48 Hours in Cardiff Wales: The Perfect 2-Day Itinerary

Cardiff, Wales is a city steeped in history, filled with charming architecture and a vibrant atmosphere, and is an easy and fun 2-day trip from London. I think 48 hours in Cardiff is the perfect amount of time to explore cobbled streets, quaint shops, and charming cafes. 2 days in Cardiff is also enough time to check out the historic landmarks, explore Welsh food and culture, or find peace in nature in Cardiff’s many parks and gardens. There are some serious things, some fun things to do, and some definite must-see sights. So, take a moment to escape the hustle and bustle of London, and embrace the beauty of Cardiff with this easy 2-day itinerary.

Sam thinks Cardiff is a great city for 48 hours, and this is the perfect Welsh itinerary

Wales and the Welsh

Cardiff is the capital of Wales. It’s a cool city with a mix of old and new that makes it really different from cities in England. With its origins dating back to Roman times, some serious age is etched into Cardiff’s streets, buildings, and that history gives the Cardiffians their pride and an independent spirit. The city boasts an impressive array of historical landmarks and buildings, offices, shops, and residential areas across many different neighborhoods.

What truly distinguishes Cardiff from English cities is its deep-rooted Welsh culture, its language, and the warmth of its community. The Welsh language is called Cymraeg. It’s a symbol of national pride and cultural identity and adds an enchanting lyrical quality to the city’s atmosphere. Cardiff’s cultural scene is a dynamic tapestry that weaves together music, theatre, and art, celebrating both traditional Welsh arts and contemporary creativity. The city’s calendar is punctuated with festivals that echo ancient Celtic traditions, alongside modern celebrations.

Two days in Cardiff is the sweet spot for a getaway because it’s just the right amount of time to soak in the city’s vibe without feeling rushed. Cardiff is compact enough that you can cover a lot of ground without spending half your day travelling from one place to another. This means you get to dive deep into the city’s history and culture, really getting a feel for what makes Cardiff special.

48 Hours in Cardiff: Day 1

On day one, you can explore the heart of the city, enjoying its bustling streets, and maybe even discovering a hidden gem or two. Then, on day two, you have the chance to venture a bit further out or revisit spots you loved.

Cardiff’s size and the variety of experiences it offers make two days perfect for experiencing the best of both worlds: the must-see landmarks and the everyday magic that makes the city unique. With this Cardiff itinerary you’ll leave feeling like you’ve truly seen Cardiff, but also like you’ve left just enough unexplored to warrant a trip back.

Morning

Begin your adventure in the heart of the city, Cardiff Castle. Wander through the opulent rooms, filled with rich decor and fascinating historical artifacts. Don’t miss the Clock Tower to savor breathtaking views of the city.

The Keep at Cardiff Castle, Wales

Cardiff Castle is a magnificent site where nearly 2,000 years of history are elegantly woven into the fabric of the city. This is Cardiff’s iconic landmark. The castle was built over time, and it’s a mixture of Roman, Norman, and Victorian Gothic architectural buildings and styles. It has an imposing Norman keep on a hill, which is the castle’s core. But it also has an elaborate Victorian mansion inside the castle walls that showcases the opulence of the 19th century.

It’s always a good idea to check their website for opening hours because times can change, especially on holidays or special events. Booking tickets in advance is recommended. It could save you from standing in a queue, and sometimes you can snag a discount online.

Lunch

Treat your taste buds to a traditional Welsh lunch at a cozy local pub. Maybe try a bowl of cawl (Welsh broth) or try a Welsh rarebit (cheese-based sauce on toast.) Don’t forget to pair your lunch with a refreshing pint of locally brewed ale and finish with a traditional Welsh Cake.

Welsh Cakes are a must eat in Cardiff

Afternoon in Cardiff

Stroll the historic Cardiff arcades. These arcades are beautifully decorated covered alleys – a treasure trove of independent shops, boutiques, and quaint cafes, offering a lovely shopping experience. The Royal Arcade was built in 1858 and is the oldest arcade in Cardiff, and it’s a Grade II listed building.

wander the arcades with 48 hours in Cardiff

Evening in Cardiff

Cardiff comes alive at night with a bustling bar and dining scene. You have options: you can head to Cardiff Bay, where you can find lots of restaurants offering cuisine from around the world while enjoying picturesque waterfront views, or you can find many great restaurants in the town center.

tapas bars in Cardiff, Wales

As dusk descends, Cardiff comes alive with its bustling pub and dining scene. We walked around the city center rather than the waterfront and found not one but two Spanish tapas restaurants (of all things not actually Welsh). There’s a huge and diverse array of cuisines and a pub or two or three on every block. We love people watching and talking to the locals made the perfect end to our first day in Cardiff.

48 Hours in Cardiff: Day 2

Morning

Start the morning with a wander around Cardiff Bay to see the cultural attractions. The Wales Millennium Centre is located here and you can grab a cup of coffee and take in the street performers and enjoy watching the boats on the bay.

visit Cardiff - it's fun

Lunch

Grab lunch at Cardiff Market from one of the many vendors. We loved this place – freshly made, authentic, and great-tasting food.

