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Parking at Cardiff
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Cardiff Airport’s short-stay car park is directly opposite the terminal just a short walk from the check-in hall. You can leave your car in short-stay for up to 10 minutes for a low fee and for up to three days at normal rates. After three days, prices can vary and are subject to change, so be sure to compare your options with Looking4Parking.com before booking.
Cardiff Airport has three official long-stay car parks: Long Stay 1, Long Stay 2 and Long Stay 3.
You can stay in Long Stay 1 or Long Stay 2 for as little as 10 minutes or longer than 31 days, but the airport charges increased daily fees for leaving your car in Long Stay 1 or 2 if you turn up without pre-booking your space.
Long Stay 3 is the CWL 'holiday car park'. You can leave your car there for a minimum of seven days and beyond 31 days if you wish. Long Stay 3 is “not flexible”, which means that you cannot change the terms after purchase.
Cardiff Airport has a free drop-off and pick-up area right outside the terminal. Short-stay and Long Stay 1 and 2 have dedicated spaces for Blue Badge holders.
All car parks are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, whilst each one carries the Park Mark Award for quality and security.
The Meet and Greet services at Cardiff Airport allow you to drive up to the terminal and hand your keys over to a chauffeur, who will park your car for you and bring it back to the terminal upon your return, so you don’t need to worry about scrambling for a parking space yourself.
Cardiff Airport (CWL) is the biggest flight hub in Wales and the 20th-busiest airport in the UK. Serving passengers from Cardiff, South Wales, Mid Wales and West Wales, CWL offers mostly short-haul flights to Europe and within Great Britain and the Channel Islands. Over one million passengers used Cardiff Airport in 2016.
The airport is located in the village of Rhoose in the Vale of Glamorgan. It is 11.7 miles (18.8 kilometres) from Cardiff city centre (post code CF11) and it takes less than half an hour to reach by car on the A48, A4232 and A4050. Buses from Cardiff city centre to the airport run every 15 to 20 minutes and it takes 35 to 40 minutes to get there from County Hall.
There’s no on-site train station at Cardiff Airport, but there is a rail link connecting the nearby Rhoose Cardiff Airport Railway Station to Cardiff Central and Bridgend. It takes seven minutes to reach the airport from Rhoose train station by shuttle bus. National Express coaches connect CWL to locations further afield in the UK.
Cardiff Airport sits on land originally requisitioned by the Air Ministry during World War II. Its purpose was to act as a training base and aerodrome for RAF Spitfire pilots. RAF Rhoose, as it was then known, opened in April 1942.
In 1951, Minister of Aviation and Welshman, David Rees-Williams, recognised the potential for a commercial airport in the region. Irish airline, Aer Lingus, began offering flights to and from Dublin the next year.
As a means of expanding commercial operations, a new terminal was built in 1952. This allowed flights to and from Belfast, Cork and France. Passenger numbers at Cardiff Airport broke the 100,000 barrier in 1962.
The Ministry of Defence transferred ownership and control of the airport to Glamorgan County Council in 1965 and its first transatlantic flight took off for Orlando, Florida, six years later in 1971.
Further improvements followed, with the expansion of the terminal and the addition of a new control tower in the 1970s. CWL’s runway also doubled in length during this time, whilst it was expanded even further to accommodate larger aircraft in the 1980s.
By 1992, close to 750,000 passengers used CWL. This constituted a remarkable 22 per cent rise in traffic compared to the previous year. It only took two more years for it to serve one million passengers, as 1994 ushered in a new era of prominence for the region’s airport.
The Airport Company was privatised in 1995, but CWL went back into public hands in 2012 after the Welsh government purchased it for £52 million.
As a small airport, there are fewer facilities available in comparison to many others in the UK. However, there are familiar high-street newsagents, brands and fast food joints located within the main building. There’s also flagship duty free store selling a range of designer goods and souvenirs for you to remember your time in Wales.
Facilities at CWL include:
There are no on-site hotels at Cardiff Airport. However, there are three options to stay the night within a one-mile (1.6-kilometre) radius.
Holiday Inn Express Cardiff Airport is just half a mile (0.8 kilometres) from CWL. In fact, it’s so close that you’ll be able to see the runway from the front of the building. Fortunately, the Holiday Inn is quiet due to its quadruple-glazed windows, so you’ll be able to sleep soundly without the noise of planes ringing in your ears.
This hotel provides free WiFi and a complimentary breakfast, whilst some packages include free parking for up to eight days. The hotel also offers to take you to the airport by shuttle bus.
Celtic International Hotel is less than a mile (1.6 kilometres) away from the airport. It provides free and fast internet access and an all-night food service. It has a 24-hour business centre on site, too. Free parking and a late-night check-in service are also available, so it’s a stress-free experience.
Travelodge Cardiff Airport is just three minutes’ drive from CWL. Despite its proximity, its pleasant countryside location is a nice contrast to the hustle and bustle of the airport. The Travelodge supplies free WiFi, king-size beds and parking spaces for the duration of your stay on a first-come-first-served basis. You may purchase a breakfast box for a small extra charge and while there is no restaurant, there is a Toby Carvery next door.
