Cardiff city guide: The Welsh capital, Cardiff, is really a city on the move. Home to over 350, 000 people, this city underwent a tremendous and progressive development over a period of time.
It is home to an impressive coal empire and has evolved into one of Europe’s most beautiful maritime cities, embraced by lovely countryside. Of all the major reconstruction that the city has witnessed, a prominent mention should be given to the impressive appearance of the Millennium Stadium, which greets you as you come out from the railway station.
The Millennium Stadium dominates the skyline on the western edge of the city center and is home to many major sporting and entertainment events. If you visit Cardiff, you are sure to be impressed by the peaceful and carefree life that greets you. The city is famous for its quality of life.
Though most of its residents live in the suburbs, they have to travel only for 10 or 15 minutes by public or private transport to get to the city center. The suburbs have a unique charm akin to villages and hamlets that dreams are made of.
Places of interest in Cardiff
Cardiff Castle: Also known as Castell Caerdydd, Cardiff Castle was founded in Roman times and became the foothold of the Norman Empire. Even now you can see the ruins of the Norman Empire here. The Victorian look of the castle was the brainchild of the third Marquis of Bute (1848-900).
He employed an architect called William Burges who decorated the ornate interiors of the castle with murals and added neo-Gothic towers with murals, stained glass windows and decorative carvings. The castle also has two military museums and massive grounds. The famous Bute Park came into existence from the grounds of the Cardiff Castle.
Millennium stadium: This 72,500-seater stadium is one of the most modern and luxuriant sports stadiums in Europe. You can take advantage of the guided tours to visit the pitch, the royal box, the dressing rooms of the players and other areas.
: This beautiful place introduces you to some of the finest architectural work in Cardiff. The Cardiff Bay barrage was open to the public after June 2001. This led to a creation of a fresh water lake and a 12 km long waterfront with parks, shopping complexes, entertainment centers, bars and restaurants. Techniquest, a science museum, and Norwegian Arts church arts centers are the other prominent landmarks here.
Museum of Welsh Life (Amgueddfa Werin Cymru): This beautiful museum is set in 104 acres of Parkland, in St. Fagans, west of the city center. You would be impressed with the extensive collection of precious Welsh literature, works and craftsmanship. There is a collection of historic Welsh townships, farms, tannery, pottery, Victorian schoolrooms etc, which have been purchased from different places in Wales and rebuilt in the huge grounds of the museums. Another notable image would be of the Iron-age Celtic village.
Things to do in Cardiff
Travel- The public transport in the city is provided by the bus. The main provider is the Cardiff Bus.
The buses have an operation time of 0530-2330 hours and there are night buses. The buses have reduced hours during the public holidays and the weekends. Alternatively, you can hire the services of a taxi. They are either black hackney cabs or cars with company logos that indicate that they are used for public transport.
There are companies like Black Cabs, DragonTaxies and Central Taxis, which can help you hire the services of their taxis. Visitors are expected to pay about £5.00 for a trip across town. The traffic is quite heavy during the peak hours, which would be Monday through Friday 0800-0900 and 1700-1800.
If you want to rent a car, then you would have to own a valid driving license. It could usually be a national driving license. If you are a tourist, then you may also do with an International Driving Permit. You need to check the kind and the grade of insurance given to you along with the car hire.
Eating: Follow the gradation of the restaurants as per the prices, if you plan to eat out at any of the restaurants in Cardiff: Assuming you eat a three course meal accompanied by a half litre of wine, then you should expect to pay the following prices for different grade restaurants:
**** (over £40)
*** (£25 to £40)
** (£10 to £25)
* (under £10) The prices usually include taxes and tips.
Shopping: You can shop till you drop in the specialist shops and boutiques within the seven Victorian and Edwardian arcades situated in the city centers. Important departmental stores such as Howells are open from 9am to 6pm, although this is not a rule. There are some shops that are open on Sundays too.
Special activities: Wales is home to a lot of Eisteddfod festivals around the country. You can feel the ancient Celtic heritage in their music and movies. You can purchase the tickets to the cultural events in Cardiff through phone, box offices or online. The city is famous for the male choir voice, which is the hallmark of the Welsh pride.
Food & Drink:
Tiles: This is an internationally acclaimed part of the St. David’s hotel. The restaurant has the best seafood in Cardiff and you could also have a breathtaking view of the Millennium Waterfront as you savour the seafood with a tasty glass of wine.
Underdeb: This is one restaurant that is so popular that you would have to reserve seats for the place days in advance. Home to some creative and tasty dishes; this place would keep you craving for more.
Le Gallois: This hotel is famous for some interesting and distinctive French food with a Welsh twist. You also get the best customer service and a pleasant ambience.
Izakaya: This trendy Japanese restaurant at the Millenium Quay has the best Japanese Sushi food (more than 70 varieties) in Cardiff.
Dorothy’s: You get the taste of local food to make you feel like a red-blooded Welsh with the best fish and chips you could find. The chicken curry is one more dish you cannot miss.
Benedicto: You have the best of Italian dishes here. The wine tastes amazingly fine and you can have a gala time here. However, you would have to keep away from smoking if you want to enjoy the food and the ambience.
Hotels & Accommodation:
Cardiff has an abundence of beautiful hotels with excellent accommodation facilities. The hotels could be classified into 4 different pricing categories:
**** (over £150)
*** (£100 to £150)
** (£50 to £100)
* (under £50)
The prices listed above are for a double room per night, including tax and breakfast.
Here are selection of hotels in Cardiff:
Cardiff Park Plaza
Cardiff Sandringham Hotel
The Royal Hotel
Macdonald Holland House Hotel
The Big Sleep Hotel
The Lodge by Macdonald
Novotel Cardiff Centre
Village Hotel Cardiff
Cardiff Moat House Hotel
Quality Hotel Cardiff
Future Inn Cardiff Bay
Campanile Hotel Cardiff
The Copthorne Hotel Cardiff
Manor House Hotel
VALE HOTEL, GOLF & SPA RESORT
Best Western Mount Sorrel Hotel
The New Theater Park Place, founded in 1909 and refurbished in the 1980s, is a premier venue in Wales for hosting popular plays, theaters and dances. The New Wales Millennium Dance Center is another famous place for international choreographers and native dancers to exhibit their talents. Mary Ann Street, Capital Odeon and the Millennium Plaza are important venues to screen mainstream movies.
Cardiff is a city that is still growing. With the Welsh getting its due as a nation in its own right, Cardiff is the perfect resort for any tourist who wants to witness a city on the road to progress and prosperity, albeit retaining its strong Celtic roots.