Continue your afternoon with a leisurely walk through Bute Park, an oasis of greenery in the heart of the city. Beyond the manicured lawns, there are secret sculptures and secluded spots by the River Taff that are perfect for a quiet moment away from the city.

there are some beautiful walks in Cardiff

Meander along the River Taff — don’t forget to pick and enjoy some of the local blackberries that are growing alongside the river’s edge.

pick wild blackberries along the River Taft

Afternoon

Walk to Llandaff Cathedral. It’s a gorgeous walk along the river and once you arrive at the cathedral you can marvel at the medieval architecture. In 1107 this cathedral was rebuilt in grand style, and it’s considered one of the finest medieval pieces of architecture in Wales.

Llandaff Cathedral, Cardiff Wales

what to do with 48 hours in Cardiff

Evening, Day 2 

As your 48 hours in Cardiff comes to an end, take a walk along Penarth Pier, just a short trip from the city center. Breathe in the salt air and soak in the sunset over the Bristol Channel before you head home.

Penarth Pier, Cardiff

Cardiff’s blend of heritage, culture, and natural beauty promises an experience that will linger in your heart long after you bid farewell. So, pack your bags, and make the journey to Wales’ capital to spend 48 hours in Cardiff.

Welsh Cakes in the Cardiff Market

As your 48 hours in Cardiff draw to a close, enjoy your walk along Penarth Pier. Let the salt air refresh your senses as you watch the sunset over the Bristol Channel, bidding farewell to Cardiff with memories that will linger in your heart.

3 Days in Cardiff: Some Other Fun Things to Do

If you’re in Cardiff for 3 days, there’s more to check out and experience. I’ve uncovered a few gems that aren’t on your typical tourist trail. If you’re spending a long weekend in Cardiff, you can add these to your visit.

1. Chapter Arts Centre

Chapter Arts Centre is where the cool and creative spirits of Cardiff hang out. It’s a bit of a trek from the city centre. You’ve got indie films, art exhibitions, live performances, and a cafe that does a mean Welsh cake. It’s the sort of place where you can strike up a conversation with a local artist over a cup of coffee and feel right at home.

2. Castell Coch’s Whimsical Interiors

We visited Cardiff Castle which is a a well-known gem, but have you heard of Castell Coch? Nestled in the woods north of Cardiff, this fairy-tale castle looks like it’s straight out of a storybook with its pointed towers and ivy-clad walls. Inside, Castell Coch is even more magical, with elaborate murals and gothic furniture. It’s a bit like stepping into a fantasy novel, minus the dragons.

Castell Coch - Cardiff Wales

3. The Dead Canary

If you fancy a drink, The Dead Canary is the place to be. This speakeasy-style bar is hidden away. Finding the Dead Canary is part of the adventure — just look for a door with a brass canary knocker. Inside, it’s all about the atmosphere and the cocktails. The menu is inspired by Welsh history and legends, making each drink a conversation starter.

4. Llandaff Ghost Walk: Beyond Lladaff Cathedral

For something truly off the beaten path, the Llandaff Ghost Walk takes you on a journey through the ancient streets of Llandaff by night, sharing tales of ghosts and the supernatural that are sure to send a shiver down your spine. It’s a unique way to explore this historic part of Cardiff, and who knows? You might just have a paranormal encounter of your own.

These hidden gems in Cardiff promise an adventure beyond the usual sights. Whether you’re a history buff, an art lover, or just in search of a good story, Cardiff’s got something up its sleeve for you.

Two Days in Cardiff: Hidden Gems & Insider Secrets

If you’re planning a 2-day trip to Cardiff and looking for planning tips, you’ve come to the right place.

What’s the best time of year to visit Cardiff?

The best time to visit Cardiff is between late spring and early autumn, from May to September. You’ll enjoy the warmest weather and lots of outdoor activities.

What’s the weather like?

Cardiff’s weather can be a bit unpredictable. Even in summer, it might rain! But generally, you can expect temperatures to hover around 64°F to 72°F in the summer. During winter, it gets chillier, with temperatures ranging from 37°F to 46°F. So, packing a mix of clothes to suit warm days and cooler nights, plus a raincoat or umbrella, is a smart move for your 2-day adventure in Cardiff.

What clothes should I bring for 2 days in Cardiff?

Pack layers. The temperature can fluctuate 20 degrees on any given day. Even in summer, it’s smart to have a light jacket for the evenings. And don’t forget an umbrella or a waterproof jacket, just in case.

How do I get to Cardiff?

Cardiff is well-connected. You can fly into Cardiff Airport, catch a train to Cardiff Central station from most major cities in the UK like London or Derby, or drive and use the M4 motorway. The train station is right in the city center and easy to get to.

What’s the best way to get around Cardiff?

It’s small enough to walk most places. Taxis and rideshares services are everywhere, and there’s a good bus system. Use the Nextbike scheme for an easy and fun way to get around. There are plenty of bike stations around the city, and it’s a great way to see the sights at your own pace.

Where can I find the best Welsh food?

For an authentic taste of Wales, head to Cardiff’s indoor market. You’ll find Welsh cakes, rarebit, and other local specialties there.

What’s something fun to do in the evening during my Cardiff itinerary?

Explore Cardiff Bay at night. There’s a retail area right on the seafront with shops and restaurants. It comes alive with lights reflecting off the water, and there are plenty of bars and eateries to enjoy.

Have you been to Cardiff, Wales?

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About The Author

Samantha

I’m a travel and health writer, digital brand consultant, breast cancer survivor, and supermom to two boys! I keep it real and share stories of raising an active family, life after a cancer diagnosis, and family travels around the world! Each story is shared with my dry, and sometimes naughty sense of humor.

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