[[Image:PC176179.JPG|thumb|300px|Wales Millennium Centre, the focal point of the revamped Cardiff Bay.]]
'''Cardiff''' (''Welsh'', '''Caerdydd''') is the capital of [[Wales]] in the [[United Kingdom]] and is on the [[South Wales|south]] coast of the country. Though it had a reputation of being an industrial city, Cardiff has changed dramatically in recent decades. It is now a lively and modern capital city, gaining popularity with tourists interested in its history and Welsh culture. It is quickly becoming one of the United Kingdom's tourism hot spots. Summer is by far the best time to visit as the city hosts large festivals with al fresco dining and drinking becoming ever more popular due to large areas of pedestrianisation. The city centre has seen huge development over the last decade and is now considered to be one of the top ten shopping destinations in the United Kingdom. Cardiff is a very green city, having the most green space per person in the UK, and this is complimented by Bute Park which sits in the heart of the city. It
also the "City of Castles" having 5 different types of 'castle' within its surrondings. The Welsh Capital's population is roughly 336,000, with 1.5 million living within 20 miles of the city.
Cardiff's history follows its castle which has been occupied for over 2,000 years when the Romans created a fort on the river Taff (where the name may have come from 'Caer' = fort, on the 'Taff'); the fort's original walls can still be seen highlighted around the base of Cardiff Castle's walls. In Medieval times the castle grew, and a small town spread from its south gate, the medieval street pattern can still be seen around High Street. In the 15th century the town was destroyed by the last great Welsh Prince Owain Glyndwr. Successive owners fortified the castle and the town
slowly grew, until the industrial revolution when the 2nd Marquess of Bute built the Glamorganshire canal to transport coal from the Welsh valleys through Cardiff's docks. Combined with the later arrival of the railways, Cardiff's population exploded and the docks grew to become the largest coal exporting port in the world, and the 3rd largest port of the British Empire resulting in Edward VII granting Cardiff city status in 1905. With the rise of the city's fortunes the Marquis of Bute transformed Cardiff castle into a fairytale gothic palace, donating land to build the truly impressive civic centre which contains the City Hall, National Museum, university and government buildings, all built in elaborate classical styles out of expensive white Portland stone. Cardiff was lucky not to have its city center heavily bombed like other industrial cities during WWII, and was spared the worst excesses of the post war rebuilding, so a stroll around throws up many contrasts in eras and designs. With the decline of coal the city's docks became increasingly abandoned, and in the 90's the citys transformation began with the building of a barrage to stop the worlds second largest tidal range from revealing dirty mud flats, and creating what is today Europe's largest waterfront regeneration project. The Bay today is a mixture of apartments, sport, leisure and culture and its success has also seen a rejuvination of the city centre, where large scale pedestrianisation and the recent massive St David's redevelopment have created a vibrant city, combining the best of the old, sitting close to modern architecture and amenities. As for the Castle, it was handed over to the people of Cardiff, and is now a major tourist, corporate and cultural attraction, an indication of where the city's future lies.
The main airport is '''Cardiff International Airport'''. This is the only major airport in Wales and is situated some 12 miles to the south-west of the city in the Vale of Glamorgan. The airport is served by a number of
airlines including low-cost bmibaby [http://www.bmibaby.co.uk] which operates a number of domestic and foreign destinations and other airlines including Flybe [http://www.Flybe.co.uk], KLM [http://www.KLM.com], Thomsonfly [http://www.Thomsonfly.co.uk] and Skybus [http://www.skybus.co.uk]. Domestic services operate daily to [[Anglesey]], [[Belfast]], [[Newcastle upon Tyne|Newcastle]], [[Newquay]], [[Jersey]], [[Glasgow]] and [[Edinburgh]]. As for European routes, [[Amsterdam]], [[Paris]], [[Madrid]], [[Dublin]], and many other holiday routes such as [[Faro]], [[Palma de Mallorca]] and [[Alicante]], operate daily.
