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The Best Hotels in Cardiff

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Best Hotels in Cardiff

It may be a capital city, but Cardiff is as renowned for its sweeping green spaces as it is for its cosmopolitan buzz – the emerald acres of Bute Park in the heart of the city are wonderful to wander on a sunny day. Cardiff is also a shopping mecca, thanks to the immense St David's complex which is full of high street and high-end stores, not to mention the atmospheric Edwardian and Victorian arcades with their quaint boutiques and craft shops. The nightlife here is also famous – party animals should head for Cardiff Bay, a glittering hive of bars and restaurants overlooking rippling waters.

Things to see

Almost surreally situated amid the shops and cafes of the city center, Cardiff Castle encompasses almost 2,000 years of history. Venture within and you'll see old Roman walls, the Norman shell keep, the proud medieval towers, and jaw-dropping décor such as the honeycomb-like ceiling of the Arab Room. A more contemporary attraction is the Wales Millennium Centre – its huge coppery façade, inscribed with Welsh poetry in huge letters, is now a symbol of the city, and it's where you can catch blockbuster shows, stand-up comedy and opera. Sports fans will want to visit the Millennium Stadium, that cathedral of rugby and football, which has hosted everything from the FA Cup Final to Rugby World Cup. Famed as one of the main filming locations for Doctor Who, Cardiff also boasts the Doctor Who Experience, a fully interactive adventure where fans can enter the Tardis and come face to face with Daleks and Cybermen. Meanwhile, the world's biggest pop and rock stars regularly perform at the Motorpoint Arena – formerly known as Cardiff International Arena.

Hotels in Cardiff

Looking to push the boat out while visiting the Welsh capital? Then you're in luck, because there are a number of high-end hotels in Cardiff featuring luxury spa facilities, panoramic views of the bay and the city center, and Champagne bars. That said, there are also plenty of mid-level Cardiff hotels which offer stylish, air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi. The outskirts of the city and the bay area also feature quaint boutique hotels with antique furnishings and unique décor, while cost-effective bed and breakfasts can also be readily found near the city center.

Where to stay

With a few exceptions such as Roath Park lake (ideal if you fancy showing off your rowing skills), Cardiff is all about the city center. It's here that visitors spend much of their time, thanks to the endless array of shops and restaurants ready to be explored. Whether you're a business traveler, a family or a couple, you probably won't stray far from one of the prettiest urban centers in the country. That said, if you do feel like seeing more of South Wales during your stay, Bridgend is well worth checking out for its nightlife and beaches.

How to get to

For overseas visitors and those in more distant British cities like Edinburgh and Newquay, Cardiff International Airport is a very convenient way of getting to South Wales. If you're coming in by train, chances are you'll be arriving at Cardiff Central Station, which has direct connections with London, Bristol and other major cities, while Cardiff Queen Street Station has services to the Welsh Valleys and Bridgend Station. Getting around Cardiff itself is simplicity itself, as the city center can be easily explored on foot while there are regular buses to Cardiff Bay and the suburbs.

When are the best times to travel to Cardiff?

There’s plenty to do in Cardiff no matter what time of year you visit. Summer is always a good bet, because it offers the best chance of sunny weather and will let you explore the parks and bay areas of the city at your leisure. That said, winter brings its own charms, especially when the quaint Christmas markets pitch up in the centre of the city to serve up steaming cups of mulled wine and cider.

What are the top must-see attractions in Cardiff?

Right in the heart of the city you’ll see the Neo-Gothic landmark of Cardiff Castle. It’s a beguiling mix of Medieval authenticity and Victorian make-believe. Elsewhere in the city, there’s the more contemporary icon of the Wales Millennium Centre, whose sweeping copper-coloured dome, inscribed with lines of poetry, has been featured in TV shows set in the capital. You can also take a trip back in time at the St Fagans Natural History, where original buildings from different eras are dotted about 100 acres of lush parkland.

What are the best types of food and restaurants in Cardiff?

Cardiff is a cosmopolitan city, with a restaurant scene to match. Family-friendly eateries are scattered throughout the centre, serving up everything from Italian classics to Asian soups and stir-fries. The district of Pontcanna, just a few minutes away from the very centre, is a hip part of town which has innovative restaurants to please real foodies, and yet more places to feast and drink can be found in the bay area.

What are the top things to do in Cardiff?

Culture seekers can spend hours wandering National Museum Cardiff. Set within a Neo-Classical fortress in the city centre, its collection of French Impressionist paintings is one of the finest on Earth, while the Rodin “Kiss” sculpture is a must-see. Couples and families alike will enjoy an afternoon or evening at Cardiff Bay, with its array of bars overlooking the lapping waters. More idyllic is Roath Park, where you can amble amid flowerbeds or work off lunch by rowing across the wide lake.

What are some fun facts about Cardiff?

It may come as a surprise to learn that Cardiff only became the capital of Wales in 1955. Long before that, in 1894, Spillers Records started selling phonographs, and it’s still going today as the world’s oldest existing record shop. Perhaps the city’s most famous son is Roald Dahl, who was born in the Llandaff area in 1916. Mrs Pratchett’s Sweet Shop, immortalized in his classic book Boy, is now a Chinese takeaway with a blue plaque commemorating its significance.

What kinds of public transport are there in Cardiff?

Cardiff is pretty compact as capital cities go. If you’re staying in the city centre, you can easily get around on foot, or take a quick bus ride to the bay. That said, if you fancy a bit of an adventure, there are also waterbuses which can take you from the grounds of Cardiff Castle to Cardiff Bay. There are also swift trains to outlying areas popular with visitors, such as Penarth and Barry Island.

Cardiff Travel Guides & Things To Do

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