Cardiff in 3 words: a weekend away, an adorable shore, historical arcades
To say just you’ve been there, to see the heritage of the richest family in the world (once upon a time) ‘Bute Family’, to watch a match in the Millennium Stadium.
How many days are ideal for the Cardiff trip?
One weekend is enough for Cardiff. You can do all the things in one day, but on the other hand one night accommodation will make you feel more comfortable and relaxed.
How do you go to Cardiff?
From London by bus (National Express); the bus leaves from Victoria Bus Station per hour and it takes approximately 3 hours. It lasts approximately 2 hours by train to Cardiff. Train ticket prices double or triple the bus. If you have no time limitations, you can use the bus. By the way, the train and bus station are already close to each other, so it makes no difference when it comes to the transportation. It would be easier to have a seat if you booked your train or bus tickets a few days ago, since Saturday morning departures and Sunday evening returns can be a pain in the ass.
Where to go/things to do in Cardiff?
You can imagine Cardiff as two region, Cardiff city center and the bay. As there are plenty of places to go in the city center, it offers many alternatives for accommodation and meal. The distance between the bay and the city center is already 5 minutes by car. Cardiff is a small city.
Talk about the places to see; Cardiff Castle, Bute Park, arcades, City Hall, National Museum, Cardiff Crown Court, Millennium Stadium, Cathays Park and Cardiff Bay. Center of Cardiff coast is named by Mermaid Quay. Moreover, Norwegian Church, Pierhead Building, Wales Millennium Center, Doctor Who Studious are situated within walking distance. You can explore Cardiff in one day by choosing amongst the most attractive places.
You can start your exploration by Cardiff Castle. Located in the center of the Castle, from the tower that named after Norman Keep, you can overlook the city. You can recognize each place from the map as the city center is quite small. Having getting around in Welsh Experience Shop which is just in front of the Castle, you can start to explore the region covering the arcades and St. David’s Center. You should see the harmonization of the modern and historical structures of the Hayes, which is closed to the traffic. You can feel hungry while you’re getting around in the region in which there exist many historical arcades. You can come across a variety of restaurants and shops as well as small boutiques and cafes in Cardiff. By visiting Cardiff Market you can experience the daily life of local people. Cardiff Market is like a traditional fair consisting of two shopping levels. Situated between Cardiff Castle and Train Station, though considered as a shopping area, this region (High Street- St Mary Street) is not just this. This place is actually where the heart of Cardiff beats.
Then, walking through Cardiff Castle you see New Theater, City Hall and National Museum respectively. Along with the works of world famous people like Monet, Cezanne, Rodin and Picasso, Welsh artists’ works also displayed in this museum. Likewise the other museums in the United Kingdom, the entrance is free, so do visit this museum, too.
Through the north getting inside Alexandra Gardens you can reach Welsh Government’s Building. Afterward, you have two options to enjoy the rest of the day, one is taking a walk in Bute Park, the other, going to Cardiff Coast by car. If you’re interested in sports, you can participate in Millennium Stadium (national stadium of Wales) tour by getting out from the Castle Street exit of Bute Park which compose of the combination of a few different gardens. Especially in spring, you will probably want to pass some time to have a rest in this colorful park. If it’s winter and you explore Cardiff Coast by car, I recommend you to be ready for a harsh wind.
What about transportation? Developed / Expensive?
I advise you to get a city map; in which you can find all the alternatives of public transportation and the routes that you’re gonna use. Cardiff is a small city, that’s why you can go anywhere on foot. Maybe you need a bus only to go from the city center to the coast or you can go by car. It lasts 5 minutes by bus, and the round trip ticket is 3.40 pound. Take the exact amount with you or you cannot get the change.
What do you recommend to eat in Cardiff, Alper?
Actually, there is no special meal that worth tasting in Wales, but Wales beer; Brains. All the options are bitter, there is no lager. If you taste half a pint of beer, I suggest you the Rummer Tavern and the Cottage, which are situated in the shopping area near Cardiff Castle. Go to the most crowded one if you want to enjoy.
When it comes to the food, there are lots of restaurant and cafe chains in Cardiff like in London: Nando’s Bill’s, Cafe Rouge, Jamie’s Italian, Zizzi, Wagamama, TGI Friday’s, KFC and McDonald’s etc. Except for these, I can recommend you an Italian restaurant: Cafe Citta. I know you have questions in your minds like you came here to eat a pizza, yet this is the best. Located in the Church Street, in front of St. John’s Church, Cafe Citta is the place where you can eat delicious foods and feel yourself comfortable. While you’re passing by or by calling the place you should reserve a table half an hour ago, otherwise you cannot find one. The cafe is small and runs by an Italian family. I suggest you to taste the pizzas and daily specials. When it comes to the pricing, one and a half portion of pizza varies between 8-11 pound. Furthermore, you would be surprised to see so many Italian restaurants in Cardiff.
Other remarks about Cardiff and food:
• I recommend you to have a breakfast at the coastal area. If the weather is good, you can sip your coffee while you’re watching the sails at the dock. You don’t have any chance to have a breakfast like the Turkish one, forget about it. For breakfast and brunch I also recommend Cote and Cafe Rouge at the coast.
• The white-brown church in the Cardiff Bay is the Norwegian Church Arts Centre,. This center is used as a cafe and gallery by the name of Norsk Cafe. I recommend this place, if you want to enjoy Cardiff Coast by drinking your coffee in a different atmosphere.
• Bosphorus Restaurant is located in the most beautiful part of the Cardiff Bay, for who miss the Turkish Cuisine and the Bosphorus.
• Cardiff is one of the rare cities in which the number of Starbucks is more than Costa Coffee.
• At the entrance of the Bute Park, which is near the Cardiff Castle, there are Pettigrew Tea Rooms. I recommend you to try Welsh cake or other traditional handmade cakes with jasmine tea. The atmosphere of the tearooms resembles classic English saloons. Provided that you can’t find a seat, you can take your tea with you and drink it while you’re marching in the park. I think that this would make you feel happy.
• You can go to Madame Fromage, which is situated in Castle Arcade to have a quick bite, or to photo the colorful shop filled with cheeses.
• Nightlife in Cardiff begins at 11 p.m. After 11 p.m while you’re walking down the street, you come across drunken people and rose-sellers as well as you heard outcries and music, that means the night has begun. You can be surprised to see so many women in streets because English women make hen-do parties in other cities and they organize wild parties to celebrate the event, that’s simply what I experienced at the weekend.
Where to stay?
There are lots of hotels around Cardiff Castle or Cardiff Train Station. You can prefer these hotels since there are in the vicinity of the places to see. You will have no problem with accommodation because the Cardiff city center isn’t so big.
Have time, what other places to visit?
Providing that you went all the places to see, I suggest you to go to Penarth and Castell Coch. Penarth is a coastal town located 10 km (6.2 miles) far from the Cardiff Bay. You can arrive here in 15 minutes from the bay or the bus station in the city center. Castell Coch means ‘red castle’. The Coch is within 10 minutes drive if you get on the bus 26 or 132 from the bus station, and when you get off, you walk about 15 minutes and then here you are. On the hill a nice and small castle lies in the forest. You would be pleased to walk through the path that leads to the castle.