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Cardiff - 24 hours in the 15 minute city
Cardiff in General
Member Name: judderman
Cardiff in General
Advantages: compact, friendly and unique
Disadvantages: not enough here to occupy more than a few days
Twenty-four hours in a city normally means whistle-stop tours, rushed meals and a pocket full of expensive bus and train tickets. Thankfully, things are different in Cardiff, the capital of Wales. The city is so compact that nothing is more than 15 minutes away, which means visitors can spend a more leisurely time exploring the city.
Within the one square mile of Cardiff’s bustling city centre are the big three attractions: the Millennium Stadium, the National Museum and Gallery and Cardiff Castle. These attractions sit alongside luxury hotels, a network of shopping malls and arcades and a wide range of restaurants, bars and cafes.
The Millennium Stadium, built in 1999, helped place Cardiff firmly on the world sporting map and has played host to the Rugby World Cup, super-groups including REM and U2 as well as the FA cup final for the past five years. Now no visit to the city is complete without a tour of the 74,000-seater stadium, which offers visitors the chance to explore the changing rooms and even try out the Queen’s seat in the Royal Box.
Cardiff Castle is just around the corner from the stadium, but has been there a little longer - around 2000 years. A fort was first built in Cardiff by the Romans in AD55 and further fortifications were added by the Normans in the 11th Century. Then, in the late 19th Century, the 3rd Marquess of Bute spent a portion of his vast fortune on an extravagant refurbishment, transforming the castle interiors into a Gothic, mock-Medieval palace.
A couple of minutes walk from the castle is another surprising find; the National Museum and Gallery of Wales. Two wealthy Welsh sisters bequeathed their large art collection to the gallery in the mid 20th century, resulting in Cardiff owning one of the largest collections of Impressionist paintings outside of Paris, with works by Renoir, Monet and Cezanne amongst others.
A 10-minute journey South of the centre, either on the hop-on hop-off tour bus or by train, is Cardiff Bay, the capital’s newest development. One hundred years ago the docklands were the hub of the world’s coal industry, transporting millions of tonnes of coal across the globe. The docks were left to decay after the decline of the coal industry, but have now been reborn into a popular tourist attraction.
The Bay boasts a 200 hectare freshwater lake for sailing and watersports; the five star St David’s Hotel and Spa, cuisine from around the world in the restaurants in Mermaid Quay, and the new home for Welsh National Opera – the Wales Millennium Centre.
The centre was inspired by the Welsh landscape, language and culture, much of it was built with Welsh materials and it provides a suitably impressive stage for Welsh opera singers such as Bryn Terfel and Katherine Jenkins as well as a wide variety of international musicals, ballet, theatre and modern dance.
Another short 15-minute drive from the Bay takes you out to the beautiful Vale of Glamorgan. Nestled here are championship standard golf courses at the Vale Hotel, acres of vineyards producing award winning Welsh wines, and one of Britain’s most interesting and ambitious museums.
The Museum of Welsh Life at St. Fagans is home to a variety of historic buildings from across Wales – all of which were taken apart brick by brick and carefully reconstructed in the museum to present a view of life in Wales over the last 500 years. The museum village features a working bakery, blacksmiths, saddler, tea shop and store, and you are guaranteed to hear Welsh, the language of heaven, in everyday use.
A visit to Wales doesn't have to end after 24 hours of course. Cardiff's main train station provides links North to the Brecon Beacons national park, West to the Pembrokeshire Coast or a quick 2 hour journey East to London. A trip to Cardiff is a capital idea.
For more information on short breaks in Cardiff go to www.visitcardiff.com or phone the visitor information centre on 0870 909 2005.
Summary: there's plenty to pack into a 24hr break in Cardiff
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