The British love a good picnic. In fact, we’ve been loving picnics for centuries and as far back as the middle ages. The excitement of setting off for an adventure with a tasty feast tucked away in your backpack, waiting to be munched on as the sun hits midday, is a favoured pastime for so many of us.
Did you know the average person picnics at least three times a year, according to National Picnic Week. That’s over 94 million picnics collectively per year. And with the summer months approaching, you can bet that most of us will be wanting to indulge in alfresco sarnies and pop a lot more.
In Cardiff there are plenty of nooks and crannies to unfold your picnic blanket so we take a look at the best places – from our favourite spots in some of the biggest parks to smaller spaces to escape the crowds, bask in nature, get some vitamin D and picnic to your heart’s content.
Read more:Picture perfect places where you can enjoy a picnic in Wales
This historic and utterly gorgeous park in the centre of the city has so many stunning picnic spots, you are simply spoilt for choice. From quiet spots in amongst the magnificent arboretum to the Secret Garden Cafe, this vast landscape – which travels across 130 acres – was once the pleasure ground of Cardiff Castle and continues to please the people of Cardiff and beyond come rain or shine. It’s no wonder it’s been named one of Britain’s most valuable green spaces.
Best spot: For a sweet and secluded spot, we recommend settling down by Bute Park’s riverside – which can be entered via a wooden plank just off Blackweir Woodland Trail – with a blanket and picnic basket and indulge as you watch the salmon dance through the water.
With woodland, wildlife ponds and a model railway, this picnic spot has nature and entertainment for all. Located on the outskirts of Heath Hospital, the park also boasts a lovely King George V Memorial Playing Field where you can park up your picnic and enjoy the sunshine. With a play area for kids and a wetland reserve, it’s a stunning place to enjoy all that nature has to offer.
Roath Park and Lake
A botanical garden, a ginormous lake which houses a beautiful old memorial known as the lighthouse, a play park, a woodland, a wild garden, a conservatory – with unique plants and fish – and acres of vast open green grass throughout from the man-made lake to its sister park, Roath Recreation Ground. A stone’s throw away from Wellfield and Albany Road, you can picnic, play football, Rugby and frolic in the sun to your heart’s content at this stunning staple in Cardiff which has been loved by the locals since 1894.
Best spot: For a splashingly good view, seat yourself down beside the lake – though, mind the geese. If you’re after peace and quiet, we’d opt for the gardens away from the lake where you can lay your blanket in the shade of the trees and away from the hustle and bustle.
Situated in the heart of Canton, this gorgeous Grade II listed park was named after the Queen at the time of its opening in 1897 and was created to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee marking her record sixty years on the throne. What’s so charming about the park is that it still contains the original model boating and paddling pool – which, every summer, are always a hit. It also houses a stunning bandstand, complete with intricate detailing, replicating the original one built in 1898 that sadly fell into disrepair and was demolished. Perhaps Vicky Park’s most thrilling feature is the Splashpad for kids to entertain themselves while you tuck into the punnet of strawberries, which will reopen this June – features include sprays, jets, a tipping water bucket and a tunnel.
Llandaff and Pontcanna Fields
Located in the west of the city, these two urban parks – which expanded and merged together in 1879 – connect the city centre to the stretches of Llandaff in north Cardiff and run alongside the River Taff. Its stunning walking paths, magnificent axial lime avenue and large open plots of grass throughout rival that of London’s very own Hyde Park.
Forest Farm and Glamorgan Canal Local Nature Reserve
Located on the banks of the Taff just south of the M4 motorway, Forest Farm is full of quaint and quirky features that make it a fantastic family day out. Home to the last remaining stretch of the Glamorganshire Canal, which still holds fresh water, not only will you experience wildlife here – such as kingfishers – but history too all surrounded by vast woodland, scrub, a hay meadow, ponds, marshland, quaint bridges and picnic benches. Don’t forget to look out for the restored Melingriffith Waterpump, a relic of the industrial past of the area. The Taff Trail too runs through the site.
