This 16.5 mile (26.5km) section of the Taff Trail offers a fun and scenic way to explore Cardiff and travel through the city’s pretty parks and green spaces.
A large part of the trail runs along the River Taff, which has always been a key trade route for Wales. In fact, it made Cardiff the largest exporting port in the world in the early 20th century.
Start at the beginning
The start point for the Taff Trail is in Roald Dahl Plass in Cardiff Bay. Look for the Celtic Ring structure, a metal sculpture by the waterfront, and you'll see a commemorative plaque on the floor denoting the beginning of the trail. While you're down the Bay, visit Wales Millennium Centre, the largest theatre in Wales. It has cafes, free public performances and a shop, as well as being a host to large-scale touring shows..
Between the Bay
As you head from Cardiff Bay to the city centre, you'll pass near the Principality Stadium, Wales' national stadium and home of the national rugby union team. Take a tour or time your trip for a match.
Just over from the Stadium is Cardiff Castle, one of Wales’ leading heritage attractions. Located at the heart of the capital within beautiful parklands, the castle’s walls and fairytale towers conceal 2,000 years of history. If you have time, it's worth a stop!
At this part of the trail, you enter the green heart of the city. Pass through Sophia Gardens into Bute Park. Flanked by the River Taff, Pontcanna Fields and Cathays Park, Bute Park is full of historic and wildlife interest. At 56 hectares (equivalent to 75 football pitches), it is one of the largest urban parks in Wales.
As you travel onwards through the fields, the river plays peekaboo, appearing then disappearing behind trees and buildings, then emerging again. Look out for kingfishers, grey heron, leaping salmon and cormorants. Before long you'll reach Llandaff, where you'll find Llandaff Cathedral. It stands on one of the oldest Christian sites in Britain.
Magical Castell Coch
In the village of Tongwynlais lies the sibling of Cardiff Castle: Castell Coch. It's a Victorian castle resting on ancient foundations, with a fairytale-like look about it. Pop in to learn more about its history and marvel at the ornate decor.
Once you've had your fill of fantastical castles, if you don't feel like the harder, steeper option through thick forest, choose the low-level tarmac route that runs below the castle. It takes you near Taff's Well railway station and the former Rhymney Railway before joining back up with the tougher route at Nantgarw bypass.
Onwards to Ponty
The next part of the route runs with the former Alexandra (Newport Docks) Docks & Railway Company line, towards Rhydyfelin. Continue on beyond Rhydyfelin, then wind into Pontypridd town centre. Grab a cuppa then see the sights. You could visit the museum and distinctive old bridge, explore Ynysangharad Park and National Lido or learn more about the past at A Welsh Coal Mining Experience at Rhondda Heritage Park. If you want to keep moving, Pontypridd is a hub of cycling routes, including the Celtic Trail.
Tips on getting around the Taff Trail
One of the great things about the Taff Trail is that you don't have to do it all in one go. You can choose a section to explore, then travel by foot, car, bicycle or train to reach its start point.
If you'd like to hire a bike, Cardiff Pedal Power on the edge of Bute Park has plenty of options, including accessible bikes. Alternatively, rent an Ovo bike from one of the many locations across Cardiff, cycle the section of the trail that you're interested in, then return it to the nearest Ovo station when you finish (there's one as far out as Tongwynlais).
Find out about appropriate clothing and footwear as well as more info on protecting and enjoying the countryside in the Countryside Code.