Things to Do in Cardiff, Wales
Cardiff city is a County Borough and the capital of Wales. The history of Cardiff spans over 6000 years. The surrounding area was first inhabited in the Neolithic period. In fact, there are four Neolithic burial chambers are within a radius of 10 miles of the Cardiff city center. Until the Roman conquest of Britain, Cardiff was in the territory of an Iron Age Celtic British tribe.
Around 57 AD, during the reign of Emperor Nero, the Romans built a fort by the River Taff. This gave its name to the city in Welsh. Its location allowed the Romans to control trade and movement along the rivers Taff, Rhymney, and the Ely. So, this gave them power over a large area. The dominating fort protected the area until around 370 AD. Then it fell vacant following the collapse of Roman rule in Britain. There after, the Vikings and the Normans exerted their influence in Cardiff.
In 1091 AD, Robert Fitzhamon started work on the castle keep, and it has been at the heart of the city ever since. The original fort was built of wood. Then, in the 12th century, the Duke of Gloucester, Robert Consol rebuilt it in stone. In the 15th century a Welsh army burnt the town. Hence, the castle laid ruins until it was restored by the Earl of Warwick, Richard Beauchamp. In 1794, the Glamorganshire canal opened. In fact, this connected Merthyr Tydfil to Cardiff for the transportation of iron.
The canal was later used to export huge amounts of coal after the opening of the West Bute Dock in 1839. This made Cardiff the biggest coal exporting and one of the wealthiest ports in the world. As a consequence, King Edward VII granted Cardiff city status in 1905. In 1955, Cardiff became the capital city of Wales. The fall in global demand for coal lead to Cardiff’s decline in the 70’s and 80s. Yet, it has since regenerated.
Things To Do In Cardiff
Cardiff, particularly the city center, is compact. In fact, the main attractions are quite close to each other making getting around on foot quite easy. Also, most attractions and sights have sign posts to guide your way around the Bay and the city center.
This is a monument to eccentricity that is a must see. Its foundation dates back to 50 AD when the Romans conquered Britain. The dominating castle has elaborate gargoyles in a 19th century gothic fantasy. This was done by William Burges for the third Marquis of Bute. In fact, third Marquis of Bute ranked as the world richest man at the time.
Another point is that the castle is 3 fortresses in one. The new castle was built in 1090 on an artificial moat. The highlights of the castle include the clock tower, state apartments, banqueting hall and a chapel. The spectacular banquet hall has a huge ornate fireplace. It also has murals that tell the tales of Robert the consul. So, if you visit at the right time you will see medieval markets, jousting tournaments and much more.
National Museum Cardiff
The art collection at the National Museum draws visitors from all over the world. It includes a broad range work such as world-renowned impressionist and post-impressionist work. It also has 1930s surrealism and 20th century art from Wales. There are also archaeology, natural history, and geology exhibitions.
This museum is in Cardiff’s civic center. It also hosts the country’s art, natural history collections, geology, and archaeology. In fact, the exhibits inside will take you on a 4.5 million journey of the evolution of Wales. So this will include the many dinosaurs that once roamed Wales. Another highlight of the exhibition is a display of interesting fossils and weapons.
St Fagans Natural History Museum, near Cardiff
The National History Museum is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. This is an open air museum. It is an intriguing set of buildings. These include farm houses and cottages. There also, mills and workshops. There are more than 40 buildings, from an Iron Age Celtic village to a row of iron workers’ houses. In fact, these are carefully rebuilt in 60 acres of beautiful gardens. You will also see many traditional crafts and activities.
Further, you will see beautiful traditional gardens, tools and machinery. You will find this a fun experience. In fact, it brings the living and working conditions of the past vividly to life. There are special events during the May Fair, Harvest Festival, Mid summer Festival, and the Christmas Festival. Finally, you will get the opportunity to carry a loaf of bara brith. This is a delicious fruitcake from the Derwen Bake House.
This castle is about 7 miles north of Cardiff. Built in 1628, the castle strengthened England’s hold on the area. In fact, this is one of the biggest castles in Wales. It also boasts of the strongest defensive system of any British Castle. More so, the castle was enlarged several times. It also has a moat, two impressive drawbridges, round towers and massive walls. You will also see 4 full size replicas of medieval artillery guns. Furthermore, the exhibits inside have details of its involvement in the wars between the English and Welsh. In fact, tourists take a boat ride across the lake to get an inspiring view of the castle.
The Red Castle
The Red Castle has many lovely turrets and rounded towers. In fact, it is an enchanting mixture of fairytale and Victorian Gothic Fantasy. It is an attractive medieval castle built towards the end of the 19th century. Another thing to note about this castle is the amount of detail put in by its creators. More so, the rich decorations in the castle’s interior. These include details of many animals, saints, and Aesop’s fables. Furthermore, there are informative touch screens and displays. These provide you with fun facts as you explore the Red Castle and its grounds.
