Day Trip from London: Cardiff for Doctor Who

This was a day trip from London during our nearly three week long trip to Europe with kids last summer. We’ve already posted the general information and will be posting about each stop over the next week. Nothing on this vacation was sponsored. All research and payment was our own. Sadly, it appears the Doctor Who Experience may be closing after this summer when the location lease expires, though there is a growing petition to keep it open. 

We were up and at ’em early, departing Paddington Station at 8:45 a.m. and arriving in Cardiff Central by 10:45 a.m. We had a reservation at the Doctor Who Experience at 11:15 a.m. Or maybe it was 11 a.m. Either way, it felt like we were cutting it close, but it turns out, we had plenty of time.

Admittedly, I am not a Doctor Who fan. It’s not that I hate it, but I don’t love it like my husband and kids do. They love Doctor Who and have for their whole lives, which is why it was fun to experience the Experience through them.

It begins with a tour where photos aren’t allowed to preserve the experience for future visitors, which may somewhat over-inflate expectations about the tour. At least it did for us. Still, it was fun. The tour ends in a downstairs room with some memorabilia and a few good spots for photos, including a paid photo op with a green screen, allowing fans to appear to be in a favorite Doctor Who landscape. My Doctor Who nerds loved it. Upstairs is a costume display, then suddenly it was the gift shop (the most populated place on the tour) and done.

Leaving the Experience, we walked around nearby Mermaid Quay for lunch. There were many restaurants along the water, and we picked Wagamama based on recommendations. Hot broth was was perfect for a cool, grey day.

After lunch, we walked around to find the Torchwood/Ianto’s Shrine (it’s on the lower level nearest the water) and we hung out there reading the notes left behind. This was really my daughter’s dream day.

Next we jumped on the bus back to town, this time for Cardiff Castle. It was raining at the castle and the bus stops were either before or after the castle. Unfortunately we missed the before stop and ended up past the castle, which was only a problem because the wind and rain were strong. Luckily, the worst of the rain stopped by the time we bought our castle tickets and picked up our audio tour equipment, and for awhile as we walked around, there were blue skies, however brief.

After we left the castle, we walked around into some stores, window shopped, then ordered dinner to go at Pieminister.

We walked back to the train, boarded, departed at 6:17 p.m. and ate our first meat pies on our way back to London. Once in London, we took Uber back to our apartment, weaving through Hyde Park on the perfect summer night.

Travel to Cardiff
We traveled by Great Western Railway and I booked the tickets about six weeks in advance.

Our train ticket included bus travel (it was the Plus Bus ticket), allowing us to jump on and off buses as we pleased during the day in Cardiff. We used this much more than I would have anticipated. Some Trip Advisor reviewers said walking from the train terminal to the Doctor Who Experience was possible, and while it is possible, it’s not convenient.

Off the train, we took the Cardiff Bay exit from station, and walked past the parking lot where there were a few bus stops. Take #6 Bay Car to Porth Teigr and get off when you see the Doctor Who Experience.

Doctor Who Experience
Buy tickets as far ahead as possible. It’s possible to buy tickets there, but having a reserved time means skipping the lines and a guaranteed entrance, and pre-purchasing comes with a small discount. We bought the family pass.

Next up: Paris!

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