The summer holidays can be a pricey affair, especially when it comes to keeping the whole family entertained so we’ve put together a guide so that you and the kids can pack a picnic and enjoy some of the best free things to do in Cardiff this summer.
They do say the best things in life are free anyway.
In the centre of Cardiff city, you’ll find a pretty patch of green land which is home to a wonderful arboretum and has plenty of interesting historical points of interest linking back to Cardiff’s rich history.
Bute park sits alongside Cardiff castle and was created to compliment the gothic style additions made to the castle including the enchanting animal wall which visitors can learn all about inside the Bute Park education centre.
As well as all this the park regularly hosts guided activities that revolve around the varied nature and wildlife that thrives there and even hosts exciting city events like the Jurassic Kingdom and live music concerts.
This sprawling urban park has been labelled the green heart of the capital city and is filled with fun free things to do in Cardiff for the whole family.
Adjacent to Bute Park you’ll find an expanse of flat green field perfect for picnics, a kick about and for hosting some of Cardiff’s city centre sporting events.
For families who like their sports, Llandaff field boasts tennis courts and bowls facilities the Llandaff Rugby club are based here to so you might be lucky enough to catch a match on your visit.
A short walk towards the River at the upper end of the fields will take you across to Llandaff meadows, past historic landmark St Telio’s Well and the remains of Old Bishop’s Palace to the beautiful Llandaff Cathedral.
Further along, the picture perfect riverbank of the River Taff awaits where you’ll find waterfalls and rowers from the Llandaff Rowing club traversing the water.
If you and the family are members of the National Trust then a visit to Dyffryn Gardens is one of the best free things to do in Cardiff this summer.
This perfectly preserved Edwardian stately home has expertly manicured gardens and grounds all of which are ideal for spending a day outdoors.
Check out the impressive collection of flora and fauna as well as the all-natural wild play area built entirely out of fallen trees.
There’s also a huge selection of fun family things to do such as hands-on craft days, art courses, live late night music and nature discovery tours like the Big Butterfly Count helping kids identify different species of butterfly living in the gardens.
Tucked away in the midst of the busy city, Heath Park provides people with the perfect escape into nature.
Families can enjoy discovering the parkland on a miniature railway line, or take a look at the wetlands and pond to spot some of the wonderful wildlife that lives in the area.
There are two age-appropriate playgrounds in Heath Park for big and little kids, there are tennis courts and sports pitches based all over the 37-hectare wood and parkland as well as outdoor gym equipment and a sensory garden.
For those with younger families, Heath Park is full of wonderful free things to do in Cardiff for all ages.
Forrest Farm and Glamorgan Canal Nature Reserve
Take the family back to nature this summer and enjoy the outdoors in all its glory at Forrest Farm and Glamorgan Canal Nature Reserve.
The area is protected by the Friends of Forrest Farm from developers looking to build on the natural land all of which has become home to more and more species of water-loving birds and animals over the years.
Forrest Farm is a magical adventure for families with hand-carved sculptures like a giant at the entrance, snails, dragonflies and bumblebees in the play area, art murals on the old buildings and a giant butterfly and chrysalis next to the pond.
One of the most educational free things to do in Cardiff teaching the family why it’s important to look after the land they live in.
One of the most beautiful examples of a Victorian park, Roath Park is home to so many fun free things to do in Cardiff.
Ideal for the entire family Roath Park offers eye-opening natural experiences such as the Botanic Garden and Conservatory, home to rare and exotic plants. Or the amazing sporting facilities available for playing tennis and rugby.
An adventure playground is in place perfect for the little one and for those looking to stay in shape the Roath Park Trim Trail will help you keep fit.
The most prominent feature of Roath Park is the lake that was once a simple marshland, a winter nesting places for many species of bird and the Terra Nova lighthouse, built in honour of Cpt Scott. Feed the birds or simply stroll around the lake for a fun day out with the family.
When the sun is shining getting wet always seems like a good idea and there’s no better place to do so than Cardiff’s Victoria Park.
Perfect for spreading out a picnic blanket, popping on the swimwear and rushing into the water park filled with fountains, water jets and showers all designed to soak you to the bone.
Part of the parks recent revamp the Victoria Park Splash pad simply adds to the free family fun available in the city. Perfect for the warmest summer days in the school holidays.
Coed Y Wenalt
For a fun free family day out that’s as pretty as a picture you simply have to visit as its summer all the bluebells will have disappeared by now but that doesn’t dampen the beautiful woodland scenery at all.
Get the kids to keep their ears out for the sound of woodpeckers going to work and encourage them to explore the natural area of sloping red sandstone, climb over fallen trees and play hide and seek among the shadows.
There are plenty of picnic tables dotted all around the area, ideal for taking a quick lunch break to refuel for more woodland adventures.
Cardiff Bay and Barrage
Lining the edge of Cardiff Bay is a green patch of land that is perfect for picnics and fun free days out with the family.
Everything from skate parks, craft fairs and The Enormous Crocodile can be found along Cardiff Bay Barrage as well as wonderful views across the estuary of the River Severn and the chance to watch some of daring water sporting activities that take place in the bay.
For more wildlife and nature discovery parents can download the Wildlife Explorer Trail for free from the Cardiff harbour website and challenge the little ones to find as many different animals in the Wetland Reserve as possible.
St Fagan’s Museum
There isn’t a better way to explore Cardiff’s than spending a day at St Fagan’s Museum.
The grounds have been trapped in a time zone long forgotten by the surrounding hustle and bustle of Cardiff city centre and you and the family can discover it all for free.
Bring your picnic along and take a pew at one of the many outdoor eating areas and undercover picnic spots within the museum.
Kids can enjoy climbing the high ropes among the ancient tree canopy, skipping along wildlife walks and walking around Cardiff farmers and markets that run all summer.
Among all these fun free things to do in Cardiff, there are some affordable fairground rides, quilting workshops and late night bat walks well worth a visit to.
Discover a part of Cardiff’s leisure time history that has been around since the late 19th century on Barry Island.
Enjoy a traditional beach day on the Blue Flag beach Whitmore Bay, have a splash in the Bristol Channel and snap some selfies in front of the vintage coloured beach hut.
There’s plenty of seaside fun to be had at Barry Island including war museums, marine lakes, harbour walks and picturesque flower gardens.
Barry Island in a brilliant way to spend some school summer holiday time together outdoors and it won’t break the bank either.
Affordable Family Breaks in Cardiff
Getting the family together this summer is easy at Exchange Hotel.
Not only is there plenty of fun free things to do in Cardiff but there are some other amazing family events taking place all summer long.
Exchange Hotel has excellent group accommodation making it easier for families to enjoy some quality time together without worrying about the pennies.
Simply check out some of our amazing hotel deals here or call 0151 601 8801 or firstname.lastname@example.org to book your family stay in Cardiff’s most luxurious city centre hotel today.