capital city of Wales, United Kingdom

Cardiff (Welsh: Caerdydd) is the capital and largest city of Wales. It used to be an industrial city, but is now a lively and modern capital city and a tourism hot spot. The city is friendly to pedestrians, and summer is by far the best time to visit, with large festivals, and outdoor dining and drinking.

The city centre has been intensely developed in the 21st century, and is now considered to be one of the top ten shopping destinations in the United Kingdom. Cardiff is a green city, and this is complemented by Bute Park which sits in the heart of the city. It has a reputation as a city of castles, having 5 of them within its surroundings. As of 2023, the city's population stands at roughly 360,000, with 1.1 million living in the metropolitan area.

Understand

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Cardiff is on the south coast of the South Wales plain, with a shoreline on the Bristol Channel. It lies at the mouth of three rivers: the Taff, the Ely and the Rhymney, with the Taff flowing through the city centre and all three reaching the sea at Cardiff Bay. Cardiff is quite a flat city, a characteristic that helped it become one of the world's leading ports for the transport of coal from the rugged south Wales Valleys.

Around 12% of the residents of Cardiff speak some Welsh, and all public signs in the city are in both Welsh and English. However, as elsewhere in Wales, English is universally understood.

  • Visit Cardiff, Cardiff Castle, Castle St. Mar-Oct: M-F 10AM-5PM, Sa Su 9AM-5PM; Nov-Feb: M-F 10AM-4PM, Sa Su 9AM-4PM. The Visitor Information Point hosts a variety of literature including brochures, flyers and maps.

City

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Cardiff's city centre is in the southern portion of the city just north of Cardiff Bay. It is traditionally centred at the castle, bounded to the north by the historic civic centre, large Bute park arboretum and university buildings, by the River Taff to the west, and by the Valleys and National rail lines to the east and south respectively. Growth is pushing the city centre beyond these boundaries, especially in regard to commercial office and residential provision. In particular, the area south of the original city centre towards and including Cardiff Bay has been almost completely redeveloped.

A unique feature of the city is its friendly local population; you can strike up a conversation with almost anyone you meet and speak as if old friends, whether on the bus or in the queue to buy something in a shop. These brief friendly interactions throughout the day make Cardiff an ideal city for lone travellers. The city has a long history of inter-racial marriages and a thriving gay scene making it one of the most welcoming and tolerant cities in the UK.

Cardiff is popular for location filming; Doctor Who has been made here since 2005, and Casualty since 2011. It also has a rich musical history, being the site of many escapades by the famous bands of the Welsh indie music movement such as Catatonia, Super Furry Animals and the Stereophonics. The stunning St. John the Baptist church, gracing the centre of the city, is food for the soul and nearby the Rummer Tavern pub one of the oldest surviving in the city is food for the spirit. Cardiff is the venue of many football and rugby games due to the state-of-the-art stadiums, and Cardiff International Arena's many events such as Comic Con Wales. The Bay area is rich with bars and restaurants and is home to the famous Wales Millennium Centre where one can see anything from comedy to ballet and opera.

Cardiff is a city of life and learning having a huge student population during term time. Many graduates choose to remain due to the friendly and inclusive nature of the city.

It is possible to walk, bike or ride across Cardiff almost entirely via the parks: the Earl of Bute’s lasting legacy to the people of Cardiff. Summer days see the city parks fill with sun-worshippers and snow days see them fill with people playing and snowball fighting with each other!

History

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Cardiff's history follows its castle, which has been occupied since the Romans created a fort on the river Taff over 2,000 years ago. The name 'Cardiff' may have come from 'Caer' = fort, on the 'Taff'.) The fort's original walls can still be seen highlighted around the base of Cardiff Castle's walls. In Medieval times the castle grew, and a small town spread from its south gate; the Medieval street pattern can still be seen around High Street. In the 15th century, the town was destroyed by the last great Welsh prince, Owain Glyndwr. Successive owners fortified the castle and the town timidly grew until the Industrial Revolution, when the 2nd Marquess of Bute built the Glamorganshire Canal to transport coal from the Welsh valleys through Cardiff's docks.

Combined with the later arrival of the railways, Cardiff's population exploded and the docks grew to become the largest coal-exporting port in the world. At its peak, the price of the world's coal was determined at Cardiff's Coal Exchange and the first ever £1,000,000 cheque was written here in 1901 (equivalent to £124,000,000 in 2020). Cardiff was the third largest port of the British Empire, resulting in Edward VII granting Cardiff city status in 1905. With the rise of the city's fortunes, the Marquis of Bute transformed Cardiff castle into a fairytale gothic palace. He also donated land to build the civic centre which contains the City Hall, National Museum, university and government buildings, all built in elaborate neo-classical Baroque styles out of white Portland stone.

The Marquis also commissioned the architect William Burges to design many public and residential buildings in a distinctive Gothic style - many are still visible in the city centre and the inner suburbs. Wales did not have a de jure capital until 1955, when Cardiff was chosen as the largest city. However, with the post-War decline of coal, the city's docks became increasingly abandoned, and in the 1990s the city's transformation began with the building of a barrage to stop the world's second-largest tidal range from revealing dirty mud flats, and creating what is today Europe's largest waterfront regeneration project.

The Bay today is a mixture of apartments, sport, leisure and culture and its success has also seen a rejuvenation of the city centre, where large-scale pedestrianisation and the massive St David's redevelopment in 2009 have created a vibrant city, combining the best of the old, sitting close to modern architecture and amenities. As for the Castle, it was handed over to the people of Cardiff and is now a major tourist, corporate and cultural attraction, an indication of where the city's future lies.

 
Beautiful civic centre fronted by City Hall (left) and National Museum of Wales (right)

Profile

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Cardiff has a strong sporting and cultural presence given that it is the capital city, and therefore plays host to most Welsh sporting events, especially since the opening of the Millennium Stadium in the city centre. One of the city's charms is when it plays host to matches, the city centre atmosphere can be extraordinary, being swelled by 75,000 attendees and thousands of revellers.

Cardiff used to be quite a gritty city with the port and industry playing a huge role — Cardiff's ports were once among the most important in the world. Notable milestones were when Cardiff Bay (sometimes called Tiger Bay) was the first area of modern Britain to be thought of as a multicultural area given the huge part immigrants played in the city's ports. The area is still home to one of the oldest and largest expatriate Somali communities in the world. The world's first 'million-pound' deal was also signed at the Bay's own Coal Exchange building.

The city has moved away from its industrial past, however, and has been transformed by developments such as Cardiff Bay, which now hosts famous and striking landmarks such as the National Assembly for Wales and the spectacular Wales Millennium Centre. Massive investments have also been made throughout other parts of the city, such as the opening of the Millennium Stadium and the massive Saint David's shopping centre.

When to go

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Cardiff is best to visit during late spring to early autumn as the warm weather adds to the city's pleasures and allows maximum experience of all the sites and areas of the city. Although the city usually benefits from mild weather all year round, like much of Wales it also receives substantial rainfall, especially in winter. Being close to the sea and having a comparatively mild climate compared to other parts of England and Wales it also avoids much of the snowfall seen in other parts of the country in winter.

