The Best Winter Walks in Cardiff

Take a stroll and explore the beauty of Cardiff in winter. It might be cold outside, but you don’t need to hibernate. Wrap up warm, put on your walking boots, grab a coffee or hot chocolate and go on a brisk winter walk in Cardiff.

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We are so lucky; there are so many green spaces, parks and gardens. It is easy to forget about the hustle and bustle of the city, which is often behind the treeline. Take in the scenery in this stunning city – you won’t regret it.

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Winter Dog Walks in Cardiff

If you are looking for dog walks in the Cardiff area, you’ll discover some new ones to travel to on this list. Follow Ivan the Irresistible on Instagram to see what new walks and adventures we are going on. If you need help searching for dog friendly activities, let me help you with some suggestions, including the address, where to park, if it is free or if there is a cost, in my Dog Friendly Cardiff Guide. Our travel and staycations are included, so you can find new places to take your dog on holiday.

·       Exciting dog walks in Cardiff

·       The best dog walks in South Wales

·       Dog friendly walks in Caerphilly

Free Winter Walks in Cardiff City Centre

Bute Park

The most well known winter walk in Cardiff is the former Victorian pleasure ground, Bute Park behind the iconic Cardiff Castle in the city centre. Discover the remains of Blackfriars Friary, the Arboretum contains a mix of interesting trees and greenery, and the Gorsedd stones and a sculpture trail. There are plenty of information points, too. Pathway areas can get busy, even in winter months. If you’re taking your dog and want to let it off the lead, keep a close eye on them as bikes move quickly along the trail.

Cathays Park is nearby and often considered an extension to Bute Park. The formal parks of Alexandra Gardens are home to the Wales National War Memorial, Gorsedd Gardens and Friary Garden. The walks are in front of Cardiff City Hall’s impressive buildings and the National Museum of Wales. There are so many museums in Cardiff that you can visit for free.

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 1-2 hours

Parking: North Road – CF10 3DX, Sophia Gardens – CF11 9LJ or Castel Mews – CF10 3ER. Pay and display car parking.

🐾 Dog friendly

Winter Wonderland

Get into the festive spirit and walk around the annual Christmas Winter Wonderland. It is in the heart of the city centre, on the City Hall lawn. The festival has funfair rides, games and a big wheel. There’s plenty of food and drink on offer, too. The Ice Rink and Ice Walk are within the grounds of Cardiff Castle. Both are suitable for all ages and abilities. Penguin aids are available for children.

🐾 Not suitable for dogs, guidance dogs only. 

Christmas at Bute Park

The most extensive light trail Wales has ever seen is Christmas at Bute Park Cardiff. This year, it occurs between 24 November 2023 and 1 January 2024. Walk amongst the dazzling light displays, interactive installations, a flickering fire and an enchanting fairy tree forest that takes over the park. Also, some of the best street food vendors can be enjoyed. Get your tickets early, as popular dates sell out fast.

🐾 Dog friendly

Cardiff Bay Trails

One of the best winter walks in Cardiff is the 10km circular trail around Cardiff Bay that takes you through the Cardiff Bay Wetlands and across the Cardiff Bay Barrage. The manmade walkway has stunning water views in every direction, perfect for enjoying the wind in your hair. You’ll pass famous landmarks, including the Wales Millennium Centre, Pierhead Building and The Norwegian Church. There are plenty of things to do in Cardiff Bay.

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 1-3 hours

Parking: Pay and display car parks can be found in Mermaid Quay, Havannah Street, the Red Dragon Centre or the Penarth side of the barrage. 

🐾 Dog friendly

How to Get to the City Centre

Transport for Wales now offers Multiflex, which gives you 12 journeys for the same price as 5 returns. Who doesn’t want to save money? With stops in Taffs Well, Radyr, Whitchurch, Llandaff North, Cathays, Cardiff Bay, plus two in the city centre.

Pre-book your parking and save!

There are plenty of NCP car parks in the city centre, including on Westgate Street and Pellett Street. NCP Park Pass is an easy way to save money on parking. Not only do you access special parking deals, but you also don’t need to remember where you put the ticket collected at the barrier – mine always gets lost in the handbag. As payment is contact-free and cashless, you do it on your phone.

