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A perfect day in Cardiff

Explore the Welsh capital for craft beer pubs, Victorian arcades and local charm

Written by
Anna Bonet
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Friendly and full of life, Cardiff is unlike anywhere else in the UK. Close to the coast, near former coal-mining communities and within day-tripping distance of the breathtakingly beautiful Brecon Beacons, the Welsh capital is a destination in its own right. You might find that the huge arts scene, the lively waterfront or the gloriously cheap booze are the reasons why.

A perfect day in Cardiff

First up

First up

Number one on your to-do list is gothic Cardiff Castle. Built by Norman invaders in the eleventh century, the Victorians then added their stamp hundreds of years later. Grab a coffee from Uncommon Ground en route and then get your head around all the history on a guided tour.

Soak up the vibes
Ceri Breeze Shutterstock

Soak up the vibes

Visiting on a rugby matchday? It’s no secret that the Welsh are patriotic. When Leigh Halfpenny et al are doing their thing in the Principality Stadium, the atmosphere in the city is electric. No tickets? Watch on the big screen in The Prince of Wales pub. Maybe don’t tell anyone if you’re English.

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Stop for lunch

Eat great Italian at Café Citta, a cosy family-run restaurant that is both tiny and very popular. Can’t get a table? Order hearty grub at Pieminister or head to The Grazing Shed, a local burger chain that has become a bit of an institution.

Hit the shops

Hit the shops

You’ll find boutique and vintage stores in the city’s Victorian arcades. Home in on Hobo’s in High Street Arcade for retro clothing that will give any shop in Shoreditch a run for its money. Don’t miss Rules of Play tucked away in Castle Arcade – it’s the ultimate board-game store. ’Tis the season to browse Welsh crafts at Cardiff Christmas Market.

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Drink like a local

Alcohol is pleasingly well priced in Cardiff, which explains why everyone’s so merry all the time. The Cambrian Tap is all craft beer and exposed brickwork. Depot, which hosts karaoke and bingo lingo with a side of street food, is tremendously fun. For more beer, head to microbreweries Tiny Rebel and Pipes.

If you only do one thing
Photograph: Getty

If you only do one thing

Venture out of the city centre to Cardiff Bay where you’ll find a lively waterfront, an array of buzzy bars and, towering over it all, Wales Millennium Centre. This cultural hub is home to art exhibitions, theatre productions and concerts. Once you’re done perusing, rent a bike from Pedal Power and cycle around the bay.

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And if you stay the night, wake up here

Stay in central Cardiff if a wild night out is on the cards. But for a taste of rural Wales less than half an hour from the city, book a two-person hut on the edge of Cefn Mably Lakes, at Lodge on the Lake. The tiny lakeside lodges are perched amid greenery and long grass on a 35-acre, family-run farm. Some of the lakes are for fishing, so you could go full-country and try to catch a carp from your wooden deck. No? Visit the Moody Sow farm shop for local treats, soak in your private hot tub, curl up with a book beside floor-to-ceiling windows or sit out and marvel at the silence instead. From £250 for a two-night short stay.

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