best Rail Pass to Travel Around Wales:

Best Attraction Pass for Wales:

Best Accommodation Pass for Wales:

Best Tours Around Wales:

Best Single Activities in Wales:

Best Single Activities in Cardiff, Wales:

 

The Travel Tester - Further Reading

More things to see and do in Wales:

More things to see and do in Cardiff, Wales:

More things to see and do in Great-Britain:

 

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Best Things to do in Cardiff in Winter || The Travel Tester

 

Disclaimer: Nick and I visited Cardiff on invitation of Visit Wales, as part of the #xmasCardiff campaign. As always, all options are 100% our own.

 

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