You can always pre-book your parking online and save money if that’s not your thing. Find a car park, choose your date and time, enter your details and make your payment. Once you’ve booked your parking online, you will receive a booking confirmation email detailing your booking and how to enter and exit the car park.

Winter Walks in Cardiff

Fforest Fawr

Also known as the Castell Coch Walks, Fforest Fawr is an awe-inspiring woodland with lots to discover. It is one of my favourite winter walks in Cardiff, as the trees often shelter you from the wind and rain. The sculpture trail is a particular favourite with children and follows the story of a sleeping giant who lives in the woods. Finding the carved wooden woodland creatures is a perfect free family friendly activity to do during the winter. Pop on your wellies and raincoats, and off you go!

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 1-2 hours

Parking: CF83 1NG. Small free car park. 

🐾 Dog friendly

Garth Hill Walk

The Garth Mountain walk has beautiful wildlife and incredible scenery. You get stunning views of Cardiff Bay, Flat Holm and the Bristol Channel from the top. Dogs love The Garth, with plenty to investigate and streams to splash in. However, livestock may be in the fields, so be prepared to keep them on lead. 

Difficulty: Challenging

Time: 2-3 hours

Parking: Park in Gwaelod-y-Garth village, where there is free parking. After the climb, enjoy a refreshing drink in Gwaelod-y-Garth Inn

🐾 Dog friendly

Roath Park, Roath

A gentle winter walk around the lake is always an enjoyable experience. There is plenty of thriving wildlife, including ducks, geese and swans – that don’t mind getting too close for comfort. Further along is the Wild Garden, Botanic Garden, Pleasure Garden and recreation grounds. The dog walk around Roath Park is exceptionally friendly. Evenings and weekends can be busy, so dog owners are advised to keep the dog on its lead. Roath Park has an interesting history.

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 1 hour

Parking: On-street free parking.

🐾 Dog friendly

Caerau Hillfort, Ely

The largest Iron Age site and the old parish church or St Mary’s has become popular dog walk. The Caerau Hillfort was even excavated in an episode of Time Team in 2012. Flint tools and weapons dating back to 3600 BC have been found here. The remains of St Mary’s Church date back to the 13th Century and closed in 1961. The walk passes through woodland, kissing gates and a disused railway bridge.

Difficulty: Challenging

Time: 2-3 hours

Parking: Along Heol Trelai or at the Heritage Centre on Church Road, CF5 5LQ

🐾 Dog friendly

Insole Court, Llandaff

The gardens at Insole Court in Llandaff are a peaceful walk. The Grade II listed mansion house was saved with lottery funding, and the outbuilding has undergone extensive refurbishments. Visit the Potting Shed Café for a warming drink, a hot bowl of soup or a bake. They make everything in their tiny kitchen, and it tastes incredible. Here are 9 things you didn’t know you could do at Insole Court.

Whilst here, you could also visit the nearby Llandaff Cathedral, Pontcanna Fields and Hailey Park. There is also plenty of places to eat in Llandaff.

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 1 hour

Parking: CF5 2LN. Small free car park. However, Insole Court is a charity, and donations are accepted and appreciated. 

🐾 Dog friendly

Forest Farm Nature Reserve, Whitchurch

Forest Farm Country Park is full of surprises. Sections of the former Glamorganshire Canal survive here, which you walk beside. The Taff Trail runs through a division of Forest Farm. There is also woodland, the Northern meadows, bird hides, ponds and marshland to discover. Perfect for a winter walk in Cardiff. Whilst there, discover all the things to do in Whitchurch and the places to eat in Whitchurch.

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 1 hour

Parking: Free parking on Longwood Drive, CF14 7ZB or Forest Farm Road, CF14 7JH.  