=====Car parks serving Cardiff Airport=====
'''Cardiff Central railway station''' is a major hub for many services and is in an ideal location being very close to the main city centre attractions and is in close proximity to Cardiff Bay. Arriva Trains Wales [http://www.arrivatrainswales.co.uk/] operate the vast majority of inter-Wales services with regular departures from Cardiff Central to the South Wales Valleys, [[Swansea]], and a frequent service to [[North Wales]]. They also operate regularly to Manchester and Birmingham making Cardiff ideal to visit via rail. All inter-city travel is via Cardiff Central while '''Cardiff Queen Street''' station near the eastern end of the city centre is the hub for Cardiff's Valley Lines services, connecting the centre of the city with the suburbs and commuter towns. Both stations are controlled by ticket barriers, so you will need a ticket to enter or leave the platforms. Ticket machines are in the entrance of both stations and in Central station there are many maps that will help you plan your journey.
National Express [http://www.nationalexpress.co.uk] operate regular services to and from most other major cities in Britain with Cardiff Central bus station, which is in the forecourt of Central railway station, making it quite easy to switch between train and bus. In addition, MegaBus offer a regular and very cheap service to London and departs from near
Cardiff Castle. Cardiff is about 3 hours, depending on traffic, from London.
The city's flatness makes cycling fairly painless, especially around the Bay and City Centre (including Bute Park). The Taff Trail and Ely Trail provide mainly off-road paths through the city and beyond. Most parts of the city provide pleasant cycling, although some areas are more difficult due to heavy traffic or no-cycling pedestrianised roads (such as Queen Street)
. Cycle hire options include the 'Oy Bike' scheme, with free bicycles at a large number of sites around the city, including all the key tourist attractions.
Cardiff Bus [http://www.cardiffbus.co.uk] offer a comprehensive network of services across the city, to the nearby City of Newport and to destinations in the Vale of Glamorgan. Fares are a straightforward £1.
60 for any adult journey across the city, whereas £3. 20 buys an all day 'Day to Go' pass to travel across the network (including Penarth, Dinas Powys, Llandough, Sully and Wenvoe) all. Another option is the 'Network Dayrider' ticket. This costs £7.00 for an adult ticket, but gives unlimited access to any bus travel in South East Wales.
The central bus station is in Central Square, in the forecourt of Central railway station, and maps are readily available that will help you plan your journey.
[[Image:PA0441061.JPG|thumb|270px|Cardiff Castle at the heart of the city]]
* '''Cardiff Castle''', Castle St, ☎ +44 29 2087 8100. fax:
''+44 29 2023 1417, [http://www.cardiffcastle.com] . Cardiff Castle is a large castle whose foundations are based upon a Roman fort. In the nineteenth century, it was the one of the homes of the Marquis of Bute. The Norman fort in the centre, the Welsh regimental museum and and excavated Roman ruins are open, and tours of the Bute household are available. The Bute part of the castle is quite amazing. The interior was all done in the early 1900s in a very idiosyncratic and interesting style. There is barely an inch that is not adorned with some sort of artistic work. Yet, it is not overwhelming. The craftsmanship is well worth a look. Admission is £8.95 for adults, £6.35 for children and £7.50 for students and seniors. Admission with a tour is £11.95 for adults, £8.50 for children, and £9.95 for students and seniors. There are family group discounts.
* '''The Millennium Stadium''', [http://www.millenniumstadium.com]. 74,200 seater stadium opened for the 1999 Rugby World Cup, and now host to the Wales national rugby and football teams. It hosted the FA Cup Final for some years during the redevelopment of Wembley Stadium in [[London]] and is still the largest stadium in Europe with a completely retractable roof (good for those rainy days). A must see for any sport lover, tours are available online or at the ticket desk. Tours cost
£6.50 for adults.
