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Set in the heart of the Welsh capital, this 200-year-old castle offers a spectacular day out for all ages. With excellent transport links and amazing stays nearby, this article will make you question why you have not already visited Cardiff Castle.
Is Cardiff Castle Worth Visiting?
Cardiff Castle is open to the public and is absolutely worth visiting! The Castle is easy to get to and jam-packed with things to do, keep reading to find out more.
Getting to Cardiff Castle
Located in the centre of the capital, Cardiff Castle is one of the easiest Welsh castles to get to.
By Car: If you are coming from outside of Cardiff on the M4, take junction 32 and follow the A470 to the city centre. If you are using a sat nav, the Castle’s postcode is CF10 3RB.
By Public Transport:
- Park & Ride: Cardiff has three park & ride sites that can be used to visit Cardiff Castle. These are located in the south, east and west.
- Bus: Cardiff Bus currently operates several routes with stops close to the Castle. For help planning your bus journey visit Traveline Cymru and for a map of the city and the bus routes, click here.
- Train: Cardiff Central and Cardiff Queen Street are both a short walk from the Castle.
- The city centre also has cycleways, a few of which end near the Castle. Click here to see a map of the routes.
History of Cardiff Castle
Cardiff Castle begins its long history in the 1st century AD with the Romans who built the first fort on the site. In the 11th century, the Keep, which still stands in the centre of the site today, was constructed by the Normans. In the 15th century, the Welsh Lords of Glamorgan began working on the site.
Then in the 19th century, the site came into the possession of the Brute family who left their mark, not only on the Castle but on the entire city. They were responsible for transforming the House into the Victorian Gothic structure we see today.
During World War II the castle walls were used as air-raid shelters and housed thousands of Cardiff residents in need of shelter. A reconstruction of this arrangement is open in the Castle today1 (source: Cardiff Castle).
Visiting Cardiff Castle
Cardiff Castle is a paid attraction, although most people don’t realise that it’s completely free to access the Castle’s outer green which is also known as the Public Square. Below are the prices for the rest of the castle:
|Child (aged 5-16, accompanied by an adult)||£10.00|
|Senior/Student/Disabled (single carer free with a disabled ticket)||£12.00|
|Adult Family Ticket (2 adults, 2 children)||£39.00|
|Senior Family Ticket (2 seniors, 2 children)||£35.00|
(Guided tours are also available for an additional fee)
Do You Need to Book to Visit Cardiff Castle?
No, you do not need to book to visit Cardiff Castle, you can buy your tickets at the entrance. However, it is advisable that you book in advance, especially at peak times or if you are travelling a long way.
Is Cardiff Castle Free for Residents?
Yes, Cardiff Castle is free for residents if you currently live or work in Cardiff. You are entitled to a Key to the Castle which gives you free admission to the Castle for 3 years.
Is Cardiff Castle Free for National Trust Members?
No, Cardiff Castle is not free for National Trust Members.
Cardiff Castle is open 7 days per week, all year round, including bank holidays. The exceptions are 25th December, 26th December and 1st January. There also may be days when special events are held at the Castle and admission is only open to event ticket holders. In order to be certain before your visit, check here.
|Summer Time (Mar-Oct)||Mon-Fri||Sat-Sun*|
|Opening Time||10:00-18:00 (last entry 16:00)||9:00-18:00 (last entry 17:00)|
* every day during school holidays and on bank holidays
|Winter Time (Nov-Feb)||Mon-Fri||Sat-Sun*|
|Opening Time||10:00-16:00 (last entry 15:00)||9:00-17:00 (last entry 16:00)|
Although most of Cardiff Castle has good accessibility for wheelchairs, mobility scooters and pushchairs, the Castle Apartments and the Norman Keep are not accessible.
The Visitor Centre, Firing Line museum, cafe and shop are all accessible to wheelchairs and there are disabled toilets on the first floor. The grounds of the Castle are flat and grass and there is a cobblestone path just over the drawbridge at the Castle entrance which runs the length of the site.
The Education Centre and 15th century Undercroft are also accessible to wheelchairs and pushchairs.
Assistance dogs are allowed on site.
Guided Tours at Cardiff Castle
Guided tours are available at the Castle for an additional fee. House tours are available every day, on the hour and Clock Tower tours are available on weekends and bank holidays during the summer season.
