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.