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10 Reasons Why You Should Visit the Mythical Welsh Capital, Cardiff

From dragons to rugby and everything in between, Cardiff is the hub of Welsh culture and entertainment. It’s time you paid the mythical city a visit!

Photo Credits: Ceri Breeze / Shutterstock

A place where dragons are celebrated? Forget London! Cardiff is a city rich in history and culture, that is surrounded by beautiful nature, and which has a vibrant nightlife. What is more – it is affordable!

When people think of visiting the UK, their minds usually go straight to London. But there are several other vibrant capital cities that these isles have to offer. Cardiff, the mythical and magical capital of Wales, is amongst them. With everything from rugby to folklore, to castles and breathtaking views, consider stepping out of crowded London and visiting this city instead!

1. The Stadiums and the Sports

Cardiff Principality Stadium, Photo Credits: Min Jing/ Shutterstock

Rugby is the word on everybody’s lips here. You will even find these local Welsh superheroes out and about, hanging out at places like Boom Battle Bar. During the Autumn Internationals or Six Nations, you will find a very crowded city center as thousands of people flock to the city to watch this country’s national sport live in all of its glory.

Cardiff is a city cemented in sport, with great pride being taken in the local city teams as well as the Welsh national teams who are based here. The Stadium is not just the home of rugby, though; it also boasts an impressive performance history of the biggest names in the entertainment industry. In recent years, the likes of Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, Harry Styles and Beyonce have all performed there.

Next year, global megastar Taylor Swift is also set to swing by Cardiff for the first time, during her blockbuster Era’s Tour. Could this have anything to do with her good friends Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds’ recent football team purchase in Wrexham, Wales? These megastars are bringing long-overdue attention to our little gem of a country and putting it on the world map.

2. The Bay

Cardiff Bay, Photo Credits: Matthew Dixon/ Shutterstock

Cardiff Bay is a hub of entertainment and culture, once famed for being an epicenter of coal exports. Here, you will find the iconic red Pierhead Building, where the first million-pound check was signed in the UK. As well as the modern and architecturally stylish Welsh Senedd (parliament). The large, impressive design feat that is the Millenium Centre hosts frequent performances, including many shows brought from the West End.

There is an array of delicious restaurants and bars, both well-known names and a few local gems such as Giovanni’s Italian restaurant. With a beautiful ocean view, you can enjoy your food even more! Step further out onto a pier venue, where you can enjoy a treat at Cadwaladers or Coffi Co. There is also Wales’ only Everyman cinema, where you can enjoy all the latest releases while eating a delicious meal from the comfort of a plush sofa (artichoke dip and a cocktail anyone?).

In the summertime, you can enjoy various water and boating activities. A short walk along the waterfront will take you to the Norwegian church where Roald Dahl was christened. To entertain the young ones, how about a trip to the innovative science museum Techniquest?

From the city center, there are many travel options available, including a short train ride. But if you want to travel in style and appreciate the views from the water, why not travel by boat from the starting point in Bute Park?

3. The Parks

Roath Park & Lake, Photo Credits: Ceri Breeze/ Shutterstock

In Cardiff you will find many beautiful parks to take a stroll or to escape the bustling city atmosphere in. Bute Park is a large green stretching the length of the city. In summertime, you will find it full of Cardiff University students, kicking a ball around or having a boozy picnic. In winter, it hosts the beautiful Bute Park Light Show, which will take you through an amazing spectacle, including dazzling sights like disco balls in trees.

Roath Park and its lake, a bit further from the city center, is a beautiful place to walk your dog, have a scenic morning jog, grab an ice cream or simply take in the breathtaking view. The Alexandra Gardens, is situated at the center of the city’s most beautiful architecture, including the main university building, law courts and city hall. The park has a striking war memorial at its center, and the flowerbeds are seasonally redone, leaving new floral wonders for visitors to enjoy each time.

4. The Leafy Suburbs

Llandaff Cathedral, Photo Credits: Billy Stock / Shutterstock

Cardiff has a wealth of beautiful leafy suburbs with rows of idyllic Victorian townhouses. Areas such as Pontcanna and Llandaff are full of artisan bakeries, independent boutiques, coffee shops and pilates studios. Think of the nice areas of London, but without the price tag (and you can breathe).

Llandaff hosts the imposing Cathedral, an undeniably impressive architectural feat. The surrounding village neighborhood is full of quaint houses reminiscent of a Poirot set. With the city center bustling with activities just a short walk away, these suburbs are close enough to the action yet far enough away to get some peace and quiet.

5. Arts & Culture

Cardiff Castle, Photo Credits: Billy Stock / Shutterstock

Cardiff lies at the heart of Welsh Culture, which encompasses everything from dragons, sheep, and harps to Welshcakes!

Famous for being one of the key locations for the BBC, you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Doctor Who being filmed. Why not take the BBC tour at the Welsh headquarters in the city center?