Get in

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By plane

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Cardiff Airport

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1 Cardiff Airport   is the city's only airport, which lies just west of Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan. Airlines which fly into Cardiff include KLM, Ryanair and TUI. There are direct flights from cities throughout the UK and Europe, including Amsterdam, Dublin and Edinburgh.

You can get from the airport into Cardiff using public transportː

You can hire a car with Avis, Enterprise and Europcar from Cardiff Airport.

 
Cardiff Airport lies to the west of the Welsh capital

Further afield

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Alternative, larger airports lie in England.

Bristol Airport, served by easyJet, Jet2.com, Ryanair, TUI and other airlines, is 20 miles from Cardiff "as the crow flies". You can get from Bristol Airport into Cardiff using public transportː

London Heathrow Airport is the UK's largest airport, with long-haul flights from destinations in Europe, Africa, Asia, North America and South America. Heathrow is connected with Cardiff by road, along the M4 motorway. You can get from Heathrow into Cardiff using public transportː

  • Megabus coach direct into Cardiff city centre
  • National Express 201/202 coaches direct into Cardiff city centre
  • Elizabeth line  ELI  into London Paddington or RA1 RailAir coach to Reading railway station, then Great Western Railway (GWR) train into Cardiff Central

By train

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Wikivoyage has a guide to Rail travel in Great Britain.

There are two main railway stations in Cardiff. These are 3 Cardiff Central   and 4 Cardiff Queen Street  . Entry and exit to the platforms are controlled using ticket barriers. You can buy tickets at the stations, which have vending machines and staffed ticket offices during the daytimes. All stations in Cardiff are part of the National Rail network.

 
Great Western Railway runs regular fast trains between London Paddington, Bristol and Cardiff Central

You can get to Cardiff Central on long-distance and local trains.

Trains from London depart from Paddington (Interchangeː  BAK  CIR  DIS  H&C  ELI ) and are operated by Great Western Railway (GWR). They run roughly half-hourly and call at Reading, Swindon, Bristol Parkway and Newport. Trains from Bristol depart from both Bristol Parkway and Bristol Temple Meads, also operated by GWR. There are also local GWR routes into Cardiff Central from Portsmouth, Southampton, Salisbury, Bath, Taunton and Weston-Super-Mare. Trains from The Midlands are operated by CrossCountry - from some major cities in England including Nottingham (Interchangeː  1   2 ), Derby, Birmingham (Interchangeː  1 ) and Gloucester.

Most trains from elsewhere in Wales are run by Transport for Wales (TfW). This includes long-distance trains from Holyhead, Bangor, Llandudno Junction, Chester, Wrexham General, Cwmbran, Carmarthen, Llanelli, Swansea, Neath, Port Talbot Parkway and Bridgend. Some services from Carmarthen and Swansea are also run by GWR. TfW also runs long-distance trains from Manchester Piccadilly (Interchangeː  Alt-Pic   Ash-Ecc   Ash-Med   Bur-Pic ), Chester (Interchangeː  Wirral ), Crewe, Shrewsbury and Hereford. There are also local TfW trains from Cardiff's suburbs, as well as surrounding towns including Barry, Caerphilly, Merthyr Tydfil, Penarth and Pontypridd.

You can get to Cardiff Queen Street on local trains run by TfW.

Other stations in Cardiff are served by local routes, includingː

  • 5 Cathays   for Cardiff University
  • 6 Cardiff Bay  
  • 7 Heath High Level   and 8 Heath Low Level   for Roath Park
  • 9 Ninian Park   and 10 Grangetown   for Cardiff City Stadium

By car

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The M4 connects London, the M25, Reading, Bristol and Newport with Cardiff

Several major routes connect Cardiff with towns and cities throughout Wales and England.

The M4 motorway connects the city with London, Heathrow Airport  ,   (Gatwick Airport, Stansted Airport), Reading, Swindon, Bath, Bristol,   (Birmingham, Exeter), Newport, Bridgend, Port Talbot, Swansea and   (Fishguard  ). Several junctions serve Cardiffː

  •     into eastern Cardiff, Roath and University Hospital of Wales (Heath Hospital)
  •     into Pontprennau
  •     into Whitchurch, Gabalfa, University Hospital of Wales (Heath Hospital), Cathays and Cardiff city centre
  •     into western Cardiff, Cardiff City FC and Cardiff Bay, also for Cardiff Airport  
 
The A4232 connects the M4 motorway with Cardiff Bay

Other main routes into Cardiff includeː

  • A48 from Newport, Cowbridge and Bridgend
  • A469 from Caerphilly
  • A470 from Brecon, Merthyr Tydfil and Pontypridd
  • A4050 from Barry, also from Cardiff Airport  
  • A4119 from Llantrisant and The Rhondda
  • A4160 from Penarth

There are several car parks in Cardiff. Cardiff Council operates several car parks throughout the city and has a list online. Other car park operators include NCP (Dumfries Place, Stadium, Greyfriars, Knox Road etc.), Q-Park (Cardiff Bay) and St David's Dewi Sant (shopping centre). Major car parks are signposted from some main routes in the city centre and Cardiff Bay.

You can "Park and Ride" into Cardiff Central and Cardiff Queen Street from some railway stations. Transport for Wales (TfW) has a list of Park and Ride stations on its website. These include stations at 11 Caerphilly   (260 spaces), 12 Cogan   (43) and 13 Radyr   (290).

By coach

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Coaches arrive into several destinations in Cardiff city centre. National Express coaches arrive into 14 Cardiff Coach Station at Sophia Gardens  . Megabus coaches arrive into 15 Kingsway near Cardiff Castle and 16 Park Place near Cardiff University. FlixBus coaches arrive into 17 Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama  .

Coaches from London are operated by FlixBus, Megabus and National Express. Most services depart from London Victoria Coach Station (Interchangeː  CIR  DIS  VIC ). Some depart from London Gatwick and London Heathrow airports, and call at Bristol and Newport. National Express route 216 connects Bristol Airport to Cardiff. Coaches from Swansea are also operated by these operators, stopping to pick up passengers in Port Talbot and Bridgend. National Express operates buses from destinations in West Wales - including routes 507 from Llanelli and 112 and 508 from Haverfordwest, Tenby and Carmarthen.

Coaches from Birmingham include Megabus route M36N and National Express routes 110, 111 and 112. Megabus route M36N also connects Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Leeds and Manchester with the Welsh capital.

