Cardiff Bay Walking Tour (Self Guided), Cardiff

There are lots of things to do in Cardiff, making it one of the most interesting places to visit in Wales. From the restored symbols of Cardiff’s glorious yesterdays, rich in history and culture, to the exciting vision of the future captured in the Waterfront’s fantastic style and architecture… there really is something for everyone at Cardiff Bay. ***PH***
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Cardiff Bay Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Cardiff Bay Walking Tour
Guide Location: Wales » Cardiff (See other walking tours in Cardiff)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 11
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.6 Km or 2.2 Miles
Author: Nick
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Wales Millennium Centre
  • Craft in the Bay Gallery
  • Saint Stephen Church
  • The Coal Exchange
  • Techniquest
  • Mermaid Quay
  • Roald Dahl Plass
  • Pierhead Building
  • Senedd
  • The Norwegian Church
  • Cardiff Bay Barrage
Wales Millennium Centre

1) Wales Millennium Centre (must see)

Wales Millennium Centre is an arts centre located in the Cardiff Bay area of Cardiff. The site covers a total area of 4.7 acres (1.9 ha). The centre has hosted performances of opera, ballet, dance, comedy and musicals.

Locally nicknamed "the Armadillo", the Centre comprises one large theatre and two smaller halls with shops, bars and restaurants. It houses the national orchestra and opera, dance, theatre and literature companies, a total of eight arts organisations in residence. The main theatre, the Donald Gordon Theatre, has 1,897 seats, the BBC Hoddinott Hall 350 and the Weston Studio Theatre 250. In 2001 Lord Rowe-Beddoe was appointed chairman of Wales Millennium Centre, a company limited by guarantee. Board members include Sir Michael Checkland.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Craft in the Bay Gallery

2) Craft in the Bay Gallery

Located on the “Flourish” at the south end of Lloyd George Avenue, the Craft in the Bay Gallery consists of the award winning refurbished “D” Shed, a grade II listed maritime warehouse with a modern extension. The gallery is opposite the Wales Millennium Centre and is close to the Welsh Assembly Building. The "D" Shed is a cast-iron framed structure with cruciform columns, a roof structure and a variety of similarly unique features.

The structure is five 20 foot bays long and two 20 foot bays wide. It was erected as a transit warehouse and appeared on the first edition Ordinance Survey map from surveys carried out in the 1880s. Originally found alongside Bute East Dock Basin, it could access the train as well. The “D Shed” is one of the last remaining mid-nineteenth century buildings in Cardiff Bay and has a grade II listing.

Operation Hours: Monday - Sunday: 10:30 am - 5:30 pm
Sight description based on wikipedia
Saint Stephen Church

3) Saint Stephen Church

The church was constructed in 1900 to replace a temporary iron frame church and opened as the chapel of St. Mary's. In 1912, it became a separate parish under the name of St. Stephen. The parish was deconsecrated in 1992 and the church was used as a community centre and theater until 2001, when it was purchased by its current owners. Tremendous renovations in 2003 transformed the church into a venue for live music performance and regular club-nights, including Bogiez. The entire building was restored and much of the original architecture was kept, including all the stained glass windows.
Sight description based on wikipedia
The Coal Exchange

4) The Coal Exchange

The Coal Exchange is a live music venue in Cardiff, originally used a market floor for trading in coal. Situated in Cardiff Bay, near The Point, it is used extensively for live music and other events on the Cardiff music scene. It has a capacity of 1,000. Before the Coal Exchange was built in Mount Stuart Square, the area was a residential square with a central garden. It was taken over by commerce as the city grew in prosperity. Coal merchants used to chalk up the changing prices of coal on slates outside their offices or struck deals in the local public houses.

As Cardiff became the biggest coal port in the world, the building was constructed between 1883 and 1886 by Edwin Seward as a base from which to conduct trade negotiations regarding the coal mines of the South Wales Valleys - most of which was shipped to Cardiff for distribution. The building played an important role in the industrial Cardiff of the 19th century. Paired Corinthian columns, an oak balcony, and rich wood paneling adorn the trading hall, which was reconstructed by Edwin Seward in 1911.

