8 FREE Days Out in and around Cardiff
Cardiff is an incredible city full of an absolute megaton of things to do – but prices can add up and before you know it, you’re spent out. If you’ve got the kids and you’re on a budget (or even if you’re not!) these are some fun, family-friendly days out.
1. Roath Park, Central Cardiff – CF23 5PG
Opening hours for gardens and play area, 7:30am until 30 minutes before sunset. Lake is unfenced and available to walk around 24 hours.
Roath Park Lake is a beautiful walk around a massive lake filled to the brim with waterbirds, including some unusual species. An idea to make this a more interactive trip is to print out a list of birds and play bird-spotting to engage your kids in nature and keep them stimulated. There is a path around the lake that’s stroller suitable and loads of benches to stop and take a rest. You might be mugged by geese though!
There’s a large adventure playground with big slides and climbing equipment and plentiful toilets and changing facilities.
If you do decide to spend a bit of cash, you can find boat hire on the lake, ice cream and drink kiosks as well as a cafe looking out over the water for lunch. If the sun is shining, take a blanket and have a picnic on the lawns!
You can also visit the conservatory, £2 for adults, £1 for children and under 5s are free. Read about my day out at Roath Park Lake & Conservatory.
There is no car park, but free parking is available all around the lake – just pull up and park anywhere there aren’t double yellows.
2. National Museum – City Centre, CF10 3NP
Open Tuesday – Sunday, 10am to 5pm. Closed Mondays!
The National Museum Cardiff contains natural history, local history and art galleries. There are paid gallery events, but the majority of the museum is available for free. It’s suitable for strollers and has sections that will attract kids of any age as well as adults. Perfect for a rainy day, with a cafe/restaurant, gift shop, toilet facilities and baby changing rooms as well.
It’s centrally located in the city centre, with ample surrounding parking that’s pay and display.
3. Barry Island Beach – CF62 5TR
It’s about half hour drive from Cardiff but is an incredibly large, sandy beach with walks along the promenade and cliff tops. In the winter, the beach is dog friendly (no dogs in the summer) and even in the brisk wind is still a lovely walk, with far ranging views across Whitmore Bay. Once you’re done with the walk there are a wide range of coffee shops, cafes, fish and chip shops and even fresh doughnuts.
When the kids get bored, they can head into the amusement arcades to spend a few pennies and during the summer you’ll find the Pleasure Park open during the day with carnival rides and party atmosphere.
There is limited free parking dotted about, paid parking at the Pleasure Park is £2 for 2 hours or £5 all day.
4. St Ffagans Museum – CF5 6XB
Open 10am to 5pm daily. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
The Welsh history museum has indoor galleries as well as a large outdoor tour of Welsh life. It’s a lovely place for a walk outside, but the indoor events could provide some entertainment on a rainy day. It’s just had a massive new entry building and galleries finished in 2017, a £30 million redevelopment project funded by the Heritage Lottery and the Welsh Government, so if you haven’t been in a few years – go check out the new stuff, it’s pretty awesome! The new cafe even has access to a play area so very family friendly.
There is also a cafe and restaurant on site, toilets, changing facilities and gift shops and you can take your dog on a lead too, just not in the historic buildings.
There is a large car park which is £5 per day or £25 for unlimited parking for a year – worth it if your family will be heading there more than 5 times. It’s free for disabled badge holders, motorbikes and coaches.
5. Cardiff Bay
I love Cardiff Bay. Whilst it might not be a traditional kids area, it’s a lovely walk. You can walk along the front past all the shops, cafes and restaurants all the way around past the Norwegian Church to the Barrage. At the Barrage there is a large children’s play area where you can sit and let them get rid of all their energy. There are so many places to choose from you’re bound to find somewhere for a snack along the way.
For older children they might find some of the architecture interesting and there are frequently events on in the center such as Cardiff Bay Beach which is on every summer.
The water itself often has visible fish in the shallows, as well as an abundance of ducks, swans, coots and grebes!
This one is a bit of a cheeky add. If you’re a Cardiff Resident you can pay a £5 admin charge to get your “Key to the castle”. It needs to be renewed every three years, but gets you unlimited visits into the Castle completely free! Children under 16 are free anyway, so you just have to get the adults sorted. Great place to walk around and get a bit of medieval history, although you’ll have to pay extra if you want an inside tour. Plenty of toilets, changing facilities and gift shop and right next to Bute Park – combine for a full day out!
7. Cosmeston Lakes Country Park & Medieval Village
Technically speaking this one is outside Cardiff too, since it’s located in Penarth – but it’s a pleasant 15-20 minute drive and well worth it!
Cosmeston Lakes is a set of two lakes that used to be a quarry but is now a wildlife reserve. This is an amazing nature trail with a crazy abundance of wildlife. It also has a children’s playground and a historical medieval village as well as a lovely cafe. There are plenty of facilities and a large free car park.
8. Victoria Park
The park is open from early morning (full light) until sunset.
Victoria Park is located in Canton, not far from the city centre. It’s a dog friendly family park with sports and activities galore. You can walk around the large field, play tennis, basketball, 5 a side football and beach volleyball. There are immaculate flowers and garden paths, a large children’s playground with zip line and a splash park! Good facilities and a snack kiosk complete this beautiful park. It’s my local park, so I wrote about it and took a ton of photos here.
There is always a sign on the gate with closing times. Free parking is available around the outside of the park.