Travel Inspiration: Cardiff sightseeing guide

Got a few days to spare? