CAPITAL OF WALES
As the capital of Wales, you’d expect Cardiff to be a dynamic city with plenty of things to do—and you will not be disappointed. This ancient city has so many things to see, do and explore you’re better planning for a weekend visit at least.
Cardiff castle can’t be missed – no literally, it can’t be missed as it stands towering over the city a mere stone’s throw from the high street. It’s an ever-present reminder of Cardiff’s past. Built-in the late 11th century by Norman invaders on top of an earlier Roman fort it’s steep in the history of Cardiff. During the Victorian era, the 3rd Marquess of Bute renovated and decorated it making it into a medieval castle and Victorian Gothic revival mansion.
Wales Millennium Centre
The Wales Millennium Centre opened in 2004 to be the home for Welsh performing arts. Its design reflects both the natural and industrial landscape of Wales, taking inspiration from the sea-cliffs and steel industry of South Wales and the jagged slate mines found in the north. There’s also a nod to the maritime history of Tiger Bay, reflected by the hull-shaped copper-coloured roof that gave rise to the building being known locally as the armadillo. Check out what’s on, but honestly, it’s worth just visiting to see the building.
You’ve only just thought about your visit and now and we are suggesting that you escape. It does make sense if you know about Escape Rooms and are up for a challenge. Cardiff has several Escape Rooms, all posing different puzzles and conundrums in unique settings. A great addition to any visit to the capital of Wales.
Opened way back in 1894, Spillers could well be the oldest record shop in the world. This is the proud boast made by the owners. As well as selling an eclectic mix of records and CDs, it hosts regular live gigs and music events. It is located in the equally famous Morgan’s Arcade, which was built around the same time. Spillers and their live musicians do an excellent job of providing music to shoppers.
It’s Europe’s largest waterfront development and on one of the guided boat tours, a perfect perspective to see iconic buildings, like Pierhead and the Norwegian Church, as well as the old docks and Wetlands Nature Reserve. Guided boat tours run regularly from Mermaid Quay and Penarth Barrage and typically last around 45 minutes. After cruising the bay, pop into Craft in the Bay: a permanent exhibition of work by Welsh craft-makers.
Cardiff Clay Pigeon Shooting
Whether you’re a family group or organising a corporate event, clay pigeon shooting is one of the most popular activities in the UK, so you can’t go wrong with including this in your visit to Cardiff. Doesn’t matter if you’re a novice or crack shot, you’ll be smashing those clays to smithereens in no time.
The Bute Park Sculpture Trail
This Sculpture Trail can be found in Bute Park behind Cardiff Castle just a short walk from the city’s main high streets and civic centre. Bute Park is 130 acres of parkland and truly the green heart of the city. Explore a superb tree collection, natural play features, an education centre, three cafes, and a wealth of horticulture and wildlife. But the highlight is the Sculpture Trail featuring twenty-one sculptures to discover throughout the park. They were created by various artists, often using dead trees from within the park.
Go Bush in Cardiff
Fancy going off-grid and learn how to survive in the wild. Cardiff can offer you this opportunity just outside of the city in the rugged and wild Welsh countryside. Experienced survivalists will teach you the basics to survive, which think are handy skills to have. The bush skills sessions range from a short 20 minutes to a full day.
St Fagan’s Museum
St Fagan’s Museum is totally unique. Nothing ordinary about this place. Visitors actually visit the history of the area by visiting a collection of historically correct buildings. For more distant history, there are displays. You’ll be transported back in time. Their slogan – welcoming visitors through over forty different doorways. Free entry.
Take to the Hills near Cardiff
You’ll have to travel north of Cardiff for approximately six miles for this crazy off-road experience. Set in the mountainous South Wales countryside, you will have your driving skills put to the test as you tackle the rugged off-road track packed full of tailor-made obstacles. Designed by off-road course builders, you’ll have to navigate through tight heart-racing 90 degree banks, challenging man-made obstacles and mud-filled mud pits.
Nantgarw China Works
Nantgarw China Works is the only surviving early 19th-century porcelain works in the United Kingdom. In the years 1813-1814 and again in the period 1817-1820 the finest porcelain in the world was produced here in Wales by William Billingsley, one of the most remarkable porcelain painters and manufacturers of his time.
Bubble Football Match
If the reason you are in Cardiff is for a stag party weekend or a hen do, you may want to include this achingly funny team activity. Donned with a giant inflatable on the top half of your body, you attempt to play a regular game of football with hilarious results. Guaranteed to make your weekend memorable, Bubble Football is now one of the top activities during weekends celebrating last days of freedom. It also makes a brilliant ice breaker for corporate events.
There are many more activity experiences in Cardiff and its surrounds, which can be found here.
A Potted History of Cardiff
The history of Cardiff, a City and County Borough, spans at least 6,000 years. The area around Cardiff has been inhabited by modern humans since the Neolithic Period, evidenced by four Neolithic burial chambers that stand within a radius of 10 miles of Cardiff City Centre.
The Industrial Revolution brought with it the Marquises of Bute. In the 18th century, the town was still a sleepy backwater of 1,500 people, but after the Bute family built the Glamorganshire canal to join Cardiff with Merthyr Tydfil in the 1790s. They then invested their fortunes in constructing the first docks in Cardiff in 1839 aiming for world domination of the coal export business.
The Bute family went onto to renovate Cardiff Castle and gave the city’s inhabitants Bute Park, Sophia Gardens, and Cathays Park, one of the most impressive civic centres in the world.
In the 1950’s, Cardiff put a bid in to be the capital of Wales. Caernarfon, Machynlleth, Aberystwyth, Llandrindod Wells and Swansea were all involved in the fiercely-contested race. Cardiff won the nomination.
In 2010, Cardiff was listed as the 11th largest and most sustainable city in the United Kingdom and is currently the 10th most popular city visited by international tourists. It can boast 18 million tourist visitors a year.
Today Cardiff claims that it is the youngest and most dynamic, non-purpose built Capital City in Europe. It plays host to many major events, including World Class Rugby, FA Cup and Olympic Football, Test Match Cricket, the massive Admiral sponsored annual ‘Cardiff Festival’, Mardi Gras, The National Eisteddfod of Wales (Eisteddfod Genedlaethol Cymru), musical concerts both in the stadium and the Motorpoint Arena, and Presidential visits. The Sci-Fi programs Torchwood and Doctor Who were filmed in the city, as well as the Welsh drama ‘Caerdydd”.