Cardiff Accommodation and Holiday Guide
Situated in South East Wales, approximately 30 minutes from the Severn Bridge which links England and Wales, Cardiff is the Capital City of Wales. The City has a population of nearly 320,000 and is the most cosmopolitan and lively location in Wales. Apart from being the political centre of Wales, it is also the home of the Wales Rugby team.
Cardiff is situated just off of the M4 and accordingly is easy to get to from most of the South of England. It has an intoxicating mixture of history (such as Cardiff Castle), Welsh culture, vibrant night life and contemporary design (particularly in the recently developed Cardiff Bay). It is this combination, together with the genuinely warm welcome that you receive, which has made Cardiff the fastest growing City break destination in the UK.
Brief History of Cardiff
Cardiff dates back to Roman times and also heavily inhabited during the Norman invasion in the 11th Century. In the past, Cardiff relied heavily on its docks to provide employment for its inhabitants. However, in the 1930’s the docks declined and in the period since, the decline of the Welsh Coal industry has further taken its toll. The docks are still in operation, but Cardiff has had to evolve and modernise, which it has done with aplomb, becoming a major financial services employer and having an ever increasing tourist industry. Cardiff Bay is also the location for the filming of Torchwood, the spin off from the Doctor Who series. As such, its actors, such as John Barrowman have taken up temporary residence there.
Cardiff is also the birthplace of the great Dame Shirley Bassey, who was last seen exiting Glastonbury in a helicopter and diamante encrusted wellies after amazing the crowd with her back catalogues, including Diamonds are Forever.
Now, aside from the Castle, a central feature in Cardiff’s City centre, and numerous Edwardian period buildings, Cardiff is largely a modern City, illustrated by the fact that it has only been the Capital City of Wales since 1955 and is the youngest Capital City in Europe.
Geography of Cardiff
Despite its size, Cardiff is a relatively compact City with the Castle as a main focal point, and accordingly many interesting places in Cardiff can be reached on foot.
The City Centre is located to the South and East of the Castle with the main streets being St Mary Street, Queen Street and The Hayes. St Mary Street is one of the main roads that runs through Cardiff and is home to David Morgan. The entrance to te fabulous Castle Arcade with its little boutiques and cafés is situated on St Mary Street, as is the entrance to the indoor market, where you can find the best fishmonger in the area. There are a couple of other Victorian arcades in Cardiff that house a mixture of clothing boutiques, surf shops, trendy clothes shops and niche outlets, and they all have the entrances (or exits) on St Mary Street. The other end of both the market and two of the arcades can be found at The Hayes. The Hayes is a sort of pedestrianised hub of Cardiff and is also on the corner of Queen Street, where the majority of Cardiff’s shopping malls and high street chains can be found. In Cardiff Bay Mermaid Quay is a retail and leisure development.
The Millennium Stadium is the National sporting stadium for both the Rugby Union and football teams.
Events in Cardiff
The Millennium Stadium holds numerous sporting events and concerts during the year. Clearly the focal point is the Six Nations Rugby Union Championship, which is contested between Wales, England, Scotland, Ireland, France and Italy and is held between January and March.
Click here for full details of Millennium Stadium events
St. Davids Hall is a concert venue that hosts more intimate events, comedians, ballet, orchestras etc… Click here for full details of St Davids hall events
At Cardiff Bay, the spectacularly designed Wales Millennium Centre opened in 2004 and has already established its reputation as one of the World`s iconic arts and cultural destinations. Click here for full details of Wales Millennium Centre events
The annual Mardi Gras festival will be back in 2009 after a break in 2008, Click here for full details
Activities in Cardiff
Cardiff is a dynamic City, which has a hectic social scene, driven by its youthful inhabitants, the sizable student population and its cosmopolitan population. The places to eat, drink and be merry are listed later (see ‘Wining and Dining’).
In Cardiff Bay, Techniquest an educational facility that engages people with science and motivates them to learn more and also addresses science-related areas such as maths, engineering and technology. For information Click here
If you visit Cardiff, you should really visit Cardiff Bay just to marvel at some of the recent buildings that have been built in a contemporary fashion to bring Cardiff right into the 21st Century. In particular you should go on a sight-seeing tour that takes in the Wales Millennium Centre, the Welsh National Assembly and The Wales Millennium Centre.