🐾 Dog friendly

Cefn Onn Park, Lisvane

Cefn Onn is not one of the obvious winter walks in Cardiff. It’s almost a hidden gem, you either know about it, or you don’t. It’s a short walk, so you may want to walk around the gardens twice. The historic park used to be a private garden. Hence, it has magnificent native and exotic trees and beautiful blooms. Cefn Onn has lots to discover, with streams, ponds, woodlands, and many paths leading off onto other trails.

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 1 hour

Parking: CF14 0FL. Small free car park.  

🐾 Dog friendly

Circular Walks Near Cardiff

Caerphilly Mountain, Thornhill 

The Caerphilly Mountain walk is one of the nice walks near Cardiff. It’s easy to have a short walk and incorporate a little incline in just 10 minutes. However, a longer walk around the mountain takes an hour to make the trip worthwhile and stretch out those limbs. Once at the top, there is a 360-degree view. The Caerphilly Mountain Snack Bar, known locally as The Shack, is a foodie’s paradise. With breakfast rolls, burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches and over 20 different flavours of ice cream. 

Difficulty: Moderate

Time: 1 hour

Parking: CF83 1JA. Free parking.

🐾 Dog friendly

Cosmeston Lakes, Penarth

Cosmeston Lakes is a fantastic place to visit. With two lakes to walk around, plus wetlands and woodlands, it’s fair to say you’ll love it here. They are even welcome in the Medieval Village and Museum, which is set in the year 1350. Winter warmers and light bites are available in the café too. 

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 1 hour

Parking: CF64 5UY. £1 for up to 2 hours, £2 for up to 4 hours and £4 for all day.

🐾 Dog friendly

Parc Penallta, Ystrad Mynach

Like most of the South Wales valleys, Parc Penallta is carved from a former coal tip. Find Sultan the Pit Pony, the largest figurative earth sculpture in the country. Climb to the High Point Observatory, where you’ll be rewarded with dramatic views, walk through the willow tunnel, watch the dragonflies over the pond and find the Sleeping Giant. 

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Time: 1-2 hours

Parking: CF82 7GN. Free car parking.

🐾 Dog friendly

Cwmcarn Forest Drive, Caerphilly

If you fancy an adventure, grab your walking boots and head to Cwmcarn Forest Drive. This stunning valley has hiking trails, fishing and much more, so spending a day here is easy. There are seven car parks to stop off at. Enjoy the views, bring a picnic or BBQ, play in the adventure parks, sensory tunnels and woodland sculpture trail.

Difficulty: Easy to moderate. The circular walk is challenging if you park at the Visitor Centre. 

Time: 2-3 hours

Parking: NP11 7FA. £8 per car (cash only).

🐾 Dog friendly

The National Trust

The best way to experience nature and history is by exploring what the National Trust has to offer. From lush green valleys to rugged coastlines, these incredible places of outstanding natural beauty are perfect for a winter walk. There are also captivating historical sites and attractive homes begging to be uncovered. The National Trust in South Wales include Dyffryn Gardens, Tredegar House and Lanley.

National Trust Wales Membership

With your membership, you can visit over 500 houses, gardens, parks and castles in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. 

The National Trust membership includes:

  • Unlimited free entry to all of the properties.
  • Essential companion card where you can bring up to two carers if you have a disability. These can be different people; the card is in your name.
  • Free parking at the majority of car parks. Some National Trust car parks are in other natural areas like beaches and countryside walks. 
  • Annually you’ll be sent a handbook full of information about the properties. However, the website is easy to navigate, finding places to visit by area or postcode.
  • Regular members magazine, sent three times a year.
  • Regular e-newsletters.
  • Join by direct debit and get a £15 gift card to spend in the National Trust shops or café.

Perks to visiting National Trust properties:

  • The majority of National Trust sites are dog-friendly. Going inside the buildings can be tricky, as dogs can’t enter them. However, you can take turns if you go as a couple or a group.
  • There are plenty of activities for children, such as things to find in the gardens and walking trails. Many of them have play areas too.
  • If you are going for history, you may have to do your own research.
  • National Trust wins in nature, as the properties have many grounds, long walks, and nature areas such as the South West Coast Path.

How much is a National Trust membership?

