Top things to see and do in Cardiff Bay

Cardiff’s waterfront offers heaps to do – eateries, boat trips and cultural attractions. Enough to keep you occupied all day… and into the night. Here are travel writer Jeremy Head’s favourites.

  • The Norwegian Church with flag flying
    Norwegian Church, Cardiff Bay by Paula J James

    The links between Cardiff and Norwegian seamen date back to the coal boom when Scandinavian ships brought timber for pit props and returned home laden with coal. Churches like this with its attractive white clapboard cladding and pointy spire were built to serve the Norwegian sailors who docked here. Today the restored church features an interesting gallery and a friendly café with a patio offering views across the bay. See if you can find the Roald Dahl connection.

  • Promenade and restaurants at Mermaid Quay, Cardiff Bay

    Promenade and restaurants at Mermaid Quay, Cardiff Bay

    The boardwalk at Mermaid Quay plays host to a whole menu of funky bars, tasty restaurants and amusements. At weekends in summer you could be forgiven for thinking you were on the Med when the sun’s out and terraces are full. It’s the perfect spot for a lazy lunch or coffee by the waterside or a more boisterous beer or two in the evening as the sun goes down and the lights come on. The traditional carousel ride is the perfect way to keep the kids happy too.

  • Mother and son playing at kids playground on the barrage, Cardiff Bay

    Kids playground on the barrage, Cardiff Bay

     by Jeremy Head

    It’s an easy, breezy stroll around the bay across the sea barrage to Penarth Marina. There’s a flat tarmac pathway so it’s ideal for pushchairs or bikes. Just before the barrage there’s a great kids’ playground featuring pretend shipwrecks buried in sand. The barrage has several locks, offering lots to keep curious kids happy. Taxi boats run at least hourly back to Mermaid Quay from just across the locks next to Penarth Marina.

  • Welsh flag on the back of speedboat in Cardiff Bay, with St Davids hotel and Welsh Millennium Centre in background
    Boat Trip in Cardiff Bay by Capt Gorgeous

    How do you like your boat trips? Lazy or spray-filled? You can hit the water in several different ways from Mermaid Quay to see the bay from the water - so the choice is yours. Take a high speed inflatable RIB boat trip out through the locks to the sea beyond if you fancy something of the white knuckle variety or just putter about on a water taxi or pleasure boat if you prefer your waves more sedate.

  • Woman watching the birds at Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve
    Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve, Cardiff by Alun Vega

    When the bay was flooded, this new wetlands was created on the site of a former salt marsh. It features reedy marshland and floating timber structures offering sheltered breeding areas for birds. Stroll along the gravel walkway which starts at the car park next to the St. David's Hotel, through to the west end of the reserve. Here you’ll find a long boardwalk with a viewing area, which is a great spot for bird watching. Best of all, it’s free.

  • Boat entering Penarth Marina
    Penarth Marina, Glamorgan Heritage Coast

    The pretty seaside town of Penarth became a suburb of Cardiff many years ago, but it retains an atmosphere of its own with its steep streets, pretty shops and ornate Victorian pier. A 20 minute stroll round the bay across the barrage brings you to the marina which is relatively new. A further 15 minutes up the hill or a short taxi ride and you reach the main beach front and that famous old pier with its recently restored Pavilion.

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