* '''The Wales Millennium Centre''', [http://www.wmc.org.uk]. An outstanding piece of modern architecture, opened in 2004 by the Queen, the futuristic Wales Millennium Centre is host to opera, dance and West End musicals throughout the year, making it a must see for those who like theatre. Entry is free throughout the year. While entrance to the theatre is charged, free live performances take place in the foyer every lunchtime at 13:00 and before shows in the evening. It currently hosts the exhibition about Cardiff Bays development that used to be house in 'The Tube'
* '''Cardiff Bay Visitor Centre''', (''also known as the Tube''). Home to displays and exhibitions on the development of Cardiff Bay as the world's largest port. Entry is free. Closed for work on the BBC drama studios, exhibition in the Millennium Centre.
* '''Llandaff Cathedral''', In the ancient 'city of Llandaff', now incorporated into the north west of the city, and is one of the oldest religious sites in Europe. The cathedral dates from 1107 and features some spectacular architecture. The surrounding
town is an interesting place to explore with a local coal magnates house ( Insol Court) donated to the people of Cardiff and open for visitors. The Ghost tour has really become the thing to do in the area, making it into the Guardian's top 10 list of things to do in the UK.
* '''Castell Coch''', [http://www.cadw.wales.gov.uk/default.asp?id=6&PlaceID=48], (''meaning the 'Red Castle' in Welsh''). A fairytale castle nestled on a hill overlooking the main gateway into the valleys from Cardiff in the outskirts of the city. Imaginatively reconstruted from ruins for the 3rd Marquis of Bute, its interiors follow the same elaborate designs as Cardiff castle except on a more intimate scale and would not look out of place in Germany. Entry costs £3.60 for adults.
* '''City Hall''', the domed roof of City Hall topped by a Dragon is one of the landmarks of Cardiff city centre. Dating from the start of the 20th century, it is built of beautiful white Portland stone and surmounted by many statues. Inside, the marble hall is dominated by statues of Welsh heroes, the main hall has large bronze
chandiliers and the main debating chamber sits under the dome. Open to visitors, events may prevent you from seeing all the rooms but a must see.
Civic centre''' , is arguably the worlds most beautiful civic centre, comprising expensive white Portland stone buildings in a range of classical styles, all surrounding the formal gardens of Alexandra park whose center contains the beautiful national war memorial of Wales. Most people stop at the first 3 buildings facing the city center (City Hall, National Museum and Law courts) and fail to experiance the architectural beauty and tranquility , of the park and surrounding buildings. Most beautiful with the spring blossom.
* '''Bute Park''', more a collection of different parks that stretch continuously to the city's edge from the rear of the castle. Bute
park proper is an arboretum and former private grounds of the Bute family who owned the castle.
* '''Pierhead building''', (''former headquarters of the railway and port authority''). Sits between the ultra modern Millennium center and Senedd as a strong contrast and link to Cardiff's glorious past. A beautiful building covered in dragons and heraldry used for permanent and temporary exhibitions about Cardiff's development, and that of the docks.
===Museums and galleries===
* '''St Fagans National History Museum''', [http://www.nmgw.ac.uk/mwl], free admission. , ☎ +44 29 2057 3500. Known universally as '''St Fagans'''
for the village in which it is in, this is one of Wales' most popular tourist attractions. An open-air museum of reconstructed buildings from all parts of Wales, built in the grounds of St Fagans Castle, an Elizabethan manor house which is also free to wander around. The Castle gardens are especially beautiful. You may not be able to see everything in a single visit due to the size of the grounds. Great for kids.
* '''National Museum
of Wales''', [http://www.nmgw.ac.uk/nmgc], free admission. Civic centre, , ☎ +44 29 2039 7951. An excellent collection of paintings, plus archaeological and geological exhibits charting the history of Wales , cafes and shops. The art collection is particularly noted for the collection of 19th-century French works assembled by Gwendoline and Margaret Davies, heiresses to a fortune made in exporting coal. This includes paintings by Millet, Corot, Monet, Renoir , Van Gogh and Cézanne, and sculptures by Rodin and the museum is said to host the most impressionist art outside of Paris. Children love the dinosaurs and mammoths in the ''Evolution of Wales'' section. There are daily volunteer-led tours of the art and archaeology galleries . As of late 2010 the natural history section is closed for redevelopment. Buy parking vouchers here if needed.