If your phone battery goes flat or you don’t want to pay the charge for using the airport's WiFi on your phone for over 30 minutes, you’re in luck.
Internet kiosks are dotted around the terminal, so you can browse the web for as long as you want before boarding. One of these kiosks sits next to Caffi Cwtch on the first floor of the landside area. You’ll find two more internet kiosks in the departures lounge. You’ll have to pay a small fee for access to WiFi at these points, but using these kiosks may still work out cheaper than using the WiFi signal throughout the building if you need to for more than 30 minutes. You’ll also find handy mobile charging points at the kiosks, all of which are available for use at no extra cost.
If you’re a business traveller, you might be pleased to know that Cardiff Airport has on-site meeting rooms. If you need to catch up with a client or get updates from a colleague before you board, this is the spot for it.
The airport also supplies pens, notepads, projectors, flip charts and more at small extra costs and you can arrange buffet lunches and other refreshments through Cardiff Airport’s catering suppliers
When compared to those of larger airports, the shopping options at Cardiff Airport are limited, but CWL makes up for this with its impressive Nuance Tax and Duty Free shop. The store sells a range of designer clothing and accessories at discount prices. You’ll also find soft drinks and premium alcoholic beverages at a much lower cost than in normal retail stores.
It also runs a 'Collect on Return' service, so if you’re tempted by something you can’t take away there and then, you can buy it and leave it safely in the airport until you return.
Caffi Cwtch promises a “warm, Welsh welcome”, which isn’t a gimmick – a warm welcome is certainly what you get.
The café caters to all kinds of passengers in an airy, light and relaxing space. You’ll find everything from soft and alcoholic drinks to a kids’ menu and even facilities to warm up your baby’s food. Caffi Cwtch sits in the departure lounge before security. The main menu is available on the CWL website.
The Executive Lounge at CWL is a nice, quiet area to relax before take-off. You also get a choice of free snacks, drinks, newspapers and magazines. There’s a TV to allow you to keep up with the news and free WiFi that’s much faster than anywhere else in the airport.
If you have enough time on your hands during your layover at CWL, Cardiff Castle is a must-see. The operators provide daily tours that boast great reviews on the web. During the visit, you’ll explore the castle grounds, wartime shelters and battlements. You’ll also see the opulent Victorian apartments and the Norman Keep.
One of the most interesting things about Cardiff Castle is the Firing Line Museum there. This museum commemorates the plights of Welsh soldiers over the last three centuries. You will hear the fascinating stories of ordinary Welshmen travelling the world and playing key roles in the Battle of Waterloo (1815) and Rorke’s Drift (1879). You’ll also learn more about what it was like for Welsh soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan in more recent times.
You’re even given the chance to dress up like the soldiers of The Royal Welsh and 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards. The interactive and static displays are also fun and absorbing for people of all ages.
Llandaff Cathedral dates to 1107 and is one of the oldest cathedrals in the UK. A lot of work on the building continued well into the 19th century. However, much of the cathedral’s Victorian additions succumbed to bombing during World War II.
The local diocese entrusted much of the restoration work to modernist architect, George Pace. Pace set about mixing what was left of the building with modern ideas. His distinctive concrete arch and aluminium Christ statue are part of what draws in visitors to this day.
These modern touches in a medieval place of worship may seem bizarre when you first see them, but they blend beautifully into their surroundings, which can be explored on guided tours for schools and large groups.
The National Museum Cardiff promises “world class art and natural history” and it doesn’t disappoint. The museum is brimming with creative and natural Welsh wonders that have a lot to offer the whole family.
Sitting in the heart of Cardiff’s charming civic centre, the National Museum Cardiff provides an extensive choice of events and exhibitions – and they’re all free. You'll be treated to five centuries’ worth of priceless paintings, sculptures, ceramics and silver pieces from revered Welsh artists.
The highlight of the natural section is arguably the Evolution of Wales exhibition. Here, you can learn about Wales from its very beginnings at the time of the Big Bang right up to the modern era on a journey through 4.6 billion years of history that, of course, includes woolly mammoths and dinosaurs.
Castell Coch (or ‘Red Castle’ in English) is a lavish Gothic-revival castle, built in the 19th century on ancient regal grounds. It was the legendary home to the 3rd Marquess of Bute, a man to whom money was no object, which is immediately clear as soon as you set foot inside.
Castell Coch was designed by eccentric architect, William Burges, but sadly the castle’s mastermind didn’t live to see its completion. The work on the lavish house finished in 1891, 10 years after Burges’ death. The architect’s detailed drawings are on display in the castle.
Inside, you’ll also find multi-sensory resources that give you the chance to explore the site in minute detail (this technology is especially useful for visitors with physical or sensory impairments).
As host to the Welsh National Opera and countless ballet performances, the Millennium Centre is the home of high culture in Wales. You’ll find everything from musicals and dance shows to live bands and cabaret acts throughout the year.
The centre’s website declares its aim to become the “ffwrnais awen” (“furnace of inspiration”) for people of all ages within the local community. Whether you have a taste for high culture or not, the Millennium Centre offers thrills aplenty for both performers and spectators alike.
