Cardiff, the capital of Wales, is a truly ancient city. It was settled before Stonehenge was even constructed and it has seen the comings and goings of countless rulers. The city celebrates its history with an abundance of well-conserved old castles and monuments and simultaneously honours its modern heritage with new galleries, theatres, museums and markets. Come see how the small city of Cardiff has a vitality, history and ambience to match any other European capital.
Most of the best bits of Cardiff are within walking distance of one another so prepare to get all your steps in before lunchtime. Get yourself to the epic Cardiff Castle for a taste of the city’s historic side. Don’t miss the castle’s rooftop garden with its gorgeous water fountains and ornately painted walls. Learn a bit more about local history by visiting St Fagans National History Museum with its very own secret garden out back.
Get your art fix at the edgy and modern Chapter Arts Centre for a heady mix of arthouse cinema, workshops, contemporary drama and alternative theatre. Catch more mainstream performances at the architecturally striking Millennium Centre by the docks.
With a handful of stadiums playing host to major events, Cardiff is a sports lover’s dream. From rugby, cricket, golf, football, motorsports and even extreme sailing, you’re truly spoilt for choice. See who’s playing at Principality Stadium, SSE SWALEC Stadium, Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff International Sports Campus, Cardiff International White Water and Cardiff Arms Park to get your sporting thrills. The atmosphere is electric on match days, with capacity crowds cheering and belting out Welsh national anthem.
Cardiff's glass-ceiling Victorian and Edwardian era arcades in the city's centre are perfect spots to find a bite to eat and pick up an antique. Find vintage clothes, great coffee and handmade crafts at Royal Arcade, Castle Arcade and Morgan Arcade. If you’re after something more contemporary head to St David’s Shopping Centre.
Grab all sorts of local produce (great for a picnic in Bute Park) from Splott Market on a Saturday, Bessemer Road on a Sunday and Sully’s in the summertime. Hunt out hidden treasures in Cardiff Flea Market or Jacob’s Antiques.
Indulge in some baked goodies at the Danish bakery Brød. For more hearty grub, try Stag Coffee serving burgers, all day breakfast and delicious coffee. Or give your taste buds a treat at one of the best Indian restaurants in Cardiff, Chai Street, which serves up unbelievably flavourful food to busy crowds of locals.
The Principal St David’s Hotel offers impressive waterfront views, private balconies, luxury spa services and a banging Australasian restaurant. Get a good dose of Welsh hospitality at the homely Mrs Potts a cute and quirky little hostel set within a gorgeous Victorian building. The hostel is also incredibly central, so you’ll have no problem seeing all the best bits of Cardiff.
Cardiff International Food and Drink Festival, July
Explore delicious offerings at the Cardiff International Food and Drink Festival at the beginning of July. Local, national and international food produces set up stalls on Roald Dahl Plass to share delicacies from all over the world.
Diffusion: Cardiff International Festival of Photography, May
This lesser known Cardiff festival is slowly picking up recognition on the international stage. Every two years in May, the entire city becomes a gallery space for photographers from all over the world.
Festival No.6, September
Got longer? Head to North Wales, where you'll find the enchanting Italian-style village of Portmeirion. For four days every September, this quirky and colourful village is taken over by the utterly unique Festival No.6.
Cardiff is only a two hour train journey from Paddington Station in London. Alternatively, you can fly into Cardiff Airport, a short train ride away from the city centre.