There are loads of local walks in Cardiff where you can get outdoors and get active all year round.
Thanks to an abundance of parks, trails and outdoor spaces, Cardiff is one of the greenest cities in the UK.
This small city offers a variety of short walks, loop walks and longer trail walks for keen walkers.
Check out our selection of local walks in Cardiff where you can get outside and get active close to home.
Local walks in Cardiff
Cardiff walking routes
Serious hikers should consider using a detailed OS Explorer map to find walking routes and public rights of way in Cardiff.
The recommended map for Cardiff is the OS Explorer Map (151) Cardiff and Bridgend.
Remember to also take water with you for long walks in Cardiff. Download the Refill Wales App to find locations where you can fill your reusable water bottle with tap water, for free.
Bute Park walks
Bute Park is one of the most beautiful outdoor spaces in Cardiff. The parklands cover 130 acres of landscaped gardens that were once part of Cardiff Castle.
The park is a beautiful mix of woodlands, horticulture and sports pitches. You’ll also find a river corridor, cafes and sculptures in this glorious urban parkland.
There are several walking and biking paths in the park and you can also follow the Taff Trail along the river and head out of the city.
Pettigrew’s Cafe is located at the entrance of the park a great place to pick up a takeaway coffee to start your walk with a warm drink. Remember to bring a reusable travel mug with you, to save on litter.
The best time of year to visit is Autumn as Bute Park comes alive with a breathtaking palette of golden colours, vivid blue skies and a crisp chill in the air. It’s one of the most colourful walks in Cardiff during the fall season.
Cardiff Bay Trail
Cardiff’s regenerated waterfront area has a very Costa-del-Cardiff vibe going on.
There’s a great selection of pavement café’s, bars with outdoor seating, green spaces, cycle paths and restaurants.
Here you can bike or walk over the Cardiff Bay barrage to soak up some scenery and maybe even some sunshine. If Wales is playing ball with the weather that is.
Walking routes Cardiff Bay
One of the best walking routes in Cardiff Bay is the Cardiff Bay trail. It’s an easy, 4.5-mile circular trail runs around Cardiff Bay and across to neighbouring Penarth via Pont y Werin.
The trail takes you past some of the best arts and heritage features of the Bay, including the Norweigan Church, the Pierhead Building, the barrage and the wetlands reserve.
Make sure to follow the ‘Cardiff Bay trail’ signs to complete this easy and scenic loop walk.
Along the trail, there are plenty of places to stop for food and drink. One of my favourite places is the Coffi Co shipping containers, where you can pick up hot coffee and delicious cakes.
Forest Farm walk
Forest Farm is a great place for family walks in Cardiff. Here you’ll find ancient beech and oak trees and the heritage Glamorganshire canal that’s home to several bird species.
The popular Taff Trail also runs through the site which you can join to walk towards either Cardiff City Centre or Castell Coch.
The long-distance Cambrian Way trail also passes through this beautiful area if you are looking for a longer walk in Cardiff?
Canal walk Cardiff
The main route around Forest Farm is around 5 km long and starts at the small car park on Forest Farm Road. Go through the gated entrance and down towards the canal to start the trail.
This area was once a hub of industrial activity as the Glamorganshire canal linked the ironworks of Merthyr Tydfil, to the sea at Cardiff. They were used extensively for industry, trade and coal transport in South Wales.
These days, limited traces of the canal remain and Forest Farm now provides a woodland escape from the city, with quiet paths, picnic benches and a network of walking trails.
Garth Mountain summit walk
The Garth Mountain walk is a roughly 6 km trail that takes you to the summit of 1007 feet high Garth Mountain.
More of a hill than a mountain, it’s the site where Hugh Grant’s 1995 picture, The Englishman Who Went Up A Hill But Came Down A Mountain was filmed.
There are several starting points for this strenuous hill walk and many walkers either start from Taffs Well or from Gwaelod-y-garth Village.
It’s one of the more challenging walks in Cardiff, so you’ll need decent hiking gear, a map, or the super handy OS app.
If you start from Gwaelod-y-garth, you can walk through the Garth Wood and experience the stillness of an ethereal pine forest.
Garth Mountain trail
The Garth Mountain trails are well waymarked but I do recommend you take an OS Map with you, or use the Outdoor Active app if you are new to walking.
You can follow the peaceful trails to the summit, or opt for more of a loop walk around the ridgeway?
For gorgeous views of Cardiff and the Vale, head towards the trig point, indicating the top of Garth Mountain.
Here you can enjoy gorgeous 360-degree views of the surrounding countryside and get those snaps for the gram!
Roath Park circular walk
One of Cardiff’s most popular parks, Roath Park Gardens was one of the first public parks in Cardiff, when it opened in 1894.
The Victorian gardens are set around a beautiful 30-acre boating lake that features one of the iconic images of Cardiff, the Scott Memorial Lighthouse.
