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Cardiff as Base

We will have only 3 1/2 days in Cardiff. We will spend one day checking out Cardiff and looking for 1-2 day trips. Aside from Brecon Beacons and snowdonia, is spending some time in Bristol/bath better than heading west towards Swansea and pembroke coast? Other other recommendations would be appreciated. Leaving Cardiff, we will be in Hereford for 3 days.

Posted by
2444 posts

If you only have three and a half days, you might as well spend it all in Cardiff. Going to St.Fagans Castle (really a 1500’s house & gardens) along with the extensive grounds will take the best part of a day - even though it is just a short bus (Cardiff Bus 32A from Westgate Street or outside Holiday Inn by Bute Park - be sure to hold out your hand or they may not stop). Consider buying a Day to Go Ticket (£4 I think) for Cardiff Bus and on return to city centre, take Bus 6 the short hop down to Cardiff Bay - not a beach but a huge harbour. (Cardiff Bus only accept exact money of using cash as no change given).

Seeing Cardiff Castle, the National Museum of Wales* (next to City Hall) and wandering around the city centre will take at least half a day. * Good if bad weather.

You should also take a local train 7 miles north to see the huge Medieval Castle at Caerphilly. That’s another half day gone.

Also consider seeing Castell Coch - on a hillside above Tongwynlais in north Cardiff.
Buses: >

Pembrokeshire takes too long to reach by public transport from Cardiff - Tenby is around 3 hours by train. You may like to consider going to Swansea by train (around 1 hour) and then walk through the city centre to The Quadrant bus station and catch Adventure Travel (really a bog standard bus) service 118 to Rhossili at the western tip of the Gower peninsula. The coast here is spectacular. Apart from the view over Rhosili Bay and west to Worms Head, the coast to the south of the village - easily walkable is also wonderful.
Note that the buses are infrequent:>
I would not go out of my way to visit Swansea.

Bath can easily be done as a day trip from Cardiff. Direct trains are hourly and it takes just over 1 hour. Of course, you could up sticks and move to a hotel in Bath. If doing that & wanting to get to Hereford by train - change at Newport.

(If traveling between Cardiff & Swansea - try and use the GWR trains as they are newer and longer than Transport for Wales services).

Posted by
6113 posts

One of the best visits we had in the Cardiff area was a day at Big Pit National Coal Museum. Not one for the claustrophobic, but take a trip down the old coal mine with a former miner for a first hand account of what life was like. Fascinating.

If I head to south Wales, I much prefer staying in the gorgeous St David’s and spend a few days walking the stunning coastal path and visiting Solva and other coastal villages.

The Brecon Beacons are ok but it takes time to get around them on the smaller roads. It’s always rained whenever I have been there!

You can’t see Snowdonia from South Wales, as a day trip - it’s a 7 hour round trip from Cardiff.

With the timescale you have, I wouldn’t bother with Swansea.

Posted by
2444 posts

Cotswolds are more difficult without a car. Are you still landing at Dublin and taking the ferry to Holyhead and will be attending a wedding in Hereford?

Posted by
1923 posts

What sort of things are you wanting to see/do in the short time available?

Posted by
9 posts

So we r flying into Dublin then flying to Cardiff. We will spend 3 1/2 days there before heading to Hereford for two days. Finally we will take the train to London and have 2 1/2 days there before flying back to states. We had planned one day to hang in Cardiff going to museum and castle. St Fagans. Thought about visiting Caetphilly . Thoughts on Bristol or bath one day? Once in Hereford we won’t have much time due to wedding festivities.

Posted by
6645 posts

Very near Cardiff is Caerphilly and Coch castles both can be seen in a day. Within an hour of Cardiff in Tintern Abbey, a number of castles, and Monmouth. Tenby is nice but a two hours drive from Cardiff. If you do have a car and go to Caerphilly, there are a couple parking lots. The one right in front of the castle is hard to get into and traffic is congested. The easier lot to park in is along the backside of the castle along Crescent Road (Crescent road car park) then walk to the castle entrance.

Posted by
2444 posts

I would think that the places we have already mentioned near Cardiff would take up most of your time in the Welsh capital. If you had any spare time over, I would suggest a day trip by train to Bath and then back to your hotel in Cardiff. Bristol is not worth visiting during your limited time and should be far down any tourists hit list.

Can't you get a volunteer from the wedding to take you on a car tour on the day you leave for London? Of course, you could take the train direct from Hereford to London and this route does indeed go through the northern Cotswolds. Moreton-in-Marsh would be the place to get off and I would then head to Bourton-on-the-Water by local bus. However, if someone could give you car tour from Hereford, you would see far more villages (Broadway, Chipping Campden, Lower Slaughter, Bourton-on-the-Water) before being dropped off at Moreton-in-Marsh for a train to London (Paddington). Also note that Oxford is on this line so you might like to consider having a night in that city as you are passing through? (Blenheim Palace is about 7 miles NW of the city). A train driver has filmed the entire line from London to Hereford in real time.

Alternatively, perhaps you could get someone to drive you down the Wye Valley to view the river from Yat Rock and then continue south to see the ruins of Tintern Abbey and perhaps Chepstow Castle. If doing this, they would need to drop you at Bristol Parkway which has trains to London every 30 minutes with the journey taking just over an hour as most of this line is 125 mph.

PS. If you take the shuttle bus from Cardiff Airport the 1 mile to Rhoose station, the trains to Cardiff are only *hourly and depart from the platform furthest from the sea. (The bus is timed to meet the trains). Other bus services call in at the Airport). * Every other hour on Sundays.

Posted by
9 posts

TY all for suggestions/recommendations. Truly wish we had more time in each area. Next time!!