Walk the streets of ... Cardiff

Wednesday, 29 February 2012 9:47 AM

With Saint David’s Day, the Welsh national day, approaching, on March 3rd,  we thought that this week we’d take you on a tour of the Welsh capital. Cardiff is a proud city, full impressive historical buildings quirky kitsch arcades and beautiful parkland. It’s also lively city, buzzing with its love of sport and Welsh national heritage and has an eclectic mix of attractions, from its striking Millennium Stadium to its glamorous and modern waterfront and its imposing historic castle. Cardiff makes a great place for short city break.

Begin your tour of Cardiff in the centre of the city, at the impressive Cardiff Castle, a sight that just begs for your attention. Marvel at the lavish and opulent interiors, filled with exotic murals, stained glass windows and gold gilt frames. Visit the wartime shelters in the castle’s tunnels which were used as places of refuge during World War II, walk the castle battlements and tour the old Norman keep. 

A short walk from the castle towards the bay, you’ll find Cardiff’s famous Millennium Stadium, an iconic symbol of modern Wales and the country’s best venue. Tour the building, which has played host to Rugby World Cups, FA finals and famous pop stars, from Madonna and The Rolling Stones to U2.

After your tour, head back into Cardiff’s shopping centre and south towards the bay, a great place to stop for lunch is the Cafe Quarter around Mill Lane, where you’ll find some great traditional Welsh cafes and restaurants serving Welsh rarebit, Welsh cakes and leek soup. Or if you’re after a more international affair, visit the Old Brewery Quarter, just north of here, where you’ll find anything from Mexican to Thai, Italian and Spanish.

 

Your city break in Cardiff, can’t miss out one of the things that the city is great for - shopping, so after lunch head to one of the nearby historic Victorian and Edwardian arcades. There are a staggering seven historic arcades in Cardiff each with beautiful vaulted archway ceilings and ornate shop fronts. Here you can buy unique jewellery, Welsh gifts and crafts, vintage fashion and delicious deli items. Don’t forget to visit Spillers Records, the oldest record store in the world.

If you have time left after your afternoon shopping, walk back up through the centre and past the castle to the National Museum Cardiff, which is free to enter and is home to one of the finest impressionist galleries outside Paris. Among others it feature work by Picasso, Monet and Rodin, as well as Welsh national art, natural history, archaeology and geology collections.

On your second day in the Welsh capital, head straight down to Cardiff Bay, Europe’s largest waterfront development, where you’ll find a range of interesting attractions, including the Wales Millennium Centre, where you can catch a show or take a backstage tour around the building. Architect or technical enthusiasts can also enjoy specialist tours. 

Explore the bay to find the Grade 1 listed Pierhead building, take a boat tour of the harbour from Mermaid Quay, or visit the The Lightship 2000, to explore the decks and cabins, climb the ship’s light-tower and see its helicopter deck. For lunch, try the Gallery Restaurant on board. Also stop to visit the historic Norwegian Church where acclaimed children’s author Roald Dahl was christened.

In the afternoon, make sure you have enough time left to take a bus to the outskirts of Cardiff to see St Fagans National History Museum, a great free open-air museum and one of the best in Europe. It is also Wales’ most visited heritage attraction. Here you can discover the elegant St Fagans 16th century castle, see over 40 original buildings from different historical periods and watch craftsmen use their traditional skills. Kids will love the going to see the native breeds of livestock and learning about the daily life of the Welsh people throughout history. 
 

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