During the peak trading hour of midday to one o'clock, the floor might have as many as 200 men gesticulating and shouting. It was estimated that up to 10,000 people would pass in and out of the building each day. At one time the price of the world's coal was determined here.
Sight description based on wikipedia

5) Techniquest

Techniquest is a large science center containing interactive exhibitions. Visitors can conduct their own experiments and other hands-on activities in specially designed Discovery Room, enjoy the exciting presentations in Science Theatre and observe the breathtaking views in the planetarium. Techniquest is a great cultural venue for all the family.

Operation hours: Monday - Sunday: 10 am - 5 pm (during school holidays); Tuesday - Friday: 9:30 am - 4:30 pm; Saturday-Sunday: 10 am- 5 pm (during school term).
Mermaid Quay

6) Mermaid Quay

Mermaid Quay (Welsh: Cei'r Fôr-forwyn) is a waterfront shopping and leisure district. The 14,000 m2 (150,000 sq ft) development was opened in 1999, and includes restaurants, bars, cafes and shops.

Mermaid Quay was at the centre of the regeneration of the Bay by the Cardiff Bay Development Corporation (CBDC). Part of the British Government's Urban Development Programme to regenerate deprived and run-down inner city areas. The CBDC was set up in April 1987 to regenerate 1,100 hectares (2,700 acres) of derelict docklands of Cardiff and Penarth - once the world's largest coal exporting port – to create Europe's largest waterfront development.

The Welsh Industrial and Maritime Museum, which held exhibits illustrating the industrial and maritime history of Wales, was demolished to make way for the development. The collection was saved, but the majority remains in storage at Nant Garw with only a limited few items on display at the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea.

Before the completion of the Cardiff Bay Barrage in 1999, Cardiff Bay was tidal, with extensive expanses of mud flats exposed at low tide. Construction of the barrage, one of the largest engineering projects in Europe, has turned Cardiff Bay into a 500-acre (2.0 km2) freshwater lake with 8 miles (13 km) of waterfront.

Mermaid Quay was designed by architects Benoy and opened in August 1999. Since that time there has been significant regeneration of the Bay including the construction of Lloyd George Avenue – a new link road between the city centre and the Bay – numerous iconic buildings, and residential and commercial developments.

Cardiff Bay and Mermaid Quay have provided the backdrop for numerous episodes of programmes, such as the BBC’s science fiction drama series Doctor Who and Torchwood, with the fictional entrances to the underground Torchwood 3 Institute located in Roald Dahl Plass.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Roald Dahl Plass

7) Roald Dahl Plass

Roald Dahl Plass is a public space in Cardiff Bay. It is named after Cardiff-born author Roald Dahl, and is located on the coast along the south of the city centre. The square is home to the Senedd building housing the Senedd, the Welsh parliament, and the Wales Millennium Centre, a performing arts centre. The bowl-like shape of the space has made it a popular amphitheatre for hosting open-air concerts.

What was known as the Oval Basin was designed by artist William Pye, in conjunction with Nicholas Hare Architects and it opened in April 2000. A plaque was unveiled 13 July 2002 to commemorate the rename of the Oval Basin to Roald Dahl Plass. Roald Dahl Plass is today an oval shaped open space surrounded by illuminated pillars and a gravel covering over the original dock area.

At the north end of the plass is the Water Tower, which stands at approximately 70 feet (21 m) high with an intermittent stream of water running down the metallic fountain. The tower was also designed by Nicholas Hare Architects in conjunction with the sculptor, William Pye.

Roald Dahl Plass first appears in "Boom Town", an episode of the long running, sci-fi drama Doctor Who. In the show's universe, a "spatial-temporal" rift runs through Cardiff, a feature that the Tenth Doctor uses as a fueling station for his TARDIS. The plaza later appears in Doctor Who's spin-off series Torchwood. The fictional Torchwood Institute has one of its headquarters, Torchwood Three, based under the square, to monitor alien activity through the rift. The Water Tower has prominently featured in both of the BBC Wales flagship shows.