Smugglers Cove Adventure Golf is a miniature course with a pirate theme. Located on the captivating Barry Island promenade, it gives you and the kids a chance to pit your wits against a variety of perils hiding within the rocks, waterfalls and lakes on the 12-hole course.
The course opens at 12pm on weekdays and 10am on weekends and school holidays.
Cardiff’s City Sightseeing 'hop-on, hop-off' bus tour allows you to pack some education into your visit to the historic city with the help of an in-depth audio commentary by a guide. Your 24-hour ticket lets you hop off when something grabs your eye and get back on when you’re ready to learn more.
If you’re arriving in Cardiff early or staying after landing, you’ll be able to take in Cardiff Castle, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff Bay, St Fagans National Museum of History, Techniquest and Bute Park amongst many other attractions.
Named by the Independent as its “Cool Place of the Day” in June 2016, the Merthyr Mawr Sand Dunes sit within a warren in a pretty Welsh estate village. Their quaint and very British location belies the fact that the site was used as the set for parts of the film Lawrence of Arabia in 1962.
The dunes are of real interest to scientists and are also an important habitat for wildlife in the area. You can while away the hours as you stroll along the sand and discover the many ancient ruins, including those of a Norman castle.
Cardiff Airport has just one terminal. You can find live flight information on the CWL website.
Small regional airlines from across Europe dominate the runway at Cardiff Airport. Most flights take you to holiday spots within the EU. However, BH Air provides seasonal flights to and from Bulgaria and Eastern Airways offers domestic flights to Aberdeen, Anglesey and Newcastle-upon-Tyne throughout the year.
Flybe is the biggest airline operating out of CWL. It now uses the airport as a main base for flights around Great Britain, the Channel Islands and Ireland. DragonFly and Signature Flight Support use CWL as a base for their corporate and private flying operations.
The 18 airlines providing flights from Cardiff Airport are:
|BHAir (on behalf of Balkan Holidays)||Main terminal|
|Cardiff Aviation||Main terminal|
|DragonFly (corporate and private aviation)||Main terminal|
|Eastern Airways||Main terminal|
|Norwegian Air||Main terminal|
|P&O Cruises||Main terminal|
|Signature Flight Support (corporate and private aviation)||Main terminal|
|Small Planet Airlines||Main terminal|
|Thomas Cook||Main terminal|
If you’re using sat nav, the postcode CF62 3BD gets you straight to the CWL terminal. The airport is in Rhoose in the Vale of Glamorgan. Leave the M4 at Junction 33, drive along the A4232 and follow signs to the airport from there. This takes you on to the A4050 and then the A4226, on which you need to drive straight down for 10 minutes until you see the airport terminal in front of you.
Trains from Cardiff Central Station and Bridgend to Rhoose Railway Station run every hour from Monday to Saturdays and one train leaves each station every two hours on Sundays. A shuttle bus t the airport coincides with each train arriving from Cardiff and Bridgend. This service gets to and from Cardiff Airport in around 10 minutes and there is a small charge to pay.
These services are fully-equipped to provide special assistance upon request.
There are plenty of buses available to take you to Cardiff Airport from in and around the city centre.
National Express operates the T9 service under the name Cardiff Airport Express Bus Service. It provides on-board WiFi, plenty of luggage space and coach-style leather seats. Services run every 30 minutes and get you to the airport from Cardiff city centre in 35 to 40 minutes.
The 905 service takes you between Rhoose Rail Interchange and Cardiff Airport in seven minutes and runs once every hour.
Smoking and vaping are not permitted anywhere inside Cardiff Airport, so please be sure to use the designated smoking area either outside the terminal building or next to Gate 2 in the departures lounge.
Most car parks at CWL are flexible, which means you can make changes to your booking after your parking purchase. However, this isn’t the case with the Long Stay 3 car park – all bookings are non-refundable and it is not possible to turn up on the day and park like you can in Long Stay 1 and 2.
Neither the short-stay nor long-stay car parks have a maximum parking time. However, if you don’t pre-book, you’ll incur increased daily charges for all the time you spend in short-stay and Long Stay 1 and 2. As long as you pre-book your time in either of these long-stay car parks, you’ll get a cheaper deal and there’s no limit to how long you can leave your car there.
There are currently no pharmacies either before or after security at Cardiff Airport.
Yes, the Holiday Inn Express, Travelodge Cardiff Airport and Celtic International all offer shuttle services to CWL.
Holiday Inn Express, Travelodge Cardiff Airport and Celtic International all have free parking spaces available for the duration of your stay, the Travelodge offers spaces on a limited basis.
There’s no official valet parking service at the airport. However, you may arrange a Meet and Greet service through Looking4Parking.com, whereby an agent meets you at the short-stay car parks and parks the car and your behalf. This service is pre-book only.
Yes. There are two smoking areas at Cardiff Airport: one outside the terminal building and another by Gate 2 in the departures lounge.
Yes. Wheelchair access is available throughout the terminal and its grounds. Special assistance and mobile aids are also available upon request via the details on the official website here.
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