15 places in and around Cardiff you can explore with Cardiff Bus – and all are free to visit

15 places in and around Cardiff you can explore with Cardiff Bus – and all are free to visit

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Like a lot of children, my three love a bus journey. It’s an adventure in itself and a fun and integral part of many a day out – buying the tickets, choosing where to sit (always the back of the bus for my kids), pressing the little bell to signal to the driver you need to get off at the next stop, if you live in Cardiff the obligatory ‘Cheers Drive’ as you step off the bus. They find it great fun. It also makes life easier and cheaper for me as a parent too, with no worries about the rising cost of petrol, struggling to find a place to park or having to pay a small fortune on parking. Plus public transport is better for the environment too, reducing harmful emissions and lessening congestion on the roads. 

Cardiff Bus

Cardiff Bus makes it easy and affordable for families to travel around the city at weekends and during local school holidays. Just £5.50 will get you a ticket for up to five people (maximum of two adults and must include at least one child) that you can use all day for as many journeys as you like around Cardiff and Penarth. Or for £8 you can head to Barry Island for a seaside adventure.

And, super exciting news, from the end of July the family ticket will give you access to Cardiff’s new open top bus service, which travels from Kingsway and St Mary Street in the city centre and visits Cardiff Bay and Penarth Pier – a great and cost-effective way to travel around the city and to see its famous landmarks from a different perspective.

The Cardiff Bus app makes travelling by bus really simple too. You can buy your tickets in advance of your journey, check routes and timetables, as well as getting real time updates on your bus’s arrival. You can, of course, still pay with cash or contactless card, but we’ve found the app really easy to manage (my 12 year old uses it most days to get to and from school). 

We are lucky in Cardiff to have so many fantastic places to visit which are easily accessible by bus. I’ve rounded up 15 great places you can visit with Cardiff Bus this summer, and they are all free. 

Do let me know any more of your favourite places to visit by bus in the comments below, on the Cardiff Mummy Says Facebook page, the Cardiff Mummy Says Instagram feed, or by following Cardiff Mummy Says on Twitter.

We recently spent the weekend exploring our city with Cardiff Bus, taking in some of our favourite free attractions. Do check out the Cardiff Mummy Says Instagram Reel and Stories highlights and Reel to see videos of where we went and how we got on. 

Visit the Cardiff Bus website here. Plus don’t forget to follow Cardiff Bus on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Cardiff Bus

15 places in and around Cardiff you can explore with Cardiff Bus – and all are free to visit

National Museum Cardiff

There are buses to the city centre from all across Cardiff. See the website or app for ones from your area.

WIldlife Photographer of the Year National Museum Cardiff 1

One of our favourite places in the city centre, National Museum Cardiff is great for all ages, and entry is free. You’ll find meteorites, fossils and the famous dinosaur skeletons in the Evolution of Wales gallery, a humpback whale skeleton alongside hundreds of other creatures in the natural history area. The museum is also home to one of Europe’s finest art collections with paintings, drawings, sculpture, silver and ceramics from artists including Wales’s Augustus and Gwen John and Sir Kyffin Williams; plus some of the world’s most famous painters including Monet, Van Goch, and Renoir.

Over the summer, you can check out the stunning and powerful Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition (£10 for adults children free), while the Museum also hosts family-friendly workshops during school holidays, check out the website for details. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am-5pm, but closed on Mondays.

Visit the National Museum Cardiff website.

Museum of Cardiff

The Old Library, The Hayes, Cardiff, CF10 1BH

There are buses to the city centre from all across Cardiff. See the website or app for ones from your area.

Museum of Cardiff

Formerly the Cardiff Story, everyone who lives in Cardiff should visit this fascinating place, which is free to visit, at least once. Through hands-on exhibits and interactive displays, it tells the history of our city through the eyes of its people. It’s great for children, with buttons to press, drawers to open and even period-style dressing up costumes and a play area with a wooden trail and kitchen.  

