All aboard Cardiff for the Volvo Ocean Race
The world’s toughest and most epic sailing event is set to arrive in Cardiff for the first time ever on 28 May as part of its international stopovers schedule - which also includes the likes of Hong Kong, Auckland, Lisbon and Cape Town.
The Volvo Ocean Race sailors are in safe hands as Cardiff Bay and its docks have a long history of welcoming sailors and travellers from all over the world. Tiger Bay, as it used to be known, is Wales' oldest multi-ethnic community and the rich mix of cultures that lived there side-by-side after the industrial revolution gave the area a powerful character of its own.
Fast-forward to 2018 and Cardiff is still a cosmopolitan hub with a warm Welsh welcome, but has been transformed by the Cardiff Bay barrage, creating a huge freshwater lake and one of Europe’s biggest waterfront developments.
The stopover gives visitors a fortnight to spend in the capital of Wales, so we narrowed down 14 Cardiff highlights for our Volvo nautical guests.
Lamb shank, Purple Poppadom, Cardiff by Purple PoppadomThis award-winning South-Indian restaurant is a cut above the usual ‘half and half’ (a Cardiff specialty where curry is served with half rice, half chips) and the sea bass and lamb shank are hero-chef Anand George’s signature dishes.
Feast on the most authentic Spanish-style meats and fish at Asador 44.
Local brothers Tom and Owen Morgan have built a reputation in the restaurant industry by bringing a slice of real Spain to Wales. Their city centre restaurant has an atmospheric interior with a menu inspired by the traditional ‘asador’ restaurants of Northern Spain.
The best of Cardiff’s independent food scene under one roof at Depot.
Depot, Cardiff by DepotThis warehouse is filled with twinkly lights and an astounding assortment of street food and drinks. The Street Food Social event runs every Saturday year-round, while the venue also plays host to regular themed events from pizza and prosecco nights, to gin festivals and vegan and veggie specials.
Spend Sunday morning at Riverside Food Market on the banks of the River Taff.
Riverside Real Food Market, Cardiff by Em JenkinsYou’ll find the tastiest local produce here as farmers from the surrounding countryside bring traditional Welsh meats and cheeses to the stalls alongside local multi-cultural traders.
St Canna’s Ale House, Cardiff by St Canna's Ale HouseOwned and run by a young Baptist minister this pint-sized Canton pub is all about Welsh real ales and craft beers, making new friends and helping to build community spirit.
Taste a pint at Wales’ most southerly pub, the Gull & Leek.
After crossing the Atlantic, the short boat journey to the uninhabited Flat Holm island will be a relaxing treat for hardy Volvo sailors. With a history dating back to the Dark Ages the island is now home only to a lighthouse and an abundance of wild leeks and gulls, from where the pub gets its name.
The jewel in the city’s crown, dominating the city centre and in easy walking distance of all the other sights. Don’t forget to glance up at the outer wall to see the quirky ‘animal wall’ where 100-year old statues of lynx and seals scramble above you.
Wales Millennium Centre, CardiffThe iconic theatre in Cardiff Bay is all Welsh slate and glinting copper and home to worldwide and Welsh theatre, music and art. The Festival of Voice will be underway during the race stopover, with a line-up including Patti Smith, Billy Bragg and Wales’ own Gruff Rhys.
Cardiff Bay will be transformed into a race village for the duration of the stopover – visitors and residents alike can compete at raising a sail in the Grinding Challenge, get up close and personal with the 65 race boats in the Pontoon Experience, or enjoy a drink on the Sailors Terrace.
Picnic perfection in Bute Park.
Running along the banks of the river this green lung in the middle of the city will be at full bloom in late spring and boasts three cafes, including one in a secret walled garden, as well as play areas and abundant wildlife.
Elite sailors or any running fan will delight at this flat 10k circular route. Great by bike too, the waterside trail runs from the Bay to the seaside town of Penarth taking in some of the coolest Cardiff sights and heritage en route.
Cardiff International White WaterAs well as rafting, visitors can try loads of other exhilarating sports including paddle-boarding, indoor surfing, bodyboarding and canoeing.
Principality Stadium, CardiffFew cities boast a sporting facility like this one. Slap bang in the middle of Cardiff, the stadium has hosted the UEFA Champions League final, Olympic 2012 events and the Rugby World Cup. Worth a tour in itself for sports fans, the stadium is also playing host to Beyonce and Jay Z on June 6th.
St David's Hotel, CardiffPerched on the water, this five-star hotel’s modern roof evokes a huge sail as a nod to the area’s maritime history, while inside the rooms all have panoramic sea views. The Marine Spa and the Admiral St David Australasian restaurant are open to both guests and visitors too.