A city steeped in history and character, Cardiff is the perfect place to visit at any time of the year. However, Autumn in Cardiff is something truly special. From leafy Autumn walks, to cosy places to grab a hearty meal or a warming hot chocolate, really make the most of this beautiful season in our wonderful city.
Whether you’re looking for family activities, date night ideas or places to catch up with friends, we’ve put together a handy guide to all the best things to do during an Autumn in Cardiff.
Enjoy a Visit to Cardiff Castle
Cardiff Castle is the ideal place to visit on a rainy day, or if the sun is shining. Proudly overlooking the centre, this historic castle is set among an impressive strip of greenery in the heart of Cardiff. One of the city’s leading heritage attractions and the site of international significance, the castle’s walls and fairy tale towers conceal over 2,000 years of fascinating history.
Cardiff Castle began life as a Roman fort, probably established at the end of the 50’s AD, on a strategic site that afforded easy access to the sea. After the Norman conquest, the castle’s keep was built, reusing the site of the Roman fort and throughout the years medieval fortifications and dwellings were built. The Castle passed through the hands of many noble families until in 1766, it passed by marriage to the Bute family. The 2nd Marquess of Bute was responsible for turning Cardiff into the world’s greatest coal exporting port. The Castle and Bute fortune passed to his son John, the 3rd Marquess of Bute, who by the 1860s was reputed to be the richest man in the world.
From 1866, the 3rd Marquess employed the architect William Burges to transform the Castle lodgings. Within Gothic towers he created lavish and opulent interiors, rich with murals, stained glass, marble, gilding and elaborate wood carvings which can still be seen today. After the 3rd Marquess’ death, the 4th completed many of his father’s renovation projects including the reconstruction of the Roman wall. The Bute family continued to stay at the Castle throughout the 1920s and 1930s, however following the death of the 4th Marquess of Bute, the family decided to give the Castle and much of its parkland to the city of Cardiff. For 25 years, the Castle was home to the National College of Music and Drama and since 1974 has become one of Wales’ most popular visitor attractions.
Today, the Castle is a wonderful place to visit for all the family, you can enjoy re-enactments of the stories and tales associated with the castle and its rich history, as well as modern events such as outdoor cinemas and festivals.
Explore Cardiff on an Autumn Walk
You can’t fully enjoy this wonderful season without exploring the great outdoors and embarking on an Autumn Walk. Cardiff is home to a huge number of beautiful parks, woodland and a glorious bay that are all perfect for exploring on a crisp day. You can choose from Roath Park, which is set in the centre of the busy capital and offers visitors lots of history and horticultural interest. There is also the ever popular Victoria Park, named in honour of Queen Victoria, it clings onto its old-school appeal and never neglects its unwritten responsibility to morph gracefully into each new season.
However, if you’d prefer to really see the best of Autumn in Cardiff you must visit Bute Park. One of the UK’s largest and most beautiful parks, it is described as the ‘green heart’ of Cardiff. It offers walkers a broad mix of historical landscape, urban woodland, sports pitches, an arboretum, horticultural features and a river corridor, making it ideal for an Autumn walk.
If you’d prefer a watery backdrop to your Autumn walk, head to Cardiff Bay and explore what was the old Cardiff docklands. This fascinating slice of history has recently been redeveloped in the last decade to create Cardiff Bay, home to a large freshwater lake for sailing and water sports, the history and iconic Exchange Hotel, Mermaid Quay – a restaurant hotspot with everything from Italian to Turkish cuisine and the home for Welsh National Opera – the Wales Millennium Centre.
Get Cosy in a Pub
An Autumn in Cardiff calls for a visit to the city’s many cosy pubs. But with so many to choose from in and around the city, it’s hard to narrow it down to just a few. We couldn’t talk about the best cosy pubs in Cardiff without mentioning the Cathays area. One of the most student saturated suburbs in the UK, it certainly knows what it’s doing when drinks are in the equation. The Flora’s recent revamp breaks the myth that all good Cardiff cocktail venues belong in the city centre and doesn’t break the bank.
Further afield you can find The Four Elms, a local’s favourite that was recently added to Camra’s good beer guide because of its focus on smaller brewers. But, if you’re looking for a cosy pub that also offers an amazing view, head to Ty Mawr, which translates as ‘big house’. This wonderful pub in Lisvane offers dramatic views of the Cardiff scenery and is perfect for enjoying a pint or two.
Tuck into a Sunday Roast
There really is nothing better than settling down to one of the most delicious Sunday Roasts with your loved ones and Autumn is the perfect time of year to enjoy it. From the perfectly cooked roast potatoes, to the rich gravy and homemade Yorkshire puddings, everyone has their favourites from this ritualistic tradition.
The best place in Cardiff to enjoy a Sunday Roast, is of course, The Exchange Hotel on Cardiff Bay. Set within the former Coal Exchange building, this restaurant offers diners a breathtaking experience that transports you back to a time when Cardiff’s coal trade was booming. Using only the finest ingredients from local and regional suppliers, the Exchange Hotel offer a range of delicious Sunday lunch options. Enjoy Roast Sirloin of Welsh Beef, served with Yorkshire pudding and horseradish sauce, or Local Roast Pork Loin with Liam’s crackling, apple and cider sauce. Each of these yummy dishes are served with seasonal vegetables, duck fat roast potatoes and lashings of homemade gravy.
