fbpx

Our city guide to Cardiff

Widely touted as Europe’s youngest capital, Cardiff is undoubtedly the heart and soul of contemporary Welsh culture and innovation. However its modern reputation belies a long history and a cityscape dappled with historic architecture and sites. Effortlessly combining old and new and with a fiercely patriotic people, Cardiff makes a proud and fitting capital city for the ancient land of Wales.

The centerpiece of Cardiff has always been, and remains today, the magnificent Cardiff Castle. The original roman built fort was largely ruined, however in recent years there has been extensive excavation to uncover sections of the original Roman foundations, some of which date back to the first century AD. The castle has been rebuilt and reinvented throughout the ages most notably with the addition of a Norman motte and medieval castle walls in the middle-ages and more recently in Victorian times with the construction of a gloriously lavish gothic mansion within its grounds.

Surrounding Cardiff Castle, the city merges historic architecture with modern development. The buildings around Cathays Park are Victorian or Edwardian Baroque and now contain many of the cities Government buildings, civic centre and the National Museum and Gallery of Wales. It was in this period throughout the 1800s that Cardiff’s population boomed as a result of the industrial revolution and resulting coal industry. Welsh coal, mined in the South Wales mountains, was funneled down the narrow valleys via railway to the Cardiff’s port where it was distributed worldwide. By 1905 Cardiff was home to the second largest port in the world and by 1955 the city, which now had the largest population in Wales, was pronounced the Welsh capital.

This Victorian glory period of the city has left some marvelous and intriguing souvenirs of Cardiff’s industrial heritage and the vast wealth that came with it. At Cardiff Bay, The Coal Exchange is noted as the site of the signing of the first million dollar cheque whilst at Cardiff Castle and Castell Coch ancient castles were renovated by rich coal barons in opulent gothic revival masterpieces which include the stunning Clock Tower, Beauchamp Tower and Castle Apartments. For a wider view of the history of Wales, Cardiff is also home to the Museum of Welsh Life.

Following the closure of the South Wales coalmines throughout the 1980s Caridff did face decline, but the city has since reinvented itself as the commercial, political and cultural centre for Wales. The city’s Cardiff Bay area is a prime example, home to chic waterside cafes, restaurants and bars which rub shoulders with the stunning Welsh Millennium Centre Theatre and the Senedd Building home of Wales’ devolved political powers: the National Assembly for Wales. Nearby sports and activities centres have sprung up including the Principality Stadium which was Britain’s largest sports venue upon its completion in 1999. As recently as 2010 the new St David’s Centre retail development, located in the heart of the city, has finalized Cardiff’s transformation into a leading commercial and cultural centre in Britain. Certainly, Cardiff should not to be missed on any tour of the UK and Wales.

Related Guides

Relevant Tours

Tours of Wales - Brecon Beacons

Enjoy an England and Wales driving tour to experience the contrasts of two distinct British cultures on this in-depth tour of two of Britain's intriguing nations.  Enjoy the contrasting vistas of the patchwork fields of the Cotswolds, the rustic Yorkshire Dales, the mountains of Snowdonia and the coastlines of the Pembrokeshire National Park. Not to mention icons of English and Welsh history at Conwy Castle, York Minster, Shakespeare’s Stratford, Cardiff Castle and Stonehenge.

Wales Tours

A South Wales Driving Tour – Enjoy a journey of contrasts taking you from the barren Moorlands of the Brecon Beacons and the rugged coastlines of Pembrokeshire to the bright lights of the bustling Welsh capital of Cardiff. Along the way you’ll experience Welsh culture, hear the welsh language, see ancient abbeys, immerse yourself in abundant wildlife and of course visit a host of ancient castles ruins.

England Tours - Stonehenge

Scenic Britain Tour - Get off the beaten tourist track as you journey from Windsor to Edinburgh through the beautiful West of Britain. Explore England’s picturesque coastal counties of Devon and Cornwall, see unrivalled vistas in Wales’ Snowdonia National Park, pass through the majestic Lake District and tour two of Scotland’s most elegant cities in, Edinburgh and St Andrews.

  Improved Itinerary  
Tours of Wales - Cardiff

A Driving Tour of Wales - Immerse yourself in breath-taking natural scenery and an ancient Celtic culture as you explore the diminutive nation of Wales. A land of contrasts from the cosmopolitan capital city of Cardiff to the tiny cathedral village of St Davids and from the industrial valleys of the South to the majestic snow-capped peaks Snowdonia in North Wales you’ll see it all on this journey of discovery. Along the way see untouched coastlines, medieval fortresses, meandering rivers, ancient abbeys and a host of traditional towns and villages.

