Travel UK

Cardiff Castle

As you saw from my post last week, I got to spend a glorious weekend in Cardiff as a guest of Visit Wales as a part of the #XmasCardiff campaign. Cardiff Castle is in a word, awesome. Seriously. There’s no two ways about it. It essentially has a history that spans two thousand years back to the Romans. But nowadays it includes a Norman Keep and a gothic Victorian palace (created by one of the world’s wealthiest men.) Also it’s free to wander around- the 4th Marquess of Bute donated it to the City of Cardiff, which was a pretty generous and amazing thing to do. Although I suppose it’s easier to be generous when you have more money than Midas.

I’d allocate at least 2 hours to see everything at Cardiff Castle. A tour of the Victorian palace alone takes about 50 minutes. And it’s worth every minute of that time to gaze at the crazy, over-the-top luxury. There are rich murals, elaborate carvings, complex stained glasses pieces, intricate wood carvings, concealed drawers, stunning terrace features. It’s certainly one of a kind!

It’s also really neat to have the time to stroll through some of the World War II wartime tunnels. Within the walls of Cardiff Castle are tunnels that were turned into air-raid shelters. An estimated 1800 could seek refuge there! If you’re going to explore the Norman Keep, make sure that you are okay with stairs. There are over 50 stairs that take you up to the entrance to the Keep alone and lots more to different viewing platforms above. I’m not scared of heights but even I have to admit that some of the stairs were preposterously narrow and steep; however, it’s totally worth the view at the top!

chandalier  great hall
The 2014 NATO diner banquet was held here in the Great Hall.

hall bomb shelter
One of the tunnels used as air raid shelters in WWII.

hall christmas tree
The castle was decked out to the nines in honour of the upcoming holidays.

A truly fantastic library!

mirror mirrored bedroom celing
Lord Bute’s bedroom in the tower had a mirrored ceiling to encourage religious reflection.

stained classmonster   nursery
A scene that I’d never put in a nursery as art nowadays, but hey ho! The Victorians had a completely different relationship with death so I guess this didn’t terrify the children!

madonna and childroof garden
The rooftop gardens.

normal keep 2
The Norman Keep.

Reflection of the Keep in the moat.

norman keep  towerwalls of cardiff castle
The exterior castle walls.

The trebuchet. Obviously. No home is complete without one!

view  well

winter wonderland from cardiff castle
Views from the top of the Norman Keep.

Cardiff Castle is open from 9 am to 6pm in the summer and till 5 pm in the winter.

Have you ever been inside Cardiff Castle?

This visit took place as part of my trip to Cardiff with Visit Wales as part of their #XmasCardiff campaign.  However, as always, all opinions and photos (unless stated) are my own.  I would recommend this attraction to anyone who is planning a trip to Cardiff.

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  • Looks lovely – it’s easy to take for granted the stunning places we have nearby and just focus on going abroad to see things! One of my new years resolutions next year is to make more of an effort to see local sites more!

    • I completely agree! And Cardiff is far enough away from London that it still feels like a “trip”. x

  • What a beautiful, and quirky place to visit – all the times we’ve visited Cardiff we’ve never quite made it inside the castle – we must, must go!

  • Wild Hearts + Green Tea

    I’ve never been but will keep this in mind next time I visit England, looks like a really cool place to spend a day and explore! Thanks for sharing all the pics 🙂

  • That library is my kind of room!

  • Wow, I’ve never been to Cardiff, but that castle looks amazing. Love the Christmas tree and the beautiful library. xxx

    • There were so many giant trees set up all over the castle. It was just gorgeous! I really recommend it if you are visiting Cardiff anytime soon! x

  • Eithne on the Moon

    Never been to Cardiff, and honestly I declare myself ignorant because I always heard about the castle without really going in depth and I never imagined it being so beautiful! IT reminds me of one I saw in Brittany, of course that one was reaaaaally smaller, but still. Thanks for the free ride, I’d like to see it in person too 😀

    • You’re welcome! And it’s free so that’s always an incentive to go if you are in the area! xx

  • A trebuchet is exactly what’s missing from my Christmas list, haha. What a cool castle. It’s crazy that people actually lived there.

  • I love your photo of the keep reflected in the water!

    When I was there, I couldn’t get over how quiet it was in the middle of the keep. It was like all the city noises had just disappeared.

    • Yes, yes, yes! I totally forgot to mention the noise! It’s so strange how smack down in the middle of everything you are, but how isolated it still feels! x

  • Ashley Angle

    Wow! What great history! Beautiful too. Come link up with me today!
    ~Ashley @ A Cute Angle

    • Oh darn! I missed it! Next week! I just got really swamped with work yesterday and didn’t see your comment till now. 🙁 xx

  • What a fun place to visit! Just give me a camera & I’d happily wander this place for hours! I particularly love your shot of the library & that first one of Norman Keep 🙂 x

    • Thanks Robert. There are so many details and a million and one aspects of Cardiff Castle it’d definitely keep you busy for an afternoon! xx

  • mark a.

    wow! that place is awesome!

  • Thank you for all the photos it is a bloody awesome place how lucky you were to be able to visit it and take these amazing photos

    • Thanks Jo-Anne! I think it’s amazing that it was donated to the city so that everyone can visit it for free. A true act of generosity!

  • I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t explore the castle during my day-trip to Cardiff 🙁 I definitely plan to though. I love these photos! And you brought up an interesting point about the children of past eras and their relationship with death. Funny how even that can change within a culture over time!

  • Did you go in the war tunnels around the gate of Cardiff Castle? That was pretty cool. Also, exploring Bute Park was beautiful!

    • I did! Somewhere up there in that muck of photos is one of the tunnels. Bute park is gorgeous. You must have had so much fun exploring it in your time in Cardiff! x

  • That reflection photo just about took my breath away. Wales looks beautiful!

    Chloe | Wanderlust in the Midwest

  • Oh wow! What a treat Cardiff Castle looks! I love history so this would be right up my alley 🙂 x

  • THank you for sharing the wonderful photos of Cardiff castle. I am impressed with the tunnels and the well. I heard that there was ghosts in the castle at night?

    • I heard that rumour as well! Although I didn’t see any… i’ll have to go back at night! 😉 x

  • ahh, what a lovely place to visit! i might be wanting to go too.. and the photos are great as well! xx

  • Olivia

    I love Cardiff Castle! Made the mistake of going into the wartime tunnels the back way, though, and I was completely creeped out by the ambiance and wartime recordings, haha

    • The recording/tunnel combination is so creepy!!!!! Haha some people I was on the tour with were making jokes about that too! x

  • must get for our home:
    a) mirrored ceiling for religious reflection
    b) trebuchet

  • I get so excited about castles, and this one looks awesome and different to ones I’ve been to. I like it when they add spooky things.

  • I love that shot in the library! Libraries are always my favorites rooms in castles and other royal residences. I would love to have my own one day…you know, when we don’t have three people living in a 2-bed flat! 🙂 And ummm, that art in the nursery? Seems a little extreme no matter what the era!

  • So close to you in Bristol! xx

  • How lovely, I only visited outside the castle when I went, it is so gorgeous though!

  • Anna

    I loved the castle! Mostly because it didn’t have the “conventional” interiors…I remember a room that hat an arabic feeling and architecture! Photography was not allowed (at least when I visited) so I bought the book to remind me of the beautiful interiors!

    • It’s really stunning, isn’t it?! I was on a press trip so luckily allowed to take photos, but the guide did say that photography (with no flash) was only allowed in the apartments section of the castle. xx

  • That is gorgeous! So cool that you are able to take photos