Bus routes into the capital includeː

  • TrawsCymru T4 - from Newtown (Limited), Llandrindod Wells (Limited), Builth Wells (Limited), Brecon (Limited), Merthyr Tydfil and Pontypridd
  • Cymru Clipper X2[dead link] - from Porthcawl, Bridgend and Cowbridge
  • Stagecoach X3 - from Pontypool and Cwmbran
  • Newport Bus X30 - from Newport (Express)
  • Stagecoach X32 - from Maerdy, Porth and Pontypridd (Express)
  • Stagecoach 26 - from Blackwood, Caerphilly and Nantgarw
  • Cardiff Bus/Newport Bus 30 - from Newport
  • Stagecoach 86X - from Caerphilly
  • Cardiff Bus 93, 94, 95 - from Barry, Dinas Powys (93, 95), Sully (94) and Penarth (93, 94)
  • Cardiff Bus 96 - from Barry Island, Barry and Wenvoe
  • Stagecoach 122 - from Tonypandy and Talbot Green
  • Stagecoach 124 - from Maerdy, Porth and Talbot Green
  • Stagecoach 132 - from Maerdy, Porth and Pontypridd
  • Adventure Travel 304[dead link] - from Llantwit Major, Cardiff Airport, Barry and Dinas Powys
  • Adventure Travel 320[dead link] - from Talbot Green, Pontyclun and St Fagans

Get around

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On foot

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The Hayes and massive new extension to the St Davids shopping arcade, Cardiff

Cardiff is a large city with two reasonably compact central areas - the city centre and Cardiff Bay. The walk between Cardiff Central Library in the city centre and the Bay is approximately one mile along flat, roadside pavements. Llandaff Cathedral and Cardiff Metropolitan University are further out - approximately two miles from Cardiff Castle in the centre, and approximately 3.5 miles from the Bay.

Attractions in the city centre are signposted. Some of the main shopping areas, including parts of St Mary's Street, The Hayes and Queen Street are pedestrianised. These wide boulevards have no access to vehicular traffic.

Attractions in Cardiff Bay are also signposted. The Wales Coast Path is also signposted through the Bay. From west to east, the route covers Penarth, the Barrage, the Norwegian Church, The Senedd, the Wales Millennium Centre, Atlantic Wharf, Splott, Tremorfa and the Wentlooge Levels.

By bike

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Cardiff is a flat city with network of signposted cycling routes, many "segregated" from other road traffic. There are two formal river "trails" for cyclists through Cardiff.

 
A Celtic Ring public art piece and floor marking (pictured) lie at the start of the Taff Trail (National Cycle Network Route 8)

The Taff Trail is National Cycle Network Route 8, which is kept by Sustrans and follows the River Taffː

  • Roald Dahl Plas
  • Principality Stadium (opposite bank)
  • Bute Park (opposite bank)
  • Sophia Gardens
  • Cardiff Metropolitan University (opposite bank)
  • Llandaff North
  • Route continues to Taff's Well, Pontypridd, Merthyr Tydfil, Pontsticill and Brecon. National Cycle Network Rout 8 continues to Builth Wells, Harlech, Caernarfon, Bangor and Holyhead.
 
Cardiff Cycleway 1 is part of the city's cycle network

The Ely Trail is also kept by Sustrans and follows the River Elyː

  • Cardiff International Sports Village
  • Sanatorium Park
  • Ely
  • St Fagans and the St Fagans National Museum of History

There is plenty of free bike parking throughout the city centre, but you will need your own lock.

Check for cycling restrictions on a select number of paths and subways, including Queen Street, where cycling is prohibited.

Cycling charity PedalPower runs training and confidence building sessions and weekly bike rides, plus bike hire in Pontcanna and Cardiff Bay.

By bus

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The Baycar connects Cardiff city centre with Cardiff Bay

Cardiff Bus is responsible for the largest bus network in the capital. You can "tap on, tap off" on the bus using a Contactless debit or credit card, Apple Pay or Android Pay. Cardiff Bus promises to "work out the best ticket option for you based on your journeys, so you won't get charged more than the price of a day ticket".

The "Day to Go" fare using an iff top-up card is £4.40 within the Cardiff Fare Zone and £5.80 in the Cardiff and Barry "Plus" zone, as of December 2023. You can apply for an iff card by email or post, add credit online or sign up for a Direct Debit scheme.

Cardiff Bus operates a summer-only open-top bus service between Penarth, Cardiff Bay and Cardiff City Centre.

Cardiff Bus routes to key visitor destinations includeː

  • City Circle 1 (clockwise) and 2 (anti-clockwise) - via Cardiff Bay, Grangetown, Canton, Llandaff, University Hospital Wales and Splott
  • 4 - City centre to Ninian Park and Leckwith
  • Baycar 6 - regular city centre to Cardiff Bay shuttleː Canal Street (city centre) to Millennium Centre (Cardiff Bay)
  • 7 - City centre to Grangetown, Cardiff International Sports Village and Penarth
  • 8 - City centre to Grangetown and Cardiff Bay
  • 9 - University Hospital Wales, Cathays, city centre, Grangetown, Cardiff International Sports Village
  • M1 Met Rider - BBC Studios Llandaff, Cardiff Met Llandaff, Cathays, Roath, Cardiff Met Cyncoed (seasonal route)
 
A Cardiff Bus on routes 8 and 9

Adventure Travel operates a network of Cardiff routes, includingː

  • C1 - across the city including (west to east)ː Culverhouse Cross, Ely, Victoria Park, Canton, city centre, Cathays, Llandeyrn and Pontprennau
  • 320[dead link] - City centre to Pontcanna, Fairwater and St Fagans, including the St Fagans National Museum of History (route continues to Peterston-super-Ely, Pendoylan, Hensol, Pontyclun and Talbot Green)

Other operators include First Cymru and Stagecoach.

 
A City Sightseeing Caerdydd (Cardiff) bus outside Cardiff Castle

Worldwide City Sightseeing runs a Hop On-Hop Off tour in Cardiff.

Several bus operators including Cardiff Bus, Adventure Travel, First Cymru (X2) and Stagecoach accept Network Rider (across South East Wales) tickets. As of December 2023, adult tickets cost £9.

By train

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Cardiff Queen Street station is served by most local routes

Transport for Wales (TfW) runs local trains in and around Cardiff. They are part of the National Rail network. You can buy tickets at stations or online using the National Rail, Transport for Wales and The Trainline websites. There is a Transport for Wales app.

TfW offers a series of "rovers and rangers" which cover Cardiff. As of December 2023, these includeː

  • Explore Wales Pass - Valid for four days within an eight-day period for travel to anywhere in Wales by train. Also accepted on some First Cymru, Cardiff Bus and Stagecoach South Wales bus services. Adult ticketsː £104.
  • Explore the Capital - Unlimited same-day off-peak train travel within the Cardiff and Penarth areas. Adult ticketsː £4.80.
  • Explore Cardiff and the Valleys - Unlimited same-day travel in Cardiff and the Valleys, including the Barry, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Ebbw Vale, Maesteg, Merthyr Tydfil and Pontypridd areas. Valid all day on weekends, or after 9.30am Monday to Friday. Adult ticketsː £14.
  • Valleys Night Rider - Travel after 6.30pm in Cardiff and the Valleys, including the Barry, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Ebbw Vale, Maesteg, Merthyr Tydfil and Pontypridd areas. Adult ticketsː £7.90.

National Railcards are accepted on rail lines in and around Cardiff. This includes the 16-25 Railcard, 26-30 Railcard, the Senior Railcard and the Two Together Railcard.

The Valleys Senior Railcard costs ̩£13 and is valid for one year. Cardholders can get 50 off standard class day return fares between Valley Line stations (including stations in Cardiff).

The Valleys Student Railcard costs £13 and is valid for one year. Cardholders can get 34 per cent off all day tickets and 10 per cent off all season tickets on Valleys and Cardiff routes.

