Cardiff city break: the perfect Welsh weekender
Cardiff, the capital city of Wales, lies just over two hours from London by train and is easily reachable for a weekend break.
FAMOUS for bearing the soul of rugby, the home of Doctor Who, the birthplace of Tom Jones and a language that makes you spit, Cardiff, or Caerdydd, has been named one of the top 10 cities in Europe. The capital city of Wales lies just over two hours away from Paddington and is easily reachable by train for a weekend break.
The city centre boasts history, culture, sport and shopping as well as plenty of bars, restaurants and cafés. Meanwhile Cardiff Bay, Europe’s largest waterfront development, is home to the Doctor Who experience and the Millenium Arts Centre as well as a number of other attractions including bars, bowling alleys, museums, galleries and the Welsh Assembly centre at The Pierhead.
The recently-extended central St David’s shopping centre brings all the major stores to the capital, but don’t neglect the older, historic arcades of the city. The Castle Arcade, which runs opposite the castle itself, and and the Morgan Arcade on the Hayes both sport intricate design and a range of boutiques, specialist shops, cafés and traditional Welsh food outlets.
No trip to Cardiff would be complete without a visit to Cardiff Castle and the Millenium Stadium, both of which are located right in the centre of town. The Castle showcases over 2000 years of history including the wartime tunnels, the Norman Keep and the lavish, grandiose gothic-Victorian apartments, with the theme continuing in the fairytale setting of nearby Castell Coch.
Take a stadium tour of the ‘Mil Stad’ to see where all the rugby action takes place, and if you’re able to visit the city on a match day soak up the atmosphere in one of the surrounding bars or pubs (you’ll be glad to know that among a plethora of more traditional options there’s a Walkabout close enough to the stadium to hear the crowd roar!). Sip on a pint of locally-brewed Brains and take the chance to chat to some of the friendly locals.
A short drive from Cardiff lies St Fagans, home of the Amgueddfa Werin Cymru (the Welsh National Museum) which is one of Europe’s leading open-air museums. Journey back in time through rural Wales then grab a Welsh cake in the café or a cheese bun from the old-style Derwen bakehouse.
Continue west to reach the quaint market town of Cowbridge where you can meander up and down a high street lined with gift shops and traditional pubs. If you want to venture further afield, continue through the town to the rugged South Wales coastline where you can explore Ogmore, Llantwit Major, Nash Point or Dunraven Bay. Stop for a pint in a local or pick up some fish and chips along the way, but try and be there in time for sunset.
Go to visitcardiff.com for further information and for help with accommodation. For cheap travel book trains early through National Rail or try Megabus or National Express.