The Best 9 Cheap Things to do in Cardiff on a Tight Budget

The Best 9 Cheap Things to do in Cardiff on a Tight Budget

Located only 2 hours from London via rail or car, Cardiff is the capital city of Wales and the United Kingdom's eleventh largest city. Visited by 18 million tourists per year and known as the 'City of Arcades', it has the biggest concentration of Victorian, Edwardian and modern-day indoor shopping arcades in Britain. With a history stretching back to the Roman occupation of Britain, there is plenty to see and do for free in Europe's smallest and newest capital cities.

In this blog post we list:

  • The best places to visit for no charge at all
  • Show all places on an interactive map to help you locate each place easily.

Cardiff has many options for things to do making the city a popular tourist destination but you don't have to break the bank to access a lot of the activities here. Each of the places mentioned in this blog post is free to enter or is somewhere you can go to spend a few hours in nature taking in the local scenery. Take in a museum like The National Museum of Cardiff or St Fagan's National Museum of History and if you fancy some time outdoors, Roath Park and Bute Park. 

Free things to do
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    Updated and correct as of 08/11/23.

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    Museums and Galleries

    things to do in cardiff for free

    The tower at The Pierhead Building

    The Pierhead Building

    Nicknamed the 'Big Ben of Wales' due to its distinctive clock resembling Big Ben in London, The Pierhead Building is magnificent (red in colour) situated in the Cardiff Bay area of the city. Built-in the 18th Century (and now classed as a Grade 1 listed building), the original use of the building was as the headquarters of the Bute Dock Company after their original building burnt down. In 2001 The Pierhead Building was reopened as the education and visitor centre of the National Assembly and in March 2010, as an exhibition and historical museum. It is home to several films and archives exploring Welsh history and is a great place to spend an hour wandering around looking inside this wonderful piece of architecture.

    National Museum Cardiff

    Situated in the heart of Cardiff’s elegant civic centre, the museum houses Wales’s national art, geology, and natural history collections as well as major touring and temporary exhibitions. With five hundred years of magnificent paintings, drawings, sculpture, silver, and ceramics from Wales and across the world, including one of Europe’s best collections of Impressionist art, the art collection at the National Museum Cardiff is one of Europe’s finest. Find out how life evolved in Wales and which dinosaurs roamed the land in the 'Evolution of Wales Gallery' which details the story of Wales from evolution to the present day. With temporary exhibitions on throughout the year, check their website to see what's currently on.

    Museum of Cardiff

    The Museum of Cardiff situated in the centre of the city is a heritage museum that has brought together a collection of 3,000 objects and Cardiff-related artefacts many of which have been donated by Cardiff residents and communities. Also known as the 'Cardiff Story Museum', the museum is perfect to spend an hour or two with the kids learning about Cardiff and its history.

    History and Culture

    St Fagan's National Museum of History

    Holding the title of Wales’s most popular heritage attraction for many years, the St Fagan's National Museum of History is an open-air museum that takes you through the ages exploring the story of Wales. Located on the grounds of the magnificent St Fagan's Castle and gardens, the museum lies in a beautiful setting that will inspire you with its celebration of Welsh traditions and lifestyles. You may have to book your free ticket in advance via their website before attending.

    Walks and Nature Trails

    what to do in cardiff for a day

    The Wales Millennium Centre at Cardiff Bay

    Cardiff Bay

    Cardiff Bay is a vibrant waterfront development. Once the world's largest coal-exporting port, it has been transformed into a bustling hub of cultural attractions, leisure activities, and dining experiences. The Bay is home to the iconic Wales Millennium Centre, a beacon for performing arts, and the historic Norwegian Church. Visitors can enjoy panoramic views while strolling the Barrage, a causeway linking the Bay with Penarth. The area is also known for its freshwater lake, created by the Cardiff Barrage, which provides a serene setting for water sports and outdoor activities. Cardiff Bay exemplifies urban regeneration, seamlessly integrating its industrial heritage with contemporary architecture and community spaces, making it a must-visit destination in the capital of Wales.

    things to do in cardiff central

    Cardiff Bay

    Cardiff Bay Barrage

    Perfect for a relaxing stroll, the 1.1km long Barrage embankment offers spectacular views over Cardiff Bay and the Severn Estuary. Along the Barrage embankment, there is a variety of leisure activities including a skate park and an outdoor gym. Thanks to its flat gradient and lack of steps, it’s accessible for all visitors.

    Roath Park

    Opened in 1894, Roath Park was one of the first public parks in Cardiff. It still retains its classic Victorian atmosphere and layout of characterful linear parks, extending along the Nant Fawr stream. The park has many features including the Roath Park Lake (a 30-acre man-made Lake popular for fishing and boating), Llandennis Oval (a site steeped in history with its ancient pond said to be the site of St Isan’s 12th-century enclosure), and its beautiful botanic garden.

    Bute Park

    After a full restoration between 2010 and 2014, Bute Park is the 'green heart' of the city and provides a habitat for wildlife, a beautiful and extensive arboretum, and a venue for major public events. The park itself is huge and you can easily spend a whole afternoon walking around taking in the scenery. Bute Park is a Green Flag site and a CADW Grade 1 listed park which is situated behind Cardiff Castle, just a short walk from Cardiff's main streets and civic centre.

    Twmbarlwm Mountain

    Locally known as 'The Twmp', 'The Nipple' or 'The Pimple' due to the shape of the mound that lies at its summit, the Twmbarlwm Mountain (officially a hill due to being under 2000ft tall) is an uphill trek that won't disappoint. Spend a couple of hours walking this 4km walk to the top of the Iron Age hill fort of Twmbarlwm. From the top, there are stunning views over Cardiff Bay to the south and the Brecon Beacons to the north. Start at the Cwmcarn Forest Drive Visitor Centre and make your way up the mountain to a height at the top of 900ft.


    Use the map below to locate all the best things to do in Cardiff mentioned above to create your itinerary for your trip. We’ve also added places in the city to eat that offer good food at a decent price for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    Open Google Maps to see distance information between locations and directions on how to get to each place.

    Other Blog Posts From Cardiff

    We write lots of blog posts from each area of free activities to do. Have a look at our blog posts from the city of Cardiff by clicking the links below:


    Cardiff Blogs


    Cycling Routes in Cardiff


    Forest Walks near Cardiff


    Local Delicacies and Souvenirs from Cardiff

    Please note...

    All outdoor activities including walking involve a degree of risk. The walks are recommended due to the features of each forest but this may change over time and further research is required before undertaking any activity. The weather can also impact the surface and general conditions of each path so please keep yourself updated with the weather forecast before setting off to enjoy your walk!

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