Guide to Cardiff
Cardiff was made capital of Wales in 1955 and since then the city has emerged as one of the most vibrant urban centres in the UK. Whether you’re a sports fan, shopaholic, foodie or culture buff you’ll find Cardiff has it all.
Did you know
1. Although Cardiff is the UK’s 10th largest city, with a population of about 346,000, it is one of the smallest cities throughout Europe.
2. The first football final to be broadcast live on the radio by the BBC was the 1927 FA cup final between Cardiff City and Arsenal. Cardiff won the game 1-0, making them the only non-English club to win the FA Cup.
3. Cardiff claims to have more castles than any other city in the world.
4. When the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles became a huge hit in the 90s, the children of Cardiff begged their parents for pet terrapins. When they grew too big to handle, many of the terrapins were dumped in the lake at Roath Park which became overrun with more than 100 of the creatures.
5. The popular BBC TV show, Doctor Who, made a massive comeback in 2005 and has been based at the broadcaster’s Cardiff studios ever since. The city has featured in multiple episodes of the show as well as spin-offs Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures.
6. Cardiff is known as the ‘City of Arcades’ due to its amazing selection of Victorian, Edwardian and contemporary shopping arcades that reflect the historical heritage of the city.
7. Spiller’s Records in Morgan Arcade is the world’s oldest record store. It opened in 1894 and originally sold the wax cylinders that were played on phonographs.
8. Cardiff raised more cash than any other city to support Captain Scott’s ill-fated Antarctic Expedition.
9. Cardiff is perched on the Bristol Channel which has the second highest tidal range in the world – the difference between high tide and low tide is more than 14 metres.
10. Roald Dahl, one of the UK’s most famous children’s writers, was born in Llandaff, Cardiff.
“The thing I love most about Cardiff is its size. It's not a big city, so it's never intimidating but it's also not too small to become boring. It's compact and there's always something happening.”
Hareem Ur Rehman Ighna Ur Rehman from Cardiff Metropolitan University
Places to visit
Discover the historic heart of the city with a visit to the magnificent Cardiff Castle which was. interestingly used as a safe haven during World War II, when it was an air raid shelter.
Cardiff Castle - Grand Banqueting Room
These days people go to marvel at the fairy-tale interiors decorated in marble, stained glass and rich murals. The castle is also used for gigs, cinema screenings and art exhibitions throughout the year.
For a museum with a difference, visit the open-air attraction of St Fagans National History Museum, perched on the outskirts of the city. This hugely popular Cardiff attraction consists of more than 50 original buildings from different historical periods in Wales, brought to life in the grounds of a 16th century manor house.
If you’re looking for trendy bars, mouth-watering cuisine and a glittering view of the bay, visit the waterfront shopping district of Mermaid Quay. The 14,000 square metre development opened in 1999 and is a great place to enjoy a bite to eat, shop the latest fashions or simply people-watch.
What and where to eat
Those keen to try the local cuisine in Cardiff, should look up a few of these traditional Welsh treats. Welsh rarebit is the ultimate comfort dish, consisting of a spiced, hot cheese sauce on toasted bread. You can sample it at the quirky restaurant attached to the Madame Fromage specialist cheese shop. This is also a great place to sample the national dish of Wales, cawl, a sumptuous stew made up of chunky root vegetables and salted bacon or beef.
Those with a sweet tooth might find a helping of sugary Welsh cakes puts a smile on their face, or they might prefer the tempting bara brith, a traditional fruit loaf soaked in tea. Drop into Pettigrew Tea Rooms to try a sumptuous spread of tea and cake with a distinctive Welsh twist.
Things to do in Cardiff
Fans of the TV show, Doctor Who, are in for a treat at Cardiff’s award-winning attraction, The Doctor Who Experience. It gives visitors the chance to look behind the scenes of the famous show, star in their own interactive Doctor Who adventure and browse an exhibition hall filled with props, sets and costumes.
Sports enthusiasts must visit the state-of-the-art Principality Stadium to discover the home of Welsh Rugby Union and the Wales national football team. Drop in on a game day to enjoy the exciting atmosphere in the stands, or take an hour-long tour which takes you from the home-side changing rooms to the president’s suite. There are also plenty of opportunities to pose with a favourite team member’s shirt or raise a trophy above your head.
If you are looking for relaxation head to Barry Island which is a beach a short train ride away from the city centre. It has amusement arcades, funfair rides and a breath-taking beach which has the exclusive Blue Flag rating.
Where to shop
The unique shops found in Cardiff’s collection of historical arcades offer hours of entertainment for browsers and buyers alike. Look for high-end brands and independent boutiques at Morgan Arcade. Fine antiques and handicrafts at the Royal Arcade and edible artisan goodies at the Victorian Castle Arcade.