Wales’ capital city is buzzy and cosmopolitan, yet easy to navigate by foot or bike – making it a perfect destination for a city break.
Cardiff weekend life is now largely focused around its handsomely redeveloped bay area, which is home to numerous shops, restaurants, and bars profiting from the lovely harbour-side location. But this city is so much more than just the coastline – it’s home to the superb Principality Stadium, stately museums, vibrant arts venue and even an inner-city castle. That means a short break in Cardiff can be focused around sport, art, the coast, dining or shopping – or a little bit of all.
Eat oysters with a 360-degree view of the bay
Cardiff Bay is lively and beautiful. But it hasn’t always been so – the area around the port was re-developed during the 1990s in a grand (and controversial) project that saw the extensive tidal mudflats inundated to make a non-tidal harbour. Now a real cultural and social hub, the Bayside Brasserie is a smart bistro style restaurant, with a stylish circular dining room and unrivalled views of the water. You couldn’t have a better introduction to Cardiff than a plate of oysters, eaten with an unbeatable view of this lively bay.
Take a seat at a world-class production at the Wales Millennium Centre
After languishing in the planning stages for many years, and abandoning two ambitious designs by Zaha Hadid, the Wales Millennium Centre finally opened its doors in 2004. An incredible structure, the building is known by many as The Armadillo. Designed to reflect the Welsh nationality, the frontage is emblazoned with the words “In These Stones Horizons Sing – Creu Gwir Fel Gwydr O Ffwrnais Awen”. Architect Jonathan Adams used layers of multi-coloured Welsh slate to construct the main exterior walls, and oxidized coated steel cladding to give it its extraordinary copperish hue. Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, who should know a thing or two about performance centres, has described it as “the best theatre built in the world in the last 50 years.” As such, it attracts theatrical heavyweights from Stewart Lee to the Welsh National Opera. Book tickets well in advance for the big names, but call in on the day to pick up a ticket for an interesting piece of fringe theatre or dance.
Avoid extermination at the Doctor Who Experience
If you see any members of the public dressed up as Daleks as you mill around Cardiff Bay, fear not – it is quite normal to see enthusiasts of this cult BBC show waiting to enter the multi-sensory experience dedicated to the Doctor. Why here? The show is filmed in the BBC studios just down the road. Fans can take an interactive journey through 50 years of sci-fi adventuring from TV’s most famous time traveller. There are also permanent and pop-up exhibitions with original props and costumes on display. And if you’re really keen, you can buy a ticket to tour the real set here – and set foot in the famous Tardis itself.
Watch one of the world’s best rugby teams play in one of the world’s best stadiums
Cardiff was a major beneficiary when the millennium fund was doling out cash across the UK in the run up to 2000. The Principality Stadium – formally known as the Millennium Stadium – was a product of that funding, and it opened in 1999 to host the Rugby World Cup. Cardiff is a true rugby town, and during international tournaments, the place really lights up. Buy your tickets in advance and build your whole weekend around a home match at this fabulous stadium – you’ll get a glimpse of Cardiff residents at their loudest and proudest.
Eat out behind bars
A weekend break in Cardiff could land you in the clink if you play your cards right. The Clink is a restaurant in Cardiff prison – staffed by inmates who are training with City & Guilds to earn NVQs that might help them find employment when they are released. The restaurant has a very low re-offender rate amongst its staff and is an excellent and unconventional example of prison-based re-education at work. But philanthropy aside, prison food is great – the restaurant has won numerous awards for its locally sourced cuisine – with twists on old Welsh classics like haddock rarebit.
This Welsh city has something for everyone to enjoy, so why not take a look at our hotels in Cardiff and get exploring.