Cardiff is Wales’ young, precociously bright and entertaining capital city. The Welsh Assembly has invested big time to offer the world a capital which demands respect for all things Welsh. Newly transformed, sleek and cosmopolitan Cardiff Bay has been a big hit with the tourists and the Millennium Stadium is a world class sporting stadium which has put Cardiff on the map for football and rugby fans from around the world. Even the English have been brave enough to venture once more into Celtic territory.
With the new St David’s 11 Shopping Centre, three major cinema complexes, and the CIA (National Arena) in the centre of Cardiff, folk can’t complain there’s nothing to do here, even on a typically Welsh rainy day. St Fagans Museum of Welsh Life, like all other museums in Wales, costs not a penny – and the 1950s prefabs really are a fabulous trip down memory lane. Watch your step in the brilliantly recreated Victorian Schoolroom though (better brush up on your Welsh before you go). Cardiff Castle is worth seeing just for the Marquis of Bute’s uber kitsch Victorian smoking room (wonder what they were smoking in there...?)
Cardiff’s Top 10
10. The Norwegian Church Gallery, exhibition centre and café on Cardiff’s waterfront.
5. Cardiff Bay Barrage Awesome dam-like structure which keeps the Bay at bay, so to speak.
9. The Taff Trail Cyclists and walkers – don’t underestimate yourself – 55 miles isn’t so very far if you take it easy!
4. Mermaid Quay In Cardiff Bay - ice cream, boat rides, and a monument to Captain Scott of the Antarctic, who set off from this very spot.
8. Llandaff Cathedral Has a huge vaulted interior and is a strikingly beautiful landmark next to the River Taff.
3. Cardiff’s Techniquest Science and discovery at the Bay and Planetarium for night sky demonstrations.
7. National Museum of Wales A splendid place to while away an afternoon. Jump at the huge animatronic woolly mammoth.
2. Welsh Assembly building A state of the art glass structure which the public can wander around and even listen in on parliamentary debates.
6. Cosmeston Medieval Village Life as it was lived in 1350, courtesy of costumed characters who will always stay in character. You cannot break them!
1. Wales Millennium Centre Located in Cardiff Bay, hosting opera, ballet, musicals and free activities for kids.
The famous RHS Flower Show brings spring to Cardiff during the month of April, with the glorious background of Bute Park, next to the Castle. Tickets cost £10.
In July you can treat your taste buds at the Cardiff International Food and Drink Festival, an annual event featuring hundreds of international stalls offering a range of mouth watering bites.
A now well established popular fixture on the Cardiff events calendar is the BMI Baby Winter Wonderland. Cardiffians know the build up to Xmas is on the way when the ice rink and stalls are set up during the last week in November.
In the same way, you know summer has arrived with the yearly Admiral Cardiff Big Weekend which takes over the roads surrounding the council buildings. Free live music over three days in August. What are you waiting for? Grab a picnic rug and get the best pitch.
Big Cheese at Caerphilly Castle in August is a celebration of the Welsh dairy product, just a couple of miles from Cardiff.
Great British Cheese Festival takes place at Cardiff Castle in September where you can put on masses of weight by sampling cheese from all over the UK, and of course the famous Welsh varieties.
Cardiff Castle is a truly inspired place to take in an open-air play. Held around Midsummer evenings each year, you can pack a picnic and a good spot to take in a Shakespeare tale.
The Cardiff National Museum of Wales also hosts a highly popular open air theatrical event every summer –seating is covered – and the players will perform no matter what the weather.
Grab a ticket for the first Welsh Rugby Union game of the season in August at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium. If England and Wales are playing, you will find out what ‘friendly rivalry’ really means.
BBC Cardiff Singer of the World at St David’s Hall has been running since 1983, showcasing top concert performers at the start of their careers.
When to Go
- Cardiff has a mild southern UK climate, and it rarely snows, with summers generally bearable even for those who can’t stand the heat. Spring is a lovely time to visit Wales. Nowhere else can you see such a magnificent display of wild primroses.
- Temperatures average around 3°C during the winter months. Summer months of July and August are the hottest, with average temps of around 20°C, but they can get far higher.
- Always bring waterproofs on a holiday to Cardiff, as well as an umbrella and wellington boots. This warning should alert you to the fact that rain is to be expected more than not. How else could the valleys get so green?
Cardiff is easy to get to from just about anywhere either in the UK or overseas and is just a two hour drive from London.
Cardiff has its own international airport, located just 12 miles west of the centre at Rhoose, and there is a free airport shuttle which runs into Cardiff Central every hour. Alternatively, a regular bus service connects the capital, or taxis are always available and not especially expensive. Cardiff offers plenty of European flights, as well as a wide range of domestic ones.
Cardiff Central train station is just two hours from Paddington, London. Trains run regularly, and it’s advisable to book in advance to get the best fares. National Express run a frequent service into London Victoria Coach Station and can be eye-poppingly cheap (a fiver upwards) especially if you can travel at unpopular hours.
The capital of Wales is the bona fide heart of the United Kingdom country. The city of 325,000 people, almost inconceivably, welcomes over ten million visitors a year, which makes it one of the most popular destinations in Europe. All in all, Cardiff is a rather complete city, with a vibrant arts and culture scene, diverse events calendar and plenty of superb architecture to explore.
Modern landmarks like the New Central Library coalesce with mainstays like medieval Cardiff Castle to provide visitors with a wonderful cityscape to enjoy. The brilliant Wales Millenium Centre, known affectionately as “The Armadillo”, is one of the crown jewels in Cardiff’s ambitious urban face lift. The massive arts complex is worth a visit, if not to see a performance or exhibit then simply to browse the shops and have lunch. Other attractions in Cardiff include the National Museum and Gallery of Wales, Llandaff Cathedral and Victoria Park.
Attraction & Activities
- Cardiff Castle
- Wales Millenium Centre
- National Museum and Gallery of Wales
- Welsh National War Memorial
- Llandaff Cathedral
- Roath Park
- Victoria Park
- Cardiff Central Market
- Cardiff Festival
- Great Welsh Beer & Cider Festival
Restaurant & Nightlife
- The Old Post Office
- Spice Route
- Le Monde
- Bar Floyd
Cardiff has a temperate maritime climate, with four mild seasons.
- Winter (December to February) 2-9°C
- Spring (March to May) 4-17°C
- Summer (June to September) 10-22°C
- Fall (October to November) 4-15°C
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