Wednesdays during the summer holidays (from 27 July to 31 August) will see craft sessions for children from 10am-3pm, costing £1 per child. The second Friday of each month – including Friday 12 August – is Dinky Dragons, a dedicated session for babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers. Drop in from 10am-3pm for soft play and messy play, with Rhyme Time and Story time at 11am and 1pm.

Visit the Museum of Cardiff website.

Cardiff Castle

There are buses to the city centre from all across Cardiff. See the website or app for ones from your area.

Cardiff Castle

One of my favourite things about Cardiff is that we have a castle right in the middle of the city centre – just yards from all the shops, restaurants and pubs we have this amazing piece of history, and its grounds are currently free to visit for all (also giving you access to the café and gift shop). What’s more, if you live or work in Cardiff you can sign up for a Castle Key. For a one-off admin charge of £7 for adults (free for children under 16) you can visit the castle for free for three years. This includes the Norman Keep, the ornate Castle Apartments, the Firing Line Museum, the wartime shelters hidden within the castle walls, the battlement walk, the Roman walls, and more. It’s an absolutely fascinating place to visit, with so much history in one place.

Visit the Cardiff Castle website.

Bute Park

There are buses to the city centre from all across Cardiff. See the website or app for ones from your area.

Bute Park Cardiff giant picture frame

As if having a castle in the middle of the city centre isn’t brilliant enough, Cardiff centre is also home to Bute Park, a 130 acre beauty spot with grassland, wooded areas and the River Taff running alongside it. There are paths for scooting and cycling along, plenty of wildlife to spot, trees to climb, wooden carvings to admire, as well as two cafes (we especially like the Secret Garden Café and all the unusual trees nearby which are great for climbing on and in). Look out for the wooden obstacle course, giant picture frame, the remains of Blackfriars Abbey, Pumba the warthog, the wobbly bridge, plus rare trees and stunning floral displays. 

Read more about some of our favourite things at Bute Park here. 

Visit the Bute Park website.

Mermaid Quay and Cardiff Bay Barrage

The Baycar leaves the city centre every 15 minutes, from St Mary Street to Cardiff Bay, plus there are other route from other parts of the city that also head directly to Cardiff Bay.

Alight the bus outside Wales Millennium Centre and walk around the beautiful Glanfa foyer of Wales’ flagship arts venue. Keep an eye on the website for details of free family craft activities during school holidays, or treat your family to a show (Disney’s The Lion King is on this summer).

Roald Dahl Plass, outside Wales Millennium Centre, is home to the Cardiff Bay Family Fun Park this summer. Open from Friday 15 July until Sunday 4 September, expect rides, games and other funfair amusements. 

You’re also spoiled for choice with restaurants and cafes both in Mermaid Quay and at the Red Dragon Centre, where you can also catch the latest summer blockbusters or Hollywood Bowl.

The Senedd – the home of Welsh politics – is open over the summer holidays too, with free entry, craft and animation activities, guides tours and exhibitions. See senedd.wales/visit for information. 

From here, it’s a short walk to Cardiff Bay Barrage, passing the beautiful Norwegian Church. There’s plenty to do along the barrage including a large playground, skate park, a life-sized Enormous Crocodile you can sit on and take a selfie with, outdoor gym equipment, plus you can also download the Tiger Bay Trails app and search for virtual animals including a tiger near the skate park. 

Over the summer, you can also visit Aquapark Cardiff, an inflatable obstacle course in the waters of the Bay open daily from 8 July until 31 August and weekends only from 5 to 18 September (from £20 per person).

Read more about our favourite things to do on Cardiff Bay Barrage here,

Roath Lake 

Routes 28, 28A and 28B from the city centre

A real beauty spot in the north of the city, walk around the lake and see the famous Scott Memorial Lighthouse (built in 1914-15 to commemorate Captain Scott’s ill-fated voyage to the Antarctic from Cardiff in 1910), whizz down the famous big slide and scale the spider’s web climbing frame in the playground, explore the pleasure gardens, visit the conservatory (adults £2.10, children £1.05) where you can see terrapins, fish, whistling ducks and exotic plants and trees. Terra Nova café serves drinks, snacks and meals (their pizzas are really good!) or buy an ice cream from the ice cream van or shop. 

