Located on the north bank of the River Taff in South Glamorgan Cardiff is Europe’s youngest capital. Since becoming the Welsh capital in 1955 and subsequently the seat of the Welsh National Assembly, Cardiff has undergone a massive transformation with considerable urban regeneration and restoration to emerge as a modern capital. A growing population and large number of students ensure a vibrant entertainment scene and lively nightlife, equally, the historic Victorian shopping arcades and trendy waterfront area make this city a popular destination. Add to that the soaring Millennium Stadium - the new home of Welsh rugby - and a number of excellent art galleries a museums and you can see why Cardiff is attracting ever increasing numbers of visitors.
The heart and soul of Cardiff, and one of Wales’s leading tourist attraction, is Cardiff Castle with over 2,000 years of history contained within its walls. St Mary’s Street leading up to the castle is lined with one-off alternative shops well worth browsing in. Meanwhile the castle grounds, inhabited by numerous geese, ducks and peacocks are ideal for a relaxing stroll. To get your bearings climb the castle’s clock tower from where you’ll get a great overview of the city.
There are numerous museums and galleries but of particular interest is the National Museum of Wales located in Cathays Park, it houses galleries of Welsh and European art including an excellent French Impressionist collection as well as the fascinating ‘Natural History of Wales’ section. Remaining in Cathays Park you will find numerous other architectural gems such as the Civic Centre, an impressive Edwardian building, and the Law Courts of 1906 as well as the University College.
One of Cardiff’s liveliest and trendiest areas is Cardiff Bay, located on the waterfront with many new attractions, cafes and bars. Head to Mermaid Quay for the shopping centre and restaurants or there is an interactive science museum called Techniquest.
Cardiff offers a wide choice of entertainment from the Welsh National Opera to the theatre, pop concerts and the Welsh Proms. Meanwhile for a cappuccino during the day or some cocktails in the evening head to the aptly named Café Quarter which has a selection of bars, cafes and eateries all within walking distance of one another.
If its greenery you’re after visit Dyffryn Gardens, over 550 acres of landscaped botanical wonder will leave you feeling tranquil or alternatively east of the city centre is Roath Park, its 32-acre grounds include facilities for fishing and boating.
Being fairly compact Cardiff is perfect for exploring on foot especially if your accommodation is also located centrally. However the bus service is comprehensive and good value. The Cardiff Card may be a worthwhile investment offering unlimited travel and free entry to numerous attractions.