Cardiff is often overshadowed by its English cousins London, Manchester and Liverpool, but make no mistake, it’s one of the most interesting cities to visit in the UK.
While there are stringent Covid regulations in place across Wales right now, there are plenty of reasons not to miss the Welsh capital when restrictions have eased and it’s safer to visit.
From shops and bars to castles and parks, Cardiff really does have it all. We’ve picked some of the best things to see and do in the UK’s eleventh-largest city, so you’ll know where to go once you’re there.
1. Walk the Taff Trail to Castell Coch
Running for 55 miles from Cardiff to the town of Brecon in mid-Wales, the Taff Trail is part of the National Cycle Network. Just north of Cardiff on the route is Castell Coch, a gothic-revival castle that looks like it’s straight out of a fairytale.
You can go as far along the trail as you like. Cycle or walk through towns like Pontypridd and Merthyr Tydfil, and take in the gorgeous Welsh scenery, or simply spend an hour or two strolling along the route until you feel like turning back.
2. The music - from Pop to Opera
Cardiff boasts a rich musical history, from huge bands like Manic Street Preachers and Stereophonics to smaller local acts plying their trade at venues like Clwb Ifor Bach and The Globe.
Why not check out a local band at one of these independent venues, or head to the Welsh National Opera at the Millennium Centre for a show?
With a variety of shows on, they have something for everyone - even if you’ve never been to the opera before.
3. Enjoy the Parks
If you’d like to enjoy the outdoors while staying a little closer to Cardiff, there’s plenty of green space in the city too.
Bute Park seems to be the favourite - there’s always something new to discover when you lose a couple of hours exploring. It’s always full of life, with couples, families and groups of friends sunning themselves in this vast open space.
A little further out is Roath Park, which has a large lake and some gardens to scout around. Here you can explore the flower-filled gardens, play some sport or simply sit down on the grass and watch the world go by. Roath Park is a great place to spend a free afternoon.
How much do you know about the history of Wales? If it’s a rainy day or you simply feel like a bit of culture, you can’t miss out on the National Museum, situated in the northern part of the city centre.
4. Get cultured at the National Museum
The dinosaur skeletons are always a huge hit with the kids, and it’s home to the largest collection of impressionist art outside Paris too.
Go on a journey from the beginning of the universe to the present day in this museum that’s jam-packed with exhibits - entry is free too, so embrace history and see what the museum has to offer.
5. Spend the Day at Mermaid Quay
In Cardiff Bay, Mermaid Quay is a great attraction with plenty of places to eat and drink. You can sit back and watch the water in front of you or watch a movie at the new five-screen boutique cinema, before grabbing a bite to eat at Demiro’s.
It’s not the only attraction in Cardiff Bay either. Nearby are the Senedd, home to the Welsh Assembly Government and the Techniquest science centre, and for just £5 each there are guided walking tours of the area.
6. Shopping to suit every taste
Cardiff is a fantastic shopping destination, with everything from huge department stores to independent businesses offering all you could desire.
While most will flock to the main shopping centre, St. David’s - it’s the third-busiest in the UK - you can’t miss out on the seven Victorian and Edwardian-era arcades which lie around the city, all with their own boutique stores.
Music aficionados will love checking out the world’s oldest independent record shop, Spillers. And if you’re after a healthy bite to eat, you can stop at vegan fast-food outlet Greazy Vegan or Vietnamese coffee house Hanoi 1991.
7. Explore Cardiff Castle
Dating back to the 11th century, Cardiff Castle isn’t something to be missed. Right in the centre of the city, it’s well worth getting a ticket and checking out the exhibits and taking a tour of this castle so steeped in history.
Afterwards, you can stop for a coffee at the Keep Dining Experience and take in the amazing views, or just go back over the road to the myriad restaurants and cafes that Cardiff has to offer.
8. Soak up the Nightlife
As night falls, there’s no reason to stop the fun. There are numerous bars, pubs and clubs across Cardiff that make for a great night out. Whether you just want a couple of drinks in the evening or a huge night at some of the city’s largest clubs, there’s something for everyone in the Welsh capital.
Cocktail bar The Dead Canary has a sort of speakeasy style and some fantastic drinks too, while there’s also the first Dirty Martini bar outside London, as well as the likes of Soda and Retro - what will take your fancy?
Travellers arriving into the UK from countries on the travel ban “red list” will have to quarantine in a Government-approved hotel from February 15. Travel restrictions are currently in place for most countries due to COVID-19. Points of interest and attractions may be closed. Always check websites and government advice before you travel.