All rail routes in Cardiff pass through Cardiff Central or Cardiff Queen Street stations. Change at Cardiff Central for long-distance trains, including services to London Paddington, Birmingham, Bristol Temple Meads, Bristol Parkway, Manchester Piccadilly, Southampton Central and Swansea.

Rail routes in Cardiff run at least half hourly and includeː

  • Cardiff Queen Street to Cardiff Bay shuttle which runs up to five times per hour.
  • Cardiff Central to Aberdare/Merthyr Tydfil/Treherbert - Cardiff Central, Cardiff Queen Street, Cathays, Llandaf and Radyr. Onwards to Trefforest, Pontypridd and Aberdare or Merthyr Tydfil or Treherbert.
  • Cardiff Central to Bridgend - Cardiff Central, Grangetown and Cogan. Onwards to Barry, Llantwit Major and Bridgend, also to Barry Island.
  • Cardiff Central to Penarth - Cardiff Central, Grangetown, Dingle Road and Penarth.
  • Cardiff Central to Rhymney - Cardiff Central, Cardiff Queen Street, Heath High Level, Llanishen, and Lisvane and Thornhill. Onwards to Caerphilly, Ystrad Mynach and Rhymney.
  • Radyr to Coryton via Cardiff Central - Radyr, Danescourt, Fairwater, Waun-gron Park, Ninian Park, Cardiff Central, Cardiff Queen Street, Heath Low Level, Ty Glas, Birchgrove, Rhiwbina, Whitchurch, Coryton.

By taxi

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Cardiff is not short of taxis. They can be flagged down on the street or booked in advance. Uber operates an extensive service in Cardiff, and many other local traditional taxi companies are also available:

Although a lot of taxis in the city centre are black, they have no set colour. Licensed taxis have a yellow plate on the rear bumper of the vehicle. Uber also operates in the Cardiff area

By boat

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Aquabus runs all year 'round with a boat service between Mermaid Quay in Cardiff Bay and Castle Grounds in the city centre. The Aquabus City-Bay link has wheelchair, pushchair and cycle access.

There is a less regular Penarth (Barrage South) to Cardiff Bay service, also operated by Aquabus, and a Bay Cruise offer.

Landmarks

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Cardiff Castle at the heart of the city
  • 1 Cardiff Castle (Welsh: Castell Caerdydd), +44 29 2087-8100, fax: +44 29 2023-1417. Mar–Oct: M-F 10AM-6PM, Sa Su 9AM-6PM; Nov–Feb: M-F 10AM-5PM, Sa Su 9AM-5PM. Last entry one hour before closing time. Castle St. Cardiff Castle is a large castle whose foundations are based upon a Roman fort. In the 19th century, it was the one of the homes of the Marquis of Bute. The Norman fort in the centre, the Welsh regimental museum and excavated Roman ruins are open, and tours of the Bute household are available. The Bute part of the castle is quite amazing. The interior was all done in the early 1900s in a very idiosyncratic and interesting style. There is barely an inch that is not adorned with some sort of artistic work. Yet, it is not overwhelming. The craftsmanship is well worth a look. Adult £14.50, child (age 5–16, with an adult) £10.00, senior/student/disabled (single carer free with each disabled ticket) £12.00, family ticket (2 adults and 2 children) £39.00, under 5s ree.    
  • 2 The Millennium Stadium (Welsh: Stadiwm y Mileniwm), Westgate Street, CF10 1NS, +44 844 847 1881, . Also known as the Principality Stadium. A 74,200-seater stadium, opened for the 1999 Rugby World Cup, and now host to the Wales national rugby and football teams. It hosted the FA Cup Final for some years during the redevelopment of Wembley Stadium in London and is still the largest stadium in Europe with a completely retractable roof (good for those rainy days). A must see for any sport lover, tours are available online or at the ticket desk. Tours cost £16.50 for adults, £12 for children.    
  • 3 The Wales Millennium Centre (Welsh: Canolfan Mileniwm Cymru), +44 29 2063 6464. An outstanding piece of modern architecture, opened in 2004 by the Queen, the futuristic Wales Millennium Centre is host to opera, dance and West End musicals throughout the year, making it a must see for those who like theatre. Entry is free throughout the year. While entrance to the theatre is charged, free live performances take place in the foyer every lunchtime at 13:00 and before shows in the evening. It hosts the exhibition about Cardiff Bay's development that used to be housed in 'The Tube'.    
 
Major buildings of Cardiff Bay. From left: Pierhead Building, Wales Millennium Centre, Senedd
  • 4 The Welsh Parliament or Senedd Cymru. Cardiff Bay. The seat of Wales' national government and was opened on St David's Day, 1 March 2006 by the Queen. Visitors have a chance to see public debates from the viewing gallery or a free tour around the building, which is made out of purely Welsh materials, and was designed by star architect Richard Rogers to be eco-friendly and as open as possible. Entry is free though expect security checks on entrance.    
  • 5 The Norwegian Church, Cardiff Bay (next to the Assembly). It was established in Cardiff Bay to serve the large community of Norwegian sailors working in the docks. The main claim to fame of its original location is as the place where the author Roald Dahl was christened. Today it is a cafe and art gallery.    
  • 6 Llandaff Cathedral (Welsh: Eglwys Gadeiriol Llandaf), +44 29 2056 4554, . In the ancient 'city of Llandaff', now incorporated into the north west of the city, and is one of the oldest religious sites in Europe. The cathedral dates from 1107 and features some spectacular architecture. After bomb damage in World War II it was very boldly restored; the huge statue of Christ in Majesty by Jacob Epstein tends to divide opinion, but is well worth a look. The cathedral school was where the famed children's author Roald Dahl was educated in the early part of his primary school life. The surrounding village is an interesting place to explore with a local coal magnate's house (Insole Court) donated to the people of Cardiff and open for visitors. The Ghost Tour has really become the thing to do in the area, making it into the Guardian's top 10 list of things to do in the UK.    
  • 7 Castell Coch (meaning the 'Red Castle' in Welsh). A fairytale castle nestled on a hill overlooking the main gateway into the valleys from Cardiff in the outskirts of the city. Imaginatively reconstruted from ruins for the 3rd Marquis of Bute, its interiors follow the same elaborate designs as Cardiff castle except on a more intimate scale and would not look out of place in Germany. Adults £7.30.    
  • 8 City Hall. The domed roof of City Hall topped by a dragon is one of the landmarks of Cardiff city centre. Dating from the start of the 20th century, it is built of beautiful white Portland stone and surmounted by many statues. Inside, the marble hall is dominated by statues of Welsh heroes, the main hall has large bronze chandeliers and the main debating chamber sits under the dome. Open to visitors, events may prevent you from seeing all the rooms but a must-see.    
  • 9 Cathays Park. Pronounced "kut-AYS, it is the prominent civic centre, comprising expensive white Portland stone buildings in a range of classical styles, all surrounding the formal gardens of Alexandra Gardens whose centre contains national war memorial of Wales.    
  • 10 Bute Park. More a collection of different parks that stretch continuously to the city's edge from the rear of the castle. Bute Park proper is an arboretum and former private grounds of the Bute family who owned the castle.    
  • 11 Pierhead building (former headquarters of the railway and port authority), Cardiff Bay, CF99 1NA, +44 300 200 6565. Sits between the ultra modern Millennium centre and Senedd as a strong contrast and link to Cardiff's glorious past. Covered in dragons and heraldry used for permanent and temporary exhibitions about Cardiff's development, and that of the docks.    
  • 12 Caerau Castle Ringwork. A Norman ringwork castle within an older Iron Age hillfort (as at Caer Penrhos). Much of the site has been overgrown with vegetation.    