This cathedral was founded around 1120, in the time of Bishop Urban. In fact, this is one of the finest such buildings in Wales. Note that the main part of the Llandaff Cathedral is a 13th century structure. On the other hand, the northwest tower is a 15th Century reconstruction. It is noteworthy that most of the cathedral later fell into disrepair. In fact, there was an Italian temple built within its walls in 1734. More so, the cathedral was severely damaged during World War II. Yet, it has now restored. It also has several superb features. The most notable being the figure of Christ in Majesty by Epstein.
Chapter Arts Center
The Chapter was established in 1971 through various fund-raising projects. It is a vibrant space hosting a large number of events every year in three theaters, a gallery and two cinemas. It features two bars and a café. Hence, it creates a sociable, relaxed and environment. Entrance is free
Cardiff is one of the greenest cities in Europe. The Taff Trail allows you to walk or cycle from Cardiff Bay. There are 2000 acres of parkland. It also makes the most of former town paths, rail routes, and tramways. In fact, it goes all the way to the moorland of the Brecon Beacons. The flatness of the city makes it easy to cycle around, especially around the city center and Bay.
Cardiff is emerging as a paradise for food lovers. In fact, this is more evident from the growth of the farmer’s markets in the city. There are four regular markets in the city. These showcase a wide range of small and medium scale businesses in Wales producing their own food and drink.
Wales Millennium Center
The Millennium center is as one of the world’s leading performing arts centers. This is the striking slate and steel structure in Cardiff Bay. In fact, it has a Nickname, The Armadillo, because of its copper-coloured dome. It is a must see. It is also one of Cardiff’s most important cultural landmarks. The Wales Millennium Center covers about 5 acres.
It also hosts ballet performances, opera, musical productions and dances. Further, there are musical concerts and comedy shows in the 3 theaters. There are regular free events and this creates a vibrant atmosphere. The Wales Millennium Center also hosts 8 Welsh national art organizations. Finally, its location makes it an ideal place for dining, and shopping. It also allows you to take part in workshops and other fun learning activities.
This remarkable stadium is a sight to behold both in and outside. It is also rare for an international sports arena to sit in a city centre. International football and rugby action happens here. Also, a wide variety of the other sports events and major live music concerts take place here.
The Cardiff Bay redevelopment is one of the most successful in Britain. In fact, it covers about 2 700 acres of the dockland. It is also has prime housing, theaters, offices, restaurants, and hotels. Furthermore, there are several parks and sports grounds. While here, make sure to see the redbrick Pierhead. Built in 1897, it has displays relating to the history of Wales. There is also the Mermaid Quay, which has trendy boutiques, cafes, and restaurants.
You will also see The Senedd here. The Senedd is the new home of the National Assembly for Wales. Other notable places situated here are an Arts center, a wonderful Norwegian Church and a concert venue. The concert venue had been a church often visited by Roald Dahl. Furthermore, the Techniquest is also here in Cardiff Bay. This is a fun hands-on science center that has a theater and a planetarium.
Cardiff International White Water Center
If you like water sports, there are a wide variety of water sports activities in rural Wales. The white water experience is close to two of Wales’ most famous urban landmarks. These are the National Assembly Building and the Wales Millennium Center. Here you enjoy crashing through the rapids on a white water raft or in a canoe.
Cardiff is famous as the city of arcades and is a great place for shopping in style. The Victorian arcades are very attractive and are worth a visit on their own . St. David is one of Britain’s largest shopping centers. In fact, all high street chains have representatives there. Mary St, Queen St, and the Hayes are the main pedestrianized shopping streets.
Y ClwB has built the reputation as Cardiff’s most eclectic and important music venue. It hosts bands performing in many languages. In fact, it is the best place to catch performances by up and coming as well as established artists.
Be careful to book a table early on Fridays and Saturdays in the better restaurants. In fact, on these days, the city center and Mermaid quay have large crowds.
The Doctor Who Experience
This is one of Cardiff’s latest attractions. It focuses on the over 40 year old BBC television show. In fact, this show is now popular in North America. So it is a fun interactive exhibition. The exhibition starts with a short film, and then comes an invitation to join the Doctor in his Tardis. Also the adventure includes the villain Daleks, his archenemy. Further, there are two floors that house Doctor Who paraphernalia. Here you can see his costumes and film props.
The Millennium Stadium in the city center made Cardiff a modern European capital city. Also, Cardiff Bay is now a thriving waterside development. Cardiff is a multi ethnic capital and is famous as a place of diversity. Cardiff is the epitome of the cultural melting pot. In fact, there are people from all over the world here.
These include large Italian, Indian, and Chinese communities. Also, there are the Sikhs and Somalis. Riverside is the most ethnically diverse ward in Cardiff. In fact, here you will find Indian shops and restaurants. There are also trendy Welsh bars, Pakistan real estate agents, Chinese businesses and restaurants. So there is all manner of multi -ethnic activity. The millennium stadium is the high altar of Welsh rugby.