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Day trip from Cardiff


We will be spending 3 days in Cardiff toward the end of our month-long trip in September. We have been planning to take a day trip one of the days. We have been thinking about Tenby. I know that this is a bit of a stretch for a day trip but I’ve been really wanting to get to Pembrokeshire. We would be traveling by train (which we enjoy). Will the countryside traveled through by the train ALSO be something we would enjoy seeing?

The alternative is to take a day trip somewhere closer by (like Abergaveeny or other suggestions?) and spend less time traveling and more time on the ground. Any thoughts? Suggestions?

Posted by
2444 posts

The first thing I would suggest you do is see places right in and around Cardiff. That includes CARDIFF CASTLE & THE MUSEUM OF CARDIFF in the middle of the city plus THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF WALES = a 14 minute walk NE of the Castle. On the same day, I suggest that take a trip down to the waterfront (CARDIFF BAY) - Cardiff Bus 6 from outside Wyndham Arcade on St. Mary Street (southbound).

The best part of another day should be devoted to ST. FAGANS CASTLE & MUSEUM OF WELSH LIFE (free) - which covers a huge site in a village just outside the western outskirts of the city. Cardiff Bus *32 (usually hourly - so make sure you know when they leave to come back to the city). These buses go from Wood Street near the Betty Campbell statue as well as Westgate Street (Stadium side) and outside the Holiday Inn near southern entrance to Bute Park - which has ferries to the Bay by the way. * Be sure to hold out arm to stop bus.

You should also find time to try and visit CAERPHILLY CASTLE - about a 20 minute local train ride N of the city. (Huge medieval fortress but the town of Caerphilly is a dump). You might like to take a walk in CEFN-ONN-PARK = a 5 minute walk from Lisvane station on the Caerphilly line. This is a temperate woodland style park. (A return ticket allows you to hop off and back on a later train).

CASTELL COCH - on a hillside on the northern edge of the city is also worth seeing. Stagecoach Bus 132 (final destination will be Maerdy) to Tongwynlais plus a steep 20 minute walk to the castle. These buses leave Greyfriars Road in Cardiff (at present) - across the street form The Hilton Hotel.

You can do Tenby by train and most of the line goes through pleasant enough countryside and along a lovely estuary on the approach to Carmarthen. However, it also passes through industrial Port Talbot with its huge steelworks. I just did a check for Tuesday and see a train leaves Cardiff at 9am & you arrive Tenby at 11.41 with a change at Carmarthen. Trains back at 14.46 to arrive Cardiff at 17.40 with a change at Swansea or 17.04 from Tenby direct to Cardiff arriving at 19.53. Fares are around £28 there and back.

Also consider a train ride to SHREWSBURY (2 hours) and perhaps take a quick look at LUDLOW on the way back. This line goes through lovely countryside most of the way. Fares tend to be higher on this route & trains are direct and at roughly hourly intervals to both places. If doing this it might be best to buy Anytime Day Return Cardiff to Newport at £6.70 plus Off peak Day return Newport to Ludlow at £27.10 plus Off-peak Day Return Ludlow to Shrewsbury at £15.10. (Off peak fares apply after 9.30am on weekdays and anytime at weekends). The above would give you flexibility. Of course, you could just go as far as Ludlow - have a look around and then decide if you wish to go further N to Shrewsbury or return to Cardiff - in that case you would buy the LUD > SHR leg at Ludlow. (You would obviously note down when the trains leave). See also >

All fares quoted do not include Railcard Discount. A train leaves Cardiff at 9.22 for Ludlow & Shrewsbury (it is going to Holyhead) so the RC could not be used on the first bit to Newport on a weekday but could after Newport. Abergavenny is a nice enough place and it is a good 15 minute walk from the station to the town. However, both Ludlow and Shrewsbury are better with many very old buildings with beams.

Google all the places mentioned. Note that Tenby is a lovely seaside town but the really wild bits of the coast are just a bit further west. The station is right in the town.

Posted by
1060 posts

I don’t think Tenby is the best part of Pembrokeshire. It’s a Victorian seaside resort popular with holiday makers and full of businesses serving their needs, which for a U.K. seaside holiday means pubs, ice cream, fish and chips and buckets and spades. It doesn’t really have the charm of the more rural areas of the county.

Note: lots of people disagree with me and love Tenby.

