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Welcome to Cardiff


Although occupied since the Middle Ages, Cardiff really came into its own during the Industrial Revolution as an important dock town used for the distribution of iron and coal in Wales. Since becoming the Welsh capital in 1955 and subsequently the seat of the Welsh National Assembly, Cardiff has undergone a massive transformation from a forgotten industrial port to a modern capital.

Nowhere is the growth and development of the city more evident than in the Cardiff Bay area, a massive new commercial development and urban regeneration project. The trendy waterfront district known as Mermaid's Quay is home to striking modern architecture and modern art, as well as chic shops and boutiques, top-class restaurants, and plenty of clubs and bars. The Quay also provides a great launch site for numerous cruises and boat tours, ranging from serene paddleboats to thrilling speed boat rides.

These modern amenities lie alongside some impressive historical sites, including the Cardiff Castle, which was built by the wealthy third Marquis of Bute. The castle is located in the centre of Cardiff on a site used by both the Romans and the Normans as a strategic point of defence. Visitors can still explore the Norman Keep, set on top of a small hill overlooking the city.

Other popular attractions in Cardiff include the National Museum and Gallery, St David's Hall, Llandaff Cathedral, the outdoor Museum of Welsh Life and the Millennium Stadium - the new home of the Welsh Rugby Union and future host of soccer matches at the 2012 Olympics. There are also many historical attractions and points of interest just outside the city, including several Neolithic sites, and the area is also resplendent with natural beauty.

This fast growing urban centre may seem an unlikely tourist destination, but more and more travellers are flocking to enjoy the sights, sounds and 24-hour buzz of the Welsh capital.

Information & Facts


Cardiff's climate is like the rest of the United Kingdom - highly unpredictable. Winters are wet, though days can sometimes be crisp and sunny, and summers are usually warm, with plenty of sunshine. Springtime (March to May) is a popular time to travel to Cardiff, with mild weather and plenty of flowers to enjoy, though sporadic rain and wind is possible. Winter temperatures average around 37°F (3°C), while summer temperatures average around 77°F (25°C).

Eating Out

The variety of restaurants in Cardiff is steadily increasing as the local population develops a taste for finer things than fish and chips. Mermaid Quay in Cardiff Harbour and the Brewery Quarter offer the biggest range of dining options, and tourists eating out in Cardiff will have no difficulty finding something they enjoy, whether it's fine dining or a mom-and-pop eatery.

If you want to try local Welsh cuisine however, there are a number of good restaurants to try in Cardiff. Try Welsh faggots, a lamb or pig's-liver meatball served in peppercorn gravy; the famous Welsh rarebit, which is rabbit; Shepherd's Pie; or Welsh Caerphilly cheese.

Wales also has a number of wineries, distilleries, breweries and tea plantations, so there is no end of local food and drink to try!

Getting Around

Cardiff has a reliable and extensive bus service that usually operates between 5.30am and 11.30pm, with limited weekend and public holiday services. Fair zones are colour-coded, and exact change is required. Many discount passes are available. The train services are also dependable, and taxis are easily hailed or ordered by phone. Hiring a car in Cardiff is easy, with most companies requiring a licence in English with a photograph, or an International Drivers Permit. A minimum age requirement may apply. The city is relatively easy to negotiate, but parking is often a problem, as many spaces downtown are for permit-holders only. However, Cardiff is compact and easily explored on foot. It is also flat, making it well-suited to cycling. The Taff Trail for walking and cycling runs right through the city.

English is the official language, though visitors will be astonished by the variety of regional accents.

The currency is the pound (GBP), which is divided into 100 pence. ATMs are available in all towns and Visa, MasterCard and American Express are widely accepted; visitors with other cards should check with their credit card companies in advance. Foreign currency can be exchanged at bureaux de change and large hotels, however better exchange rates are likely to be found at banks. Travellers cheques are accepted in all areas frequented by tourists; they are best taken in Pounds Sterling to avoid additional charges.


Cardiff is considered one of the top nightlife cities in the United Kingdom, with more pubs per square metre than any other city in Britain. With a wide selection of bars, pubs, cafes and restaurants, Cardiff's nightlife is sure to please just about everyone.

Some of the most bustling areas for nightlife in Cardiff are located in the city centre. St mary Street, Greyfriars Road, and Mill Lane are all busy and offer a number of options. Mermaid Quay in Cardiff Harbour is also a fun place to go for a night out. A little ways out of town, the Red Dragon Centre is a lively shopping centre with entertainment options for the whole family.

For live music, the hottest club in Cardiff is the unpronounceable Clwb ifor Bach, which hosts live bands Wednesdays to Mondays. Other popular live music venues include Barfly, Buffalo Bar, and the Cardiff Students' Union.