Museums and galleries

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Re-erected buildings in St Fagans National History Museum
  • 13 St Fagans National History Museum (Shuttle bus from Queen Street in Central Cardiff), +44 29 2057-3500. Known universally as St Fagans (pronounced "FAG-uns") after the village it's in, this is easily Wales's most popular visitor attraction. An open-air museum of vernacular buildings from all parts of Wales rebuilt, stone by stone, in the grounds of St Fagans Castle, an Elizabethan manor house which is also free to wander around. The castle gardens, dating from the 19th century, are especially beautiful. You may not be able to see everything in a single visit due to the size of the grounds. Also contains permanent inside exhibitions on Welsh social and cultural history. Great for kids. Free; pay and display parking.    
 
San Giorgio Maggiore in the Dusk by Claude Monet, part of the Davies sisters' collection in National Museum Cardiff
  • 14 National Museum Cardiff, +44 29 2039-7951. Free admission. Cathays Park. An excellent collection of paintings, archaeological finds and geological exhibits charting the history of Wales. The art collection is particularly noted for the collection of 19th-century French works assembled by Gwendoline and Margaret Davies, heiresses to a fortune made in exporting coal. This is of international importance and includes works by Rodin, Monet, Renoir and Van Gogh. Children love the dinosaurs and mammoths in the Evolution of Wales section. There is also archaeology from prehistory to the Middle Ages in the Origins section; there are daily volunteer-led tours of this and the art galleries. Buy parking vouchers here if needed. £6.50 charge for the museum car park.    
  • 15 Techniquest, +44 29 2047-5475. Cardiff Bay, (near the Millennium Centre), Over 160 science and technology exhibits to entertain the whole family. There is also a Science Theatre and tours of the Universe in the Planetarium. A good opportunity for adults to be big kids. Entry: £7.50 Adults, £6 children with concessions available for groups.    
  • 16 The Cardiff Story, +44 29 2078-8334. The Hayes. This is the museum of Cardiff's history, located in the Old Library building, which it shares with the tourist information centre. Free admission.    
 
Mermaid Quay in Cardiff Bay
  • Relax in Bute Park or in the grounds of the castle, for a break from the hustle of the city centre.
  • Visit Cardiff Bay a truly cosmopolitan experience full of restaurants, bars and cafes. A good place for a 'passeggiata' on a Sunday afternoon. Boat rides in the Bay (permanently water-filled since the barrage was built), a few shops, and a children's playground at the far end (near the historic Norwegian church) along with beautiful views across to Penarth.
  • Take a speed boat ride as it makes 360-degree turns in the water at 70 mph.
  • Walk along the bay from Mermaid quay to the barrage (near Penarth) to see for yourself how the water comes into the harbour from the sea. It is a 2 km walk with the harbour on one side of the path and the sea on the other. If you don't feel like walking you can hire a bicycle (you will come across the rental company on the way) or take a ride on the road train.
 
Penarth pier, Flat Holm and Steep Holm islands
  • At near-by Penarth, cruise the Bristol channel during summer months to the likes of North Devon, Gower Peninsula and even occasionally Pembrokeshire on the paddle steamers Balmoral and Waverly. Penarth to Ilfracombe is particularly spectacular, taking in the massive cliffs of North Devon.
  • Next to Cardiff Airport, Barry is a port-town, which has a theme park, casino and heritage railway. With the closure of the docks, it has attracted more attention thanks to a beautiful beach and a popular BBC series, called Gavin & Stacey. The amusement park on Barry Island contains several funrides.
  • Go on the Taff Trail, some of the sights close to the city centre are breathtaking and the tranquility offers a great contrast to the busy city centre.
  • Go to the Brecon Beacons. 40 minutes drive from Cardiff, this Welsh National Park is a scenic retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city, offering activities such as climbing, paragliding, sailing and many more.
  • Go for a pint of Cardiff-made Brains beer in one of the city centre pubs on a match day at the Millennium Stadium.
  • Canyoning Wales, Cardiff (Via A470), +44 845 0573588. 9AM-9PM. Blue Ocean Activities & Adventure offer fantastic trips around Wales, whether up the mountains canyoning or gorge walking. Blue Ocean Adventure offer full safety gear, training and support.
  • Cardiff cycle tour (https://www.plotaroute.com/route/1415003?units=miles). A tour route that was used by a now-defunct tour operator who has made their route map available for visitors.

Sports

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  • Watch International Rugby at Millennium Stadium, in city centre. Wales play several internationals here each year. The most keenly followed are the Six Nations series against England, Scotland, Ireland, France and Italy in February and March each year: these sell out well in advance.
Cardiff Rugby (formerly Cardiff Blues) play club rugby union at Cardiff Arms Park. They play in the United Rugby Championship (formerly Pro14), the predominantly Celtic professional super-league.
  • Football: Cardiff City ("The Bluebirds") play soccer in the Championship, the game's second tier. Their stadium (capacity 33,300) is a mile west of city centre near Ninian Park railway station.
Cardiff MU - the Metropolitan University - play in the Cymru Premier League. That's the top tier within Wales, but mostly amateur and on a par with England's fifth tier National League. They play at Cyncoed Campus Stadium, capacity 1600, three miles north of city centre.
  • Cricket: Glamorgan County Cricket Club play in Division Two of the County Championship. Also here are Welsh Fire (Tân Cymreig) men's and women's teams playing in The Hundred short game. The stadium Sophia Gardens also occasionally hosts international matches; it's in the park half a mile north of the castle.
  • Ice hockey: Cardiff Devils play in Elite Ice Hockey League, the game's top tier. Their home rink is Ice Arena Wales.
  • Horse Riding: Cardiff Riding School, Pontcanna fields, Fields Park Road.
  • Rowing and Canoeing: Llandaff rowing club, Bridge road, Llandaff.

Events

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  • St David's Day Parade[dead link] is on 1 March each year, commemorating the patron saint of Wales.
  • Cardiff Children's Literature Festival is held in the grounds of Cardiff Castle each year, with the next on 20-21 April 2024, tbc.
  • Cardiff Mela celebrates Asian culture at Roald Dahl Plas, Cardiff Bay. The next is probably 2 June 2024, tbc.
  • Cardiff Singer of the World competition is held in St David's Hall in odd-numbered years. The next is probably 7-15 June 2025, tbc.
  • Pride Cymru is next held on 23-24 June 2024.
  • Tafwyl is a Welsh language and culture festival held in Bute Park, with the next on 15-16 July 2023.
  • The Welsh Proms are a series of classical concerts at St David's Hall each July. Fringe events cover genres such as jazz, country and folk.
  • Winter Wonderland in Dec-Jan is an outdoor public ice-rink and funfair in front of City Hall.

