Cardiff Castle: An all-action attraction!

There’s a huge amount of Welsh history packed into a relatively small space at Cardiff Castle – around 2,000 years in all. While you can pop in for a look around the grounds, it’s really worth setting some proper time aside to explore the nooks and crannies of this unique castle in the heart of the Welsh capital.

The Interpretation Centre

Exterior of the Cardiff Castle Interpretation Centre

The Cardiff Castle Interpretation Centre, Cardiff by Cardiff Castle
Start at the Interpretation Centre, where you can watch a film show that introduces you to the history of the castle, from its origins in Roman times to the astonishing Gothic transformation that took place here during the 19th century. It won’t take long for any children with you to find the dressing-up corner. No, dad, we don’t do full-size chain mail suits.

The portable audio guides are a must if you want to make the most of everything around you. They’re available in 10 languages, with a children’s version too. You can also download the Cardiff Castle App on your smart phone which you can use via the free wi-fi service.

Underground secrets

A selection of World War 2 air raid equipment found in the air raid shelters underneath Cardiff Castle

The air raid shelters in the tunnels underneath Cardiff Castle by Cardiff Castle
One of the many fascinating secrets of Cardiff that you unlock when you visit Cardiff Castle is the fact that there is a network of tunnels between the ground floor level and the battlement level that were used as air-raid shelters during World War II. There was room for around 2,000 people from the city centre and on weekends and holidays you can visit them with our ARP wardens.

Cardiff Castle as you now see it is the result of an extraordinary transformation carried out in the late 19th century by the eccentric architect William Burges. He created some of the most lavish interiors in Britain, inspired by Gothic, Mediterranean and Arabian styles. They have to be seen to be believed.

There’s so much history and detail it’s worth considering taking a house tour with one of our expert guides. There’s so much to see that having someone with an intimate knowledge of every nook and cranny is invaluable, you’ll visit another 10 spectacular interiors.

A tower with a difference...

A couple visiting the Summer Smoking Room at the top of the Clock Tower at Cardiff Castle

The Summer Smoking Room in the Clock Tower of Cardiff Castle
The great Clock Tower Tour runs on weekends, where visitors climb the 101 steps up a spiral staircase to the Clock Tower and the Summer Smoking Room, which is a remarkable representation of Burges’ fertile imagination for elaborate, colourful interior design. It’s well worth the effort.

After being overwhelmed by the wonder of William Burges’ work you’re going to need some time out to gather your senses; and have a nice cup of tea. Caffi’r Castell (the Castle Café, in English) is a great little spot to watch the world go by.  Make sure you try the Cawl, a hearty Welsh broth which is arguably the definitive Welsh dish. The cafe also has outdoor seating so don't be surprised if the castle's resident peacocks come by to say hello while you're enjoying your cuppa!   

The castle museum

The Firing Line museum at Cardiff Castle

Cardiff Castle Museum, Cardiff by Cardiff Castle
The Firing Line is the Cardiff Castle Museum of the Welsh soldier, telling the stories and displaying memorabilia of over 300 years of service of two Welsh regiments, 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards and The Royal Welsh. Entry to the Firing Line Museum is included with your ticket to visit the castle.

A visit to the gift shop is a must, as is a stroll around Bute Park, nearly 150 acres of green space surrounding the castle that is recognised as a grade 1 historic designed landscape. You can even sneak in another tea break at Pettigrew’s tea rooms, located in Bute Park’s West Lodge.

Galloping knights

A jousting competition as part of a re-enactment at Cardiff Castle

A jousting event at Cardiff Castle, Cardiff
Cardiff Castle is a hive of activity throughout the year, with all kind of events taking place. They have over 200 Welsh banquets every year, where visitors can enjoy a night of traditional Welsh food and entertainment.

Traditional events run most times of the year, such as Joust! a fantastic event, which takes place in the castle grounds on the third weekend in June. The whole place comes alive with medieval battle re-enactments, storytelling, minstrels and twice-daily jousting competitions.

The Grand Medieval Mêlée in the middle of August is another whirl of swords, spears and maces, as skilled knights battle it out for supremacy. 

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