Cardiff circular walk via Cardiff Bay

16-Aug-18 • WolvoLee on Flickr

swcwalks short30 cardiff wales

Cardiff Bay (Wales Coast Path) walk

Cardiff Bay, barrage, heritage docks, the Welsh Assembly, bayside cafes and bars

Start and Finish Cardiff Bay or Penarth

3.5 miles out-and-back or about 2.5 miles (4 km) one way. Level unless you parked on Penarth hill

Time 2 hours + siteseeing

Cardiff Bay and Penarth stations are on seperate branch lines from Cardiff Central.

Drivers can park for free on Penarth hill (around CF64 1DR), or there is a pay car park (approx £1/hour) at the bottom of the hill, right by the Penarth side of the tidal barrage (Sat Nav: CF64 1TT).

Walk Notes

This is a walk around the new Cardiff Bay development. It used to be docks and tidal mud flats, now its an inland lake with a barrage (lock gate) across the harbour entrance making a large inland lake. The Bay area has been regenerated, and there is a large pedestrian area, with the Welsh Assembly building, an Opera House, and several restored heritage and former industrial buildings, many bay side cafes and bars, and Ianto Jones' shrine (a fictional character from the Torchwood TV series).

You can start the walk at either end.

Note that Cardiff now has 2 centres, the Bay area and the old town. The old town is about 1 mile further inland with the castle, rugby stadium, Cardiff Central station, Bute Park / Sophia Gardens, and the pedestrian shopping / cafe / bars area. The tourist boat trip between the 2 is recommended.

There are regular tourist boat trips leaving from by the big ferris wheel (£2 to £4) near the Welsh Assembly along the Taff river to the old town, around the bay, or to Penarth

The suggested walk is out an back, but there is a train station at either end so you could do a 1-way walk. Penarth does have a seafront and a pier, but its not (yet) worth the extra walk.

Note: The Doctor Who Experience closed in Sep'17

Cardiff Bay Trail

There is a 10km "Cardiff Bay Trail" circular walk around the entire bay. However, the Bay hasn't been fully gentrified yet (there are some inland and road detours), and some of it is rather souless low rise new build housing. So while its not bad for an urban trail, for now its best left for cyclists and joggers. The route shown around the east side of the Bay is the official one (at the time of writing), avoiding sensitive habitats and unmade paths. It will get closer to the waterfront as new developments continue.

Old Town

Its hard to recommend a walking route from the bay area to the old town ("castle quarter").

  • The easiest way is to way follow the wide Lloyd George Avenue (green, with modern low rise buildings).
  • Sightly to the east the Welsh Coast Path heads inland (avoiding the working docks) via Bute East Dock, but that also modern low rise buildings.
  • Slightly to the west, you could follow the Taff Trail (the west riverbank) to Sophia Gardens. This is probably the nicest route.

Once you get there, the old town is a pleasent surprise, with a large pedestrianised area of shops, cafes and bars. North of the railway line, Sophia Gardens / Bute Park is nice, as is the Castle, a medieval castle containing a Victorian Gothic mansion (£12.50/£10 adults/children))


The Mount Stuart, a Wetherspoons in a heritage seafront building. Its upper deck has a lovely Bay view. Just past the Welsh Assembly, where the boat trips leave from.

Many others.

The Custom House (the impossing building by the Barrage) has 2 restaurants and a bar

Help Us!

After the walk, we would love to get your feedback

You can upload photos to the SWC Group on Flickr, and videos to Youtube. This walk's tags are:

By Train

Out (not a train station)

Back (not a train station)

By Car

Start CF10 5LE Map Directions


Start walking Large print Using GPS data

National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234



Copyright © Saturday Walkers Club. All Rights Reserved. No commercial use. No copying. No derivatives. Free with attribution for one time non-commercial use only.

Walk Directions  

The directions for this walk are also in a PDF (link above) which you can download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone. OpenStreetMap (not OS) mapping is used in the PDF for licence reasons.

The route is quite obvious - just follow the Bay!

  1. Starting from Penarth. Park at the top of the hill (free) and walk down to the barrage (pay car park)
  2. Cross the lock gates, and follow the landscaped pedestrian barrage towards the Bay area.
  3. The path briefly leaves the bay side just before the Doctor Who Experience. Then its another lock gate past a newly gentriefied former docks
  4. Then its the new Welsh Assemble Building (free entry), the Opera House, and many bars and cafes overlooking the bay.
  5. Cardiff Bay station is just a little further north along the wide dual carriageway Lloyd George Avenue.
© Saturday Walkers Club. All Rights Reserved. No commercial use. No copying. No derivatives. Free with attribution for one time non-commercial use only.