Cinemas and theatres

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Cardiff has some of the best theatre and cinema in Wales and even across the UK, covering huge range including mainstream films, foreign and theatre.

  • 1 New Theatre (Theatr Newydd). West End shows.    
  • 2 Sherman Theatre. Independent theatre.    
  • 3 Chapter Arts Centre. Canton. Arthouse and alternative cinema.    
  • 4 Odeon, Hemingway Rd, Cardiff Bay, CF10 4JY. Mainstream multiplex cinema.
  • 5 Vue, Stadium Plaza, Wood St, CF10 1LA (inside Millennium Plaza and next to Millennium Stadium), +44 345 308 4620.
  • 6 Cineworld, Mary Ann St, CF10 2EN, +44 871 200 2000. Mainstream multiplex cinema, across the road from Motorpoint Arena Cardiff.
  • 7 The Glee Club, Mermaid Quay, Cardiff Bay, +44 871 472 0400, . Comedy club serving food and drinks.

Concerts

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Cardiff has a great number of show and gig venues throughout the city; check with Shows in Cardiff[dead link].

More 'sedate' concerts are frequently held at St Davids Hall and The Welsh Millennium Centre.

  • 10 St. David's Hall (Neuadd Dewi Sant), The Hayes, CF10 1AH (city centre), +44 29 2087 8444 (Box Office), +44 29 2087 8500 (Admin). Symphony hall used for orchestral concerts, recitals and other live music and comedy, host the Cardiff singer of the world competition, the world's premier singing competition.    
  • 11 Wales Millennium Centre (Canolfan Mileniwm Cymru), Bute Pl, Cardiff Bay, CF10 5AL. Opera and ballet, West End shows and musicals. The building is rather unique and recognisable due to its large inscription reading "in these stones horizons sing".    

Smaller gigs can be seen at many venues across the city including Callaghans, Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff Students Union, and Buffalo Bar.

 
Royal Arcade, one of 8 unique Victorian arcades in the centre, popular for independent shops, cafes and souvenirs

Nicknamed the City of Arcades, Cardiff is great place for shopping in style and the Victorian arcades are worth a visit in themselves. They have lots of little shops, food markets, etc. Up-market home stores include Banana Custard (for kids).

Queen St, St Mary's Street and The Hayes are the major pedestrianised shopping streets which all branch off the castle, so it is easy to walk from shop to shop without fear of traffic. Queen Street has most of the usual lineup of Marks and Spencer, Topshop and River Island. The Hayes has been refurbished along with the massive St David's Shopping Centre that has drawn in a few big names such as Hugo Boss and the biggest John Lewis outside of London. St Marys street, the original shopping street of Cardiff has gradually declined, firstly after Queen Street was pedestrianised when the street saw a shift towards restaurants, bars and clubs, and then during the councils year long trial of closing the street to traffic. St Mary's Street is now pedestrianised for most of its length, with work still ongoing but it's worth a look as most of the city's grandest buildings are along its length with the large and oldest department store in Wales (Howells by House of Frasier), imposing entrance to the Central Market and elaborate entrances to the arcades being particular high points.

  • 1 The Hayes. This area in the southern city centre underwent a massive transformation in the 2010s, which included the construction of the £675-million St Davids shopping centre extension, and the largest John Lewis department store outside of London. A new public library was built at the opposite end of the street to the original library, which is now a museum about Cardiff known as the 'Old Library'. Here modern architecture contrasts beautifully with the historic shops and arcades on the opposite side of the street, which has quickly become the cities higher end of the market shopping street.    
  • 2 Central Market, St Mary Street. Established in 1891, the market has an eclectic collection of stalls: arts, crafts, food, souvenirs, and even pets. A highlight is the small bakery with various flavours of fresh, inexpensive Welsh cakes (including vegan options).    
  • Queen Street, St. Mary's Street and The Hayes are the main shopping streets in Cardiff city centre. Queen Street houses the likes of Marks and Spencer, Boots and many other stores with entrances to the modern St Davids and Queens Arcade shopping centres, which also have entrances on the Hayes. Combine the old St Davids shopping centre, larger modern extension, John Lewis and Queens arcade and they make up one of the largest indoor shopping centres in the UK. St. Marys Street is home to a large 'Howells' or House of Fraser store, numerous arcades that house one-off shops with many of the arcades having entrances on the Hayes.
  • There are many tourist-oriented shops in front of the Castle and inside the Arcades so have a look around where you can find many Welsh souvenirs and gifts there.
  • Fish from Ashton's stall in the atmospheric indoor market, off the Hayes, Church Street or St Mary St.
  • Cheese from Madame Fromage in the Castle Arcade.
  • Music from Spillers Records, the oldest record shop in the world, is in the Morgan Arcade. In addition to selling music, it is the city's main location for buying tickets for alternative music concerts. Spillers was founded in 1894 by Henry Spiller at its original location in Queen’s Arcade.

It can be very difficult to book a table in the better restaurants on a Friday or Saturday evening. As a rule of thumb Mermaid Quay and the city centre are jam packed full with a varied contrast of eateries allowing you to experience many different tastes within a small area.

Vegetarian options are easy to find, and vegan options reasonably so.

In the centre see Cafe Minuet (Marcello's) in Castle Arcade, The Potted Pig [dead link] on High Street. In Riverside try Madhav's for unusual vegetarian Indian food. In the Bay avoid all the chains at Mermaid Quay and look at Mr G's Soul Kitchen for Caribbean. In Canton try La Cuina (Catalan food) on Kings Road. Head to City Road for a massive variety of world cuisines.

Budget

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There are lots of small eateries with reasonable, plentiful and quite tasty takes on the Full English breakfast, sandwiches, fish and chips, etc. Also, there is the Brewery Quarter, which contains a few well known and different restaurants. Also there are small cafes in the Indoor Market offering typical cafe food from toast to full roast dinners. prices typically range from 50p to £4. good deal for a quick fix.

  • 1 The Prince of Wales, 81–83 St Mary Street, CF10 1FA, +44 29 2064 4449. A great city centre location offering great food all day at some good prices considering its very central location. This is a typical Wetherspoon pub. However less central Wetherspoons outlets are cheaper.
  • 2 Blue Bell, 33 High Street, CF10 1PU, +44 2921 510 043, . Friendly pub with some Welsh dishes on the menu. Good vegetarian and vegan options. £9–15 (March 2022).
  • 3 The Rummer Tavern, 14 Duke Street, CF10 1AY. Su-Th 11AM-11PM, F Sa 10AM-midnight. Famous as the oldest pub in Cardiff still running! Friendly pub with tasty food and drink at very reasonable prices. Live music events, rugby and football events and karaoke Wednesday evenings. Sunday roasts and Christmas bookings. £4.15 to £7.25 for a pint (Dec 2022).  
  • 4 Vegetarian Food Studio, 115-117 Penarth Road, Grangetown, +44 29 2023 8222, . Indian restaurant with an entirely vegetarian and vegan menu. Bring your own drink.
  • 5 Crumbs Kitchen, 33 Morgan Arcade. Great range of veggie and vegan food.
  • 6 Dorothy's Fish Bar, 39-40 Caroline St. Fish&chips
  • 7 Fresh the Baguette Bar, 32 Royal Arcade.
  • 8 The New York Deli, 4-6 Duke Street Arcade.
  • In the city centre you can also find the chain restaurants Tortilla, Greggs (bakery), Wok to Walk and Franco Manca.
  • 9 Pillars, 29 Queen Street, Cardiff, CF10 2AH, +44 2920395074. 8:30 am - 4 pm. Restaurant.. Unfussy self-serve eatery offering breakfast, homestyle meals, sandwiches, jacket potatoes & pies.

