Olwen Moseley checks out Cardiff's green and cultural credentials - by bike, of course.

Olwen Moseley is course leader in Graphic Communication at Cardiff Metropolitan University and she likes to look beyond the obvious. You can follow Olwen’s Cardiff journey on foot, by bike – or you can miss the best bits and go by bus, taxi or car. “If I visit a city I want to see the main attractions but I’d also want to find the underbelly of it. A bike helps you do that by taking you through all the bits the tourists miss, giving you a glimpse for the life of
the city,” she says.

Olwen’s tour starts in Bute Park, on a route in the shadow of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. “As you cycle through the park, you are almost in the heart of the city. Past the Taff river making its way out to Cardiff Bay alongside your trail, past rugby games on the fields, there’s music drifting out from the rehearsal rooms at the college. Ahead of you appears the Castle, from nowhere, it’s magical. This is a real picture of what the city is like. Old and new alongside each other.”

It’s a convenient starting point for visitors because Pedal Power is where you can go to hire the bikes, near the Swalec Stadium at Sophia Gardens.

First stop on Olwen’s cycle tour is Cardiff’s shopping arcades. Victorian and Edwardian, they are ‘spectacular’ for her. Olwen will park her bike then walk through the arcades to Cardiff Central Market and on for coffee in the Hayes.

You can follow Olwen’s Cardiff journey on foot, by bike – or you can miss the best bits and go by bus, taxi or car.
She warms to the theme: “The Corner House is great because it has a good vantage point on the plaza outside Cardiff’s new library. It’s a crossroad in the centre of town, with real life about it. You could be in any European city there, looking out at the world going by.”

The look and feel of the city are important to Olwen. She is director of the Cardiff Design Festival which celebrates design in the city for two very busy weeks in October. Her advice is: “Look up. Look beyond the shop fronts and in the spaces in between, you will see where a city has come from.”

In Cardiff, that means especially raising the eye line in St Mary Street and The Hayes, where the Old Library, housing the Cardiff Story museum holds pride of place, facing back towards the new library, which has great views from its upper floors.

The bike means Olwen can roam all over the city “If there were a good exhibition on at the National Museum, I’d go there or I would head to Chapter.”

It is a short ride to City Road/Albany Road areas, where G39, The Sho Gallery and Milkwood give a contemporary take on the art scene. Back towards town, William Burges’ architecture in Museum Place and the castle’s animal wall stand out.

The next stage of Olwen’s Cardiff Odyssey takes her to Cardiff Bay, either on the bike or by boat,using the water taxi that runs in season from Bute Park, past the Millennium Stadium, to the bay.

“You get a different perspective on the city from the river, whether you cycle along it or float on it,” she says. “In some places the city turns its back on the river, so you see her warts and all. In others,you catch her full glory. It’s great fun!”

Once in the Bay, Olwen is drawn to the different architectural styles and ages of the Norwegian Church, the Senedd, Wales Millennium Centre and the Pierhead Building.

“I would go to Craft in the Bay, have lunch, pop in for a peek at the Coal Exchange, then head for the barrage and cycle across to Penarth.” There, she will find Ffotogallery at Turner House and Penarth Pier.

This post is from the Cardiff Essential Guide, our quick, printable guide to Cardiff (PDF). Check out the guide in full.