Cardiff for first-timers: Your mini guide
Cardiff, the capital city of Wales, is a great destination. You don’t just have to take our word for it. Wales was voted one of the world’s top 10 must-visit countries by Rough Guides and Lonely Planet, while Cardiff came out as Europe’s third best capital city to live in.What makes Cardiff so special is its mix of old and new culture, its vibrant food scene, its major events and the beautiful countryside on its doorstep. Enjoy!
Arts and culture
Cardiff is a city full of culture. National Museum Cardiff houses the largest collection of Impressionist art outside Paris as well as works spanning over 500 years of art history. The Museum of Cardiff tells the tale of the city from its 1300s origins to present day. For alternative culture, head to Chapter Arts Centre in Canton – a hive of independent film, art, theatre and creativity.
Weaving through the city is nearly a kilometre of arcades, dating back to Victorian and Edwardian times. Inside you can find independent shops, family-run cafes and cute boutiques. Highlights include Hobo’s for vintage clothing, Madame Fromage for all things cheese, and the world’s oldest record shop, Spillers Records, for music enthusiasts. You can find high-end stores and well-known brands in the large modern shopping centre, St David’s, just five minutes from the arcades.
This area of the city was hugely significant in the 1900s, being the main way of transporting coal from South Wales to the rest of the world. It has since been reinvented into a waterfront escape from the city’s bustle. Wales Millennium Centre is the country’s equivalent to the Sydney Opera House, hosting shows, performances and major events inside a spectacular architectural delight. The Senedd, home to the National Assembly for Wales, and the Pierhead are nearby, as is the Norwegian Church in which legendary author Roald Dahl was baptised.
Originating from Roman times, Cardiff Castle sits right in the middle of the city. It had a major transformation during the 19th century, where the rooms were decorated in an ornate Gothic style by William Burges. A tour of the interior shows you the luxurious gold and marble furnishings, floral carvings and elaborate décor. Alternatively, you could visit Mansion House, the former official residence of the Lord Mayor of Cardiff. Book onto a tour of the opulent Grade II listed building, then indulge in afternoon tea.
The Food Safari
The city offers a world of food experiences to suit all tastes. Visit City Road in Roath or Cowbridge Road East in Canton for authentic international cuisine at fair prices. Highlights include .cn (yes, that’s really the restaurant’s name!) for Chinese food and Mezza Luna for Middle Eastern cuisine. Mill Lane in the city centre has fancy bars for cocktails, while Womanby Street has a pub belonging to Tiny Rebel (a famous small brewery based near Cardiff). Don’t forget Cardiff Indoor Market and the St Mary Street weekend market for nibbles.