Cardiff Bay Circular Walk

The Cardiff Bay Circular Walk is approximately five miles long. You can start at any point along the route but I recommend beginning and ending in Mermaid Quay where there is an abundance of restaurants, cafes and bars for that all important after-walk treat! The area celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and there are plans for a major refurbishment.

It is possible to follow the circular route in either direction but I chose to go anti-clockwise, alongside the striking waterfront St. David’s Hotel to the Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve. Created in 2002, the reserve is a haven for wildlife within the urban landscape.

The walk continues past the International Sports Village and Cardiff International White Water rafting centre to reach Penarth Marina.

Penarth Marina

From here, it is a short walk to the Cardiff Bay Barrage. The completion of the barrage in 1999 created the bay as it is today. Yellow lines appear to be painted in random places but if you stand in a particular position, indicated by a yellow ‘X’ on the floor, the ‘Barrage Circles’ become clear. ‘Three Ellipses for Three Locks’ is a visual illusion by Swiss artist, Felice Varini.

The Cardiff Bay Barrage

The walk ends by returning to Mermaid Quay, passing some of Cardiff Bay’s famous landmarks along the way.

The Norwegian Church is now an arts centre. Perhaps best known for being the church where Roald Dahl was baptised, it was an important place of worship for the Norwegian seafarers who settled in Cardiff.

The Senedd is the home of the National Assembly for Wales. Members of the public are allowed access but there are security procedures in place that must be complied with.

The Pierhead building is adjacent to the Senedd. This historic Grade One listed building has been a focal point in the bay since its construction in 1897 when Cardiff was the world’s largest port.

Just to the side of the Pierhead building is a large outdoor space called the Roald Dahl Plass. Events, such as the Cardiff International Food and Drink Festival, are held here throughout the year.

The Wales Millennium Centre overlooks the plaza. This iconic design is dominated by the bilingual inscription, ‘In These Stones Horizons Sing’. This is a world-class artistic facility hosting shows and bringing together organisations under one roof, such as Literature Wales, the Welsh National Opera and the BBC National Orchestra & Chorus of Wales.

Cardiff Bay is a superb place for an urban stroll. There is so much to see and do that it is easy to enjoy a full day out whilst incorporating a few miles of walking.  For further information about this area, visit

A version of this article first appeared in ‘Bwrdd’ – The Newsletter for Mensa Cymru, April 2019.

More walking articles can be found in the outdoors category of my blog.