The Cardiff Museum''', when opened will show how Cardiff has developed from a small town into the capital of Wales. The museum will occupy the old library site in the city centre, which currently hosts large exhibitions focusing on themes of the city's history such as sports, industry, immigration or the arts.
Techniquest''', Cardiff Bay, 9'' near the Millennium Centre'' ), ☎ +44 29 2047-5475, [http://www. techniquest. org], Over 160 science and technology exhibits to entertain the whole family. There is also a Science Theatre and tours of the Universe in the Planetarium. A good opportunity for adults to be big kids. Entry: £7 Adults, £5 children with concessions available for groups.
* At near-by Penarth, '''cruise''' the Bristol channel during summer months to the likes of North [[Devon]], [[Gower Peninsula]] and even occasionally [[Pembrokeshire]] on the paddle steamers Balmoral and Waverly. Penarth to [[Ilfracombe]] is particularly spectacular, taking in the massive cliffs of North Devon.
* Go on the '''Taff Trail''', some of the sights close to the city centre are breathtaking and the tranquility offers a great contrast to the busy city centre.
* Go for a pint of Cardiff made Brains beer in one of the city centre pubs on a match day at the Millennium Stadium.
*<do name="Taf valley quads" alt="" address="Pontypridd Nr. Cardiff" directions="Via A470" phone=" +44
2920831658" url="http://www.adventurewales.co.uk" hours="9AM-9PM" price="" lat="" long="">Activiy centre north of Cardiff. Quad safaris, clay shooting archery and other outdoor activities. Open to individuals or groups, Established 18 years experienced friendly staff.</do>
===Festivals and events===
* '''St David's Day Parade''', a parade held on St David's Day the patron saint of Wales (March 1st), every year. Something different so its worth a look.
* '''The Big Weekend''', probably the most participated of Cardiff's festivals as hundreds of thousands of people dawn the city hall area to witness the carnival theme events and fun fair atmosphere. Usually on last weekend of July.
* '''Cardiff Mardi Gras''', one of the UK's biggest gay and lesbian festivals, held every year in the grounds of Cardiff Castle. The 2011 event will take place on 4th September.
* '''St. David's Hall''', City centre. Symphony hall used for orchestral concerts, recitals and other live music and comedy, host the Cardiff singer of the world competition, the world's premier singing competition.
* '''Chapter Arts Centre''', Canton. Arthouse and alternative cinema.
[[Image:PA044163.JPG|thumb|270px|Royal arcade, one of 8 unique victorian arcades in the center, popular for independant shops, cafes and souvenirs ]]
The Victorian arcades are worth a visit in themselves. They have lots of little shops, food markets, etc. Up-market home stores include Melin Tregynt (blankets, cushions and trinkets), and Banana Custard (for kids).
Queen St, St Marys Street and The Hayes are the major pedestrianised shopping streets which all branch off the castle, so it is easy to walk from shop to shop without fear of traffic. Queen street has most of the usual lineup of Marks and Spencer, Top Shop and River Island. The Hayes has recently been refurbished along with the massive St Davids shopping center that has drawn in a few big names such as Hugo Boss and the biggest John Lewis outside of London. St Marys street, the origional shopping street of Cardiff has gradually declined, firstly after Queen street was pedestrianised when the street saw a shift towards restaurants, bars and clubs, and then during the councils year long trial of closing the street to traffic. Thankfully St Marys street is now pedestrianised for most of its length, with work still ongoing but its worth a look as most of the citys grandest buildings are along its length with the large and oldest deparment store in Wales (Howells by House of Frasier), imposing entrance to the Central Market and elaborate entrances to the arcades particular high points.
* Cheese from Madame Fromage in the '''Castle Arcade'''.
