What will bring you to Cardiff? Whether it’s a major sporting event at the Principality Stadium, a show at the Motorpoint Arena or an open day at Cardiff University, make sure you leave enough time to experience everything this Welsh wonder has to offer. Europe’s youngest capital city has a wealth of cultural attractions, major sporting events and a vibrant nightlife, yet it’s surprisingly small - you can cycle across the centre in just 15 minutes. It’s hard to get lost in a city this dinky but rest assured that, if you do, you’ll find plenty of locals happy to help. Cardiff’s just so friendly - you’ll lose count of the number of times you’ll get called ‘my lovely’.
So what else do you need to know if you’re in town for a big event or city break? Here’s a quick rundown, but for more things to do in Cardiff, we’ve created a local city guide that’s packed with more information.
Compact and cosmopolitan, Cardiff has something to offer whether you prefer to live life in the fast lane or simply unwind in nature. Haven’t been before? Here are five things to do that’ll will get you booking your train tickets quicker than you can say ‘bore da’...
1. Shout yourself hoarse at a sporting event
Of course, for many, there’s only one sport in Cardiff, and that’s rugby. And it’s true, there’s nothing like the carnival-like atmosphere on matchdays at the Millennium Stadium (currently known as the Principality Stadium for sponsorship purposes). But if you don’t know your fly half from your full-back, don’t worry - there’s plenty of other activities available in this sports mad city, from football at Cardiff City Stadium, white water rafting, ice hockey and even alternative sports like roller derby. Go Tiger Bay Brawlers!
2. Party as hard as the locals
If you’re in Cardiff at the weekend, you’re in luck. While the city’s nightlife is kept lively all week-long thanks to its student population (with over 30,000 at Cardiff University alone), at the weekend, waves of revellers from further afield descend on the town, fillings its pubs, bars and clubs to the brim. Not only does it have a reputation for hard partying, Cardiff has a great live music scene - not surprising seeing as the city produced such legendary bands as the Super Furry Animals and the Manic Street Preachers.
3. Be at one with nature
Although there’s some spectacular architecture on offer, from the Edwardian City Hall to the gothic splendour of Cardiff Castle, it’s not just the buildings that make it so ridiculously easy on the eye. Cardiff has more green space per capita than any other city in the UK, due in part to the vast swathes of parkland on offer at Bute Park. There’s also the wildlife-packed Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve and the beautiful River Taff that flows right through the town - which is great for an evening stroll along its banks. Of course, the Brecon Beacons are also only 30 minutes away, but why would you drive anywhere with all this on your doorstep?
4. Scratch your culture itch
If you love history, art and theatre, Cardiff will be right up your street. A top attraction is the National Museum Cardiff, where you can see a 200-million-year-old skeleton of a dinosaur. Recently discovered, it’s thought to be the Welsh cousin of a T-rex. But no trip to Cardiff would be complete without a trip to the super-sized Wales Millennium Centre. Even if you don’t have tickets to one of the arts centre’s amazing theatre productions, the building alone is worth seeing. Made entirely of locally produced wood, slate and steel, it’s become an iconic symbol of the country.
5. Pretend you’re in the Med
Once a busy dock, the formerly industrial Cardiff Bay is now a sparkling waterside area full of attractions - and more swanky bars and restaurants than you can fling a Welsh cake at. Head to the boardwalk at Mermaid Quay on a summer’s evening and you could be forgiven for thinking you were in the Mediterranean with all the marina-side alfresco dining that goes on, often long into the night. Cardiff Bay is also home to the Doctor Who Experience, one of the city’s major tourist attractions and, with its tremendous special effects and interactive features, it’s a must for Time Lord-lovers, young and old.