Have a food adventure
Cardiff is enjoying an increase in great places to eat. Whether you're after restaurants, cafés, delis, farmers markets, or bakeries, Cardiff is a place to delight you and your taste buds! Cardiff's street food scene is getting a lot of attention. Hidden away between the main streets you'll find well loved local spots like Asador 44, Curado, The Potted Pig, or La Pantera for tacos. You'll find a selection of pop-ups around the city centre, including the nomadic Kerelan Karavan (usually found in Bub's, but also a number of other spots). The menu and service at Milkwood in Pontcanna is top notch - fine dining without the stuffiness.
Wales excels in first-rate ingredients - so if you see Welsh sewin (sea trout) on the menu, or Welsh Black beef, or locally-caught seabass or lobster, or anything involving cockles and laver bread, then go for it. Incidentally, remember Cardiff Market, which I mentioned earlier? If you head to Ashton’s Fishmongers (the oldest business in the market), you can pick up small tubs of cockles to eat right then and there, with a good dash of vinegar. Yum.
Take in a tipple (or four)
For lovers of the grape, grain, and everything in between, Cardiff has a wide variety of great places to drink. Head to High Street (opposite the entrance to the castle) for our newly established 'cocktail corridor' - you'll find wine bars and cocktail joints a-plenty, with outdoor seating available in most places if you want to watch the world go by. Popular spots include Gin and Juice, The Libertine, The Alchemist, Pennyroyal. Step away from the main drag and you'll find some other great cocktail spots, including award-winning Lab 22, The Bootlegger, and Old Havana. If you're after intimate speakeasy vibe, head to The Dead Canary
Personally speaking, I’m a big fan of drinking in Tiny Rebel (great for a wide selection of Wales-brewed beers and ciders within cat-swinging distance of Principality Stadium), or grabbing a drink and a taco from La Pantera. If you want your cocktails with a jazz theme and great food, head to The Deep.
Visit a market
If there’s one thing we’re not short of in Cardiff, it’s markets. Serious Cardiff shoppers will obviously head to the arcades or shopping centres, but if you’re after something a little offbeat, our markets are perfect.
Cardiff Indoor Market has a selection of stalls, from the functional to the kitsch. On Sundays try the Riverside Farmers Market – on the riverbank opposite Principality Stadium, you can pick up a variety of organic or local foods, from fresh produce to delicious ready-to-go-treats.
A newcomer to the markets scene in Cardiff is Indie Superstore, with a variety of outdoor locations across the city open at the weekends. You can find Indie Superstores in Canton, Lakeside, and Llandaff North. They serve up a variety of stalls like vintage clothing, arts and crafts, food and drink and lifestyle items. For up to date info about market dates, keep an eye on the Indie Superstore Instagram.
Another beloved indie market outside the city centre is the Boneyard. Located on Paper Mill Road, you'll find some of our best boutique brands: Blasus Succulent Emporium, Dusty Knuckle Pizza, Crane Jewellery, and more.
Adrenalin in the city
If you’re an adrenalin junkie, never fear: Cardiff has a number of options for you too. Those who love multiple wheels should head to Spit and Sawdust, our local friendly skatepark.
For the fearless of heights, check out indoor climbing centre, Boulders. There's also Cardiff Jump, an indoor trampoline park (the biggest indoor soft play in Europe, believe it or not!). If you're desperate for some ice, Viola Arena offers free skate sessions (as well as playing host to ice hockey champs, the Cardiff Devils).
If you fancy getting wet, Cardiff's White Water Rafting Centre is nearby - a guaranteed hangover cure!
Walk it off
Cardiff has acres of green spaces, both in the centre of town and all around. If you're up for some hiking, head to the Cardiff section of the Wales Coast Path that runs around the Cardiff Bay Barrage over to Penarth: a beautiful few kilometres that spans the meeting of the Rivers Taff and Severn. The route around the bay is an easy six miles along the flat, and en route you'll see the Norwegian church where Roald Dahl was baptised. It was originally shipped from Norway for the benefit of the Scandinavians working in Cardiff docks during the 1860s, and today is a great spot to take in a cup of tea.
The Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve was originally created in 2002, when a freshwater lake emerged after the Barrage was finished. Look carefully and you might see the Barrage Circles – an optical work dreamed up by Swiss artist Felice Varini, which reveals a set of perfect concentric circles if you stand on an x-marked yellow paint spot.
If you can get your visit to coincide with a big show at the Wales Millennium Centre, then happy days. It’s a splendid bit of architecture, and hosts a crowd-pleasing programme of musicals, theatre, the Welsh National Opera, and is home to the impressive and ever-growing Festival of Voice. In the city centre, St David's Hall has an eclectic programme of rock, folk and comedy, but the perfect acoustics really shine at classical concerts: it’s the home of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and hosts the annual Welsh Proms and world-class BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition. Sŵn Festival takes over various venues across Cardiff for a weekend each October.
There’s a thriving underground music scene that happens in bars and clubs all over the city; pick up a copy of the free local listings magazine Buzz for details. If you’re looking for live music or club nights, my personal favourite venues are The Moon, Clwb Ifor Bach (or the 'Welsh Club' if you’re old enough to remember when you had to be a Welsh speaker or learner to get in!), Undertone and Tramshed.
Don't miss ...
Definitely visit the National Museum, which has the largest collection of Impressionist art outside of Paris - for free! There are travelling exhibitions that change throughout the year - check the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff website for details.
Cardiff Castle is a potted city history in one place: Roman walls, a Norman keep, and a sumptuous Victorian mansion that was decorated by the Marquess of Bute. In the 1860s Bute was the richest man in the world, earning a vast fortune from Cardiff’s coal-exporting docks, and spending it lavishly on this Gothic Revival mansion. Make sure to get a tour - there are even ghost tours at night that will take you into rooms not usually open to the public. The animal wall outside the castle is also a particular delight.
Cardiff Bay is why Cardiff became a city in the first place. This was once Tiger Bay, the world’s biggest coal-exporting docks, dispatching millions of tons of Welsh coal to power the industrial world. In the 1990s they built a barrage across the rivers Taff and Ely to create a huge freshwater ‘lake’, which you can potter around on pleasure boats (or tear around on high-speed rib rides).
There’s some excellent new architecture here, notably the Senedd (the Welsh Parliament's HQ) and the Wales Millennium Centre arts and theatre centre, which sit happily alongside the original Pierhead building and the Norwegian Church in which Cardiff-born author Roald Dahl was christened. There’s also the newly renovated Exchange Hotel, and you’ll notice the Porth Teigr BBC Drama Village as you wander across the barrage.
My tip for a lovely walk is to follow the coastline around to the Cardiff Bay Wetlands Nature Reserve, which sits next to voco™ St David’s Cardiff hotel. It’s an award-winning Green Flag reserve, and whether you’re a keen twitcher or not, it’s a great, leisurely stroll from the buzzy energy of Mermaid Quay.