Cardiff suits every season, but autumn really makes the city shine
Cardiff is steeped in history and there’s no better season to explore it than Autumn. Whether you’re in one of Cardiff’s best-loved areas or are heading off the beaten track, here are our tips on how to make the most of it during your stay.
Rainy Day Activities
St Fagans National History Museum, nestled in the village of the same name, provides plenty of chance to learn about Welsh lifestyle and architecture, while closer to town, National Museum and its adjacent art gallery cover an impressive spectrum of culture, with highlights this season including events for Black History Month; Diwali; Music and the Animal Kingdom; and Fossils Fuel the Future.
Elsewhere, Cardiff Story Museum is successful in its quest to offer representation to the communities that make the city what it is. Paying frequent homage to regional artists and historians, this charming corner of the Hayes embodies the passion and friendliness that’s evident in every corner of the capital.
And you can hardly ignore the striking figure of Cardiff Castle, proudly overlooking the centre and while it’s set among an impressive strip of greenery, there are plenty of ways to escape the rain and uncover over 2,000 years of the past in one fell swoop. A little further afield in the quaint village of Tongwynlais, Castell Coch blends 19th Century Gothic architecture with Middle Age influences so strikingly that it makes one of the country’s most notable landmarks look almost effortless – no mean feat.St David’s is among the UK’s ten largest shopping centres, but Cardiff’s shopping scene expands well beyond the chains. The trail of Arcades meanders through the city, enveloping charm and individuality while catering for every interest and looking damn good in the process. There’s no point trying to rebel against autumnal clichés when instead you can refuel on authentic grub at Seasons in Castle Arcade, or get lost (figuratively only) in its neighbour, Troutmark Books.
Roath Park, Bute Park and Cardiff Bay initially spring to mind when weighing up options for a weekend walk. But the accessible size of the city means it doesn’t take long for its more hidden spots to make themselves known.
The Western suburb Canton is regularly associated with Cowbridge Road East, increasingly a hot spot for good food and independent businesses, but its Victoria Park is also a hit with locals. The area, named in honour of Queen Victoria, has clung onto its old-school appeal, never neglecting its unwritten responsibility to morph gracefully into each new season.
While the entirety of the 55-mile Taff Trail may be a little ambitious for most, there are countless chances for hikers and cyclists alike to slot into it. Running underneath iconic figures like Principality Stadium and Cardiff Bay’s gastronomic perimeter, and concluding at the fringe of the Brecon Beacons, few places epitomise Cardiff’s angle on Autumn as powerfully.
Meanwhile, if you were ever in any doubt that Autumn looks good on Cardiff, Llandaff is nothing if not convincing. Hailey Park, in Llandaff North, intriguingly describes itself as ‘a park full of surprises’, and journey a little up the road and you’ll come across the stunning Llandaff Cathedral, where the tree-lined grounds deserve a role among Cardiff’s finest.
It’s a fair claim that Cardiffians enjoy a drink – and rightly so, with such availability of great pubs! And although this applies to every season, they do collectively seem that little bit more crafted with Autumn in mind. New additions to the Lounge chain are popping up nationwide, but our offerings, Juno in Roath and Fino in Whitchurch, retain a personality that’s tied closely to the city.
‘Ty Mawr’ translates to ‘big house’, which certainly captures the welcoming feel of the pub of the same name, where the Lisvane location spells dramatic views of the Cardiff scenery. Closer to the heart of the capital, Y Mochyn Du is similarly reminiscent of bygone Wales. Adorned with sporting memorabilia, unsurprising given its proximity to Bute Park, Glamorgan Cricket and Sport Wales National Centre, one step inside and you’ll soon realise why it feels analogous to Autumn.
And we can’t get through a post on Cardiff’s pubs without singling out Cathays. One of the most student-saturated suburbs in the UK certainly knows what it’s doing when drinks are in the equation. The Flora’s recent revamp breaks the myth that all good Cardiff cocktails belong in the city centre, but definitely doesn’t break the bank, and The Woodville is a dab-hand at satisfying students and those reflecting on their university days…
Indulgent Hot Drinks
Despite this, Cardiff doesn’t dedicate all of its drinking to the pubs, thanks to its extensive coffee culture. With a notable amount of independent caterers, there’s no shortage of ways to warm up an Autumn afternoon. Barker Tea House and Coffee Barker enjoy quite the reputation in Cardiff, with its coffee shop, tea house and gelato parlour serving everything from Nutella Lattes to luxurious shakes, whilst the endlessly pretty Pettigrew Tea Room is perfectly positioned by the Castle and Bute Park.
Each suburb has areas that go the extra mile in making food and drink shine. City Road, running along the Cathays/Roath border, is a way of touring the world without leaving Cardiff, and Canton’s Cowbridge Road East is dotted with foodie delights, many proudly unique. Across the city in Heath, Whitchurch Road has French bistro The Pot, stylish brunch haven Society Standard, and quirky, atmospheric newcomer The Brass Beetle, and Llandaff is skilled at making a mean coffee – look no further than Lew’s, Porro, The Pickled Radish and Coffi Cwtch.
Swn Music Festival strengthens the local emphasis on music, encompassing all styles in a variety of locations, and breathtaking productions like Magic Butterfly VR Experience and From The House of The Dead are soon gracing the Bay’s Welsh National Opera.
It doesn’t take long in Cardiff to realise we’re rather fond of rugby. Principality Stadium will host big games including Wales v Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, meaning prime time to make the most of the surrounding area. Convenience is a major factor, as the soul of the city is just seconds away, greeting you with restaurants, bars, shops and attractions such as New Theatre. However, the compactness of the city shines similar light on the suburbs. All in easy walking distance, everywhere from Grangetown to Cathays has somewhere worth getting to know. Stylish Pontcanna is deserving of its position in The Sunday Times’ Top 30 Most Fashionable Places to Live in the UK, while Chapter, one of Europe’s largest arts centres, reaps the benefits of a Canton postcode.