In the heart of the Vale of Glamorgan, near the villages of Dyffryn and St. Nicholas, you’ll find these beautiful botanical gardens. The 55 acre gardens on offer feature a rose garden, Pompeian garden, several ponds and an arboretum.
Best spot: Choose your spot on the lawn to take in the views of the grand house and surrounding natural beauty – the perfect accompaniment to a good old-fashioned picnic.
Visit this glorious Victorian house and marvel at its beauty from the gardens while you snack on sarnies and strawbs. Originally the grounds of the house, which is located in Llandaff, were owned by the Insole family, who were pioneers in the Welsh steam coal mining industry. The family based the house’s design over the years on architect William Burges’ work, who worked on Castell Coch and Cardiff Castle for the Marquis of Bute. The glorious gardens surrounding the house just so happen to be a an even more glorious spot for a picnic.
Fforest Fawr and Castell Coch
Have a feast amongst the forest surrounding Castell Coch. With its unique conical roofs that pop out of the treetops and woodland as far as the eyes can see, it’s the perfect spot for a secluded picnic amid a day of exploring the castle’s many trails.
St Fagans National History Museum
It’s an obvious choice for a brilliant family day out but you might not think of heading to St Fagans for a picnic – but there are some great areas to devour your sarnies. Bask in the history of Wales and its people at the number one museum in the UK. Alongside designated picnic benches which are dotted about the large open museum, visitors can take a pew on the grass near the rose garden, the row of houses frozen in time or outside the sweet shop beside the maypole.
Learning about the history of one of Cardiff’s most iconic landmarks is hunger-inducing work. So why not bring a picnic and relax against the backdrop of the stunning castle and take a break in its public square. Need a coffee to go? Visit the castle’s very own cafe that’s just to the right of the entrance.
Coed y Wenallt
Can you think of a more picture perfect place to have a picnic than Coed Y Wenallt, which has an amazing blanket of bluebells each spring. A semi-natural ancient woodland, you can settle your blanket down amongst a sea of bluebells, which create the perfect backdrop for that Insta-worthy post. And if the woodland’s ancient history isn’t interesting enough, there’s an Iron Age hill fort dating back to between 800BC – 55AD tucked away in the southern part of the Wenallt woodland.
Cardiff Bay Barrage
Connecting the Victorian seaside town of Penarth across the water to Cardiff Bay, the barrage – which opened in 2001 – is a stunning scenic walk for families and people of all ages. Its features include a sandy playground, skate park, long stretches of green on the shore and picnic benches scattered throughout the route. We recommend parking up in front of Roald Dahl’s The Enormous Crocodile.
One Tripadvisor reviewer said: “Always a good day out, lots of little boats going in and out of the barrage. You can take a boat trip yourself over to Cardiff Bay, walk or cycle or even ride on the little train. Great area for picnics, children’s playground and dogs have plenty of space to run around. Somewhere for the whole family to enjoy themselves.”
Parc Cefn Onn, Caerphilly
A grade 2 listed historic park, Parc Cefn Onn is situated on the fringes of north Cardiff. The designated Country Park has beautiful wooded areas for long walks, tumbling streams and even provides access to a footpath that leads to Caerphilly Mountain. Set down your picnic basket and soak up the stunning scenery and listen to the birds inhabiting the vast array of native and exotic trees.
Thompson’s Park, Canton
One of Cardiff’s oldest parks, Thompson’s Park, originally named Sir David’s Field, was previously a private garden before being opened to the public in 1891 by owner Charles Thompson. At the end of the 19th century, it was enlarged and landscaped by garden designer Sir William Goldring, before Charles gifted it to Cardiff Corporation. With an iconic water fountain just a few metres from the entrance, this park – complete with open spaces – is a pleasant and peaceful place in which to spend a sunny Saturday.
It’s often overlooked, but the charming neighbourhood of Grangetown has a stunning park filled with amazing Victorian features to feast your eyes on and green areas on which to take a perch and picnic. Marvel at the cast iron bandstand which was originally installed in February 1895 and replicated in 2000, or admire the stunning fountain canopy as well as a World War II monument – not to mention the pictoresque trees under which to shade from the sun and sip on some tea to-go.