Cardiff is located 151 miles (243 kilometers) west of London, but good road and rail connections make it very easy to visit via bus, car, or train. Attracting thousands of rugby and football fans every year to its impressive stadiums, Cardiff has become one of the U.K.'s top destinations and is an entry point for exploring the rest of Wales. In recent years, this old university town has experienced something of a style and entertainment renaissance, so there's a lot to do about town as well. There are no direct flights to Cardiff from London, so the easiest way to get there is by train, bus, or driving.
|Train||1 hour, 45 minutes||from $36||Fastest route|
|Bus||3 hours, 30 minutes||from $6||Budget travel|
|Car||2 hours, 45 minutes||151 miles (243 kilometers)||Flexibility|
What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From London to Cardiff?
Any bus from London to Cardiff will take at least three hours, 30 minutes, and one-way tickets can be found for as low as $6 via National Express. Buses leave from Victoria Coach Station in London and arrive at Cardiff Bus Station. You may also be able to purchase a ticket to go directly to Cardiff University or the airport in Cardiff.
The best way to score a low fare is to book your tickets in advance on the bus company's website. National Express offers a limited number of "funfare" promotional tickets that are very cheap. These can only be purchased online and they are usually posted on the website a month to a few weeks before the trip.
What Is the Fastest Way to Get From London to Cardiff?
Great Western Railway (GWR) operates direct trains to Cardiff Central Station from Paddington Station in London on their Swansea line. Trains leave every half hour during the busiest times of the day and the journey takes as little as one hour, 45 minutes. The more flexible you are about your travel time, the more you can save on cost, and some one-way tickets purchased in advance can be found for as little as $36.
Advance tickets are usually sold as one-way or "single" tickets. Whether or not you buy advance tickets, always compare the "single" ticket price to the round trip or "return" price as it is often cheaper to buy two single tickets rather than one round trip ticket. The difference on a trip between London and Cardiff is dramatic with standard fares being as much as two or three times the cost of advance fares.
How Long Does It Take to Drive?
It takes about three hours to drive to Cardiff via the M4 and M48 motorways. However, the M4 can be congested as you leave London, especially if you are traveling during peak hours. Before crossing the River Severn, you'll also pass by the city of Bristol, which happens to be the hometown of Banksy, the world's most famous anonymous street artist.
If it's your first time driving in the U.K., make sure you brush up on the local driving regulations and take some time to practice driving on the other side of the road as soon as you pick up your car.
When Is the Best Time to Travel to Cardiff?
Not unlike London, the weather in Cardiff—and the rest of Wales—can be quite rainy and cold throughout the year, especially because this is a coastal city. Wet weather will be hard to avoid no matter what time of year you go, but if you visit in the spring, between April and June, you may be able to enjoy the flower blooms in the countryside and gardens. With the weather being pretty homogenous throughout the year, you might instead decide to plan your trip around one of Cardiff's summer festivals like Welsh Proms, which celebrates classical music in July, or the Open Air Theatre Festival, which begins in June.
What Is There to Do in Cardiff?
Wales has more castles per square mile than any other country in the world, so truly, no visitor should leave Cardiff without paying a visit to Cardiff Castle, the city's main attraction. The castle represents three eras of Cardiff's long history as it sits on the site of a former Roman fortress, was built in the medieval era by the Normans, and was later opulently refurbished by the Victorians.
When you're not exploring the history of Cardiff, you can check out the waterfront restaurants on Mermaid Quay or, if the weather is rainy, head indoors and explore the shops in the covered arcades. If you choose to visit other parts of Wales, you'll find that this unassuming corner of the U.K. is actually quite adventurous with opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, and caving.