My mum’s lived on the outskirts of Cardiff now for about ten years. It’s not anywhere I’d ever considered visiting before but it does make for a great day out. And now, whenever we do visit, popping into Cardiff has become one of our go-to activities.
The Welsh capital is a marvel with so much to do, so much to see and so much rich culture. I love visiting. And it’s actually a really easy city to navigate; whether you’re choosing to go in by train, drive or use their bus system, I’ve never had any issues.
So if Cardiff is a place you want to go, here’s some cool activities you can do.
1. Go shopping in St David’s
Shopping in any major city is a perk but Cardiff’s St David’s takes it to a whole new level. There are over 200 shops, cafes and restaurants over 130,000 square meters and is the 11th largest shopping mall in the UK.
My personal favourite is the 5-floor Primark, but you could easily spend all day in St David’s without once going outside. For those who love shopping, this is a definite must-visit, and the car parking prices aren’t too unreasonable either.
2. Explore the arcades
If you’re able to tear yourself away from the endless corridors of shops, Cardiff has some amazing Victorian arcades full of quirky shops and little hideaways that are just perfect to explore.
If you love architecture, independent businesses and discovering something new, then you’ve got to wander through an arcade or two. Every time I visit, I find these places magical and love the atmosphere you’ll find at one of the cosy restaurants.
3. Visit Cardiff Market
If you want a taste of British culture as a whole, Cardiff Market is there to transport you back to a time when the local butcher was the only place you could get your meat, when your bread was hand-baked on-site every morning and where your fishmonger can give you his personal recommendation for the catch of the day.
We came across the Market by pure accident but I’m so glad we took the time to go in. It’s an amazing place that doesn’t feel like it’s changed in years. You can wander up and down the stalls and meet local traders. The best bit? It’s all indoors, which is perfect for those rainy days
4. Take a trip to Cardiff Bay
IF you’re looking for a little sophistication, Cardiff Bay is the place to go. You can either drive there but it’s also pretty simple to get the bus from Cardiff city centre.
Top tip: Cardiff bus drivers don’t carry coins. If you want to buy a ticket, you’ll either need the exact amount or be prepared to lose your change. If you are due money back, they’ll give you a receipt where you can claim it at the Central Bus Station.
5. See the world’s largest love spoon (and the world’s smallest)
Wales is famous for its love spoons. Initially, they were used as a demonstration of skill and would often be given as tokens of love. Each carved symbol had a different meaning:
Single heart = My heart is yours
Two hearts = We feel the same about each other
Celtic knot = Lasting love
Bells = Marriage
Horseshoe = Good luck
Celtic cross = Faith or marriage
Ball in a cage = how many children they wanted
These days, they’re more of a souvenir but they’re still pretty amazing, especially the ones carved by hand.
Opposite Cardiff Castle, you’ll find Castle Welsh Crafts, a quaint little shop filled with Welsh gifts.
And here you’ll find the world’s largest love spoon, carved from a single branch of a sycamore tree. The whole thing is 44ft long (13.41m) and features a dragon, as well as two balls you’re free to manhandle and feel the weight of; it’s pretty impressive.
If you ask nicely, the woman behind the counter will tell you more about love spoons as a whole, and she’ll even show you the world’s smallest (you have to request to see this one). It’s so small, it’s even small than a matchstick.
6. Play Treetop Adventure Golf
If shopping isn’t your thing, or maybe you have the kids with you, St David’s Centre is also home to Treetop Adventure Golf. A cool little mini golf course you can find near the parking.
There are two courses to choose from and both are pretty entertaining. The theme and decor make this a super fun place to be with great staff, a great atmosphere and a snack bar to hand should you need refreshments.
7. Buy yourself some Timbits
Personally, I’d never heard of Tim Horton’s, until Lee discovered the most southernly branch was in Cardiff.
Can you believe there’s 25 Tim Hortons locations in the UK, 6 are in Manchester, one in Birmingham, one in Leicester and the rest are in Scotland or Ireland (excluding the one in Cardiff).
This Canadian coffee shop is amazing. They sell something called Timbits. Think of them as the middle bit of the doughnut that’s been punched out, and then filled with jam or chocolate. You can get other flavours too that aren’t filled. In fact, there’s loads of different flavours to choose from, including:
- Chocolate glazed
- Jam filled
- Birthday cake
- Honey cruller
- Honey dip
- Apple fritter
Now, it’s our go-to. Every time we’re in Cardiff, we swing by Tim Hortons and pick up ourselves a pack of 50 Timbits to share with the family. You’ve got to try them!
8. Visit Cardiff Castle
If you’re into your history, then you’ve got to visit Cardiff Castle. It’s really easy to get to from St David’s, and is only about a ten-minute walk. Even if you don’t want to go in for the full tour, you can still go through the big gates and get a pretty good view of the castle.
9. Go for a drink
As old as Cardiff is, it wouldn’t be right to visit and not go for a drink in one of it’s many old and ancient pubs.
If the weather’s nice, the pubs practically spill out onto the street and the atmosphere is infectious. All you have to do is wander down one of the high streets and you’ll find yourself a cosy little watering hole.
This one was right next door to the Market and I absolutely loved the colourful hanging baskets.
My Stepdad also recommended The Cottage Pub on St Mary’s Street if you’re looking for something super traditional. Be careful because if you blink, you’ll miss it. It’s a narrow little building that looks like it’s about to crumble any second.
10. Take a tour around the Principality Stadium
Bought for us as a Christmas present from my mum, we got to see the behind-the-scenes of the Principality Stadium, home to the Welsh Rugby team. If you’re ever looking for something to do in any city, I would highly recommend a stadium tour.
We both had a great time. The stadium is huge and can seat up to 74,500 fans. You get to see inside the locker room, the press room and walk down the player’s tunnel to the pitch.
11. Enjoy the street entertainment
Like any major city, there’s never a dull moment in Cardiff, and sometimes it’s nice to just stop and smell the roses, so to speak.
Especially during the summer when the weather’s a little nicer and people want to be outside. We came across this group of singers who were just having a great time whilst raising money for charity.
Bonus activity: find a local park
If you’re looking for something a little more out of the city centre, Cardiff has loads of parks filled with flowers, children’s play parks, dog walkers and an atmosphere that calms the soul.
Cardiff in a nutshell
I really love our trips to this city and often wish we had more time to explore what it has to offer. Wales is an incredible country, filled with natural beauty and a countryside unlike any other – not to mention the local cattle.