The New Welsh Wonder
Cardiff is a relatively young world capital – at least in name. Named the capital of Wales in 1955, this multicultural city with a population of approximately 325,000 people has, in recent years, moved away from its industrial past thanks to a building barrage from Cardiff Bay to the city center.
You can see these investments all over the city. The Wales Millennium Centre is an incredible piece of modern architecture. Opened in 2004 by the Queen herself, the futuristic Centre hosts operas, dance and musicals throughout the year. You can see the inside of the site for free, and live performances take place in the foyer every day during lunch.
Visit Cardiff Bay a truly cosmopolitan experience full of restaurants, bars and cafes. Enjoy a boat ride, a few shops, and a children's playground at the far end near the historic Norwegian church. First established to serve the large community of Norwegian sailors working the docks, today it's a café and art gallery. It's also where Cardiff-native and author of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" Roald Dahl was christened.
The most famous site towering over the city is Cardiff Castle. Occupied for over 2000 years, the Castle has been a Roman Garrison, a Norman stronghold and in Victorian times was transformed into a gothic fairytale fantasy. Come stroll the lawns of adjacent Bute Park before heading inside to view the castle's lavish interiors.
To experience Cardiff both indoors and out, come in warmer weather to enjoy the city's many outdoor pursuits.
Named one of the UK's top 100 gardens, Dyffryn Gardens is considered a "Grade 1 Edwardian" (for those who keep up with these things.) This isn't just one garden, but a series consisting of a number of outdoor rooms. Each is enclosed within clipped yew hedges and has its own distinct character.
Roath Park is one of Cardiff's most popular, and still retains a classic Victorian atmosphere. Boasting a wide variety of facilities including playgrounds, gardens and lakes for fishing, the park received the prestigious Green Flag award to recognize its high quality and importance to the city. This is miraculous considering it was built on a former malarial bog.
Just 10 miles west of Cardiff, the Glamorgan Heritage Coast provides sparkling views across the Bristol channel. See the majestic cliffs while driving Wales' most spectacular route. With a BritRail Pass ‘n Drive, you can easily slip behind a set of wheels and see more than the capital.
When people visit Great Britain, most head straight for England and Scotland. Don't skip out on wonderful Wales. From London's Paddington Station, you can be in Cardiff in just over two hours. Cardiff to Bath is a little over an hour and Cardiff to Bristol is approximately 50 minutes. It's also a superb stopover for visitors heading to Ireland by ferry.
Come to Cardiff – and see the difference.
Contributed by: Duncan, Chief Commercial Officer, a European who has traveled on trains in 19 countries in Europe.