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

Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
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
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

    Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Manager

    £50 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Mana...

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Day In a Page

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments