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London to Cardiff day trip

My husband and I will be vacationing in London and Edinburgh. We want to do a few day trips including a day trip to Cardiff, Wales.

Is it recommended to use a tour company? I read about some of the tours and it seems pretty straight forward to take a train from London to Cardiff and wonder if it is something that we might do on our own without too much difficulty.

I'd appreciate learning about any experiences or recommendations.

Posted by
332 posts

About half a million people make that journey annually, it’s easy.

Trains go from Paddington. Book at the GWR website. Cheap tickets released usually about 12 weeks ahead. Two Together tickets may save you money.

Posted by
1961 posts

My dad and I did it and I bought tickets ahead of time then got the paper tickets at Paddington. I believe we went at 8am and came back around 6pm. We had a lovely day seeing the bay/waterfront, Bute Park, the National Museum, the Welsh Assembly, and of course seeing some of the Doctor Who locations.

It's rather expensive now but we had an excellent meal at - an Italian restaurant by the stadium that could be set in Rome-its that good.

Train was a bit delayed but was a comfortable ride. Have fun.

Posted by
1923 posts

Cardiff central Railway Station is just a few minutes walk from Cardiff Castle and Bute Park , Museum of Wales , Principality Stadium, the river... There will be plenty of choice for places to eat.

It is very easy to do by yourself and you don't need to use a tour company.

Posted by
2444 posts

Most trains take around 1 hour 50 minutes to get from London (PAD) to Cardiff (CDF) travelling much of the way near 125 mph. It takes at least twice as long by bus with National Express and Megabus being the main scheduled carriers.

If you pre-book specific trains Advance tickets (not refundable) can be had for £29.50 each way per person or £19.45 if you have a Railcard. Note that the Senior Railcard is valid anytime but the Two Together one is not valid before 9.30am on weekdays. If you have the latter, work out where the first stop is after 9.30am & check prices for a return to that place (possibly Reading or Swindon) plus the prices from that point to Cardiff with the Railcard discount to compare how things work out.
Trains > (it will send you to GWR to book. Any problems - try the LNER website - even though they are not the London to Cardiff train company, you can still book via them and you would probably be using them for London to Edinburgh.

If you are going from London to Edinburgh by train, it will probably be worth you getting a Railcard(s). >

Note that engineering work on the GWR mainline in June is taking place and you should avoid these dates in June:> 9, 10, 11, 12, 18 & 25. Also avoid dates when major events take place in Cardiff when trains will be crowded. See >
Also avoid 17 May = Beyonce in the Principality Stadium and 21 July = Tom Jones in Cardiff Castle Green.

Posted by
180 posts

We took a day trip to Cardiff in June 2019. It was definitely a highlight of our trip. Cardiff has lots of pedestrian only walkways so we spent the day walking. We wandered among the network of walkways, stopped at shops and a cafe. Cardiff is mostly a modern city but there are still some historical building such as St. John the Baptist Church. We had lunch a The Potted Pig, highly recommended at that time. I hope it's still there. We really enjoyed Cardiff Market, a large covered market with numerous stall, a bit of everything. We spent time at the National Museum which was supposed to have an impressive collection of Impressionists. We were impressed! Enjoyed the Monet's and the Rodin's etc. We grabbed dinner in the Market, sausage rolls or pasties or something and ate them on the train on the way back. Lovely day trip!

Posted by
2444 posts

In addition to the city centre, I would also suggest a visit to the waterfront (1 mile or so south of the Cardiff Central Station - take bus from south side). The waterfront is known as Cardiff Bay. Ferries also link the waterfront at Mermaid Quay with Bute Park - which is just west of Cardiff Castle.

For those staying longer - St.Fagans Castle & Museum of Welsh Life - about 5 miles west of city centre - Cardiff Bus 32 from Westgate Street (Stadium side). Also visit the huge medieval castle at Caerphilly - just a short local train ride (20 minutes). On return run, Cefn-Onn is a lovely springtime park at Lisvane = first stop after the tunnel.

Castell Coch is on a hillside in north Cardiff near Tongwynlais.