From sailing races in the summer to fireworks in the winter, the city’s waterfront offers lots to do throughout the year. With plenty of attractions and activities, eateries and entertainment, you’ll be busy all day and night in the bay. Here’s our top picks of things to do in Cardiff’s docklands.
With a number of the city’s best loved attractions, Cardiff Bay has become one of the city’s top tourist draws. For mind-boggling experiments and much, much more take a trip to Techniquest. Go on a journey through time and help save the universe in the Doctor Who Experience. Explore one of Europe’s most ambitious engineering projects at Cardiff Bay Barrage. Delve into the city’s maritime history and all things nautical in the World of Boats. Discover some emerging names in craft at Craft in the Bay. You’ll find all this and much more in Cardiff Bay.
Take a stroll through the bay and you’ll spot some striking buildings. Decked out in the gothic grandeur of hexagonal chimneys, carved friezes, gargoyles and an ornamental clock tower, the Pierhead is one of the city’s most familiar landmarks. Built in 1897 as the headquarters for the Bute Dock Company, today the building is home to the National Assembly for Wales as well as a Welsh history museum. Recognisable from appearances in the BBC’s Torchwood and Doctor Who, the Wales Millennium Centre’s dramatic exterior contains a striking bilingual inscription and is made of local materials, including 1,350 tonnes of Welsh slate.
If you’re a sporty type, head to Cardiff’s International Sports Village for some amazing facilities. With an Olympic sized swimming pool, an ice rink and a white water canoeing and kayaking centre, you’ll find a lot to get your adrenaline pumping. Head to the Ice Arena Wales (IAW) to see the Cardiff Devils ice hockey team in action. Competing for over 25 years, the Devils attract cheering crowds of up to 3,000 on match day. Take a trip to Cardiff International White Water (CIWW) for plenty of different water sports, from bodyboarding suitable for beginners to white water rafting for seasoned enthusiasts.
Set on the stunning Cardiff Bay waterfront, Mermaid Quay is the perfect place for a night out. Whether you’re looking for an evening of entertainment, a sunset stroll or a spot to eat and drink, you’ll find it all here. Head to the Wales Millennium Centre for everything from blockbuster West End musicals and opera to ballet and contemporary dance. Want to see the top names in comedy and some up and coming stars? Take a trip to the Glee Club where stars like Michael McIntyre, Alan Carr and Sarah Millican have taken to the stage.
Cardiff Bay stretches across a wide area so, if you don’t feel like walking all that way, why not take the Road Train? The ride goes on a leisurely journey from Mermaid Quay, through Cardiff Docks to the Cardiff Bay Barrage. It takes in views of the spectacular Wales Millennium Centre, the National Assembly, Scott Harbour, the Norwegian Church and Cardiff Docks. The journey is around 20 minutes and then returns after a 10-minute break at the barrage. An adult return is £4 and child’s return is £3.
Eating and drinking
You’ll find plenty of places where you can eat and drink in Cardiff Bay.
There are lots of restaurants and cafés to choose from in the bustling Cardiff Bay area. Looking for a great view over the waterfront? Bayside Brasserie offers a choice of indoor and outdoor seating all which provide the perfect spot to watch the sun set over the bay while you enjoy some delicious classic seafood and meat dishes. Set in one of the bay’s oldest building and offering lots of delicious fresh produce served up in a relaxed atmosphere, head to Bill’s for breakfast lunch or dinner.
Take a trip to the Wales Millennium Centre to find a wide range of exciting eateries. ffresh Bar & Restaurant offers the best in Welsh cuisine using produce from award-winning suppliers. If you’re in the mood for afternoon tea or coffee and cake, take a trip to one of the centre’s three cafés - it offers a choice of traditional and contemporary options.
Cardiff’s busy docklands have plenty of busy bars ready to serve you a thirst quenching drink. Take a stroll to the edge of the waterfront and you’ll find The Dock. Buy a glass of wine or some large sharing cocktails and while away the hours taking in the view of the bay. If you prefer spacious chain pubs, head to The Mount Stuart for a good selection of lagers, ales, ciders and spirits, plus some great drinks deals.
If you take a trip to the nearby Wales Millennium Centre, you’ll discover a choice of three bars. On level 2 you’ll find Penderyn Awen, a large contemporary bar. Head up to level 4 for Horizons bar which has windows that not only offer a great view but form the wonderful lettering on the façade of the building. Located on level 5, Stones bar features a dramatic curved high ceiling.
Near Cardiff Bay
Cardiff Bay is packed with plenty of attractions. Head to the east and you’ll arrive at Techniquest. Containing more than 120 excellent exhibits, a spectacular Science Theatre and Planetarium - it’s well worth a visit. Try some mind-boggling experiments, see if you’ve got what it takes to be an astronaut or take a trip into the stars, this is a museum that lets you get hands on with science and technology.
At the heart of the bay area is Wales Millennium Centre. With a wide range of performances, events and exhibitions, the centre has quickly established a reputation as one of the world’s iconic arts and cultural destinations.
Getting to Cardiff Bay
As one of the city’s go-to destinations, you’ll have no trouble getting to Cardiff Bay.
If you’re driving to Cardiff Bay, the Q-Park Cardiff Bay is located in the centre, right next to the Wales Millennium Centre. Open 24 hours and with over 1,000 spaces, you’ll have no trouble parking in the bay. For sat nav, use the postcode CF10 4PH.
From the town centre, take the Cardiff Baycar shuttle (route 6) from Cardiff Central Station. The bus runs every 10 minutes and the journey takes 8 minutes - arriving right outside Wales Millennium Centre. A return costs £3.60 for an adult and £2.40 for a child.
If you’re getting the train, the nearest station is Cardiff Bay. Exit the station and turn onto Lloyd George Avenue and you’ll arrive at the waterfront after less 10-minutes’ walk. If you arrive at Cardiff Central Station, you can hop on the shuttle bus to the bay.