* Music from Spillers Records, the oldest record shop in the world, in the '''Morgan Arcade'''.
Things are getting better in Cardiff for eating. It can be very difficult to book a table in the better restaurants on a Friday or Saturday evening. As a rule of thumb '''Mermaid Quay''' and the city centre are jam packed full with a varied contrast of eateries allowing you to experience many different tastes within a small area.
*'''The Prince of Wales''' - a great city centre location offering great food all day at some good prices considering its very central location. This is a typical Wetherspoon pub.
*'''Canteen on Clifton Street''' has built up a reputation for excellent vegetarian and vegan food at very reasonable prices. Their evening menu [http://www.canteenoncliftonstreet.com/#/eveningmenu/4525313611]changes every two weeks, with regular 'best of' menus chosen by their customers.[http://www.canteenoncliftonstreet.com/#/guestbook/4525343396] A good selection of vegan wines are available.[http://www.canteenoncliftonstreet.com/#/winelist/4525313655] Only 10 minutes walk from the city centre. The No.12 Cardiff Bus passes their door. Closed Sunday and Monday.Tel: ''+44
(0)29'' 2045 -4999.
*'''Garland's Eatery and Coffee House''', 4 Duke Street Arcade, Tel: "+44
(0)29" 2066 -6914. This nice little restaurant has good prices for authentic Welsh fare and other sandwiches and cheap eats. The Cardiff native I stayed with recommended it .
*'''Castell Restaurant''', The Angel Hotel, Castle St, ☎ +44 29
20649200. Amazing views of the castle grounds, and serves traditional Welsh cuisine. Also caters for private parties.
*'''Le Gallois''', 6-10 Romilly Cres, , ☎ +44 29
20341264. Roughly translated from French it means "The Welsh". This is a fantastic gourmet restaurant specialising in bringing Gallic flair to traditional Welsh food such as cockles and lavabread. Expect to pay somewhere around £40/person.
*'''Tempus Restraunt''', the luxury restraunt at the St David Hotel and Spa , ☎ +44 29
20454045. Amazing views all around Cardiff Bay, and serves a traditional freshly caught seafood. With drinks expect to pay between £40-60 per person.
If coffee is your drink of choice, there are at least six Starbucks outlets or try out Coffee #1 a local chain of coffee shops, Wood Street (near Central Station) and on Albany Road.
*<drink name="Y Mochyn Du" alt="" address="Sophia Close CF11" directions="" phone="+44 29
20371599" url="http://www.cardiffpedia.co.uk/Y_Mochyn_Du" hours="" price="" lat="" long="">Y Mochyn Du is in Sophia Gardens, Pontcanna, by the Institute of Sport and Glamorgan's county cricket ground. One half is a traditional pub which has a good range of real ales, and the other side is mainly for bar food during the day. Due to it's location near the city centre, it's very busy during rugby and football internationals. The pub is also popular among the capital's sizable Welsh speaking community and all the bar staff are bilingual. On Monday nights, there is usually a group of around 10 session musicians jamming with traditional instruments. On the last Sunday night of every month, there is a Welsh language pub quiz in association with Menter Caerdydd.</drink>
*<drink name="Bogiez Rock Bar & Nightclub" alt="" address="Kingsway" directions="End of Queen Street, opposite Cardiff Castle" phone="" url="http://www.bogiez.com" checkin="" checkout="" price="" lat="" long="">Cardiff's only full time rock bar & nightclub, offers a wide range of whiskeys & spirits, beers and kick ass coffee. Free jukebox until 6pm and rock,metal and alternative music from Wednesday to Saturday night.</drink>
*'''A Shot in the Dark''', 12 City Rd, ☎ +44 29
2920 472300. Somewhere between a dimly lit bar and a chilled-out café, Has a certain joie de vivre in its unique atmosphere.