View our Instagram Reel of seven things not to miss when you visit to Roath Lake here.

Insole Court 

Fairwater Road, Llandaff, Cardiff, CF5 2LN

Buses 25, 62, 63 and 66 all stop a couple of minutes’ walk away from Insole Court (see the website for directions from the bus stops)

Insole Court Llandaff Cardiff

The grounds of Insole Court are great to explore all year round, but its especially lovely in the summer with the ornate gardens perfect for a picnic and a relaxing afternoon in the sun. The site reopened in 2016 following a huge restoration and renewal spearheaded by local community campaigners. As well as the beautiful grounds, look out for community fun days, film screenings, concerts and so on. There’s a café onsite, plus This House Is A Stage, an immersive experience of around 40 minutes which allows visitors to explore parts of the first floor of the house for the first time since the 1970s. The experiential walk-through audio drama brings local history to life in the form of a dramatic rendition of the rise and the fall of the Insole Family. Adults £5, children under 16 £2.50.

This summer also sees a theatre production of Alice Through The Looking Glass and Into Wonderland, from Wednesday 3-Sunday 7 August, an immersive walkaround production which sees audiences moving around the park from scene to scene. 

Visit the Insole Court website.

Victoria Park splash pad and playground

Victoria Park Rd E, Cardiff CF5 1EH

Routes 1, 2, 13, 15, 17, 18, 61, 64, 96, 96A  

Victoria Park Splashpad Cardiff

With its splash pad and huge playground, Victoria Park is one of the most popular parks in Cardiff – and easy to get to by bus. The splash pad features 33 water features for children of all ages to enjoy including sprays, jets and a tipping bucket, while the playground has a range of equipment for younger and older children. 

There’s also plenty of space for picnics and playing around, a beautiful cast iron bandstand, a statue of Billy the Seal (the park’s most famous past resident), plus a kiosk serving ice creams, drinks, chips and more. 

During the summer holidays and at weekends the splash pad is open from 10am-7pm (12pm-7pm on weekdays in term time). Wednesdays during school holidays, it’s open from 11am-7pm with 10am-11am a dedicated relaxed session for children with additional needs. The splash pad will be closed from Sunday 4 September. More information on Victoria Park here. 

Read more about visiting Victoria Park here.

 Parc Cefn Onn

Lisvane, Cardiff CF14 0EP

Routes 27, 28, 28A and 28B all stop a few minutes’ walk away from Cefn Onn’s entrance

Cefn Onn Country Park

Nestled on the edge of Thornhill and Lisvane, Parc Cefn Onn is a Grade 2 listed country park which is beautiful to explore at any time of the year due to its many varied trees and plant species. Originally designed around 100 years ago in a valley around the Nant Fawr stream, the country park contains an impressive collection of native and exotic trees, a pond and streams, winding paths, an abandoned summer house and plenty to explore. You can also follow the children’s explorer trail around the park, looking out for the special sign posts with pictures of the various wildlife and tree/plant species found at the park. 

See our visit to Cefn Onn on this Instagram Reel.

Llandaff Fields, Pontcanna

Pontcanna, Cardiff, CF11 9HZ

Bus routes 24, 62 and 63

Llandaff Fields Cardiff

Acres of grassy fields, a newly refurbished large playground with separate areas for younger and older children, and woods to explore, Llandaff Fields is perfect for family day trips or meeting up with friends and family. The long pathways around the edge of the park are great for cycling or scooting along. Café Castan provides drinks and hot/cold food including pizzas, and has toilet facilities available. 

Read more about Llandaff Fields here.

St Fagans National Museum of History

St Fagans, Cardiff, CF5 6XB

The number 32 service launches on Monday 1 August 2022, running from the city centre to St Fagans via Canton and Fairwater. 

