Cardiff. The little sister to London and the big sister to Swansea. As the capital of the nation of Wales, Cardiff finds itself the busiest city in a country filled with a generous proportion of sheep, sweeping valleys and the delicacy that is the Welsh Cake. Home to just over 300,000 people, it is a distinctly small city yet that doesn’t mean it allows itself to be sheltered or quiet. There’s always something happening in Cardiff, you just need to have a look around to find it.
Seagulls scatter the streets in and around the city finding their way into the big smoke after flying from the neighboring marina area of Cardiff Bay. It is easy to walk from the CBD area of the city to the outskirts of inner-city suburbs without even realising, with the proximity of city boundaries significantly smaller than most. The central parklands of Bute Park encroaching onto the banks of the Taf River allow for the city to have its slice of greenery throughout the year and turn auburn during the autumn. A sea of leaves suffocating the footpath below and burying shoes in singed leaves fallen from above.
The CBD of Cardiff takes you on a journey through winding arcades from the central shopping centre, St Davids, through to the leafy almost-hidden abyss of The Hayes, where boutique shops stand alongside historic buildings and architecture. Cardiff is a city that oozes traditional British charm juxtaposed with modernity and a sense of immense pride for being Welsh.
Gin & Juice, The Queens Arcade
Located opposite the historic Cardiff Castle in the heart of city eateries, Gin and Juice provides a unique experience of a bar by night and an eatery by day – featuring reasonably priced quality food options. Picture frames line the walls and roof featuring images of The Beatles, Elvis and Welsh classic, Tom Jones giving the place an atmosphere like no other in the Welsh capital.
National Museum of Wales
In the central area of Cathays near Cardiff University and the National War Memorial, one finds the National Museum of Wales opposite lush green lawns and vibrant flora. Inside, not only does the museum hold artefacts and fossils but features artistic offerings in the higher floors from artists to the likes of Rembrandt and Monet. Ceramic works also feature in the museum alongside pieces of varying mediums. Entry is free.
Cardiff Bay is often the scenery most associated with Cardiff itself and it’s not hard to understand why. Home to the Senedd (Welsh Parliament), the famous Millennium Centre, which is cased in worlds of the Welsh language, and picturesque views of the waterfront all present an easy case for why Cardiff Bay is a must when visiting Cardiff. Enjoy a drink at one of the plethora of dining options in the area or take a boat ride up the Taf River right through to the city centre.
A trip to Cardiff is not complete without a visit to its namesake castle handily located in the city centre. Cardiff Castle is steeped in rich history and traditionally British charm that it cannot be ignored as you round the corner off of the Queens Street Mall on its approach. Used as a bunker during the Second World War, visitors are able to gain a unique understanding of how integral the castle is in Welsh history and appreciate the structure of such a building. Adult tickets are priced at $24AUD and can be purchased at the grounds upon entry.
Principality Stadium for a Rugby Game
Rugby runs through the blood of Wales like AFL does to Australia. It is a nation that prides itself on the sport and Cardiff is a city that comes alive like no other on game day. If you happen to be in Cardiff during the autumn or winter period, purchase a ticket to head along. From viewing the spectacular structure of Principality Stadium to becoming enthralled in the game itself, a rugby game in Wales is something that must be experienced to truly be appreciated.
Photography by Sonia Blair.