*'''Cadwaladers''', St Davids 2, Red Dragon and Mermaid Quay, [http://www.cadwaladersicecream.co.uk/Promotions.aspx]. Wales' best kept secret is this companies slogan but not for long as they serve some of the best coffee you will find and Ice Cream which has to be tasted to be believed, all of which is made in Wales. All other food is made by them or especially for them. It is worth checking their website for printable vouchers.
* '''Wedal Road Youth Hostel''', 2 Wedal Road, Roath Park, Tel: ''+44 (0)84'' 5371-9311, [http://www.yha.org.uk/hostel/hostelpages/111.html] - for £19 (adult without YHA membership) it's the cheapest place to stay and really quite funky (for a Youth Hostel): no curfew, modern, clean, friendly personnel, and a sumptuous breakfast is included; it's about a 20 minute walk from the city centre, or 10 minutes by bus.
* <sleep name="The River House Backpackers" address="59 Fitzhamon Embankment, Riverside, Cardiff, Wales, CF11 6AN" directions="" phone="+44
(0) 2920 399 810" email="" fax="" url="http://www.riverhousebackpackers.com" checkin="" checkout="" price="Dorm beds around £18 per night"> Excellent boutique hostel in central Cardiff just opposite Millenium Stadium. The dorms are neat and simple, bathrooms are nice and always kept clean. There is a common kitchen and eating area, as well as a TV and reading room. Free breakfast and wifi internet is included. The atmosphere is social but not too rowdy. Very hospitable owners and staff.</sleep>
* There are three other hostels in the city including '''Nos Da''', '''Cardiff Backpackers''' and '''Nomad'''.
* '''A Space in the City Serviced Apartments, Cardiff City Centre and Bay locations, Tel: ''+44
(0)29 21660303, [http://www.aspaceinthecity.co.uk/] Affordable alternative to a hotel, perfect for families.
* '''Cardiff Marriott Hotel''', Mill Ln, ☎ +44 29 2039-9944, [http://marriott.com/property/propertypage/CWLDT] is within a block of the train station, right across from at least ten clubs. It has reasonably comfortable rooms (not yet with the Marriott upgraded beds). They have high speed internet connections in the rooms, but the fee is £15/day for the service. The staff is friendly and helpful. Also, they have a small multi-storey car park for the hotels guest.
* '''Park Inn Hotel Cardiff''', Mary Ann St, ☎ +44 29
20341441, [http://www.parkinn.co.uk/hotel-cardiff/] Comfortable hotel in the city centre.
* '''Express By Holiday Inn Cardiff Bay''', Longuiel Close, ☎ +44 29 2044-9000, [http://www.ichotelsgroup.com/h/d/ex/1/en/hd/cdfba]. Clean hotel in Cardiff Bay, 15 min walk from the centre.
* '''Lincoln House Hotel''', Cathedral Rd, ☎ +44 29 2039-5558, [http://www.lincolnhotel.co.uk]. Traditional converted townhouse on the outskirts of Cardiff city centre.
* '''Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama''', [http://www.rwcmd.ac.uk]. Focusing on music and drama.
* The '''Vale of Glamorgan''', to the southwest of Cardiff contains the Victorian seaside towns of Penarth and Barry. Cowbridge is a picturesque town to the west.
* The superb '''Glamorgan Heritage Coast''', around 10 mi west of Cardiff, stretching from Llantwit Major to Ogmore-by-Sea, the majestic liassic/carboniferous cliffs provide sparkling views across the Bristol channel, and the small little back roads (particularly the road to ogmore-by-sea) provide some of the most spectacular driving routes in Wales.
* The [[Brecon Beacons]] and the town of [[Brecon]] are to the north.
*'''South Wales Echo''' is the newspaper from and for Cardiff.
''Red Dragon FM , South Wales Number 1 Hit Music Station''' . The main local radio station for Cardiff and surrounding areas, providing listeners with up-to-date news, local information, as well as chart and contemporary music along with entertainment for under 44s. Based in the Red Dragon Centre.
*'''Nation Radio 106.8 & 107.3 FM'''. Local Rock radio station, with news and weather a nice refreshing change from the main stream stations.