From Roman fort to Victorian palace, a trip to Cardiff Castle will take you on a journey through over 2,000 years of Welsh life. Walk through the rooms where soldiers have slept, knights have held court, nobility has entertained and civilians have sheltered to discover a whole lot of history.
Built on top of a 3rd century Roman fort, the original castle was made of motte and bailey and built in the late 11th century by Norman invaders. The castle you see today in the heart of the city is the result of extensive remodelling in the 19th century by art-architect William Burges for the 3rd Marquess of Bute. With extraordinary wealth and vision, they transformed the castle into a romantic Victorian fantasy, complete with opulent interiors, breathtaking murals, stained glass windows and plenty of gilding. Discover the remains of a Roman wall, climb to the top of the medieval Keep, delve down into the wartime shelters and take in the gothic fantasy of the castle apartments, you’ll find plenty to explore within the grounds of this castle. Want to make the most of your day at the castle? You’ll find a Premier In hotel just around the corner, waiting to get your day of discovery off to a great start.
Cardiff Castle is a hive of activity all year round, with all kind of events and activities taking place each month. Whether you prefer banquets or battle reenactments, you’ll find something to keep you entertained. Here’s our top picks of things to do at the castle.
Start your visit at the Interpretation Centre, for an introduction to the history of the castle, from its origins in Roman times to the astonishing Gothic grandeur of the 19th century. If you’re visiting with little ones be sure to take them to the dressing-up corner where they can be transformed into knights wearing miniature chain mail suits
Underneath the castle you’ll discover a network of tunnels that were used as air-raid shelters during World War II. With room for the 2,000 city centre people who used to shelter from wartime bombings here, these atmospheric tunnels are brought to life by your ARP warden guides.
Medieval Battles and Banquets
Step back in time with Joust!, a medieval event taking place in the castle grounds on the third weekend in June. The whole place comes alive with medieval battle re-enactments, storytelling, minstrels and jousting competitions. For an unforgettable evening of Welsh hospitality you can also enjoy the best food, mead and entertainment at the Welsh Banquets which are held regularly in the castle.
Cardiff Castle has everything you could need for a perfect day packed with history.
Cardiff Castle is open 7 days a week, all year round (apart from 25th to 26th December and 1st January). Each area of the castle opens at a slightly different time, from 9am for the Interpretation Centre to 10am for the tour. The castle also staggers its closing time. It shuts between 5pm and 6pm between March and October, and from 4pm and 5pm between November and February. You’ll find the information desk in the Interpretation Centre, but if you have any questions ahead of your visit, you can contact the castle at 029 2087 8100.
You enter the castle from the south. This building contains the ticket office with free audio guides and maps, a café and gift shop, as well as the Firing Line: Museum of the Welsh Soldier. Head to the west of the grounds for the Castle Apartments, including the Clock Tower. Go straight ahead to the Norman Keep and North gate with its Roman ruins. Take a stroll to the east of the grounds for the Battlement Walk with the wartime shelters, a Roman wall and a trebuchet – a deadly 13th century weapon.
Cardiff Castle does all it can to welcome everyone to its building, however, this is a historic building and some areas have limited access. For example, the Castle Apartments are not accessible by wheelchair or pushchair due to stairs. A concession ticket for disabled visitors is available. A single carer can come in for free with the disabled visitor. A variety of tours are available, including sign-language, audio and touch tours. If you have any questions about access during your visit, call 029 2087 8100 for more details.
Want to start learning about the castle before you arrive? Download Cardiff Castle’s official app ahead of your visit or using the free WiFi at the Interpretation Centre when you enter. This gives you an audio guide narrated by Huw Edwards and a zoomable sitemap with hotspots, plus lots of information and links which will help you plan your trip. The children's version of the app also contains illustrations by Tim Archbold, which match up to the information boards around site.
Need to refuel before you explore the next part of the castle? You’ll find plenty of places where you can eat and both inside and nearby in the city centre.
If you want to grab a bite to eat in the castle grounds, take a trip to the café by the main entrance. Offering a selection of hot meals, sandwiches and daily specials, as well as cakes and pastries, you’ll be sure to find something to tickle your tastebuds. Sit inside or head out onto the terrace where you can take in the spectacular views of the Norman Keep and the castle while you eat. If you want to enjoy an unforgettable evening of Welsh hospitality, book in for a Welsh Banquet. Starting with mead-tasting on arrival, followed by a three-course meal, wine or soft drinks and the best of Welsh entertainment, this is a great night out.
Outside of the castle you’ll find lots of options nearby. Madame Fromage is a Welsh café with a French influence serving everything from galettes to rarebit. At the Potted Pig you’ll find a restaurant serving a whole array of pork-themed treats, including a whole suckling pig.
If you build up a thirst exploring the castle, head to the café in the main entrance for soft drinks, coffee and tea. Want to stay within the old grounds of the castle? Head into Bute Park for three cafés all with great views – the Secret Garden Café, Pettigrew Tea Rooms and Summerhouse Café.
If you’d like to relax in the pub after a busy day sightseeing in the castle, head to The Rummer Tavern. Offering a choice of cask ales and cider, plus some tasty homemade pies, this is a a great traditional pub in the heart of the city centre. Wander down Westgate Street and you’ll stumble across former canal warehouse, Bar 44. Offering a great atmosphere, an excellent selection of drinks, including sherry from the cask, and some tasty tapas, this is a great place to while away the evening.
Previously the grounds of Cardiff Castle, Bute Park is one of the UK's most beautiful green spaces. Explore plenty of hiking trails, enjoy one of the many picnicking spots or discover a world-famous arboretum - there’s so much to do in this park. Follow the River Taff south of the castle and you’ll arrive at the Principality Stadium. Also known as the Millennium Stadium, this is the national stadium of Wales and home of the Welsh national rugby team. As well as hosting sporting spectacles the stadium is also a music venue which has seen megastars like Madonna and Beyoncé grace its stage.
Stay just 10 - 15 minutes’ walk away at our Cardiff City Centre hotel and you’ll be perfectly set for a day exploring the castle.
Whether you want to arrive by car, train, bus or boat, you’ll have plenty of choice when getting to Cardiff Castle. For the adventurous, check out the water bus. The stop is at the southern end of Bute Park near Cardiff Bridge and the service runs to Cardiff Bay between 10am and 5pm.
The castle does not have a car park, but there are plenty of city centre car parks and on-street meter parking to choose from. The closest car park is Castle Mews on North Road.
Located in the centre of Cardiff, there are several bus stops situated along Castle Street, a short walk to the castle’s entrance.
If you’re arriving by train, it’s a short 10 minute walk from Cardiff Central station and 15 minutes from Cardiff Queen Street to the castle.
We have a huge range of fantastic Premier Inn hotels in Glamorgan, South Wales for the discerning business and leisure traveller. If you're jetting into Cardiff on business, check into our airport hotels. For students there are hotels near Cardiff University and a collection of budget hotels for the price conscious. Whichever part of Cardiff you’re planning to visit, there's sure to be a selection of comfortable Premier Inn hotels nearby.
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