Free Things To Do On A Weekend Adventure In Cardiff

28 January 2022

Cardiff is the capital and largest city in Wales, located in an attractive location near the Welsh coast.

Consistently voted one of the best European cities to live in, Cardiff has arts and culture, shopping, sporting events, entertainment, and fine dining in abundance.

Let’s not forget the stunning surrounding countryside and expansive greenery of Cardiff’s parks and gardens too.

The best part, though? There’s so much to do in Cardiff that’s free! Yes, you did hear that correctly.

If you’re on a budget, then you’re going to love Cardiff. Check out this list of fun, free Cardiff attractions and things to do that you won’t need your purse or wallet for.

National Museum of Wales

The National Museum of Wales looks after a total of seven museums in Wales, with two located in Cardiff and best of all they’re free to visit.

National Museum Cardiff can be found in the city centre, near City Hall, and is a must-see on your list of things to do when visiting Cardiff.

We recommend you give yourself a few hours to explore the museum to fully appreciate the venue.

Highlights include The Evolution of Wales galleries where you can take an interesting journey through the evolution of Wales covering millions of years.

Get ready to come face-to-face with woolly mammoths and dinosaurs!

Fancy seeing some of Europe’s finest art collections? The National Museum Cardiff has art galleries holding awe-inspiring paintings, drawings, and sculptures.

You can get hands on with history at The Clore Discovery Centre getting up close with museum objects such as fossils and Bronze Age weapons.

Before you go, enjoy a cappuccino and a choice of light refreshments on the ground floor café, and be sure you take time to browse the museum gift shop.

St. Fagans National Museum of History is located on 100 acres of land in the countryside just outside Cardiff city centre and has been a popular heritage attraction in Wales for many years.

You can easily spend a whole day exploring the expansive site with a castle, historic buildings, gardens, and museum galleries all part of the experience.

Thanks to support from the Welsh Government St Fagans is free to enter with only a small charge if you are parking a car in the museum car park.

An amazing achievement to note about the museum is that since the late 1940s over 40 original buildings from different historical periods in Wales have been re-erected at St Fagans.

These include a farmhouse, school, cottages, post office, and Workmen’s Institute.

It’s such a fascinating, not to be missed experience to wander around and browse the contents of each place presented perfectly in the era it was built.

You really feel like you have gone back in time. Be sure to take suitable walking shoes as there is also a woodland area to investigate.

You’re welcome to bring a picnic with you for your day out to St Fagans.

And if you have children, they’ll love the adventure playground complete with a sandy area located a short walk from the entrance.

Explore the city parks and gardens

Want to escape the hustle and bustle of Cardiff’s busy city centre? Then you’ll be spoilt for choice in Cardiff with plenty of peaceful, green spaces to choose from.

Bute Park and Arboretum is a Cadw Grade I listed site and is only a short walk from the city’s main high streets.

You’ll feel revived wandering through the park’s trees, horticulture, and wildlife, and don’t forget whilst exploring you can energise with a refreshing drink at one of three cafés in the park.

Roath Park located in Cardiff’s suburbs was one of the first public parks in Cardiff opening in the 1890s and still retains its Victorian heritage and atmosphere.

Stretch your legs with a walk around the 30-acre park lake making sure you take a pic of The Scott Lighthouse, an iconic Cardiff image.

If flowers and nature are your passions, you’ll love the wild and botanic gardens at Roath Park. A large children’s play area at the park is guaranteed to keep any little ones in your group content.

Like the idea of a walk by a river? Sophia Gardens public park on the bank of the River Taff is perfect.

Take in the peaceful surroundings as you follow part of the Taff Trail along the river.

Visiting Cardiff during the summer? Be sure to head over to Victoria Park which has a free water splash park and play area.

Popular with families, it’s perfect for cooling off during the warmer months.

Discover the Victorian and Edwardian Arcades

Cardiff isn’t called the ‘City of Arcades’ without reason.

Seven beautifully presented shopping arcades dating back to Victorian times can found next to the modern retail centres of the city.

With magnificent interiors you’ll be sure to get some Insta-worthy pics to remember your trip. Take some time to browse the unique stores and vintage boutiques.

Cardiff Bay

Take a stroll along Cardiff Bay Barrage making sure you take in the scenic views across the water and refreshing sea breeze.

We recommend giving yourself a full afternoon or morning to enjoy the area.

Look out for The Enormous Crocodile sculpture, a tribute to the Roald Dahl book of the same name.

The author was born in Llandaff, Cardiff. Along the way, you’ll also find a children’s adventure playground, outdoor gym, and skate park.

Don’t forget your binoculars as Cardiff Bay is also home to a wetlands nature reserve which can be reached via a boardwalk.

Located near to St. David’s Hotel it’s free to access and perfect for any birdwatching or animal enthusiast.

Want to head indoors? The iconic Wales Millennium Centre can be found in Cardiff Bay.

Think you’ve seen it before well the centre is recognisable from appearing in a variety of TV shows including Doctor Who and Gavin & Stacey.

The building made entirely from Welsh slate, copper, and wood materials is free to enter and look around with a gift shop and café inside.

There are often free activities and cultural performances to watch in the lobby area.

Mermaid Quay, located in heart of Cardiff Bay, is a well-known place for dining out and relaxing with a drink.

A programme of free family-friendly events happens throughout the year, so be sure to check out what’s on during your visit.

Fforest Fawr Sculpture Trail

Just outside Cardiff, the Fforest Fawr Sculpture Trail can be found in woodland near the fairy tale Castell Coch.

The 1.5 mile walk has wood animals visible throughout the trail.

Have fun discovering each one representing creatures that lived in the forest in the past such as European wolves and lynx.

A visit to the capital of Wales wouldn’t be complete without seeing a dragon though.

So be sure you don’t miss the Dragon sculpture by the car park with seats carved into the wood.

A perfect photo opportunity and place to rest your legs after a walk.

Take a bike ride

Like the idea of cycling your way around the city?

Cardiff is a wonderful place to explore on a bike with its designated cycle lanes and a selection of scenic cycling routes to choose from.

Cardiff Council has a free walking and cycling map to help you plan your route, which can be picked up at several locations in the city, including libraries.

Fogo’s free walking tours

If you prefer to discover Cardiff on foot, then you need to check out Fogo’s free Cardiff walking tours.

Enjoy a 2.5 hour walk covering local landmarks, historical city information, and significant buildings that all come together to make Cardiff the city it is today.

You’ll be amazed at the facts covering 2,000 years of Cardiff’s history.

Planning to visit in the autumn? Celebrate Halloween by taking the Dark Side of Cardiff Walking tour.

Delve into life in Cardiff’s slums, the effects of the Cholera epidemic, and find out about prisons, executions, and other grisly city facts.

Llandaff Cathedral

Feel in awe of the stunning architecture and discover fascinating historical facts about this significant Cardiff landmark.

One helpful point to note is there is usually a person to greet and welcome visitors to the Cathedral and a guidebook can be purchased in the Cathedral gift shop giving further information should you need it.

So, as you’ll soon realise when you get here, Cardiff really is a city you can visit and experience in a budget-friendly way.