We've picked the best places to explore while you're in the city.
Indulge in the waterside eateries of Cardiff Bay, explore the culture and heritage of Cardiff Castle, peruse the Edwardian shopping arcades in the city centre and become embroiled in the sporting sensation that is the Principality Stadium – these are just some of the ways which you can spend your 36 hours in Cardiff.
Create your own urban adventure in Cardiff’s Edwardian, Victorian and modern arcades. Start your morning off at Uncommon Ground for the ultimate coffee experience. The popular café is located in the Morgan Quarter, which is also filled with an array of independent boutiques to peruse. If you’re looking for a bargain we recommend the quirky independent Hobos.
Next, nibble your way through the specialist cheeses at Madame Fromage or sample a wide range of olives and cured meats at Wally’s Deli. Pay a visit to New York Deli to experience the home of the hoagie, a popular sandwich originating from the USA. The Morgan Arcade is also home to Spillers records, one of the world’s oldest record shops established in 1894.
Cardiff Castle and Bute Park
How many cities’ have you visited with a medieval dream world located right in the centre? Cardiff Castle was once home to the 3rd Marquess of Bute and the grand rooms are rich with extravagance, featuring murals, elaborate wood carvings, stained glass and marble – he obviously enjoyed the finer things in life!
Next, take a stroll through the resplendent greenery of Bute Park and pop into Pettigrew Tea Rooms to admire the Victorian tiles which were rescued from the Blackfriars Friary site at Bute Park in the 1970s!
Water taxi your way to Cardiff Bay!
If you want to see a completely different view of the Millennium Stadium, the Princess Katherine is where you want to be. Jump on at Bute Park and travel along the river where you will arrive at Mermaid Quay. Once on land you’re spoilt for choice! Indulge your inner-geek at the Doctor Who Experience and make a pilgrimage to Torchwood’s Ianto Jones’ Shrine.
You can also grab a bite to eat at one of Mermaid Quay’s many family friendly restaurants – from Carluccio’s to Las Iguanas to Chiquito you’ll find something to suit all tastes! For souvenirs head to Fabulous Welshcakes. These traditional Welsh sugary treats are the perfect gift to take home to family and friends – if you can manage not to eat them yourself!
If you have time, embark on a mini-waterside tour. Broaden your perspective with a dose of Welsh politics at Y Senedd. It houses the National Assembly for Wales, where information is readily available to the public about Assembly members and proceedings throughout the building. Take the opportunity to marvel at the stunning architecture of the Pierhead building and the Wales Millennium Centre. Make sure you also take a short stroll to the Norwegian Church Arts Centre, a renowned landmark where Roald Dahl was christened!
Back in the city centre, the Cardiff Story Museum on the Hayes hosts an interactive historical tour about how Cardiff transformed from the small market town of the 1300s to one of the worlds biggest ports in the 1900s to the trendy cosmopolitan Capital it is today. But there’s only so much learning the brain can take and it’s about time to indulge in some retail therapy. The newly developed St David’s Shopping Centre is a high street emporium covering 1.4 million square feet! You’ll find everything from fashion retailers to jewellers to beauty specialists, catering to all budgets and tastes.
Now that you’ve worked up an appetite you don’t want to be walking too far and in Cardiff you don’t have to! The city centre is bursting with a wide range of eateries to suit all budgets, each within easy walking distance of the Millennium Stadium and the Cardiff Arms Park Fanzone. Try the Grazing Shed for high-quality Welsh beef burgers served at lightning speed and for hearty sunshine in a pastry case look no further than Pieminister on St. Mary’s Street. Just a bit further down you’ll find Le Monde, Cardiff’s premier fish restaurant and for sleek ambience serving British classics go to The Laguna Kitchen and Bar on Greyfriars Road.
When it comes to large sporting events, Cardiff easily absorbs, entertains and quickly releases up to 74,000 people to a watering hole of their choice. There are plenty of bars to choose from in the city centre. If you’re a real ale or craft beer fan try Zero Degrees, Urban Tap House and Brewdog, all conveniently located on Westgate Street opposite the Millennium Stadium. For a wide selection of spirits try Bunkhouse and for just about everything else try the Bierkeller Entertainment Complex, which among it’s three bars features an authentic Bavarian bar and Sports Bar.
The alfresco drinking hub of Mill Lane also has a wide range of bars. Try lively Soda Bar to get you in the party spirit and for a relaxing atmosphere we recommend Cosy Club, inhabiting a spectacular block of the St. David’s 2 – an ideal spot for people-watching on the Hayes.
But don’t let the fun stop there because Cardiff offers an array of late-night venues to keep the party going. Located a stones throw away from Queen Street, there’s late night boozing and dancing to be had at Gwdihw and an extensive 241 cocktail menu from Buffalo. Both bars feature DJ’s spinning records until the early hours.
Hangover? You must be yolking
Soak up your hangover with a delicious full-English breakfast – an institution in the UK! You’ll find it served in most hotels, café’s and bistros in Cardiff. We recommend Pitch for modern Welsh food or vegetarians look no further than Bills, both are located on Mill Lane in the city centre. In Cardiff Bay the delightful Café Pure allows you to pre-order online – great if you’re in a rush! Outside of the city centre we recommend Café Brava in Pontcanna for a locally sourced fry-up and The Gutsy Goose in Cathays which serves a hearty brunch menu.
Make use of every opportunity and take in some of the Welsh scenery before heading home. Cardiff’s Centenary Walk takes in some of the city’s most celebrated and historic landmarks. As well as some well-kept secrets! So whether you’re tourist or a Cardiff resident – you’ll be sure to learn something you didn’t know before. But if the thought of walking doesn’t appeal to you then take a hop on hop off tour around the City Centre and Cardiff Bay with the Cardiff Bus Tour. Perfect for a last minute selfie opportunity at some of the Capital’s most iconic and historical landmarks!
If you’re looking to kill time before you travel home, soak up the culture at the National Museum and Gallery. It’s located in the heart of the City centre and offers an eclectic mix of art, science and historical artefacts. You can even get up close and personal with a woolly Mammoth! Or if you’re looking for a fun activity to distract the kids try Techniquest, an interactive science centre in Cardiff Bay.