What to know before travelling to Cardiff

Cardiff, the capital of Wales, is an excellent choice for a city break in the UK. Whether you go for a weekend or longer, there are so many things to see and do. So, to make sure you have the best time, we’ve pulled together some of the top attractions in Cardiff to visit, along with the best hotels to stay at.

Is Cardiff worth visiting?

There are many reasons you should book a city break in Cardiff. Here are 10 of them…

  1. Cardiff seamlessly blends the old with the new - historical castles with modern cosmopolitan features.
  2. It has culture aplenty at the National Museum and Wales Millennium Centre.
  3. You'll be spoilt for choice with Cardiff days out, including the castle, Cardiff Bay and Flat Holm Island.
  4. It offers a great night out with a vibrant pub, bar and club scene.
  5. It's great for sports with two venues in the middle of the city.
  6. The unique island of Flat Holm near Cardiff is a Site of Special Scientific Interest & a Local Nature Reserve.
  7. There's plenty of green space (Bute Park is a favourite!)
  8. Cardiff is a fantastic shopping destination with everything from huge department stores to vintage shops and independent retailers.
  9. There are lots of beautiful beaches within an hour's drive from Cardiff.
  10.  The Welsh are very hospitable - you'll get a warm welcome wherever you go!

Top Attractions in Cardiff

Cardiff may be smaller than some European cities, but it still boasts several outstanding tourist attractions with something for people of all ages to enjoy. Here are a few of our favourite Cardiff tourist attractions.

Cardiff Castle

One of the most popular tourist attractions in Cardiff is Cardiff Castle. Discover over 2000 years of history in the heart of the city and explore the place which was once a Roman fort, Norman stronghold and Victorian Gothic fantasy palace created for the 3rd Marquess of Bute.

Step through the castle gates and experience the ultimate Victorian mediaeval dream world, with mural-painted State Apartments that look like they’ve leapt off the page of a fairytale, elaborate wood carvings, stained glass windows and luxurious marble.

There are many different areas of the castle to explore, including the Roman Wall, Mediaeval Keep and Wartime Shelters, so make sure you leave plenty of time for your visit. Tickets cost £13.50 for adults, £9.50 for children (up to 16), £11.50 for concessions, and under 5s go free. For a small additional charge, you can also pay for a tour of the castle to delve deeper into its history.

Cardiff Bay

Cardiff Bay is one of Europe's most significant port regeneration projects and a great place to spend the day during your visit to Cardiff. Here you'll have the opportunity to learn about the port's vital role in the history of Wales and the UK. The former warehouses and wharves are now home to luxury homes, hotels and some of the best restaurants in Cardiff. There are also several theatres, art studios, galleries, and of course, the Wales Millennium Centre Performance art facility to visit too.

National Museum

The National Museum offers free entry and is a great place to go on a rainy day (or a sunny day for that matter!) It is home to Wales’ national art, natural history, geology collections and temporary exhibitions. From stunning Impressionist paintings by Monet and Picasso to gigantic dinosaur skeletons, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Plus, the museum has a busy programme of exhibitions and events taking place throughout the year.

Principality Stadium

If you’re into rugby, why not try and take in a match at the Principality Stadium at Cardiff Arms Park? If that’s not possible, book tickets for a guided tour of the state-of-the-art stadium. Get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the changing rooms, tunnels that lead to the pitch and VIP and press facilities.

Flat Holm Island

While it’s not strictly in Cardiff, Flat Holm Island is just five minutes off the coast of the Welsh capital and the perfect location for a day trip.

Since the Dark Ages, Flat Holm has been a retreat for monks, a sanctuary for Vikings, Anglo-Saxons, silver miners and smugglers. In Victorian times, and again during World War II, the island was fortified, and in 1897 it became famous for receiving Marconi’s first ever radio message across water.

Book a boat trip from Cardiff to Flat Holm and enjoy 3 hours on the island - just enough time to explore, relax and enjoy a drink at The Gull and Leek, Wales’ most southerly pub. There is also a little gift shop on the island - the perfect place to pick up a postcard and souvenirs of your island experience.

Is Cardiff a good place for families?

Cardiff is an excellent destination for a family city break in the UK.

Be sure to take the kids to Techniquest at Cardiff Bay. This interactive science centre offers the perfect blend of fun and learning experiences. Cardiff Bay is also great to let the kids burn off some energy! Explore the many parks and paths, some leading through the wetlands preserve, a fantastic place for spotting wildlife.

Another exciting place to visit with kids is the Cardiff International White Water. While the centre offers a wide range of water sports activities like surfing, canyoning and body boarding for professional and amateur adventurers, it also has a Paddle School, perfect for introducing younger children to the water.

What is the best part of Cardiff to stay in?

If you’re visiting Cardiff for the first time and want to be close to all of the top attractions and amenities, we highly recommend staying in the bustling city centre, which lies on the east bank of the River Taff.

Some of the best Cardiff city centre hotels include:

  • Hotel Indigo Cardiff
  • Hilton Cardiff
  • Park Plaza Cardiff
  • Cardiff Marriott Hotel
  • Clayton Hotel Cardiff

If you want to immerse yourself in culture, there’s no better place to be than Cardiff Bay. It’s home to several famous cultural attractions, some of the city’s best restaurants and a whole host of hotels, including:

  • VOCO St Davids Cardiff
  • Future Inn Cardiff
  • Holiday Inn Express Cardiff Bay

Those wanting to save money on hotels in Cardiff should check out Riverside. This is a quieter residential area lying west of the River Taff. It’s still within walking distance of the city and all of the tourist attractions, but you’ll find the hotels are a little more budget-friendly.

You’ll also find cheap hotels in Roath. A little like Riverside, it’s a residential area slightly further away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. Roath has a relaxed, laid-back vibe and is known for its independent and artisan traders.

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