As a result of its kicking night life, Cardiff is well stocked with Stag and Hen do’s each weekend. These groups will normally congregate in the pubs and clubs around St Mary Street, followed by a takeaway in nearby Caroline Street.
Cardiff City, the local football team (nickname “the Bluebirds”) who are currently in the Championship (ie the division below the Premiership), play at Ninian Park, which is situated in the City Centre.
Cardiff Blues, the City’s rugby union team play at the Cardiff Arms Park, which is in the shadow of the Millennium Stadium.
Glamorgan County Cricket Club, the only Welsh team represented in the English County Championship, play most of their home games at Sophia Gardens. The County Championship runs from April to early September. Sophia Gardens is also a beautiful park, which is a perfect location for jogging, walking and picnics and generally getting away from the bustling city life. Sophia Gardens also periodically holds Summer outdoor concerts, with recent performers including [who]. In 2008, [who] are booked to perform.
The Cardiff Ice Rink is located in the international sports village, near Cardiff Bay. As well as being open to the general public, the Ice Rink is the home of the Cardiff Devils Ice Hockey team.
Wining and Dining in Cardiff
The main areas for wining and dining are in the City Centre and at Cardiff Bay. In the City centre, the main areas are around St Mary’s Street and the nearby Westgate Street (which is next to the Millennium Stadium and is the focal point for match day drinking)
In recent years, Mill Lane (just off St Marys Street) has become known as the café quarter. However, obviously the City Centre and Cardiff Bay are also well served for cafes.
In Cardiff City Centre you have every type of restaurant you could wish for, reflecting the cosmopolitan population of the City.
In Cardiff Bay, there are numerous eateries. For a good quality meal, try Woodys.
For a more top quality meal, you should head to the St Davids Hotel, which apart from lovely food, also has fantastic waterside views of the bay. The Hotel restaurant has a balcony from which you can order pre restaurant drinks. Click here for St Davids hotel
To the North West of the City Centre, Albany Road and City Road are well known for their Indian Restaurants.
Pubs and Bars
For a lively night with the locals, including the student community, you should go to the Philharmonic pub and bar on St Marys Street. The Phili, as its known, is always full of girls in short skirts and low cut tops and people in fancy dress.
After a big night in the City Centre, everyone heads for a takeaway to Caroline Street, which is a narrow street that is virtually entirely populated with chip shops, kebab houses and Chinese takeaways.
Nearby Attractions and Towns
Cowbridge is situated about 20 minutes West of Cardiff, just off the main A48 road. Cowbridge is an affluent market town that has a lovely high street full of boutiques, restaurants, wine bars and quality hotels. If you fancy a nice evening out of Cardiff then Cowbridge is a nice option.
About 20 minutes west of Cardiff is the Llanerch Vineyard. Click here for Llanerch Vineyard
Just outside Cardiff city centre is the town of St Fagans, which is famous for The Museum of Welsh Life. The museum has taken Ia open air museum and stands in the grounds of the fantastic St Fagan’s Castle. It is a late 16th Century manor house donated by The Earl of Plymouth. The museum is home to a collection of over 40 original buildings of historical significance, sourced from all over Wales and reconstructed at the 100 acre site. The buildings include a school, a farm and a chapel, as well as many workshops demonstrating traditional skills; their produce is often on sale. A personal favourite is the bakery – their bread is divine!!! Click here for St Fagans Museum of Welsh Life
Just a short drive North West of Cardiff is Castell Coch. A fairy tale castle built from bricks with a red hue, hence the name, Castell Coch translated literally to the Red Castle. Click here for Castell Coch
Caerphilly Castle is another local favourite, one of the largest medieval fortresses in Britain, begun in 1268 by the Anglo-Norman marcher lord, Gilbert de Clare. Click here for Caerphilly Castle
A few miles South West of Cardiff is Barry. Barry is a lively, brash throwback to the holiday camps of the 60’s and 70’s, and was the setting for the iconic tv series Gavin and Stacey.
A short drive South West of Cardiff is the seaside town of Penarth. The seafront has a small pier and a well looked after esplanade which has a few chip shops, cafée and restaurants. There is also a nicely manicured park. As such, Penarth is a nice place to visit if you are after some pleasant walking and the opportunity to relax.
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015