So, you've moved to Cardiff, what now?
When you move to a new city, it's always exciting to see what it has to offer, it's only normal to want to visit all the tourist traps, surround yourself in the culture, and then finally, hunt down all the secret places that only residents know about. If you've recently moved to Cardiff for university or for work, you'll definitely want to make a start on exploring this great city - there really is so much to see and do! At Capital Properties, we absolutely love Cardiff and wanted to share some of our favourite places to visit in the Welsh capital.
To truly understand a city you have to know its history, and luckily there are plenty of places around the Cardiff area that will give you a fantastic opportunity to surround yourself in Cardiff, and more broadly Welsh, history and culture. But if you want a history fix without leaving the heart of the city, you must visit these places!
With a history that dates back to 55 AD and the Roman invasion of South Wales, Cardiff Castle tells the long and interesting story of Cardiff’s history. Featuring wartime shelters, a Norman keep and a trebuchet, Cardiff Castle is like something out of a fairy tale. If that sounds a bit too sugary sweet for your tastes, the castle also hosts frequent ghost tours, so you can be educated and scared!
National Museum Cardiff
For a history of Wales that begins at its very formation, there’s no better place to go than the National Museum. During your visit, you’ll be taken on a journey through the evolution of Wales right up until its first inhabitants - you might even see a dinosaur or two as well!
The Nation Museum also hosts a variety of exhibitions throughout the year, and is currently housing ‘Fragile?’ an exhibition of contemporary ceramics. There’s also an incredible art collection for all art lovers, the collection includes a variety of historic paintings, pictures and more, along with impressionist and modern pieces.
To find out more about the city’s heritage, you need to have a look around Cardiff Story, which features items mostly donated by public residents of Cardiff to create a visual and oral history of the city’s evolution.
You’ve spent your time learning about Cardiff’s history which means you deserve a treat, and if you’re prone to a bit of retail therapy, you may become intimidated by all that Cardiff has to offer. With a huge city centre, housing several arcades, shopping centres and a high street, when it comes to splashing the cash, it can often be difficult deciding on the best place to begin!
Queen Street is the pedestrianised street in the city’s centre, and features a wide range of high-street brand stores, and is the portal to several of the city’s shopping centres. Queen Street can get extremely busy on weekends and especially on the run up to Christmas, with crowds flocking from all around to take advantage of the Welsh capital’s great range of shops. Mornings and weekday evenings tend to be the least busy time to go shopping.
St David’s, and its baby brother St David’s 2, are the main shopping centres in Cardiff, and offer all the shops that aren’t found on Queen Street. St David’s 2 houses a dedicated eating area, with restaurants including Ed’s Diner, Nando’s and Yo! Sushi, so there’s something to suit every dietary requirement.
If you’re bored with big brand retailers, then you’ll want to visit one of Cardiff’s fantastic arcades, all of which are hidden in plain view.
For a range of fresh meat and fruit, make sure you visit the Central Market, which will transport you back to Victorian-era Wales, housing a wide variety of stalls. To truly complete the Victorian feel though, you have to purchase fish from Ashton’s fishmongers who have traded in the market since 1866.
Castle Arcade has had a recent surge of popularity, and has become a hotspot for niche restaurants and stores. It is the home of Madame Fromage where you can get your fill of delicious Welsh cheese, Rules of Play, a dedicated board game shop, Troutmark Books, which is sure to satisfy all book lovers out there, and you can even get some scientific ice cream at Science Cream!
Royal Arcade is the city’s oldest arcade, opened in 1858, and still has some of the original storefronts. The arcade houses several stores that specialise in Welsh gifts and textiles. It is also the home of Wally’s Delicatessen which has been in the arcade for over 60 years.
There are more arcades in Cardiff which have not been listed, we encourage you to explore and find them all; you won’t have to look too hard!
Jacobs Market is the closest you’ll come to exploring the Cave of Wonders from Aladdin; with 30 stalls over 4 floors, Jacobs is a wonderland of vintage clothing, second-hand books and terrifying ceramic dolls. If you’re going to find a treasure, it’ll be at Jacobs.
If you’re at a loss as to what to do in the evening, why not soak up some culture in one of Cardiff’s many theatres and cinemas? Not every night has to end in a nightclub!
Wales Millennium Centre
Opened in 2004, the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay has become one of Wales’ most recognisable landmarks, thanks in part to its gorgeous architecture. The Centre houses two theatres, the Donald Gordon Theatre which puts on big-scale and big-budget plays and musicals, and the Weston Studio, which regularly features experimental performances, dance recitals, music and cabaret. Whatever you’re after, there’s always something fresh and exciting showing at the Millennium Centre!
If you don’t fancy travelling all the way to Cardiff Bay for your theatre fix, why not visit the New Theatre, which despite its name, is actually Cardiff’s oldest theatre? In 2016, New Theatre will play host to performances of Avenue Q, The Rocky Horror Show, Hairspray and other big West End hits!
Sherman Cymru on Senghennydd Road hosts a range of upcoming theatrical successes, with recent shows including the incredible Iphigenia in Splott. Sherman Cymru offers fantastic and innovative theatre in both Welsh and English.
If you’re in the mood for a movie, then there are plenty of cinemas in Cardiff for you to choose from. For box office titles, there’s the Odeon in the Red Dragon centre, Cineworld near St David’s 2 and Vue by the Millennium Stadium. If you’re looking to see the latest release on a budget, Premiere Cinema offers tickets for £4 all day every day, bargain!
If you’re looking for more niche films, then you’ll want to take a trek to Chapter Arts, which showcases a variety of independent films which may not get a wider release in chain cinemas. They also have a Bad Film Club if you want to indulge in some truly terrible cinema.
Catch a match
By moving to Cardiff you have unwittingly signed an agreement, which means you must attend at least one rugby match at the Millennium Stadium. The atmosphere in Cardiff city centre on match days is hectic (and loud), but nothing beats the sense of comradery, and hearing Sosban Fach or Bread of Heaven being sung in the distance. The atmosphere in the stadium is even more electric – rugby is our national sport, and by attending a match you’ll be able to see why we love it so much!
To complete your partial exploration of Cardiff you need to get a bit experimental, and visit the science museums that Cardiff has to offer.
Doctor Who Experience
The truth to the science in Doctor Who may be questionable, but Cardiff is the official home of The Doctor (he had to settle down somewhere since Gallifrey is… inaccessible). Every good Whovian has to begin their journey at the Doctor Who Experience where you can come face to face with a Dalek and other Doctor Who related exhibits. Once you’re done there you can continue the Whovian tour of Cardiff.
Prepare to unleash your inner-child and gawp at all manner of science and magic at Techniquest, an interactive science museum. With over 120 exhibits to poke and prod at, you’ll never get bored! If you want to add an extra splash of fun to your Techniquest visit, you could always go to one of their adults-only ‘After Dark’ events.
There is plenty to see and do in and around Cardiff, the above list is barely scratching the surface! If you have a favourite place to go in Cardiff, we’d love to hear about it! Let us know in the comments, or send us a picture on Twitter, there might be places that even we don’t know about!