48 hours in Cardiff

Cardiff is playing host to the Rugby World Cup this month. But don't let that put you off. It's a great city of culture too.


WHY GO NOW?

WHY GO NOW?

It's suddenly sexy to be Welsh, thanks to Catherine Zeta Jones and Catatonia, but Cardiff is also in the headlines as it plays host to the Rugby World Cup. The magnificent new Millennium Stadium on Westgate Street (replacing the much-loved Arms Park) is one of the world's most modern sports pavilions, with a sliding roof, moveable turf and innumerable other sporting luxuries. Tickets for internationals aren't cheap (prices vary) but, with no internal column supports to block the view, watching a match here will be an experience. Contact the Welsh Rugby Union (01222 781700) or www.rwc99.com.

BEAM DOWN

The fast train from Paddington takes about two hours (details First Great Western, 0345 48 49 50, or www.greatwesterntrains.co.uk). National Express also runs a regular service from London to Brecon that passes through Cardiff (details 0870 580 8080), and the M4 grazes the city to the north. There's also an international airport (01446 711111). The excellent Tourist Information Centre at 16 Wood Street (01222 227281) has details of the Cardiff Visitor's Pass, which lasts exactly 48 hours and gives free local transport and many discounts for a good value pounds 12.

THE ICING ON THE CAKE

Sink a bottle of Welsh wine while you're in town: South Wales has a mild climate and my Welsh granny remembered vines growing on the hillsides in the days of her youth. Peter and Diana Andrews have started the Llanerch vineyard at Hensol in the Vale of Glamorgan (their 'Cariad' label is highly rated) and give guided tours from March to December. Take bus 32 from the central bus station and, if you overdo it, book in for the night (01443 225877, Fax 01443 225546 for reservations and information).

BRACING BRUNCH

For a peaceful Sunday morning, wander down to the designated cafe quarter, a pedestrianised area between Mill Lane and Custom House Street.

SUNDAY MORNING CHURCH

Llandaff Cathedral, sunk in a picturesque grassy hollow, houses the chapel of the Royal Welsh Regiment and an Epstein sculpture of Christ in Majesty dominates the aisle. There are seven services on a Sunday, so you've no excuse for not catching at least one. To get there, take bus 33 or 133 from the central bus station.

CHECK IN

The Angel Hotel, at Castle Street, Cardiff, CF1 2QZ (01222 232633) is an atmospheric luxury stopover, right next to the rugby ground, with doubles from £130. Its long history of distinguished guests includes people as diverse as Lady Diana Cooper and Anthony Perkins. For something cheaper, the Chalice Keep Guest House at 163 Cathedral Road, Cardiff, CF1 9PL (01222 374457) has double rooms from pounds 45. Alternatively, the Cardiff Marketing Agency has an accommodation hotline (01222 395173); bear in mind that hotel prices are generally lower outside rugby season.

TAKE A HIKE

The development of the docks area is a huge and controversial project, creating a freshwater lake with eight miles of shoreline. Take a 7, 7A or 7E bus from the station to Pierhead for the Cardiff Bay Visitor Centre (01222 463833) which can supply maps and useful information and give details of guided walks during the tourist season. There's also an events centre in the Inner Harbour and the old white-painted Norwegian Church, which was once a mission for Scandinavian seamen, is now an arts centre (Harbour Drive, Cardiff Bay, 01222 454899). The Welsh Assembly is nearby and the magnificent 19th-century Pierhead Building, once the headquarters of the old Bute Dock Company, still dominates the area. Don't expect to find Tiger Bay, home of the young Shirley Bassey and 100 tough legends: the entire area has been re-developed.

TAKE A TRIP

The Rhondda Heritage Park is almost all that's left of the once-great mining industry that created the wealth of Cardiff, but today's visitors can take underground tours on its "Black Gold Story". Frequent sprinter trains run from Cardiff Central to Trehafod in under 30 minutes, or the Stagecoach service 132 from the central bus station to the Rhondda takes just under an hour. For more information and opening times call 01443 682036.

LUNCH ON THE RUN

If it's a fine day, walk up St Mary Street and buy a take-away meal from the 19th-century covered market or, if it's wet, go to one of the greasy spoons near the evangelical bookshop on the market's gallery. Welsh produce is on sale in the market and, if you walk right through to The Hayes entrance, there is a splendid fish stall where you can buy laver (blackish seaweed once scraped up only by poor old types, now consumed at the trendiest tables).

WINDOW SHOPPING

Head to the arcades, an enticing, rambling, covered network of antique shops, delicatessens, bookshops and expensive shoe boutiques, especially around the south end of St Mary Street. David Morgan's department store has a good souvenir shop on the ground floor with an almost tasteful array of fluffy red dragons, Welsh Castle fridge magnets and the like.

DEMURE DINNER

Two French/Welsh restaurants close together in Romilly Crescent, Canton, are both highly recommended: Le Gallois (01222 341264) and Le Cassoulet (01222 221905). If you fancy a night out afterwards, see if any of the big Welsh groups - the Preachers, Stereophonics, Catatonia - are playing on home turf. The main venue is the Cardiff International Arena (01222 224488) but britpop and rock feature regularly at the Clwb Ifor Bach, 11 Womanby street (01222 232199). For something more refined, visit the Welsh National Opera at their New Theatre base (01222 878889).

AN APERITIF

For a place pickled in time, try the upstairs bar of the Albert in St Mary Street, where Fifties gentility and tapestry banquettes still reign supreme, along with Brains, the local beer. But don't miss JD Wetherspoon's newly-opened Prince of Wales on the corner of St Mary Street and Wood Street, a converted theatre that was previously empty and rotting for decades. Meals are ordinary, though good value and rapidly served, but the glory of the place is the preservation of many thespian features, including the stage.

CULTURAL AFTERNOON

The recently opened Old Library Visual Arts Centre has regular exhibitions of modern art. The splendid former public library is in The Hayes, a central open space with genuine Cardiff greasy bun stalls and less authentic arty crafty stands. For more certain cultural pleasures, the National Museum of Wales offers a magnificent and unexpected collection of Impressionist paintings, thanks to the enlightened bequest of the Misses Gwendoline and Margaret Davies, two rich spinsters who bought works by Renoir, Monet and Degas at a time when most people thought they were crazy. You could also go round Cardiff Castle, all gilt and ornate murals and the designs of William Burges. Otherwise, opt for a walk in Bute Park, between the castle and the River Taff, instead. Walk alongside the "animal wall" and turn right into the gateway just before the bridge. You'll get a good free view of the castle and a lovely spot for a picnic in these beautiful gardens which were once the castle grounds.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
News
i100
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
people
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
News
Tovey says of homeless charity the Pillion Trust : 'If it weren't for them and the park attendant I wouldn't be here today.'
people
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Day In a Page

    Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

    The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

    What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
    Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

    Finding the names for America’s shame

    The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
    Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

    Inside a church for Born Again Christians

    As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
    Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
    Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

    Incredible survival story of David Tovey

    Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little