Memberships can be purchased in total, by direct debit or as a gift voucher and are for a year. Get yours here

  • Adult Membership (age 26 plus) = £84 a year (£7 per month)
  • Young Person Membership (age 18-25) = £42 a year
  • Junior Membership (age 6-17, under 5’s are free) = £10 a year
  • Joint Membership (2 adults) = £139.20 a year (£11.60 per month)
  • Family Membership (for 2 adults) = £146.40 a year (£12.20 per month)
  • Family Membership (for 1 adult) = £91.20 a year (£7.60 per month)
  • Individual Life Membership = £1, 845 or £1,380 for over 60s
  • Joint Life Membership = £2,305 or £1,730 for over 60s
  • Family Life Membership = £2415

Use Top Cash Back when purchasing your membership

I’ve been a member of TopCashBack UK for several years and, to date, have earned over £1000 from it. Trust me, it’s a no-brainer, and you can make extra money by shopping online. Currently, you can get 3.15% back on your National Trust membership.

Coastal Walks Near Cardiff

There are so many beautiful beaches near Cardiff. All are ideal for a winter walk. Here are some of the highlights: 

Nash Point, Llantwit Major

The large beach is full of fossils, fertile rock pools, stunning rugged cliffs and rock formations, all topped off with the majestic Nash Point Lighthouse. The lighthouse and its meadow are a site of special scientific interest, with rare plants and wildlife. It is a popular location for ramblers, hiking along the cliffs to Llantwit Major Beach, and dog walkers.

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Time: 1-2 hours, though exploring more of the Wales Coast Path could be longer.

Parking: CF61 1ZH opposite Clifftop Cafe. £3 all-day parking, payable at the café.

🐾 There are no restrictions for dogs.

Southerndown, Bridgend

Southerndown, also known as Dunraven Bay, is a sandy beach with rocky areas. Spectacular cliffs enclose it. The beach is popular for swimming and watersports, such as canoeing and surfing – even in winter. It is also one of the best beaches in the area for fossil hunters. The beach is surrounded by open countryside. A path runs along the cliff tops towards Ogmore, offering good views of the Bristol Channel. But a short walk in the other direction leads to a castle and hill fort.

Difficulty: Easy 

Time: 1-2 hours.

Parking: CF32 0RT. Between £1.10 and 6.50 for all-day parking. Annual parking permits can also be purchased. 

🐾 Dogs can’t go on the beach between 1 May and 30 September.

Ogmore, Bridgend

Ogmore-by-Sea is a popular sand and shingle beach along the Glamorgan Heritage Coast. The mouth of the River Ogmore runs into the sea over the beach. The beach has a reputation as being one of the cleanest in the region.

So, the name ‘Ogmore’ is thought to come from the large caves located nearby (ogof is the Welsh word for cave). There is also a coastal walk which offers stunning views out to sea from above the cliff-tops. 

Difficulty: Easy 

Time: 1-2 hours.

Parking: CF32 0PB. Between £1.10 and 6.50 for all-day parking. Annual parking permits can also be purchased. 

🐾 There are no restrictions for dogs.

Rest Bay, Porthcawl

Rest Bay is a Blue Flag Beach. It sits alongside The Royal Porthcawl Golf Club, so you can expect to find some lost balls. The waves can be large, making it a good beach for surfing, wind and kite surfing – even in the winter. Rest Bay is also home to rock pools, so marine life can be found. 

Follow the Wales Coast Path past the golf club, and you’ll be rewarded with views across Swansea Bay. Keep your eyes peeled for the remains of the 1947 shipwreck which inspired the R.D Blackmore novel, The Maid of Sker. The 3-mile walk will take you to Kenfig Sands.

Difficulty: Moderate

Time: 2-3 hours.

Parking: CF36 3UP. Between £1 parking between October and March, it’s up to £4 in the summer. The carpark is locked at 6pm. Season parking permits can also be purchased. 

🐾 Dogs can’t go on the beach between 1 May and 30 September.