The base of the fountain can be seen passing through the building, and one of the paving tiles in the square is a decoy which hides an "invisible lift" leading down to the base. This base was effectively destroyed in Torchwood: Children of Earth but the Plass was seen for a brief moment at the end of the first episode of Miracle Day.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Pierhead Building

8) Pierhead Building

The Pierhead Building stands as one of the city of Cardiff's most familiar landmarks and was built in 1897 as the headquarters for the Bute Dock Company. The clock on the building is unofficially known as the "Baby Big Ben" or the "Big Ben of Wales", and also serves as a Welsh history museum. The Pierhead Building is part of the estate of the National Assembly for Wales, which also includes the Senedd and Ty Hywel. It was a replacement for the headquarters of the Bute Dock Company which burnt down in 1892. Frame's mentor was William Burges, with whom Frame worked on the rebuilding of Cardiff Castle and Castell Coch until Burges's death in 1881.

The Bute Dock Company was renamed the Cardiff Railway Company in 1897. The Pierhead became the administrative office for the Port of Cardiff in 1947. The 1897 clock mechanism, by William Potts & Sons of Leeds, was removed, being replaced with an electronic motor, and sold to an American collector in 1973. It was returned to Cardiff in 2005 and, in 2011, installed as a piece of contemporary art in Cardiff city centre.
Sight description based on wikipedia

9) Senedd

The Senedd, also known as the National Assembly building, houses the debating chamber and three committee rooms for the National Assembly for Wales in Cardiff. The 5,308 square metres Senedd building was opened by Queen Elizabeth II on 1 March 2006 and the total cost was £69.6 million. The Pritzker Prize-winning architect Richard Rogers won an international architectural design competition to design the building. It was designed to be sustainable with use of renewable technologies and be energy efficient.

The Senedd was constructed in two phases, the first in 2001 and the second from August 2003 until it was handed over to the National Assembly in February 2006. The building was nearly six times over budget and four years and 10 months late, compared to the original estimates of the project in 1997. Total costs rose due to unforeseen security measures after the September 11 attacks, and because the National Assembly did not have an independent cost appraisal of the project until December 2000, three years after the original estimate.
Sight description based on wikipedia
The Norwegian Church

10) The Norwegian Church

The Norwegian Church in the Cardiff Bay area of the city of Cardiff, Wales, is a historic church building and formerly a place of worship for the Norwegian community in Cardiff. In the 19th century, Cardiff was one Britain's three major ports, along with London and Liverpool. The Norwegian merchant fleet at the time was the third largest in the world, and Cardiff became one of the major centres of its operations. Sjømannskirken – the Norwegian Church Abroad organization, which is part of the Church of Norway – followed in its footsteps and established a church in Cardiff Bay in 1868 to serve the religious needs of Norwegian sailors and expatriates. The building is now used as an arts centre, and is known as the Norwegian Church Arts Centre.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Cardiff Bay Barrage

11) Cardiff Bay Barrage

The Cardiff Bay Barrage is one of the largest investment and engineering project undertaken in the U.K. A multitude of water activities, land based events, new businesses and visitor attractions have located to Cardiff Bay. In order to enhance tourism was opened up a new pedestrian and cycle route across the barrage. A pleasant landscaped embankment, children's play area, the age of coal exhibition and sea fishing zone are also provided.

Walking Tours in Cardiff, Wales

Create Your Own Walk in Cardiff

Create Your Own Walk in Cardiff

Creating your own self-guided walk in Cardiff is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Architectural Jewels

Architectural Jewels

Old and new architecture beautifully combine together to create that unique and vibrant landscape of Cardiff. Take this self-guided walking tour to discover the city's most prominent landmark buildings such as the University building, City Hall, Millennium Stadium and many others.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 Km or 1.9 Miles
Shopping Arcades Walking Tour

Shopping Arcades Walking Tour

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.2 Km or 0.7 Miles
Cardiff Introduction Walking Tour

Cardiff Introduction Walking Tour

The capital of Wales Cardiff is an exciting tourist destination, rich in historic sights and places to visit. The city center and Cardiff Bay area are particularly popular with visitors for the number of cultural locations contained - museums, theaters, art centers and more. Take this self-guided tour and have a great time exploring key attractions of Cardiff.

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.1 Km or 1.9 Miles