24 Hours in Cardiff with Guest Blogger, Yasmine Hardcastle
24 hours may not seem a lot of time, but you can have a quality experience in Cardiff, or any city, with a bit of research and strategy. Canadian blogger Yasmine Hardcastle recently took over our Instagram for her stay in Cardiff; here are her 24 hours!
Our 24 hours in Cardiff were filled with sunshine, and though the temperature was a brisk two degrees Celsius, we kept warm bustling about and being inside when we could. If only a dragon could have helped us keep warm…
11:30 – Arrive in Cardiff check into our hotel
To make the most of our limited amount of time in the city, we decided to arrive in Cardiff earlier in the day, and were able to leave our bags at Hotel Indigo Cardiff. As with most hotels, they have the option to securely leave your bags with them if you arrive before your room is ready. The staff was very friendly and helpful with directions to our first tourist stop: Cardiff Castle.
11:45 – Snack time
Hotel Indigo’s main entrance leads out to Queen Street, a wonderfully car-free pedestrian shopping area that includes the Queens Arcade, popular clothing brands, and several stops for snacks. While my partner (who is English) was all about a certain sausage roll shop, I was delighted to see the little piece of Canada in Cardiff that is Tim Hortons. I don’t often eat donuts, but if you haven’t tried a Timbit, you haven’t lived.
12:00 – Cardiff Castle
My love and I are a bit nerdy and watch a lot of documentaries about castles. So Cardiff Castle was a must on both our lists. With 2000 years of rich history and splendour, there is much to explore, and it was very conveniently only a five minute walk from our hotel. Highlights of this beautiful heritage site include the guided House Tour (an extra cost, but worth the expense to see the very grand Castle Apartments of the Marquess of Bute, with its quirky touches), the castle structure itself with its fairy-tale moat and towers, and the Wartime Shelters.
Let’s not forget the view from the top of the castle tower (absolutely worth the climb up the narrow tower stairway) and the red dragon guarding the castle with the pride of its status as Wales’ national symbol!
13:30 – Lunch
Our earlier snack having been burned off by climbing the castle stairs, we were ready for lunch. Having scoped out a few pubs and restaurants prior to arriving in Cardiff, we chose to stay in the Castle Quarter for a pie and a pint at The Goat Major. With its wood-panelled walls, traditional pies, and cask ales from Cardiff pillar, Brains Brewing, The Goat Major is your quintessential British pub. Our pies were delicious, and with the purchase of a pie, you can get a pint for £1!
14:15 – Walk through Bute Park
When we go back to Cardiff (no question, we will!), I would like to spend more than the quick stroll we had in Bute Park to get to our our water taxi. One of the UK’s largest parks, it seems to be an urban oasis that we would visit often, if we lived there. I also loved the animal statues on the park wall.
14:30 – Water Taxi to Cardiff Bay
At a very reasonable £4 per person, Cardiff Boat Tour’s Princess Katharine is a water taxi that goes along the River Taff to the stunning Cardiff Bay. We hopped on at Bute Park, and enjoyed the 25 minute boat ride with detailed commentary about the area and history. It was a beautiful sunny day, and the only thing that would have made the journey better was if the roof had been off the boat!
15:00 – Cardiff Bay
Less than a kilometre from the city centre, Cardiff Bay is both a place to enjoy the spectacular view (which in our case was eventually the start of sunset; I love a good sunset!) and a cultural hub. Architectural gems include the Grade I listed Pierhead Buidling (free to walk around and featuring an interactive historical exhibit; my partner thoroughly enjoyed this attraction), and the wonderfully reflective and modern Wales Millennium Centre, located at the beautifully designed public plaza that is Roal Dahl Plass. This is a wonderful photo spot, as is the Norwegian Church Arts Centre, where we warmed up with some hot chocolate at their cafe.
We had been given some recommendations for restaurants and shops to visit at Mermaid Quay, but given our time crunch, we chose to head back into the city centre.
16:00 – Bus back to the Castle Quarter
The way our timing worked out in getting to the bay, we were missing the last boat back to Bute Park. But the Princess Katharine staff were very helpful in telling us where we could catch the bus at the MIllennium Centre, and there is always the option of an Uber or taxi. But I’ve been taking public transit all my life, and I’m always keen to get around like a local; so we caught the #6 Cardiff Bus back into town. Doing this is also the more economical option and the reason why you should always have coins on you.
16:40 – Relax at the hotel
We went back to our hotel to properly check in and relax in our room. As previously mentioned, we were able to leave our bags to be locked up at Reception, for which we were very grateful. I’ve stayed in a lot of hotels, and they start to look the same. But Hotel Indigo Cardiff has done a great job with their room decor. It was nice to come ‘home’ to a room with vibrant pops of colour and cozy touches like a rocking chair with the Welsh phrase ‘nos da’ (good night) on the cushion (which turned into ‘bore da’ (good morning) the next day), and quirky ones like a retrofitted phone.
18:30 – Dinner
We were meant to experience Winter Wonderland, but a progressively stuffy nose and sore throat on my part dictated needing to be inside. So we went for excellent pizza and what I call a #pintandaflight (pint for him, flight for me) at Zerodegrees Cardiff, which was about 10-15 minutes walk away from the hotel. Cardiff’s craft beer scene is on point from what we could see, and if I’d been feeling better, the same block also features BrewDog, and The Cambrian Tap had also been suggested to us. Next time!
20:20 – Feet up at the hotel
Back at the hotel to put our feet up, watch some telly and have some medicinal tea. Hotel Indigo Cardiff not only had the amenities of big mugs and a kettle, they also provide bathrobes! It was nice to feel cwtch and cozy while we watched Billy Connolly’s new documentary, even while feeling sick.
9:00 – Breakfast
While the Instagram community provided us with some excellent suggestions, we ultimately decided to eat breakfast at the hotel. Breakfast was included in the room rate, and it was not your standard continental. Served in the hotel’s Marco Pierre White restaurant, buffet had a great selection, and there was also an a la carte menu featuring a full Welsh (guess what my love ordered?), and avocado toast (I’m from vancouver, so guess what I ordered?)
10:00 – National Museum Cardiff
Feeling a bit better, I wasn’t quite ready to leave the city yet, so we once again left our bags at Reception and walked up to the National Museum Cardiff. I love the museums and galleries in the UK, because most have free entry. Such is the case for the National Museum. Showcasing Wales’ national art, natural history and geology collections, and temporary exhibitions, this is the perfect place to wander around and learn about where you are. My partner was a geology major, so he was very happy, and I, in turn, am a big fan of Impressionist art and sculpture; of which there is a solid collection.
The current special exhibit features the space vessel that brought British astronaut Tim Peake back from the International Space Station, and is worth waiting in line to see.
11:30 – Check out and farewell
And with the museum crossed off our list, it was time to say goodbye to Cardiff! Check Which just means we have more to explore next time we cross the Atlantic!
Originally from Vancouver, Canada, Yasmine Hardcastle is a yogini and foodie living in Victoria, Canada. Passionate about keeping well and enjoying life without breaking the bank, she chronicles her adventures on her blog, westcoastcitygirl.com. Fuelled by daily meditation and Earl Grey tea, Yasmine is an executive assistant and certified yoga teacher by day, and loves playing tourist with her newly Canadian ex-pat boyfriend, The Brit. Connect with her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.