Roath Park is one of the best family walks in Cardiff thanks to a flat, circular walk around the lake with plenty of facilities along the way.
Here you’ll find picnic benches, a cafe, ice cream van and a large play park for the kids.
The Roath Park Circular Walk is a 5km scenic loop trail that takes in the lake, Roath Pleasure Gardens and Roath Rec. It’s also a popular trail for local joggers.
There is also an abundance of wildlife to spot as you walk around the lake, including swans, geese and squirrels.
Roath Pleasure Gardens
If you want to extend your park walk, continue onwards to Roath Pleasure Gardens on Ty Draw Road.
Enjoy the quaint gardens including flower beds, walking paths, stream and bowling green as you stroll around.
Looking for a coffee stop near Roath park? Make sure to call into dog-friendly Gathering Ground Cafe on Wedal road for a coffee and a banging bacon sandwich.
Fforest Fawr Circular Walk
Forest Fawr is managed by the Forestry Commission Wales and is one of the best forest walks in Cardiff.
Walk through a canopy of green surrounded by playful light and rugged conifers.
Choose from three circular walks available in Fforest Fawr and try and squeeze in a visit to fairytale Castell Coch if you have the time.
The three Fforest Fawr trails are:
- Burges’ Way Trail: 1.1 mile walk starting at castell Coch. Follow the yellow way-markers for this trail.
- Sir Henry’s Trail: 2.31 miles starting from either Castell Coch or Fforest Fawr car park. Follow the red waymarkers for this trail.
- Industrial Heritage Trail: 2.5 miles starting from Fforest Fawr car park, Follow the purple way-markers for this trail.
If you need a lunch stop on your forest walk, then the nearby and slightly hidden Forest Stoves and Fires Café is a great option.
It’s a rustic stop for tea, coffee and amazing toasties. Sink into a comfy sofa and listen to the sounds of the on-site peacocks.
You can access the Cafe from Heol-Y-Fforest, a short distance up from the entrance to Castell Coch.
Cardiff section of the Cambrian Way
If you are looking for longer walks in the city, then the Cardiff section of the Cambrian Way is the perfect trail in the city. This 9-mile route takes you through beautiful parklands, canals and forests.
The Cambrian Way is an incredibly scenic and challenging long-distance trail from Cardiff to Conwy. It’s over 298 miles through some of the wilder parts of Wales.
Stage 1 of the Cambrian Way runs from Cardiff to Machen and is just over 15 miles long, if you want to walk the entire stage.
Cambrian Way trail
If you just want to walk within the Cardiff section, you can walk 9.5 miles from Cardiff Castle to the Caerphilly border, just by the Travellers Rest pub.
It’s s a great trek through pretty parklands, heritage canals and wooded areas and offers a long walk within the city boundaries.
The Cardiff section starts in Bute Park and is fairly well marked, though it does cross in and out of the popular Taff Trail.
If you plan on walking the Cardiff section of the Cambrian Way, take a copy of the Cambrian Way Stage one map with you or bring a Walking the Cambrian Way guidebook for reference.
The Taff Trail
Looking for a longer walk in Cardiff? The Taff Trail is an incredibly popular 55-mile walking and biking route that runs from Cardiff to Brecon.
The trail is named after the River Taff, which the trail follows and is a very well known National Cycle Route in Wales.
Ambitious walkers can attempt the whole route, or smaller sections inluding the Cardiff section.
Taff trail walking route
My favourite section of the trail is a 7-mile walk that runs from Cardiff Castle to Castell Coch in Tongwnlais.
It’s a well-worn trail that’s used by families, dog walkers, bikers and joggers, who are all vying for space on the path, especially in the more residential areas.
The Taff Trail officially starts in the pretty marina area of Cardiff Bay and soon leaves the cityscape for parklands, wooded areas and muddy trails as you progress onwards out of the city.
Walking in Cardiff
If you love walking in Cardiff and South Wales, why not join Ramblers Cymru?
Join the largest walking community in the UK and discover thousands of new walking routes across Britain. Your membership fees also go towards protecting paths and green spaces.
Some of the benefits of joining Ramblers include:
- Unlimited free access to hundreds of group walks every week
- Exclusive access to the Ramblers app bringing you the latest walking features and offers
- Access to the Ramblers searchable library with thousands of routes on their website
- Special member offers including 15% off Cotswold Outdoor
- Decent hiking boots
- Pack a travel first aid kit
- Download Refill Wales App
- Bring a reusable water bottle
- Download what3words location app
Walking in Cardiff
As you can see there is a fantastic range of walking routes in Cardiff for the whole family to try.
Whether you like waterfront trails, forest walks or more challenging walks, there’s something for everyone in this green city.
What do you think of my guide to walks in Cardiff? Let me know in the comments below!
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