Wales’ capital is on the up. Now one of the United Kingdom’s tourist hot spots, Cardiff’s claims to fame no longer lie only as being the birthplace of Roald Dahl and the home of the Dr. Who experience. The impressive Millennium Stadium has vastly changed the city’s horizon and the redeveloped St David’s shopping centre is now helping make Cardiff one the UK’s top shopping destinations. Some things will never change and the view of beautiful Cardiff Bay and a step inside one of its castles still continue to mesmerize visitors at this vastly underrated destination.
Cardiff’s main sights are neatly clustered in easy to navigate districts around central town. Many areas of the centre are restricted to pedestrian access so it makes foot the best mode of transport to see the sights of Cardiff. Hugging the city centre is the River Taff, which flows right past the iconic Millennium Stadium and into bustling Cardiff Bay, south of the city centre. A little upstream you’ll find the beloved 19th century Cardiff Castle, while nearby Bute Park is a great place to catch a castle view and unwind. Cardiff’s best museums are all free and the National Museum of Cardiff and St Fagan’s Museum should both be on your to do list.
With more pubs per square metre than anywhere else in Britain, Cardiff is obviously a good place for a drink. The nightlife is very broad so wonder down Greyfriars Road or Mill Lane and follow your ears or eyes until you find something that suits your personal style. Cardiff also has many different dining districts. A large student population means you can find something for any budget and at Cardiff Bay or the city centre you’re likely to find just about any dish you can imagine. Pontcanna and Roath are two other areas with equally good food but much less hustle and bustle.
Often referred to as ‘the City of Arcades’, Cardiff has never been a better place to shop. The recent development of the new St David’s shopping centre has seen many new up-market stores enter the city while St Mary’s Street is where to explore the city’s arcades. Pedestrian only Queen St and The Hayes in the city centre are two more destinations to shop ‘til you drop and there you’ll find the likes of Topshop, H&M and Zara. Music lovers, a must visit is Spillers Records at Morgan Arcade. Opened in 1894 (not long at all after gramophones were invented), it’s now the oldest record shop in the world.
Where to Stay
Compact and easy to get around, you can find something special wherever you decide to stay in Cardiff. Cardiff Bay area hotels offer waterside views while Cardiff’s city centre hotels give sports fans the best access to the Millennium Stadium. Particularly outstanding is The Royal Hotel. Boutique in style, luxury in offerings, beehives were recently installed on the roof in a bid to save endangered bees and the hotel has a long-term goal to develop its own brand of honey. Those wanting to relax and unwind should also consider a stay in the beautiful nearby Welsh countryside.
Cardiff Like a Local
Cardiff is a sport-loving city like no other. A former host of FA Cup and Rugby World Cup finals, the city’s atmosphere is unbelievably electric on game days. To be at the heart of the action, grab a ticket to see local football team Cardiff City (nicknamed The Bluebirds) or Welsh Premier Division rugby union team Cardiff RFC. The atmosphere at a local game is only beaten when the national team comes to Millennium Stadium to play. You’ll know it’s game day when the whole city is awash with green and white flags.