Whilst the tour option is an optional extra, it provides a unique experience of the House and the Clock Tower with stories about the Castle’s history that you wouldn’t otherwise get to hear. It’s definitely worthwhile to get a tour.
|Child (ages 5-16, must be with an adult)||£3.00||£3.00|
|Senior/Student/Disabled (single carer free with a disabled ticket)||£3.50||£3.50|
|Adult Family Ticket (2 adults, 2 children)||£11.00||£11.00|
|Senior Family Ticket (2 seniors, 2 children)||£10.00||£10.00|
Things To Do at Cardiff Castle
Here are some of the best things to do during your visit to Cardiff Castle:
1. Visit the Norman Keep
If you’re feeling brave you could conquer the stone steps up to the Norman Keep. Built by Robert Consul, Earl of Gloucester in the 12th century in order to replace the timber defences put in place by Robert Fitzhamon, Norman Lord of Glamorgan the structure still stands to this day.
Its walls have seen an impressive history. For example, the Keep was once the prison of Duke Robert of Normandy, the eldest son of William the Conqueror. Robert was held in the Keep for eight years, until his death in 11342 (source: Cardiff Castle).
2. Visit the Castle Apartments
You could quite literally take a walk through history and visit the Castle apartments. This section of the Castle housed the residential buildings where the Castle’s various owners have lived. The oldest section of this part of the Castle dates to the 1500s.
In the 1800s this section of the Castle was renovated by the 3rd Marquee of Bute who, alongside the art-architect, William Burges, redesigned the interior in order to mimic a medieval palace3 (source: Cardiff Castle).
3. Visit the Firing Line Museum
Cardiff Castle also holds the Museum of The Queen’s Dragoon Guards and The Royal Welsh. This exhibition commemorates over 300 years of military history, from the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 as well as the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
4. See the Roman Walls
Until 1888 the Castle’s Roman past had remained hidden for nearly 900 years. It was only discovered in the 19th century when the 3rd Marquess of Bute made the decision to construct a new tower and his builders accidentally discovered the remains of the Roman fort.
Since this, archaeological excavations have indicated that there were four forts, each of different sizes, on the site where the Castle now stands. The remains of the Roman Wall can be seen preserved in the Vistors Centre5 (source: Cardiff Castle).
Facts About Cardiff Castle
- A fortification of some kind was first built on the site by the Romans. This was probably around the 50s AD.
- The castle has been used in a number of films and TV shows. This includes Doctor Who, Torchwood, Sherlock and The Sarah Jane Adventures.
- During the Norman period, the toilets at Cardiff Castle would have hung over the Castle walls. Any waste would have ended up in the moat so you wouldn’t want to swim there.
- At 40m tall, the castle’s clock tower was the largest structure in Cardiff during Victorian times6 (source: Wales Online). It was built and made by the same man, Edward Dent, who made the clock in Big Ben.
- The Castle also acts as a music venue. Famous artists including Green Day and Tom Jones have performed there.
- The original Normal Castle was a motte and bailey castle.
Where To Stay When Visiting Cardiff Castle
Because of its convenient location in the heart of the Welsh capital, there are a number of places to stay if you plan on visiting Cardiff Castle.
- Inn Cardiff – located in the heart of Cardiff, these units come with a kitchenette and provide a more independent option than a hotel.
- Hotel Indigo – another excellent central option, Hotel Indigo offers a selection of rooms with private bathrooms and air-con.
- The Riverhouse – this boutique-style bed and breakfast offers a budget option. This eco-friendly B and B offers both self-catering and continental breakfasts.
Is Cardiff Castle dog-friendly?
No, Cardiff Castle is not dog friendly, although assistance dogs are permitted.
Can You Get Married in Cardiff Castle?
Yes, you can get married in Cardiff Castle
Is Cardiff Castle a CADW Site?
No Cardiff Castle is not a CADW site, it is owned and run by Cardiff City Council.
How Far is Cardiff Castle from the Train Station?
The Castle is a 15-minute drive or an 11-minute walk from the train station.
How Long Does it Take to Visit Cardiff Castle?
It takes roughly an hour and a half to visit the Castle.
Cardiff Castle or Caerphilly Castle – Which is Better to Visit?
Caerphilly Castle is my favourite castle to visit as it’s the second-largest castle in Britain. However, Cardiff Castle is better preserved and sits in the middle of the capital city which makes it unique. In any case, they are just 8 miles (13km) apart so you could visit both in the same trip if you really love castles.
Is There a Cafe at Cardiff Castle?
Yes, Cardiff Castle has a cafe located in the Castle’s Public Square.
Molly is Wales Guidebook's expert on castles. She has a master's degree in history and studied at Swansea University where she learnt about Welsh history and it's many castles. Molly loves to get out and explore historical buildings in person, with Oystermouth, Cardiff, and Caerphilly Castles among her favourites. When not geeking out on castles, Molly likes to spend her time reading, exploring the countryside or in the gym.