Cardiff is a very proud city. Proud of its culture, its fascinating 2,000 year history and of course its unique language. The capital of Wales has changed drastically over the past decade and is transforming itself into a modern, world class city.
Archaeological evidence from sites in and around Cardiff show that Neolithic people settled in the area by about 1,500 years before either Stonehenge or the Great Pyramid of Giza was completed. But the clearest history began when the Romans invaded Britain early in the 1st century AD.
These days that Roman influence can still be found all over the city in the layout of the town centre, the structures of the homes and grand castles, waterways, bridges and cobbled streets.
While there isn’t as many things to do in Cardiff as some of the other more visited UK cities, it is a place full of rich, interesting history that is home to proud as punch people and a mythical dragon. I believe without a doubt that Cardiff should be on everyone’s UK itinerary.
Located right in the heart of the city is Cardiff Castle, an over 2,000 years old castle and fortress that is the best place to start learning more about the city’s interesting history.
Over its life time. Cardiff Castle has been home to Roman soldiers, noble knights and the Bute family who used their wealth and vision to transform the Castle into what you see today.
The ‘eccentric genius’ architect William Burges was given free rein to create the lavish and opulent interiors including rooms filled with rich murals, stained glass, gilding and superb craftsmanship.
Key sights include the interpretation centre offering insight into to castle and its history, the lavish Castle Apartments, The Norman Keep towering high above the Castle grounds and the dark, damp walkways around the Castle Battlements.
The Cardiff Hop-on Hop-off Bus stops right out the front of Cardiff Castle and is a great tour option if you only and a short time in the city to explore. Get your tickets in advance here to avoid the queues when you arrive.
National Museum Cardiff
The National Museum Cardiff houses Wales’s national art, natural history, archaeology and geology collections, as well as major touring and temporary exhibitions all under one roof.
There is plenty to please everyone from Impressionist paintings to gigantic dinosaurs. The collection of art is one of Europe’s finest with five hundred years of magnificent paintings, drawings, sculpture, silver and ceramics from Wales and across the world, including one of Europe’s best collections of Impressionist works.
In the Natural History galleries you will find the Marine gallery, where you can see the world’s largest Leatherback Turtle and the huge skeleton of a Humpback Whale. And in the Evolution of Wales gallery you can find out more about the Big Bang, 4,600 million years ago and how our planet was formed.
Cardiff’s docklands have always played a major role in Cardiff’s development. In the late 19th century coal from the Welsh valleys was transported through the docks to destinations across the world. As Cardiff exports grew, so did its population. Dockworkers and sailors from across the world settled in neighbourhoods close to the docks and communities from up to 45 different nationalities helped create the unique multi-cultural character of the area.
After WWII the coal industry declined and the docklands fell into disuse. Then in 1999 new life was given to the area with the construction of the Cardiff Bay Barrage which transformed an area of tidal mudflats into a 200 hectare freshwater lake. This in turn started major developments of the surrounding area.
Today the Cardiff Bay area, located just a mile from the city centre, is a popular part of any visit to Cardiff. Mermaid Quay offers a wide range of restaurants, bars and shops, take a cruise or sail on the lake, or explore the many attractions such as the Wales Millennium Centre, Norwegian Church, Doctor Who Experience, Red Dragon Centre or the interactive science centre, Techniquest. It is also where you will find lots of great festivals throughout the year like the International Food and Drink Festival and Cardiff Harbour Festival.
Looking for a more in-depth look at the Cardiff Bay area? Then a guided walking tour is the perfect option. This two hour private guided walking tour allow you to explore the iconic buildings and history of Cardiff Bay. See Cardiff Docks, the Wales Millennium Centre, the Welsh Parliament, the Barrage, and the Historic Quarter.
St Fagans National History Museum
St Fagans is the most popular heritage attraction in Wales and one of the biggest open-air museums in Europe. Located in the grounds of St Fagans Castle, a late 16th century manor house, visitors will gain a deeper understanding of Welsh history and traditions through live demonstrations of farming tasks, crafts and activities in workshops still used by craftspeople today. This is also a great place to hear a bit more of that interesting Welsh language.
Located in the small and atmospheric Cardiff town of Llandaff, 4km north of the city centre, Llandaff Cathedral is one of two in the city.
The current building that you see today was built in the 12th century on the site of an earlier church but unluckily it has had to be modified a number of times since due to damage during the English Civil War, World War II and most recently in 2007 when it was struck by lightening.
Despite all of this bad luck it is a beautiful cathedral with long decorative nave and spectacular stained glass windows.
The Taff Trail
The Taff Trail is a renowned and picturesque long-distance walking and cycling route that spans approximately 88 kilometers from Cardiff to Brecon in Wales. The trail follows the meandering path of the River Taff, offering a diverse and captivating journey through some of South Wales’ most scenic landscapes.
Starting in Cardiff, the Taff Trail takes adventurers on a fascinating journey. As you set off from Cardiff Bay, you’ll traverse a variety of terrain, from urban landscapes to tranquil woodlands and charming countryside. Along the way, you’ll encounter a mix of historical and cultural landmarks, including the striking Castell Coch, the grandeur of Llandaff Cathedral, and the serene Pontypridd Common.
The trail’s well-maintained path is perfect for both hikers and cyclists, offering opportunities for recreation and adventure. It’s a route that allows you to explore the natural beauty and history of South Wales while providing a wonderful escape from the bustle of city life.
Whether you’re a seasoned outdoor enthusiast or a casual walker, the Taff Trail promises a memorable experience for all who venture along its scenic route. If you don’t have time (or stamina) to walk the whole trail, just start off at Cardiff Bay and stroll for as long as you like before turning back to Cardiff Bay.
Explore the Centenary Walk
The Centenary Walk in Cardiff is a cherished urban gem, celebrating the city’s rich history and vibrant culture. Spanning over a century, this winding pedestrian path offers a captivating journey through time.
Lined with statues, plaques, and artworks, it pays homage to local luminaries, historical events, and Wales’ enduring spirit. From the iconic Millennium Stadium to the tranquil Bute Park, this walk connects visitors with Cardiff’s past and present.
It’s a testament to the city’s charm and a fantastic way to explore the heart of Wales’ capital. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, the Centenary Walk is a captivating experience steeped in heritage.
Over to you!
What’s top of your list of things to do in Cardiff? Or have you been already, what did you love about it?
Let me know using the comments section below or join me on social media to start a conversation.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post.