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Cardiff is a historic city in the very south of Wales. While it was quite a small town for most of its existence, Cardiff grew dramatically throughout the 19th and 20th centuries on the back of the coal industry, for which it served as a major port. It is now Wales' capital and largest city, and is the driving force behind the country's economic development.
The city centre is the main shopping area. It is partially pedestrianised (no cars allowed) on the main shopping streets (Queen Street, St Mary Street, The Hayes) and can get very busy when Rugby matches are on. There are many restaurants, pubs, bars, coffee shops and cafes. There are interesting independent shops in the arcades that run between the main roads, or bigger chain stores can be found in St David's shopping centre.
Cardiff Bay area has been very successfully redeveloped since the decline of industry in that area. There are many restaurants and bars, cultural highlights such as the Welsh Assembly and Wales Millennium Centre, and boat trips round the bay or up the River Taff. It is a very nice place to go for an evening to walk around and find a nice place for dinner.
Cardiff has a large student population who mainly live in Cathays and Roath.
Cardiff Castle, ☎ +44 29 2087-8100, fax: +44 29 2023-1417. Castle St. 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 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 is the home of Welsh Rugby. Tickets for the Six Nations tournament and World Cup can be expensive, but the atmosphere is electric in the packed stadium. The whole city comes alive on a match day, and just the experience of walking through the city centre is fantastic. Tips: wear red on match days, it is the Welsh colours and will always help you make friends. If you want to watch the matches in a pub in the city centre, you will need to arrive about an hour early to get space, or more if you want a table and chairs. Most will be standing room only.
Cardiff is also the home of the Cardiff Blues football team, Cardiff Devils ice hockey team, cricket, baseball, basketball and many other sports at various levels.
Cardiff has a typical maritime climate with cool summers and mild winters. June to September is summer season with temperatures between 18 °C and 21 °C and nights around 12 °C. Winters are still above zero, even at night. The highest and lowest temperatures possible are 33 °C and -17 °C. Precipitation is evenly distributed throughout the year, with autumn and winter being the wettest time and spring being the driest time. May is the driest and most sunny month of the year.
|Avg Max||7.1 °C||7.2 °C||9.7 °C||12.6 °C||16.1 °C||19.2 °C||21.1 °C||20.5 °C||18 °C||14.3 °C||10.2 °C||8.1 °C|
|Avg Min||2 °C||1.8 °C||3 °C||4.7 °C||7.7 °C||10.6 °C||12.5 °C||12.4 °C||10.5 °C||8.1 °C||4.5 °C||2.9 °C|
|Rainfall||110 mm||82 mm||86 mm||62 mm||69 mm||71 mm||67 mm||85 mm||94 mm||108 mm||111 mm||116 mm|
Cardiff International Airport (CWL) is the main airport for Wales. The main destinations from this airport are Ireland, Netherlands, Spain and other parts of UK. The main airlines in this airport are bmibaby, Flybe, Thompsonfly and Thomas Cook Airlines.
There are many options of getting to Wales by train. Arriva Trains Wales has links to and from England. The main train station is Cardiff Central, which is at the south end of the city centre. Local trains run regularly from there out to the rest of the city.
There are 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.
Cardiff Central is two hours from London Paddington by train, however some may take longer with more stops. Trains depart half hourly during the day and are operated by First Great Western. These services also continue hourly to Swansea. First Great Western run a service from Cardiff to Portsmouth Harbour via Newport, Bristol, Bath and Southampton.
From London and the South East of England, Cardiff is most swiftly reached by taking the M4 motorway west across the Severn Bridge and into Wales. Journey times from Central London to Cardiff are usually 3 hours, although visitors from Heathrow could shave up to an hour off this time. Don't forget the bridge charges a toll to cross, although after years of accepting cash only, the bridge operators now accept major credit and debit cards. The M4 is also the main artery linking Cardiff with West Wales including Swansea, while the A470 road mainly links Cardiff with the South Wales Valleys, Mid Wales and North Wales. Travelling from North or Central England and Scotland the M50 links the M5 motorway with Wales and continues down to south Wales eventually linking with the M4. Cardiff's junctions are 29 - 34 inclusive.
Cardiff Bus offer a comprehensive network of services across the city, to the nearby City of Newport and to destinations in the Vale of Glamorgan. Due to an ongoing relocation of the bus station, most buses are currently based in streets around the Central Station, most prominently on Westgate Street. Bus stops for specific destinations can be found on posters displayed at the Central Station. Fares are a straightforward £1.80 for any adult journey across the city, whereas £3.60 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. If you are sightseeing in Cardiff during the day and then going to Caerphilly and onto Newport, for example, this one ticket will cover all that travel.
Cardiff Bus also operate a frequent 'Baycar' service between the city centre and Cardiff Bay, which makes it easy to get between the main attractions and is good value if you don't want to walk or take the train. This is covered by the regular fare system.
Stagecoach in South Wales, Veolia Transport Cymru and First Cymru also offer regular routes in and around Cardiff and South East Wales.
Open top sightseeing buses operate regularly during the summer season at a price of approximately £8.00/person.
It can be quite cost-effective, quick, and easy to visit areas with a local train station, such as Llandaff Cathedral or Penarth Pier as services leave from both Cardiff Central or Queen St stations so check on maps for train services, if you'd rather this than the bus. Cardiff Bay can also quickly be reached by a service from Queen St. The wider Cardiff metropolitan area (including Penarth, Taffs Well, Pontypridd and Dinas Powys) contains 26 stations, making train travel a viable alternative in many cases.
