Despite being Wales’s largest city, Cardiff is relatively small and compact for a capital city.
It is very easy to explore with the majority of shops, restaurants, hotels and attractions within walking distance from each other giving the city a real bustling feel.
Getting around and into Cardiff couldn’t be easier. Cardiff airport is a mere 12 miles west of the city centre or 10 miles from junction 33 on the M4 motorway.
There are regular trains or shuttle buses from the airport to Cardiff Central rail station allowing for easy access. The station also has direct links to cities across the UK and if travelling by road, the city is served by the M4 from London and the south of England and the M6 and M5 from the north of the UK and the Midlands.
Cardiff also has the benefit of a coast which links its ferry ports with mainland Europe. Once in Cardiff, there are local buses, trains and taxis to take advantage of as well as numerous pay and display and multi-storey car parks available in the city centre.
Population – 346,100 (2011 Census)
Area – 54.2 sq. mi
Airport – Cardiff Airport (CWL)
Train Station –Cardiff Central Station
55 A.D. – Romans first settled in Cardiff where Cardiff castle is now
Cardiff – Became a city in 1905 and capital of Wales in 1955
Worlds First £1m Cheque – Was wrote in Cardiff’s Coal Exchange
870 Miles Coastal Path – A walking route around the whole of Wales
Worlds Oldest Record Store – Spillers, opened in 1894
Fair Trade Capital – First Capital in the world to be awarded the status
Favourite attraction in UK – Which? Travel Magazine Readers voted for St Fagans National History Museum
Shopping – Cardiff has been named as the 6th best shopping destination in the UK
Top 4 Attractions in Cardiff
Cardiff is not only a modern, vibrant city; it also has a rich heritage and history to be proud of. Here’s only a list of top 4 attractions:
This castle has a history spanning 2000 years with encounters with the Roman soldiers, noble knights and the wealthy Bute family in the 19th Century.
The Interpretation Centre at the Castle tells of the castle’s history through an exhibition, film show and audio guide available in a variety of languages.
You can take a tour of the Castle’s apartments and in the evening, why not have a night with a difference and enjoy a Welsh banquet in the 15th Century Undercroft.
Tip: You can change your paid entry ticket into a Cardiff Castle Season Ticket for FREE and keep going back as many times as you want for the next 12 months!
What was once the old Cardiff Docklands is now a cultural and cosmopolitan hot spot where you can stroll and soak up the relaxed atmosphere.
There is a hub of shops, bars, cafes and restaurants in Mermaid Quay allowing you to indulge in some fine food and retail therapy whilst overlooking the waterfront.
The Wales Millennium Centre was opened in 2004 and hosts the best of the Welsh arts including theatre, dance, opera, musicals and art. It is now established as an iconic cultural destination and well worth a visit as there is something for everyone.
The Norwegian Church on Cardiff Bay was once a church for Norwegian sailors. Moreover, the famous author, Roald Dahl was christened there and now it is become an art gallery, exhibition and cafe.
You can also visit the Doctor Who Experience letting you discover what happens behind the scenes of the famous TV series – one for all the family!
City Centre Shopping
Cardiff city boasts 3 large shopping centres, St. David’s Centre, Queen’s Arcade and Capitol.
Although these are ultra-modern centres with everything you could want from a contemporary shopping experience, Cardiff also has 7 historic arcades shedding light onto Cardiff’s rich past.
The Victorian and Edwardian arcades have preserved their original charming features allowing consumers to browse through many independent and vintage stores and cafes. The legendary shop in Cardiff has to be Spillers Records which is the oldest record shop in the world opening in 1894. Cardiff really is a shopper’s paradise.
Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve
If you are in Cardiff already, don’t forget to visit the beautiful Wetlands Reserve by the bay. You will see a nice wooden bridge that zig zags all the way to the marina and offers a beautiful panoramic view of the Bay.
After the construction of the barrage near Cardiff Bay, the exclusion of sea water from the bay has turned the former saltmarsh in to a freshwater wetland area. The transition process has also been assisted by the introduction of water areas to develop various habitats.
The ditches, which are also known as scrapes, on the reserve are at different levels so that road runoff feeds in to the top reservoir and then over sluices into a central reen. It is cleverly designed so that from there, the water flows through shallow scrapes and ponds, before finally entering the bay.
Flora and Fauna in the Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve
The reserve is a very fertile zone and is carefully managed to ensure it doesn’t become dominated by the willow scrub. You can find most vegetation natural in the Cardiff Bay wetlands, with just a few introduced species such as Marsh Marigold, Purple Loosestrife, Common Reed and Flowering Rush which are all very attractive to many birds and insect species. In order to ensure diversity, they are cut back in those areas where waders and ducks prefer an open habitat.
The shallow lagoons are used by a wide variety of creatures for breeding and feeding and form a valuable part of the Bay’s ecosystem. The taller fen grasses provide protection for small mammals such as voles, shrews and field mice, which in turn attract predators such as kestrel, which are frequently seen hovering above the reserve.
Further details about the species that live here are shown one display boards around the reserve and anyone wishing to find out more or report sightings can contact Cardiff Harbour Authority on 029 2087 7900.