Mid-range

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British

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  • 10 Thomas by Tom Simmons, 3 Pontcanna St (west of Bute Park). W-Sa noon-midnight, Su noon-6PM. It's trad Welsh fare opened in 2021.

Vegetarian & Vegan

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  • 11 Anna Loka, 114 Albany Rd, CF24 3RU, +44 29 2048 9773, . Tu–Th 11AM–3PM and 6PM–9PM, F 10AM–3PM and 6PM–10PM, Sa 10AM–10PM, Su 11AM–3PM. A delicious eatery with creative all-vegan dishes, claiming to be the first vegan restaurant in Cardiff. Try the bubble waffle dessert. £15-25.

Steak houses

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  • 12 Pasture. M-Th 12-3PM, 5-9:30PM, F Sa noon-11PM, Su noon-7PM. A steak restaurant opened in 2021.

International

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  • 13 Ichiban, 167 Albany Road, +44 29 2066-8833. This is a wonderful Japanese restaurant offering excellent value noodle, curry and sushi dishes. A short bus or taxi ride from the city centre, or a 20-30 minute walk.
  • 14 Tenkaichi, 236 City Rd, +44 78 3142-1199. Tenkaichi offers authentic Japanese food with a British flare. It is a great restaurant if you want fresh noodles and sushi. It also provides an extensive wine list.
  • 15 Mina, 43 Crwys Road, +44 7763 491937. Highly-regarded and very good-value Lebanese restaurant in the Cathays area; small, family-run and very friendly. Can get busy, especially at weekends: booking recommended. About 25 minutes' walk from city centre, or take Cardiff Bus number 38 or 39, which stop outside the door. £20-30.
  • 16 Giovanni's, 38 The Hayes, +44 29 20220077, . Very long-established and popular Italian restaurant. Two in the city centre (The Hayes and Park Place) and another in Cardiff Bay.
  • 17 Chai Street, 15 High Street. Modern, casual Indian restaurant in the city centre specialising in a range of thalis as well as curry bowls and offering a good selection of draught lagers. £15-25.
  • 18 Cafe Citta, 4 Church Street, +44 29 2022 4040. Cosy authentic Italian restaurant in the heart of the city centre. £30-40.
  • 19 Riverside Cantonese, Leckwith Road, Riverside (next to Ninian Park railway station), +44 29 2037 2163, . £20-30.
  • 20 Tŷ Madeira, 32 St Mary Street, +44 29 2022 4477, . Portuguese restaurant offering a variety of meat, fish, and vegetarian dishes, whose authenticity is attested by the conversations in Portuguese you'll hear from nearby tables. Set in an atmosphere reminiscent of a wine cellar, the restaurant is much larger than it looks from the outside, and its long, deep layout might make you half forget you're in Britain and imagine you're somewhere on the Iberian coast.
  • 21 Santiago's Tapas, 3 Church St, +44 29 2022 6666. Good quality Spanish tapas restaurant. £20-30.
  • 22 The Real Italian Pizza Company, 22-23 Trinity Street, +44 29 2023 5963. Good choice for authentic Italian pizza in the city centre. £20-30.
  • 23 Spice Quarter, Unit 8b, 1st Floor, Caroline St, Brewery Quarter, +44 29 2022 0075, . Upmarket modern Indian restaurant tucked away in the Brewery Quarter.
  • 24 Bangkok Cafe, 207 Cowbridge Road East, Canton (in Canton - follow Castle Street across the river then diverge right onto Cowbridge Road East), +44 29 2034 0455. Thai restaurant offering a selection of stir fries, curries and noodle dishes and a reasonable vegan menu.
  • 25 Zi's Cafe, 96 Woodville Road, Cathays (in Cathays north of the city centre), +44 29 2115 3651. Excellent quality casual Chinese restaurant offering eat-in as well as takeaway with a good vegetarian selection. Try the sea spiced aubergine. £15-25.
  • 26 Mia Porto Due, The Old Brewery Quarter, +44 29 2022 7147, . Restaurant offering a range of different Portuguese and Italian dishes. Fish and seafood lovers should try the Portuguese seafood stew.

Splurge

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  • 27 Castell Restaurant, The Angel Hotel, Castle St, +44 29 2064-9200. Amazing views of the castle grounds, and serves traditional Welsh cuisine. Also caters for private parties.
  • 28 Tir a Môr, Havannah St, +44 29 2045-4045. The luxury restaurant at the St David Hotel and Spa. Amazing views all around Cardiff Bay, and serves a traditional freshly caught seafood.
  • 29 Park House Restaurant and Wine Bar, 20 Park Place, +44 29 2022 4343, . Upmarket fine dining restaurant with an extensive wine list. £80-90.
  • 30 The Ivy Cardiff, 69/70 St David’s, St Davids Centre, +44 29 2233 8940. Cardiff branch of the famous Ivy restaurant of London.

Cafés

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  • Wally's Delicatessen & Kaffeehaus, 38-46 Royal Arcade, +44 29 2022 9265, . Delicatessen downstairs and Viennese-style cafe upstairs offering table service breakfasts and lunches with a wide selection of Viennese coffee styles available. Can get busy at weekends.
  • Nata & Co, 3 Castle St, +44 29 2034 2200. Popular local Portuguese bakery offering a wide selection of traditional Portuguese cakes and pastries and coffee for eating in or takeaway. Has a shop opposite the castle, another at the other end of Queen Street, another on Bute Street in Cardiff Bay and another on Clifton Street in Adamsdown. Try the Pastel de Nata for an authentic Portuguese treat and also order a cappuccino for the correct, smaller original version, not the giant mug of milk you get in most coffee chains!.
  • Waterloo Tea, Wyndham Arcade, +44 29 2037 6249. Relaxed tearooms with a huge selection of different loose leaf teas. Cafes in Wyndham Arcade in the city centre and several others elsewhere across Cardiff and Penarth.

Drink

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Cardiff is one of top nights out in Britain having the most pubs per square foot than anywhere else in the country. It has many late night pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants. In the city centre, St Mary's Street, Greyfriars Road and Mill Lane are especially lively and offer a variety of establishments to suit all tastes. Mermaid Quay is a lively, albeit smaller option to spend a warm summer night.

Cardiff is a place to drink, favoured by stag and hen parties from all over the UK. St Mary St contains many pubs and shops and becomes wild and exciting on Friday and Saturday nights. There are numerous clubs only a block short walk from Central Station that are bumping into the wee hours. An extensive venue and events list, including gigs and live bands can be found at What's on in Cardiff guide.