Cardiff, especially the central area, is pretty compact with the main attractions being quite close to each other making getting around on foot quite easy. Most sights are signposted to help you guide your way around the city centre and the bay.
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, although on days with good weather these paths can be almost inaccessible for cyclists due to inconsiderate pedestrians filling up the paths. 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). The 'Oy Bike' scheme has now been cancelled but bike hire is available from 'Pedal Power' in the Pontcanna Fields Campsite and from 'Cardiff Cycle Tours' at NosDa backpackers hostel.
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. There are lots of small eateries with reasonable, plentiful and quite tasty takes on the Full English breakfast, sandwiches, fish and chips, etc. Also, there is the Brewery Quarter, which contains a few well known and different restaurants. Vegetarians and vegans should head to Crumbs in Morgan Arcade for a great range of veggie and vegan food. Finally, there are small cafes in the Indoor Market offering typical cafe food from toast to full roast dinners. prices typically range from .50p to £4.00. good deal for a quick fix.
Cardiff has a very varied nightlife and boasts a large variety of bars, pubs and clubs. Most clubs and bars are situated in the city centre, especially St. Mary's Street, and more recently Cardiff Bay has built up a strong night scene, with many modern bars & restaurants.
Bear in mind it can be very difficult to find rooms available or within a sensible price when the Millennium Stadium is hosting events, especially when Wales play in rugby or football, so plan around the dates or plan early as it will be much cheaper.
|Cardiff Backpacker Caerdydd||98 Neville Street Riverside||Hostel||-|
|Sky Plaza Hotel Cardiff Airport||Port Road, Rhoose Vale of Glamorgan Cardiff Airport||HOTEL||-|
|Nomad||11 Howard Gardens||Hostel||85|
|NosDa Studio Hostel||Despenser Street Riverside||Hostel||87|
|The Riverhouse Backpackers||59 Fitzhamon Embankment||Hostel||93|
|Victoria Hall Ltd||Blackweir Terrace||Apartment||-|
|YHA Cardiff||2 Wedal Road Roath Park, CF14 3QX||Hostel||-|
|City Garden Apartment||17a Tudor Street Riverside, Cardiff||Apartment||89|
|The Big Sleep Hotel||Bute terrace||Hotel||-|
|Century Wharf Serviced Apartments||Century Wharf Dumballs Road||Apartment||-|
|Campanile Cardiff||CAXTON PLACE PENTWYN||Hotel||-|
|Bunkhouse||94 St Mary street Cardiff||Hostel||86|
|The Cardiff Apartment||51 The Aspect, 140 Queen Street Cardiff||APARTMENT||80|
|Self Catering Cardiff Bay||Overstone Court Dumballs Road||Apartment||-|
|Bute107||107 Bute Street Cardiff||Apartment||-|
|Holiday Inn Express Cardiff Airport||Port Road, Rhoose||Hotel||-|
Internet cafés can be found in many cities and towns. All UK public libraries provide access, often branded as "People's Network", usually at no or little charge, though there is usually a time limit. Some hotels/hostels also offer internet access, including wifi, but most times at a cost. Using the internet on your personal phone can become expensive very quickly, with carriers charging 100's of times the local rate for data. To avoid these expensive roaming charges, you can hunt for wifi at a local cafe or hotel, or rent a mobile hotspot via several providers including DATAPiXY, and XCOM Global.
See also: International Telephone Calls
The country calling code to the United Kingdom is: 44. To make an international call from the United Kingdom, the code is: 00
In case of emergency, call 999 or 112 from any phone. Such calls are free and will be answered by an emergency services operator who will ask you for your location, and the service(s) you need (police, fire, ambulance, coastguard or mountain rescue). You can call this number from any mobile telephone as well, even if you do not have roaming.
Although the number is declining, you can still find payphones in many public areas, especially stations, airports etc. You can usually pay with cash and sometimes by creditcard or, for international calls, special phonecards are still available.
Mobile phones are heavily used. The main networks are T-Mobile, Vodafone, Orange and O2. 3G data services are available, usually priced per megabyte and coverage is usually very good in the UK, however it may lack in rural areas. Roaming on your personal phone plan can be expensive. To manage costs, consider purchasing a local UK SIM card for your phone. Several companies offer local SIM cards including Telestial, and CellularAbroad.
The Royal Mail provides postal services in the United Kingdom. The Royal Mail's store fronts are called Post Office and offer services ranging from sending letters and packages to foreign currency exchange. Use the branch locator to find the nearest Post Office branch. There will be at least one post office in any town/city and there are quite often post offices in larger villages. It's common for a post office to be incorporated into a grocery store, where there will be a small counter located at the back of the store for dealing with post related matters. All post offices are marked with signs that say 'post office' in red lettering. Post boxes can be found at any post office and standalone large red post boxes on the streets or red boxes in the sides of public buildings.
For sending packages overseas, it might be a good idea to check prices and services with international companies like TNT, UPS or DHL.
We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Cardiff searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Cardiff and areas nearby.
Ask FakeJaffaCakes a question about Cardiff
Living in Cardiff for about 7 years now. I love exploring the area and finding new activities. Happy to advise on culture, customs and attractions. Having been a student here I know many things to go on a tight budget, and can advise about outdoor pursuits, clubbing, food, cultural and historical highlights or family activities.
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