9 Best Day Trips from Cardiff

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Written by our web team

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10 min read | 9 January 2024

Cardiff is the capital city of Wales and is the country’s most populated city. While many visitors take day trips to Cardiff from London, the city is also an excellent departure point for day trips across the UK.

Many day trips from Cardiff have a travel time of only two hours or less, meaning you can travel there and back on the same day.

Read on for nine of the best locations for day trips from Cardiff by train.

Travelling from Cardiff

A view of City Hall of Cardiff with blue skies, green trees and clock tower

Cardiff is an ideal starting point for travelling to many historical and cultural attractions across the UK. As well as a short travel time, there are plenty of options whether travelling as a family, a couple, a group of friends, or as a solo traveller.

Day trip destinations from Cardiff range from seaside resorts to bustling cities. For city lovers, day trips from Cardiff include locations as varied as Birmingham, Bristol, and Bath. You can also reach some of the UK’s best nature spots, including Brecon Beacons, as well as a range of historic houses.

Places to visit near Cardiff

A view of Caerphilly Castle in Caerphilly

If you’re short on time, there are several places to visit near Cardiff where a round trip is less than an hour by train. This includes Newport (12 minutes one way), Caerphilly (20 minutes one way), and Barry (23 minutes one way).

1. Newport

Only a 12-minute train journey away, Newport is one of the nearest day trips from Cardiff you can take. The city is one of Wales’ oldest and has many attractions for history and culture enthusiasts.

Newport Castle lies in the middle of the bustling city centre. The original purpose of this 14th-century structure was to manage crossings from the River Usk.

Elsewhere in the city, visitors can experience the Newport Museum and Art Gallery. The museum holds art and artefacts from thousands of years of Newport’s history.

Wales was once one of the furthest corners of the Roman Empire. From Newport, head to the nearby town of Caerleon to visit the Caerleon Roman Fortress and Baths. The site was once a bustling ancient fortress. Remains of its bathhouse, amphitheatre, and barracks are still visible today.

2. Caerphilly

Caerphilly is one of the best day trips from Cardiff by train for nature lovers. The town is only 20 minutes from Cardiff by train and has a lot to offer for lovers of the great outdoors.

Hike up to the top of Caerphilly Mountain for stunning views of Caerphilly and the beautiful Welsh countryside.

In the town centre, you’ll find Caerphilly Castle, a restored Medieval fortress resting in the centre of a lake and former hunting ground.

3. Barry

Barry is an ideal location for families looking for places to visit near Cardiff. The seaside town combines the feel of a holiday resort with a town full of history.

Visitors can enjoy the golden sands of Whitmore Bay from one of its multi-coloured beach huts. They can also cross the docks to Barry Island’s Funfair, which is ideal for kids.

For history fans, there’s the Barry War Museum, which showcases the wartime history of the area. All of these attractions are only 25 minutes from Cardiff by train.

Places to visit within one hour of Cardiff

A view of the Bristol pier with blue skies, green trees and colourful buildings along the water

Cardiff is only an hour by train away from a variety of West Coast attractions. These include Bristol (45 minutes one way), Swansea (50 minutes one way), and Merthyr Tydfil (65 minutes one way).

4. Bristol

Bristol is one of the best day trips from Cardiff for anyone looking for a day of culture, shopping or dining. The city is only 45 minutes by train from Cardiff. Some of Bristol’s main attractions include:

  • Bristol Harbour: Bristol’s harbourside is a heaven for foodies. A collection of eateries and bars surround this waterside location. Many restaurants feature picturesque views of the harbour. This makes them an ideal location for a special dinner or a romantic place to visit for couples.
  • Clifton Suspension Bridge: Isambard Kingdom Brunel designed this Bristol landmark, which opened in 1864. It connects Bristol to Leigh Woods in Somerset and offers striking views of the River Avon.
  • Bristol Museum and Art Gallery: This gallery holds artefacts from the prehistoric and ancient world, as well as artworks from across history.
  • Bristol Street Art Tour: Take a walking tour through Bristol’s street art collections, including works from Bristol’s own Banksy.

5. Swansea

Swansea is a great location for anyone looking for day trips from Cardiff with less than an hour's travel time. Clocking in at around 50 minutes by train, it has many attractions, especially for art and history fans. These include:

  • National Waterfront Museum: This museum tells the history of Wales over the last 300 years through 15 interactive exhibits.
  • Swansea Museum: This museum is the oldest in Wales. It houses Ancient Egyptian artefacts, as well as objects from nautical and transport history.
  • Glynn Vivian Museum: This Edwardian Gallery hosts a wide range of modern and contemporary art.
  • Mumbles: A seaside town located on Swansea Bay. This charming location has many shops and restaurants along the seafront.

6. Merthyr Tydfil

Merthyr Tydfil is a great place to visit near Cardiff for nature lovers. It takes around 65 minutes on the train to get there, and its main attractions include:

  • Brecon Beacons: This national park features beautiful scenery and mountain ranges.
  • Bike Park Wales: This mountain biking park is in the scenic Welsh countryside, complete with striking views of stunning natural beauty.
  • Parkwood Outdoors Dolygaer: This adventure park offers canoeing, hiking, paddle boarding, and other outdoor activities

Day trips from Cardiff by train

The steps of Birmingham’s Victoria Square, complete with views of the Birmingham high streets.

If you’ve got a little more time to travel, there are even more day trips from Cardiff to enjoy. These include Birmingham (approximately two hours one way), Shrewsbury (approximately two hours one way), and Bath (70 minutes one way).

You might sit a little longer on the train, but it gives you time to relax and enjoy the views.

7. Birmingham

Birmingham may seem far away, but it’s only two hours away from Cardiff by train. As the UK’s second-largest city, it has a huge variety of activities, with a range of interactive museums that can make it ideal for kids.

  • Cadbury World: See how professionals make chocolate and try some sweet treats at this chocolate museum.
  • National Sea Life Centre: This aquarium has over 60 displays of marine life, including turtles, sharks and penguins.
  • Barber Institute of Fine Arts: This gallery and concert hall is a must-see for arts and culture lovers. The Galleries are currently closed for essential building improvement work. They will reopen on 22 June 2024.
  • ThinkTank Science Museum: Learn more about space, dinosaurs, and technology at this science museum.

8. Shrewsbury

This historic town has over 660 listed buildings and is the birthplace of Charles Darwin. It’s two hours away by train, making it an ideal location for a day trip from Cardiff. The attractions here include:

  • Attingham Park: A National Trust Regency mansion and park open to the public.
  • The Quarry: This 29-acre park boasts stunning views of the River Severn.
  • Shrewsbury Castle: This is a Redstone castle with over a thousand years of history. It has a museum of historic artefacts in its former great hall.

9. Bath

Bath is one of the best day trips from Cardiff for history fans. The city has a rich literary history and surviving architecture from the Roman Empire.

Its travel time from Cardiff by train is around one hour and ten minutes. The best places to check out while there include:

  • The Roman Baths: Visitors can see one of the best-preserved Roman baths in the world here. The baths are naturally heated by thermal spring water.
  • The Jane Austen Centre: This centre celebrates the famous English writer and her works. Guests can step back in time to explore Jane Austen’s time spent in Bath, writing some of her most famous literary works.
  • Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein: The place draws its inspiration from Mary Shelley’s famous novel. Visitors can experience a Frankenstein Escape Room and explore a museum of gruesome artefacts.

Travel by train with Avanti

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You can take a day trip from Cardiff to the UK’s many wonderful attractions with Avanti. Explore the best day trips from Cardiff by train using our journey planner. And if you plan on travelling regularly, check your availability for a Railcard to save money.

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