Posted by
180 posts

James- Thanks for your detailed reply. Your suggestions are very helpful. Especially the one about holding your arm out to stop the bus :). We have been to Cardiff before and spent a memorable day seeing the sights of the city center including arcades, St. John’s, the Cardiff Market, Cardiff Castle and the National Museum of Wales (a highlight of that trip!). Already planned for this trip are St. Fagan’s and some of your other suggestions. We will consider going north rather than west for our day trip.

Helen- We would really like to get further into Pembrokeshire someday but this trip, Tenby seems about as far as we could get on a day trip.

Posted by
2444 posts

Tenby has more buildings that pre date the Victorian period - it is not what I would call a Victorian town.

If you click the following link, you will get a You Tube video of Ludlow. The same guy ‘Gimbal Walk Tv’ has similar videos on Shrewsbury, Tenby & loads of other places. They are a bit long winded but would help you decide where to go and avoid making wasting time on places you may not like. In the Shrewsbury video, he misses out on the lovely park on the west side of the town.

In Ludlow - walk west from the station towards Tesco supermarket (toilets if you don’t want to use the one on the train). Go to street on W side of Tesco and head south up a slight hill. You will see the very old beamed ‘Feathers Hotel’ - take next R and head towards castle. Pass castle on left hand side and head down the hill to the river and cross bridge. From this area you can get the best photo of the castle.

Posted by
6113 posts

No-one is doing Tenby justice here, but while a lot of it may be Victorian now, it's history goes way back into the 12th century.

That was when the first Castle was built, although the current one (which you can't access) dates from the 14th century. The town walls (which largely survive) were originally built in the 13th century (strengthened several times since) and in the Middle Ages trading ships to much of near Europe traded from the town.
During the Wars of the Roses King Henry VII sheltered at Tenby for a while before going into exile.

The town was involved in battle in 1648 during the English Civil War.

It was first established as a Spa Town in the opening years of the 19th century when the Napoleonic Wars inhibited people from going on the Grand Tour [of Europe]- the first staycations?

This status was then developed in Victorian Times.

There are no less than 372 listed buildings in the town.

Although you'd have to leave Cardiff very early to do it, Tenby is also the harbour for boat trips to the monastic Caldey Island (Cistercian monks).

If you are up early enough you could reach St David's, deeper into Pembrokeshire.

Posted by
1923 posts

I like Tenby and find it a very interesting placxe to walk around - despite the tourist! There are all sorts of things to discover from ther emains of some of the best town walls in Wales, to the Tudor Merchant's House and the tiny Fisherman's Chapel overlooking the harbour. Their original chapel had been demolished in 1840 when improvements were made to the harbour entrance. For a few years the fishermen worshipped at St Mary’s Church in the old town until the rest of the congregation complained about the smell of their clothes. A replacement chapel, St Julian’s, was built on the side of the quay in the mid 1870s. Clergy from St Mary’s were paid in seafood to lead the services. These were cancelled in rough weather when waves could break over the chapel.

There is also the Palmerston Fort on St Catherine's island which is only accessible three hours either side of low tide. The Fort was one of about one hundred forts built around the British coastline in the mid C19th by Lord Palmerston in response to a possible invasion threat by Napoleon III. By the time it was completed, it was obsolete as Napoleon was no longer a threat. The fort was decommissioned in 1907 and passed through a series of owners and even housed a a zoo until 1978. It has now been bought by a group of volunteers have started to restore the building. There is still a lot of work to be done but you can see the central corridor with the gun casements on either side and the passage ways behind them leading to storage rooms for shells and powder.

Posted by
180 posts

Isn31 - I will check the trains to St Davids again. Thanks for the input on Tenby. We are early risers and our lodging doesn’t include breakfast so we have no reason to hang around in the morning. We will start early whichever way we go.

Wasleys - If we end up in Tenby we will be wandering around discovering things. Thanks for the suggestions and history.

Posted by
6637 posts

I enjoyed Tenby for the day we were there. We stopped at Pembroke Castle en route to St. Davids. The cathedral there is nice and we walked a couple sections of the Pembrokshire trail. It is smaller than Tenby.

Posted by
2444 posts

St. David’s is not right on the coast but the coast is nearby. To get to St.David’s, you must take a train to Haverfordwest and then a bus. I just think it is too far for a day trip from Cardiff. My choice would be Tenby which is easier to reach as the train takes you all the way and the town is almost surrounded by the sea.