Save your wallet! Visit Cardiff City with kids for free
Whether on a day trip or a weekend break, discovering a new city with kids in tow can be expensive and the pressure to see all the “major” sights can really take hold. In a recent European survey, Cardiff came out as the 3rd best capital in Europe and with so many fantastic things to see and do you can understand why. Being a mother of two who loves to explore not only further afield but also what is available on my own doorstep, I thought I would share the 6 best and completely free places to visit with kids all within close proximity of Cardiff City Centre.
1. Discover Dinosaurs at the National Museum Cardiff - located right next to the City Hall and within walking distance of two central train stations, this is a great place to take kids of all ages and you can easily keep them interested and entertained here for a few hours. The Dinosaurs, Wildlife and Underwater displays are always very popular and there is also always a special interactive display which changes around three times a year. If you are at the museum on the weekend, the core room is open which always has a craft table available, boxes of toys and interesting artifacts to get up close and personal too.
2. Pooh sticks in Bute Park - Bute Park is a beautiful big green belt running through the centre of Cardiff and lies just behind the iconic Cardiff Castle. It’s a fantastic spot for a family picnic as well as playing Pooh sticks off one of the bridges. There is also a small nature adventure course to take on with ropes and obstacles and the Educational Centre is open during the day where you can pick up a free Wildlife Explorer Trail. The park also has longer walks along the Taff trail and joins up with Blackweir and Llandaff Fields if you fancy an urban hike.
3. Learn about the history of the city at The Cardiff Story Museum - this museum is a fairly new addition to Cardiff set right in the middle of the city in the old Library building. It’s a great place to go, especially on a rainy day as most of the displays are interactive and very engaging and younger children can also dress up in different costumes as well as discover some local children books in the small library which also has some traditional toys to play with. On the top floor is also a family friendly cafe with beautiful large windows looking out across the Hayes and makes for a perfect place to people watch.
4. Brave the Barrage - Cardiff Bay is less than 1.5 miles from the City Centre and is seen more of an extension of it as it offers up so many great restaurants and shops overlooking the bay across to Penarth. If you’re in need of some fresh air than the walk across the barrage is very enjoyable for all the family and along the way you pass a skatepark for those with kids into extreme sports as well as a sand and ship playground which is very popular with younger kids.
5. Learn some Welsh at Cardiff Library - if you are looking for a little quite spot after spending a few hours in the bustling city then the children’s level at Cardiff Library is a great place to go as its located right next to St Davids shopping centre. It’s really well laid out, lots of books for children and teens in both English and Welsh, a big box of toys, quite reading nooks as well as a more social area. There is also usually some kind of craft or colouring to be done.
6. Feed the ducks at Roath Park - swans, ducks, a beautiful boating lake, rose garden, play park and exotic greenhouse are just a few things you will find only 2 miles from the centre at Roath Park. With its iconic tower in the lake this is a great place to spend a whole afternoon walking the length and breadth of the lake and spotting a variety of bird life, although be warned - swans like ice-cream and will follow you. There is also a big play park which can get quite busy on weekends although there is more than enough space here to not feel too overwhelmed. There is a lovely rose garden which comes to bloom in the summer as well as a greenhouse with terrapins and koi fish (small charge to enter).
There are plenty more places to explore a little further afield such as St Fagans National History Museum, which is outdoor or searching for dinosaur fossils at Porthkerry beach in Barry. If you’re relying on public transport or only have one day in the city, the above 6 are all within walking distance and you won’t be disappointed.
What are you waiting for? Visit Cardiff for free!