For a quieter drink, seek out:

  • 1 Cardiff Cottage, St. Mary's St, CF10 1AA, +44 29 2033-7195. (except weekends and matchdays).
  • 2 The Old Arcade, 14 Church St, +44 29 2021-7999. Drinks in these venues, and other traditional pubs may vary from around £1.50-3.50 for a beer.  
  • 3 Zero Degrees, 27 Westgate St, CF10 1DD, +44 29 2022-9494. Microbrewery has a utilitarian feel but fantastic beer brewed onsite, TVs with sport and excellent pizzas.  
  • A Shot in the Dark, 12 City Rd, +44 29 2047-2300. Somewhere between a dimly lit bar and a chilled-out café, Has a certain joie de vivre in its unique atmosphere.
  • 4 Pen & Wig, 1 Park Grove, CF10 3BJ (northern edge of the city centre), +44 29 2037 1217, . Pleasant traditional pub with beer garden at the northern edge of the city centre, offering a wide choice of draught real ales.  
  • Fly By Night, 11 High Street. Upmarket wine bar serving a decent selection of wines by the glass or bottle.
  • 5 Gin and Juice, 6 Castle Arcade, CF10 1BU (off Castle St), +44 29 2022 1556. Gin bar offering a wide choice for all palates.
  • 6 The Head of Steam, 18-19 Church St, CF10 1BG, +44 2037 2582, . Modern pub offering an extremely large selection of draught real ales and craft beers.  
  • Prego Italian Wine Bar, 23 High Street, +44 29 2132 1231, . Casual Italian-style cafe-bar offering a range of Sclavia and other wines, lager and coffees as well as a small selection of food such as paninis and pizzas.
  • 7 Tiny Rebel Cardiff, 25 Westgate Street, CF10 1DD. The Cardiff taproom of the award-winning local Tiny Rebel brewery.  

Sleep

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It can be very difficult to find rooms available or within a sensible price when the Millennium Stadium is hosting events, especially when Wales play in rugby or football, so plan around the dates or plan early as it will be much cheaper.

Camping

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  • Cardiff Caravan Park, Pontcanna Fields (on the opposite bank of the Taff from Bute Park), +44 29 2039-8362, fax: +44 29 2039-8362. Central camp site . Friendly staff. Bike hire on site, also very limited family room, but wide choice of food & drink within walking distance.

Budget

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  • Wedal Road Youth Hostel, 2 Wedal Road, +44 845 371-9311. Roath Park: for £19 (adult without YHA membership), it's the cheapest place to stay and really quite funky (for a Youth Hostel): no curfew, modern, clean, friendly personnel, and a sumptuous breakfast is included; it's about a 20-minute walk from the city centre, or 10 minutes by bus.
  • The River House Backpackers, 59 Fitzhamon Embankment, Riverside (just opposite Millenium Stadium), +44 29 2039-9810. Excellent boutique hostel. The dorms are neat and simple, bathrooms are nice and always kept clean. There is a common kitchen and eating area, as well as a TV and reading room. Free breakfast and wifi internet is included. The atmosphere is social but not too rowdy. Very hospitable owners and staff. Dorm beds around £18 per night.
  • There are three other hostels in the city including Nos Da, Cardiff Backpackers and Nomad.

Mid-range

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Splurge

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Learn

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Cardiff is home to around 30,000 students studying in various colleges and universities across the city.

 
Alexandra Gardens which the civic centre surrounds

Connect

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As of Aug 2022, Cardiff and its approach roads have 5G from all UK carriers. Wifi is widely available in public places.

Media

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  • The Western Mail, based in Cardiff, and distributed throughout Wales.
  • South Wales Echo is the newspaper from and for Cardiff.
  • Capital FM The main local radio station for Cardiff and surrounding areas, providing listeners with up-to-date news, local information, as well as chart and contemporary music. Based in the Red Dragon Centre.
  • Nation Radio 106.8 & 107.3 FM. Local Rock radio station, with news and weather a nice refreshing change from the main stream stations.
  • Gold. Aims at an older audience than Red Dragon FM and also covers the same area.
  • ITV Wales News. Broadcast from Cardiff Bay.
  • What's on in Cardiff?. Online blog style magazine focusing on music and current events within the city centre.

Stay safe

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Cardiff is quite a safe city, and certainly safer than most other major cities in the UK, with the centre having less overall crime than much smaller cities like Gloucester, Northampton and Derby, and far less than in the centre of London, Birmingham, Liverpool or Leeds. However, Cardiff has a relatively high rate of car theft crime rates. Make sure you remove all valuables from your vehicle, especially from show; and don't park at night in badly-lit streets in inner-city neighbourhoods such as Adamsdown, Splott, Riverside or Butetown. If you do need to leave a car overnight, several of the city-centre car parks offer cheap rates for all-night parking and are completely safe. Cardiff seems not to be plagued with a prominent red light district akin to many of the similarly-sized cities in England. However, areas such as Ocean Way in Adamsdown may be wise to avoid in the nights and early evenings in winter, as the area is known for prostitution. Anyone caught curb crawling is likely to be stopped and questioned by police, although more often than not, you will just be told to move on.

Alcohol-related violence is common in parts of Cardiff, especially on the weekends in the clubs and bars concentrated around St Mary Street and Greyfriars Road, so take extra caution to avoid offending anyone. (Cardiff Bay is usually less raucous at these times and attracts much less trouble.) In addition, as in any city, there are areas to avoid after dark: again, these include Adamsdown, Splott, Butetown, and the southern half of Riverside. Bute Park is largely unlit at night so also best avoided.

Go next

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Map of places with Wikivoyage articles nearby

  • The Vale of Glamorgan, to the southwest of Cardiff contains the Victorian seaside towns of Penarth and Barry. Cowbridge is a picturesque town to the west. St Donat's Castle is one such attraction, a well-preserved 15th C. fortified house, with additions over the centuries. Fonmon Castle is also impressive, while ruined Ogmore has a lovely setting. Comeston Lakes is another beautiful place, with a well maintained country park.
  • The superb Glamorgan Heritage Coast, around 10 mi west of Cardiff, stretching from Llantwit Major to Ogmore-by-Sea, the majestic liassic/carboniferous cliffs provide sparkling views across the Bristol channel, and the small little back roads (particularly the road to ogmore-by-sea) provide some of the most spectacular driving routes in Wales.
  • Penarth - A Victorian seaside resort, now a suburb south of Cardiff. Known as "the Garden by the Sea”, it has a beautiful, historic pier. And Cosmeston Medieval Village, a "living history" medieval village in nearby Lavernock.
  • The Brecon Beacons and the town of Brecon are to the north.
  • Try taking the train to Newport, and then a bus to Caerleon and visiting the Roman amphitheatre there. It is quite well preserved and gives a real feel for how the Romans would have used the space.
  • It is possible to visit Hereford as a day trip, using either train or car.
  • Chepstow and Tintern, attractive ancient towns with staggering stone ruins on the border with England
Routes through Cardiff
SwanseaBridgend  W   E  NewportBristol
BridgendCowbridge  W   E  Newport
ENDS AT CARDIFF CASTLE  S   N  PontypriddMerthyr TydfilNorth Wales



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