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. 

Try Tiffin Sea Bass at the Purple Poppadom.

Lamb shank with peas, mash and gravy.

Lamb shank, Purple Poppadom, Cardiff by Purple Poppadom
This 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.

Interior of Depot showing the bar and tables.

Depot, Cardiff by Depot
This 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.

People buying vegetables at a market stall.

Riverside Real Food Market, Cardiff by Em Jenkins
You’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. 

Try a micro pub at St Canna’s Ale House.

Man pulling a pint from a barrel.

St Canna’s Ale House, Cardiff by St Canna's Ale House
Owned 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. 

Climb the keep at Cardiff Castle.

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.

Marvel at the poetic architecture of the Wales Millennium Centre.

Exterior of the Wales Millennium Centre.

Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff
The 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.

Test your mettle at the Volvo Ocean Race Village Grinding Challenge.

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. 

Keep your fitness on point on the Cardiff Bay Barrage.

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. 

Find your sea legs at the Cardiff International White Water Rafting Centre.

White Water Rafting, Cardiff Bay.

Cardiff International White Water
As well as rafting, visitors can try loads of other exhilarating sports including paddle-boarding, indoor surfing, bodyboarding and canoeing. 

Visit the home of Welsh sport, the Principality Stadium.

Interior of the Principality Stadium with crowds.

Principality Stadium, Cardiff
Few 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. 

A sea-themed sleepover at St David’s Hotel.

Boat sailing past St David's Hotel in Cardiff Bay.

St David's Hotel, Cardiff
Perched 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.