Cardiff, Wales’ iconic capital city, is a centre of commerce and industry, and the country’s biggest tourist attraction. Boasting a wealth of cultural landmarks, entertainment and a lively nightlife, it’s one of the best cities to head to for a UK break. However, for those travelling on a budget it can be difficult to know where to start, so we’ve put together a guide of some of our favourite ways to see the city. Check out the YHA Cardiff hostel for cheap accommodation, and get ready to see the very best of Wales!
Simply walking through the city centre is an excellent (and free!) way to see Cardiff’s main attractions. Cardiff Castle is an impressive structure towering up on the city skyline, and worth paying the £8.50 admission fee if it’s within your budget. The more modern Wales Millennium Stadium is another must-see, especially as free performances take place in the foyer each afternoon. Other free cultural attractions include the Cardiff Bay Visitor Centre, which showcases the port’s development and history; St Fagan’s National History Museum, an open-air castle museum voted the UK’s favourite visitor attraction in 2011; and The Cardiff Story, a charming museum on Cardiff’s history.
Cardiff is one of the greenest destinations in the UK, with more green space per person than any other city. Bute Park, in the city centre, boasts 130 acres of landscaped garden and parkland, lying underneath Cardiff Castle and offering hours of enjoyment in the flower gardens, recreation grounds and woodlands. Cathays Park is equally beautiful, containing the stunning Alexandra Gardens and the civic centre built in Portland stone. If you’d rather see Wales’ natural beauty, head out along the Taf Trail and the Brecon Beacons, where you’ll find amazing views and plenty of wildlife.
Tourism in Cardiff has seen a sharp increase in the last five years thanks to its appearance in a number of TV shows, the hugely popular Doctor Who series, and the spin-off show Torchwood. The most popular location for TV buffs is easily Cardiff Bay, an area with excellent views over the harbour and the instantly recognisable entrance to Torchwood HQ. Most bizarrely, you’ll also find hundreds of notes to characters of the show attached to the walls by die-hard fans – worth seeing even if you haven’t watched the series! The BBC show Merlin was also made in the Cardiff area; check out Fforest Fawr and Llantrisant, the two main woodlands used for filming, to feel as though you’ve been transported back into the time of King Arthur. Just north of Cardiff, in the Vale of Glamorgan, is Barry, where the hit TV series Gavin and Stacey was filmed – this has also enjoyed extra tourism since the show first aired, and you’ll find plenty of seaside attractions for a day out on the coast!