Tours of Wales - St Davids

Enjoy some of Britain's most scenic and dramatic rail routes as you explore the unique culture and sights of Wales.  From the capital of Cardiff and the scenic Pembrokeshire coast through the Brecon Beacons to the dramatic mountains of Snowdonia, Wales by Rail is a rail trip you won't forget.

Tours of Wales - Tenby

A small group tour of Wales – Spend five days in North and West Wales with your driver-guide and two days independently exploring Cardiff, before returning to London by rail. Your tour takes you over the border Marches and through the Mountains of North Wales, along the Welsh coast and Cardigan Bay to the beautiful seascapes and coastlines of the Pembrokeshire National Park. Your tour ends in Cardiff where you then have two free days to explore the Welsh Capital at your own leisure.

  New for 2020  
Britain Tours - Lake District

A Britain Escorted Tour - Spend ten days exploring the very best of Britain on this journey to discover the nation's highlights. We'll stay in the exciting captial cities of London, Edinburgh and Cardiff and in between we'll discover Britain's historic charm and beautiful landscapes. Highlights include Royal Windsor, the rustic Cotswolds, Medieval York and the Lake District.

Scotland Tours - Edinburgh at night

Enjoy the sights and sounds of the contrasting cityscapes of the British capitals in Cardiff, Edinburgh and London.  Travelling by rail you can maximize your vacation time by gliding between these cultural centres in super-quick time.

Wales Tours - Conwy Valley

A Wales Coach Tour - Enjoy a journey through the heart of Britain taking in iconic landmarks of central England and lesser-known but equally enchanting gems of Wales. From the city of London, the Roman Baths, Stonehenge and Oxford we'll journey to the opulent Cardiff Castle, through the wilderness Brecon Beacons and to the medieval fortresses and majestic mountains of North Wales and the spectacular Snowdonia National Park.

Tours of North Wales - Caernarfon Castle

A Wales small group tour - Wales is a land of myth and mystery, dramatic landscapes and a rich Celtic heritage just waiting to be discovered. On this journey your explore all aspects and regions of this small but fascinating nation.  The Wonders of Wales takes us to the nation's major sites, through some of Britain's most beguiling countryside, along dramatic coastlines and introduces us to Welsh history, language and culture old and new!

Tours of North Wales - Caernarfon Castle

A Castle Tour of Wales – A nation renowned for its ancient fortresses, discover the heritage and natural beauty of Wales on a trip staying in elegant country house hotels and grandiose castle accommodations. Explore the untouched landscapes of Snowdonia and Pembrokeshire and the awe-inspiring ruins of Wales' glorious World Heritage Castles including Conwy, Harlech and Caernarfon. Your tour ends with two nights in the cosmopolitan capital city of Cardiff.

  New for 2020  
Tours of Wales - Brecon Beacons

A small group tour of Wales - join us on a five-day journey of discovery as we explore the history, heritage and natural beauty of this little nation. During this small group tour to Wales you'll absorb stunning scenery in the mountains of Snowdonia and along the coastlines of Pembrokeshire, visit ancient castle ruins, hear local legends and see the contrasting cities of tiny St Davids and the cosmopolitan capital of Cardiff.

  Improved Itinerary  
England Tours of Oxford

A Great Britain driving tour - experience all that is great about Britain on the ultimate tour of England, Scotland and Wales. See it all, from the thriving capital cities of London, Edinburgh and Cardiff to the remote Scottish Highlands, tranquil Lake District an d spectacular Snowdonia National Park. Along the way you’ll experience diverse cultures and histories and see world-famous landmarks including Stonehenge, the Roman Baths, Cardiff Castle, the Cotswolds, Hadrian’s Wall, Loch Ness and Edinburgh Castle.

Tours of England - Liverpool

Enjoy two countries for the price of one as you use the British rail network to explore England and Wales. Travelling in comfort enjoy the city highlights including Cardiff, London and York as well as scenic train rides through the enigmatic countryside of North Wales, the Cotwsolds and the Yorkshire dales.

England Tours Salisbury

A Complete Britain Tour - Enjoy the highlights of Britain on this leisurely 15-day tour which takes you from the far South West of England to Scotland’s St Andrews. On route discover national icons such as Stonehenge, Edinburgh Castle and Windsor Castle alongside more “off the beaten path” destinations as you explore the coast and countryside of Devon and Cornwall, the mountains of North Wales and the remote towns and dales of Yorkshire.

Contact us