Cardiff Castle is an unmissable event. The medieval hilltop castle, with its surrounding moat, looks like something out of a fairytale. You can also take a tour of the more recent Victorian edition of the castle. The grounds also make for an impressive music venue, having hosted the likes of Bryan Adams and Diana Ross in the last year. By winter, it transforms into a scenic ice skating venue.

For those interested in the arts, Chapter Arts Centre offers events and screenings to satisfy the culturally engaged. The National Museum, hosts an impressive collection of Impressionist art, historic Welsh portraits, and a significant amount of works donated by the sisters of Gregynog Hall. St Fagans National Museum of History, located just outside of Cardiff, will take you on a wondrous journey of Welsh history.

6. The Victorian Charm

Royal Arcade, Photo Credits: Nigel Wiggins/ Shutterstock

One of the most enchanting aspects of Cardiff is its unique city center, built up around a collection of Victorian arcades. Within these pretty glass-roofed streets, you will find an enticing assortment of coffee shops, local businesses and quirky chains such as Lucy and Yak. If you want an alternative and satisfying shopping experience, the arcades are the place to go.

In winter, you will find them dressed to the nines in fairy lights -perfect for a cheeky Instagram story! They are also a great place to be cozy while still enjoying the feeling of being outdoors. If you fancy paying the oldest toilet in Cardiff a visit, you will find a traditional Victorian lavatory in the Lazarou hair salon in the Castle Arcade.

Cardiff is a relatively new city, but much of it was built during the Victorian era, so it offers a glimpse into the past. One particular Victorian gem is the Prince of Wales pub (part of the popular Wetherspoon chain), which is a glamorous refurbished theatre, originally opened in 1878, where you can dine whilst observing theatrical remains.

7. Up and Coming City Centre

The Ivy, The Hayes, Photo Credits: Ceri Breeze / Shutterstock

Cardiff is an up-and-coming cosmopolitan city. With restaurants such as The Ivy, The Ivy Asia, and recently Giggling Squid and Gaucho, Cardiff is becoming one of the hottest dining spots in the UK.

There is also a wealth of well-known brands in the impressively huge St David’s shopping centre. From Zara to Victoria’s Secret to John Lewis to the impressive food court, this is the perfect place to find just about anything. The Hayes is the city’s most glamorous shopping strip, housing names like Reiss, Mint Velvet and Hugo Boss, with the recent addition of Space NK.

Cardiff is hip and happening, no wonder so many successful businesses are flocking to open a branch here!

8. The Nightlife

One thing you will discover if you visit here is that the Welsh simply love to party!

St Mary Street is simply the place to be. Recent additions to the street include dance-tastic Proud Mary’s and glamorous art-deco Flight Club, which boasts darts and a rooftop terrace. This street also boasts many impressive cocktail bars like The Libertine and Penny Royal.

If you prefer to mix your partying with a bit of activity, opt for Boom Battle Bar, Golf Fang or the latest city addition, Ballie Ballerson, where you can enjoy a drink and then dive into the ball pit (don’t worry, it is regularly cleaned!) Why not try ‘Bingo Lingo’ at Depot, a large-scale venue that also hosts music acts and sports watch parties?

Live music venues include Club Ifor Bach (also known as Welsh Club), which also hosts themed nights such as ABBA or Taylor Swift night, where students gather to dance the night away to their favorite artist. The famous bar and live music venue Live Lounge draws a full crowd all week, and has seen many a local band play. Open until 4am every night, there is always a party going on here.

Emulate the hit TV show Gavin & Stacey by hitting up the infamous Vodka Revolution. For full effect, follow up a night of drinking pints of wine like Nessa, with a “curry or a fight down Caroline Street” or Chippy Alley as it is known to locals.

9. Surrounding Treasures

Barry Island, Photo Credits: Simon Annable / Shutterstock

With such a wealth of things to see and do in Cardiff, you may not have time for anything else! But if you do, there are many treasures right at your fingertips.

For nature lovers, the Brecon Beacons are only a stone throw away. If you fancy popping to England, Bristol is a short 50-minute train ride away. If you are drawn to the Welsh fable and folklore, why not explore some of the nearby castles, such as Castle Coch.

And for the Gavin and Stacey fans (or just those who love the seaside), hop on the train to Barry Island and experience a quintessential Welsh beach town, complete with fish and chips.

10. “Hiraeth” – The People

Cardiff Rugby Fans, Photo Credits: Ceri Breeze / Shutterstock

According to The Oxford Dictionary, “hiraeth” means ‘(especially in the context of Wales or Welsh Culture) a deep longing for something, especially one’s home.’

Welsh people are known for their Hiraeth, which is an appreciation for their beautiful culture. Wales is unique in its warm friendliness and sense of camaraderie. In Cardiff, you will certainly experience a warm welcome and a heartfelt goodbye.

I am a third year English Literature and Creative Writing student, interning here at Trill Mag. I am passionate about people, food and travel, and am endlessly curious about the world around me.

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