Gwalia Stores St Fagans

St Fagans National Museum of History is an open air museum which really brings Welsh history to life. The beautiful grounds are home to more than 50 buildings including farm houses, miners’ cottages, shops, a chapel, a mill and a school, the majority of which have been carefully deconstructed from their original locations across Wales and then reconstructed on the museum’s site and furnished as they would have been during their heyday. Being able to walk around the buildings and see how things would have looked instantly conjures up what life was like in years gone by. More recent additions include the Iron Age round houses, Llys Llewelyn, a medieval prince’s court based on archaeological excavations of from Llys Rhosyr on Anglesey, and three indoor galleries exploring what life has been like for people in Wales over the centuries. There’s plenty of space for picnics, a traditional bakery selling fresh bread and other products, plus a large cafeteria. The museum is also home to Coed Lan high ropes, priced £15 per person. 

Visit the St Fagans National Museum of History website.

Quarry Dale Park, Rumney

Tredelerch Road, Rumney

Bus routes 30,  45, 49, 50

Rumney Hill Gardens Cardiff

The huge slide is one of the highlights of the children’s playground at this lovely park. You’ll also find climbing frames and other equipment, as well as plenty of space for picnics and playing. Nearby is Rumney Hill Gardens, which you can use as a starting point to walk along the Rhymney Trail, a newly-established pathway which follows the river northwards from the coast. Also nearby is Parc Tredelerch and its beautiful lake.

Read more about Rumney Hill Gardens here and Quarry

.

Barry Island 

Whitmore Bay, Barry Island, CF62 5TJ

Route 95 from Wood Street

Barry Island

Route 95 will take you from Wood Street in the centre of Cardiff to Barry Island in around an hour. You’ll need the Family Day to Go Plus ticket if you’re travelling between Cardiff and Barry ticketcosting £8 for a family of up to five (maximum two adults with at least one child)

Cardiff Bus can take you directly to the colourful seaside resort of Barry Island. Build a sandcastle at Whitmore Bay, paddle in the sea, scale the climbing wall which spells out Barry Island and the Welsh Ynys Y Barri, plus count the brightly coloured beach huts. Bring a picnic or dine at one of the many seaside café, chip shops and ice cream shops. Plus there’s also the fairground and several games arcades. 

Penarth Pier

The Esplanade, Penarth, CF64 3AU

Route 99 heads from Wyndham Arcade to Penarth Pier via Cardiff Bay, taking around half an hour. Buses 92, 93 and 94 all travel from Cardiff to Penarth centre. 

Penarth Pier

Penarth is a lovely spot for a summer visit. You can walk along the Victorian era pier, overlooking the Severn Estuary and maybe even grab a cuppa or bag of chips from the kiosk. You can also walk along the pebble beach and, if you’re feeling energetic, up the hill to the Cliff Top Park where there’s a playground suitable for children of all ages. 

The beautiful art-deco styled Penarth Pier Pavilion hosts cinema, art, theatre and other events throughout the year. 

See our Instagram Reel of our recent visit to Penarth Pier here.

Cosmeston Lakes Country Park and Medieval Village

Lavernock Rd, Penarth CF64 5UY

Route 94, from Wood Street in Cardiff city centre, stopping outside Cosmeston Lakes, will take around 40 minutes.

Cosmeston Lakes Country Park

We love Cosmeston for a family day out, it’s such a beautiful and spacious place with plenty to do for all ages. The lake here used to be a limestone quarry, now it’s the centre point for a 247-acre local nature reserve of woodlands and fields. There’s a fantastic newly-refurbished playground area, wooden boardwalks through the reeds and marshland where you can spot all kinds of birds and wildlife, and woodlands to explore. 

The reconstructed medieval village is also free to visit. Based on the real medieval village discovered during the development of Cosmeston in 1978, it depicts what life was like in Cosmeston in the year 1350.

During local school holidays, Cosmeston hosts nature-themed activities, prebookable in advance, some free, some ticketed. See the website for details.

 Read our review of Cosmeston Lakes and Medieval Village here.

Author: Jeffrey Johnson