If it's a cultural experience you're after, Cardiff is the heart of the arts in Wales and offers theatre and live music to please. The architecturally beautiful Wales Millennium Centre is the base for the Welsh National Opera and the Dance Company of Wales, and also houses the Donald Gordon Theatre and the Weston Studio for all manner of performances.

St David's Hall also hosts orchestral concerts, ballets, film screenings, and international touring bands. Sherman Theatre and the Chapter Arts Centre are smaller venues that host a variety of arts and entertainment performances, exhibitions and workshops.


Shopping in Cardiff is a pleasant experience for visitors, who can stroll peacefully along the pretty Victorian arcades and pedestrianised shopping streets in the city centre and browse through well-known shops like Marks and Spencer, Boots, Topshop and Virgin, as well as food markets and smaller shops. The main shopping streets in Cardiff are Castle, Duke, St Mary, Queen, and High streets, and the best-known arcades are the Castle and Royal arcades. The Hayes offers more independent shops, including Spiller Records, reportedly the oldest record shop in the world.

There are a number of shopping malls in Cardiff as well, including St David's Shopping Centre and Capitol Shopping Centre. The city boasts a few very good markets as well, the most popular being the Central market, which offers everything from arts and crafts to antiques and food. There is an outdoor fruit and vegetable market on Mary Ann Street, and a Sunday morning open-air market in Bessemer Street.

For local arts and crafts and popular Cardiff souvenirs, look in the tourist areas: Castle Welsh Crafts is opposite the entrance to Cardiff Castle, and Craft in the Bay is in Lloyd George Avenue.

Local time in the United Kingdom is GMT (GMT +1 from last Sunday in March to Saturday before last Sunday in October).

Cardiff Castle is a unique complex of historical buildings incorporating a medieval castle, Victorian Gothic Mansion and a Norman keep which in turn was built over a Roman fort standing guard over on a cliff above Cardiff. The city itself may have only been there for 100 years, but Cardiff Castle dates back over 2,000 years. Roman soldiers have spent many nights here, knights have spent many a day here while the wealthy Bute family have resided here since the 19th century. Those who visit Cardiff Castle will be rewarded with opulent rooms, Mediterranean gardens and Italian and Arabian décor. Guided tours are available. Family friendly visits are also available to those with young children.

Located in the southwest corner of Wales the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park runs along a coastline riddled with rugged cliffs, superb sandy beaches, rocky coves and tiny fishing villages. There is some spectacular scenery and wonderful coastal walks including the well-trodden 167-mile (269km) Coast Path. Inland, the historic Preseli Hills conceal ancient trade routes, hill forts, standing stones and burial chambers. The tiny islands offshore are inhabited by colonies of puffins, guillemots, razorbills, gannets and grey seals. The area is an activity-lover's paradise, with a choice of hiking, pony trekking, surfing, windsurfing, kayaking and fishing opportunities. The best time to visit is in spring when wild flowers abound and most ramblers have yet to arrive. The town of Pembroke is worth visiting only for its fearsome castle, which, founded by the Normans, has an intriguing history (open every day between 10am to 4pm). Just South of the Park is the city St David's, which is actually little larger than your average village. The cathedral is the resting place of St David, the patron Saint of Wales, and during the Middle Ages was one of the most holy places in Britain. Two pilgrimages here were equivalent to one to Rome.

This open-air museum located in St Fagans chronicles the historical lifestyle, architecture and cultural heritage of the people of Wales and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. The 16th century manor house in which the museum stands bears testament to the magnificent heritage of the Welsh and the museum features more than 40 original buildings, moved from various parts of Wales and erected to show how the people of Wales lived over the last 500 years. Among these are houses, a farm, a school, a chapel and a splendid Workmen's Institute. Donated to the people of Wales by the Earl of Plymouth, the museum first opened in 1948 and to this day, the original strain of native livestock can be seen in the fields and farmyards, and the Welsh language proudly heard in the air.

This fascinating hands-on science museum is a must for those who are young at heart, perpetually intrigued and amazed by the power of science. Techniquest was voted Europe's best science centre in an industry survey and it continues to thrill those who visit with its puzzles, gadgets and structures on display. The Science Theatre and Planetarium are popular stops for most who come to Techniquest for the day, while younger visitors will love the children's educational programs, laboratories and workshops on offer.

Nicknamed the 'Armadillo', this arts centre located in the Cardiff Bay area hosts performances such as opera, ballet, dance, comedy and musicals. Known as one of the world's iconic arts and cultural destinations, it features a world-class stage and also offers free foyer performances, tours, exhibitions and a choice of bars and restaurants for visitors to enjoy with an overall vision to bring the best of the world to Wales. Guided tours of the centre are available where guests can check out the dressing rooms, marvel at the sheer size of the stage and find out what lies beneath the mystical inscription.

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