Cardiff | Parks and iconic buildings

Parks and iconic buildings

From gothic grandeur to Edwardian elegance, lush landscapes to a wonderful array of wildlife, you’ll find plenty of parks and buildings to explore in Cardiff. Wander through the greatest civic centre in the UK and take in the brilliant buildings of Cathays Park. Stroll amongst the sports pitches of Sophia Gardens and cross the Millennium Bridge into Bute Park to discover an array of trees in its arboretum. If you want to head out of the city, you can take a trip to a fairy tale castle in Tongwynlais or discover a medieval village in Cosmeston Lakes. Not sure where to start? Check out our guide to Cardiff’s best buildings and greatest green spaces and find out where to explore on your visit. Whether you want to be close to a city centre park or out in the countryside, there’s a Cardiff Premier Inn around the corner ready to get your stay off to a great start.

Bute Park

Once forming the grounds of Cardiff Castle, Bute Park stretches across 130 acres in the centre of the city. It’s made up of landscaped gardens and mature parkland with a wealth of horticulture and wildlife, as well as playgrounds, an education centre and cafés. Whether you fancy choosing one of the trails around the park, checking out the arboretum or just relaxing, you’ll find the perfect spot in Bute Park, the city's green heart.

Castle Coch

Castell Coch

Head north into the Taff Valley to the picture postcard village of Tongwynlais and you’ll find Castell Coch, or Red Castle, nestled in the hills. A Victorian gothic revival castle that looks like a fairy tale come to life, venture inside to find dazzling ceilings and over the top furnishings and furniture.
Make the most of castle’s multi-sensory resources by using your touchscreen device to explore the building’s history.

Cardiff City Hall

Cardiff City Hall

The City Hall stands in the heart of Cardiff amongst the city’s other elegant Edwardian civic buildings, landscaped gardens and broad tree-lined avenues. Opening in 1906, after Cardiff was given its Royal Charter as a city, these days the City Hall is a venue for exhibitions and events but is also open to visitors during the day. Head inside and you’ll find a magnificent Marble Hall, decorative interiors and an impressive collection of art.

Cathays Park, Cardiff

Cathays Park

Located in the centre of Cardiff, Cathays Park, or Cardiff Civic Centre, consists of a number of grand buildings and a small park area, Alexandra Gardens. Wander down the tree lined avenues, sit on a bench amongst the landscaped green and take in the Edwardian architecture, including the Temple of Peace, City Hall, the National Museum and Gallery of Wales which form part of the Cardiff University campus. It’s no wonder that Cathays Park has been judged the finest civic centre in the UK.

Pierhead Building, Cardiff

Pierhead Building

Standing as one of the Cardiff's most familiar landmarks, the Pierhead Building was built in 1897 as the headquarters for the Bute Dock Company. Also known as the Baby Big Ben or the Big Ben of Wales, these days the building is home to the National Assembly for Wales as well as a Welsh history museum. If you visit, be sure to check out the gothic terracotta exterior which includes hexagonal chimneys, carved friezes, gargoyles and an ornamental clock tower.

Bute Building, Cardiff

Bute Building

Located in Cathays Park, Bute Building is a home to Cardiff University’s School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies. A great example of neoclassical architecture, the building was designed by Percy Thomas and Ivor Jones who won a competition to come up with plans for what was then Cardiff Technical College. The building has the UK’s largest Sky Dome, which students use to replicate natural lighting within and around the scale models of their buildings.

Sophia Gardens

Stretching along the west bank of the River Taff in the centre of the city, Sophia Gardens is most famous for its sporting facilities. Boasting the likes of the SWALEC Cricket Stadium and the National Sports Centre for Wales, it also plays host to indoor and outdoor bowling greens and plenty of other pitches. Sounds pretty packed? In fact, there’s still lots of room to fit a riding school, cycle hire and open-air theatre in the summer.

Cosmeston Lakes

Venture seven miles south west of Cardiff on your way to Barry and you’ll arrive at Cosmeston Lakes Country Park. Covering over 100 hectares, you’ll find varied and vibrant habitats and plenty of rare and diverse plant and wildlife. Within the County Park you can also explore Cosmeston Medieval Village, a reconstruction of the 14th-century village, which was discovered during the landscaping of the park.

Park House

Built in 1874 for a local engineer, Park House is a great example of the Edwardian gothic revival. With its steep roofs and boldly textured walls, this town house made a dramatic impact in its central Cardiff location and saw many homes copy its style. These days the building is home to a restaurant. Head inside to enjoy the original oak-panelled interior and try the elegant menu serving the best British gastro-cuisine.

Old Bishop’s Palace

Once the residence of the Bishop of Llandaff, very little is left of the small medieval fortress known as the Old Bishop’s Palace. Believed to have been built in the 11th century, the Palace survived hundreds of years, various attacks and rebellions only to be destroyed in the English Civil War.
The main structure that remains to this day is the twin-towered gatehouse. Wander through the gateway and you’ll get a sense of Cardiff’s long history.

Victoria Park

One of Cardiff’s best loved green spaces, Victoria Park is packed with colourful floral borders, leafy trees and green spaces, as well as a boating pond, a paddling pool and a playpark for youngsters. The park was created in 1898 to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and contains a number of Victorian features including a bandstand and fountain. If you visit the park, be sure to check out Billy the Seal, a sculpture who’s a firm favourite with locals.

Roath Park Gardens

Take a trip to Roath Park and you’ll find a tranquil spot in the centre of this busy city. From a lake full of wintering and breeding birds to gardens packed with wildflowers and floral displays, you can explore a wide range of habitats in this park. Donated to Cardiff in 1887, the park retains many of its original Victorian features including a glass house containing tropical plants and a lighthouse commemorating Captain Scott's ill-fated voyage to the Antarctic from Cardiff.

Looking for a hotel in Cardiff?

Located on the Welsh coast, Cardiff is a haven for rugby fans, Doctor Who devotees, adrenalin junkies and culture vultures looking for a weekend away. Expect great shopping, elegant quayside dining, art, history and sport while never being too far away from the breathtaking Welsh countryside. Our Premier Inn Cardiff hotels are perfectly placed to explore everything Cardiff has to offer.