Waterfall Walks Near Cardiff

Four Falls Trail, Brecon Beacons National Park

Walk through woodland beside a winding stream. Along the Four Falls Trail is uneven terrain, some hilly parts, slippery steps and bridges to cross. Finding the Ystradfellte waterfalls is so rewarding. There’s even one you can walk behind, as a curtain of water will pour over the rock face into the shallow water below. Walking boots or proper footwear are highly recommended during the winter. 

Difficulty: Challenging

Time: 4-5 hours

Parking: Cwm Porth car park CF44 9JF. £5 per car. If this car park is full, nearby farmers rent their fields for the same price. 

🐾 Dog friendly

Pistyll Rhaeadr, Rhayader

Pistyll Rhaeadr is the tallest single-drop waterfall in the UK, and it is also considerably higher than Niagara Falls, at a staggering 240 feet tall. Water gushes down the side of the jagged face of the Berwyn Mountains near Rhayader in Mid Wales. The waterfall is one of the seven wonders of Wales. It is a beautiful part of Wales, and there are plenty of things to do in Rhayader, including visiting the Elan Valley. Good walking shoes are recommended, especially in winter.

Difficulty: Moderate to challenging

Time: 1-2 hours

Parking: SY10 0BZ. £5 per car on weekdays, £10 on weekends. 

🐾 Dog friendly

Best Cardiff Restaurants

Cardiff is a foodie’s delight. From the quality of the produce to the level of cooking, at both the casual and cheap eats, Cardiff is staking a serious claim to being one of the most exciting places to eat in the UK.

Entertainment Bars in Cardiff

Whether looking for an after-work drink with colleagues, a boy’s or girls’ night out surrounded by cocktails, or a date night spot, you’re always close to the best bars in Cardiff. 

Hotels in South Wales

If you know when you’d like to travel, try to book in advance and as soon as possible. Prices tend to rise the closer you get to the travel date. However, there is a vast array to accommodate all budgets. 

easyHotel Cardiff

The easyHotel Cardiff is a 15-minute walk to the city centre restaurants. It has double rooms (with or without a window), accessible bedrooms and twin rooms. Found a short walk behind Cardiff Queen Street train station, the budget hotel has en-suite bathrooms, heated rooms in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. WiFi is free; pay and display and multi-storey car parks are nearby.

Radisson Cardiff

The Radisson Blue Hotel Cardiff is in the city centre. A 7-10 minute walk to the city centre restaurants. The 4-star hotel has smart TVs in the bedrooms, private bathrooms with complimentary toiletries, laptop-compatible safes, and limited onsite parking.

Dog friendly hotels in Cardiff

Your perfect dog-friendly escape in Cardiff awaits! Before I had my rescue dog, Ivan, I didn’t think Cardiff was very dog friendly. How wrong was I? The dog friendly hotels in Cardiff include national chain hotels, budget brands, pubs and country houses.

The Copthorne

The Copthorne, part of Millennium Hotels and Resorts, is a traditional 4-star hotel in Cardiff that is ideally located between the city centre and the coast of Barry Island. This hotel is closest to the Vale of Glamorgan restaurants. Ideal for business travellers, couples or families, it is a perfect base. You can expect free Wi-Fi, an indoor pool and modern in-room amenities. Book early and save up to 20% off:

The surrounding areas

Don’t be afraid of staying out of central Cardiff, either. Penarth, Barry, Caerphilly, Pontypridd, and Merthyr Tydfil are the surrounding areas connected by regular buses and trains.  You can also plan with Stay at great hotels at a fraction of the price.

National Trust Holidays

National Trust Holidays offer a selection of holiday cottages, campsites and bunkhouses set in spectacular locations. Sleeping 2 – 12 guests, they have everything you need for a night away, from kitchen facilities to cosy gardens to relax in during warmer weather. 

Get 15% off selected cottages for bookings made and taken between 1 June and 12 December 2023. Use discount code NTAF

Cottages and Houses

The award-winning business, Sykes Cottages, has properties across the UK, and the ones near Cardiff are beautiful. From cosy lodges with traditional woodburning stoves to contemporary accommodation with a hot tub. With all the amenities you could need, including parking, WiFi and many dog-friendly places, check out Sykes Holiday Cottages.

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