You’re sure of a warm welcome in Cardiff, the capital city of Wales. As Europe’s youngest capital and the United Kingdom’s greenest city, it was the Romans who helped shape what was then a small port into the city of today. Cardiff is a centre for commerce, sport, arts, and culture, but with 6,000 years of history you’re guaranteed much more on your city break.
When to Go?
Whatever the season, there is always something to do and see, but if you want to see the city at its best, vocally or otherwise, visit in the spring when rugby fever takes over on the streets, bars, and restaurants.
How to Go?
Cardiff is well connected to all major towns and cities within the UK, either by train, bus, or plane.
For those travelling by plane, Cardiff International Airport is located 18 kilometres west of the city, with regular buses into the city centre.
The longest place name in the world hails from Wales. Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch translates as “St. Mary’s Church in the hollow of the white hazel near the rapid whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio with a red cave.”
Good luck pronouncing that one!
One perk of being in Wales is that museum entry is free, and to take full advantage of this most prudent of price tags you have to visit Wales’ number one tourist attraction, St Fagans. It is an outdoor national history museum created within the grounds of a 16th century manor house. Over 40 buildings from around Wales have been dismantled, transported, and then re-built, brick by brick, charting Welsh history from 1100 to the present. With interiors to match you can step back in time by visiting traditional farm houses, churches, working mills, take a drink in the workmen’s club, or shop in 1920.
Gifted to the people of Cardiff in 1947, Cardiff Castle has been a large feature of its centre for 2,000 years. It was originally built by the Romans, expanded upon by the Normans, and became its current gothic glory in the Victorian age. You’re able to explore the site, join a guided tour of the Victorian apartments with their opulent interior, or wander the 146 acres of surrounding parkland, Bute Park.
The old docks formed the beating heart of the steel industry, assisting in making Cardiff what it is today. It is this area that has now been transformed into a freshwater lake, Cardiff Bay. What were once mud-flats have been regenerated into a centre for tourism that includes hotels, bars, restaurants, and leisure facilities. One new addition to the Bay, much to the delight of sci-fi fans, is the Dr Who Experience, a look behind the scenes of the BBC’s most exported show, Dr Who. A multimedia show followed by a tour of costumes, props, and memorabilia from the popular series will keep even the most ardent of fans happy.
Just a short journey north of the city is the Brecon Beacons National Park, a UNESCO Geopark. Covering an area of 647 square kilometres, including the mountains of Brecon, it was originally sculpted in the Ice Age. This is your chance to get away from the hustle and bustle, whether to explore ancient monuments and prehistoric and Roman sites, or just to admire the exceptional views and take a breather.
Tip: If you’d like to explore Wales further after spending some time in Cardiff, why not visit some of the medieval castles of North Wales?
Eat and Drink
Due to Cardiff’s maritime past, this cosmopolitan city is now home to many nationalities. Nowhere is this more obvious than at the restaurants and bars.
Viva Brazil (not one for the vegetarians) offers a very personal experience where food is served meat-by-meat at your table, by sword. A set price menu that works on a traffic light system allows you to decide when or if you sample the selection of 15 different types of meat available. All are spit-cooked over a charcoal barbeque and it’s an experience of the best of Brazil in Wales.
If you fancy going French, Côte in Cardiff Bay serves classic brasserie dishes in typical French surroundings. A chain with branches around the UK, attention to detail and good service are not lacking. Whether you are just popping in for an aperitif before a show at the Wales Millennium Centre, or a hearty three course meal, you won’t leave unsatisfied.
Any one for a pint of Brains? If you’re looking for tradition, what could be better than a British pub lunch? With S.A. Brains Brewery located in the centre and a further 50 Brains pubs around the city, you’ll be able to find traditional fare including fish and chips, pies, and burgers. All branches will be able to serve you a pint of Cardiff-brewed Brains (that’s the beer) or their new line of craft beers.
You’re sure to find accommodation to suit your budget with lower cost chains and independent hotels operating in and around the city.
At the lower end of the budget is Travelodge. With six hotels around the city, all in good locations, you can chose depending how ‘in the heart’ of Cardiff you would like to be.
Just a short walk from the Castle, Millennium Stadium, theatres, and shops is the Park Plaza. Reasonably priced, with all rooms individually designed, you’ll be close to all the city has to offer.
At the centre of Cardiff Bay, within a short walk to restaurants and bars, is Jolyons Boutique Hotel. With only six individually-designed bedrooms, furnished with bespoke furnishings and the finest of finishing touches, this hotel is in high demand.
Here are additional options for where to stay in Cardiff.