Coming from a capital city, it’s easy to overlook the perks of living somewhere like Cardiff until you leave, or until you discover Wales was recently voted among the top ten countries to visit globally by Rough Guides. So, what is it about Cardiff in particular that makes it worth visiting?
I’m pleased to say that there is far more to Cardiff than sheep, rugby, male voice choirs and Gavin and Stacey. Most people have a rough idea of what to expect there, or have popped over to Wales for a visit at some point, often heading for the smaller, more rural parts to explore, for a holiday, or maybe to visit relatives or friends. Although there are some beautiful places in good old Wales (totally not bias), it’s worth remembering the capital itself has plenty to offer too.
Growing up, I was (and still am) lucky to live close enough to explore the surrounding areas on weekends and even as part of school trips. For example, watching various plays in the selection of theatres dotted around, such as the Millennium Centre in the heart of Cardiff Bay (I’ll get back to that later) or the New Theatre, tucked just on the outskirts of the town centre. With both of these in prime locations and offering performances in musicals, ballet, opera, drama and dance to name just a few, Cardiff’s theatres are definitely some to consider when booking a trip to see your favourite play or show on tour.
However, if singing and dancing isn’t quite your thing, these are just a small part of the act (sorry, couldn’t resist) of Cardiff’s attractions. There’s a whole hive of museums to explore, from art and science to Welsh life. As for castles, there’s a whole array of castles and ruins from various periods in Wales’s past, notably Cardiff Castle, located in the middle of the town centre among high street shops, restaurants and pubs. With its grand architecture dating from roughly 50s AD to 1866, the Castle is a fortress of history and Welsh heritage, and well worth a visit. If that wasn’t enough, the Castle is famous for its peacocks which freely strut around the grounds. I mean what more could you want, really?
As mentioned above, there are plenty of high street shops in the city centre amidst the numerous arcades. This includes quirky little individual shops such as Hobo’s, with its vibrant collection of second hand clothes and accessories ranging from the 1950s onwards, neatly tucked into hidden arcades winding through the capital centre. Similarly, you’re never short of somewhere to eat in the capital – as well as a selection of chains peppered throughout the ‘Diff, there are all sorts of places to eat for all budgets and appetites. Additionally, Cardiff is home to countless pubs, clubs and small music venues, perfect for intimate gigs and discovering new artists, particularly Clwb Ifor Bach, The Full Moon and the radiant rainbow-striped Gwdihŵ (pronounced ‘goody-hoo’, and meaning ‘little owl’ in Wales – how could you not want to visit?).
Although packed with countless things to do and places to see, Cardiff also has some beautiful spots throughout, perfect for relaxing, meeting friends, walking or even visiting attractions such as the Doctor Who Exhibition in Cardiff Bay. Some of my favourite special sites among these spots are Roath Park, nearby Penarth Pier or once again, the Bay, for a wander along the mystically-named Mermaid Quay, which appeals to all ages and family members.
These are just the most popular attractions and names in the lovely city of Cardiff, but the list is constantly growing and has something to offer for everyone to discover and enjoy.