For vegetarians, we offer a delicious Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil Tortellini served with pesto, bocconcini, rocket and chilli. There is also a selection of starters and hearty puddings, so you can really make the most of your Sunday Lunch. Perfect for relaxing with friends and family during an Autumn in Cardiff, tuck into a delicious meal surrounded by historic surroundings of our fascinating Welsh heritage.
Visit the Theatre or Opera
If you’re on the hunt for some culture this Autumn in Cardiff, why not visit the Theatre and enjoy a stage performance or an opera? From magnificent adaptations of War and Peace, to family favourites like Wicked and Stick Man, the city offers an amazing range of productions that are sure to keep you entertained.
Huge names like Ivor Novello, Anthony Hopkins and Iwan Rheon all come from Wales, showing that our country is by no means short of theatrical talent. It makes sense, then, that there are lots of places to watch live drama, stage shows and performances in Cardiff. You can choose to watch a show at the stunning Wales Millennium Centre, or the traditional New Theatre and the modern Chapter Arts Centre. What could be better than spending a cosy Autumn in Cardiff at the theatre?
Take Part in the Half Marathon
Blow away the cobwebs this Autumn and enter the Cardiff Half Marathon. Taking place every October, this famous race sees over 25,000 registered runners take on the distance, travelling through the centre of the Welsh capital. The course is predominantly flat, making it ideal for first time runners and professionals alike. Over the course, you will pass stunning landmarks such as Cardiff Castle, the modern waterfront of Cardiff Bay and the greenery of Bute Park., which all look magnificent in Autumn.
Over the years, this race has grown considerably and now attracts both UK and international runners. It is known as one of the top events in the Autumn running calendar and a wonderful thing to do for all ages over this glorious season. Previous participants in Cardiff races include Paralympics champion Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson and inspirational adventurer Sir Ranulph Fiennes. See what famous faces you can spot during your run!
Indulge in a Yummy Hot Drink
With a notable number of independent caterers, there’s no shortage of ways to warm up an Autumn afternoon. Head in to the city centre and check out 200 Degrees Coffee for the perfect Autumn warmer. They serve everything from the traditional Macchiato, Cappuccino or Hot Chocolate, to the Matcha Latte and Cortado.
They even serve delicious homemade cakes, like the Spiced Apple Crumble Cake with a salted honey caramel drizzle, the perfect combination for a cosy Autumn in Cardiff. Whilst you’re there, you can even book a class and train to be a Barista!
If you’re looking for somewhere a little more traditional, head towards Pettigrew Tea rooms and enjoy the endlessly pretty interior and the marvellous menu of warm drinks and cakes. Perfectly positioned by Cardiff Castle and Bute Park, Pettigrews offers a huge selection of loose leaf teas, coffees and the traditional Welsh Steamer.
Explore the Victorian Shopping Arcades
An Autumn in Cardiff is the perfect opportunity to enjoy some well deserved retail therapy. Cardiff offers something a little different from the normal shopping centres and high streets of other city centres. This fabulous city is home to a number of Victorian arcades that have been attracting shoppers for over a century, featuring an eclectic mix of independent businesses.
The trail of Arcades meanders through the city, enveloping charm and individuality while catering for every interest and looking beautifully vintage all at the same time. Get lost in the fascinating Troutmark Books, explore the oldest record shop in the world Spiller Records, delve into the wonders of fashion in Pretty Green and Hobo’s Vintage or buy some home ware from Pad Deco.
These wonderful arcades are also home to a number of cafes and restaurants that are the perfect place to hide away from a rain shower, or warm up with a hot chocolate. Whatever time of year you visit, the arcades are always buzzing with people of all ages, workers will flood into the Fresh Baguette and Crumbs at lunchtime, Saturday shoppers resting over tea at Barkers, and students getting haircuts and beard trims in the many trendy barbers.
Stay With Us | Autumn in Cardiff
Really make the most of your Autumn in Cardiff and treat yourself to a luxurious stay in The Exchange Hotel. A luxurious hotel and restaurant in the centre of the Cardiff Bay area, our beautiful hotel is set in the landmark Coal Exchange Building. We offer our guests the opportunity to step back in time and explore one of Wales’ most significant buildings. Reflecting the wealth of Wales’ historic coal industry, the building has been restored to its former glory, with preserved original features and the rich history of the building woven into the décor.
Our deluxe rooms offer the chance to unwind in elegant surroundings in beautiful suites designed with luxury in mind. Equipped with opulent en-suites, spa baths, flat-screen TVs and stunning furnishings, each room is dressed to impress.
At The Exchange we love Autumn and to celebrate one of our favourite seasons, we have a few special Autumn offers that are sure to keep you cosy. Whether you’re looking for a romantic autumn getaway, or a well-earned overnight relax, read on to discover the exclusive new Exchange Hotel Cardiff offers and book a stay in one of the city’s most luxurious hotels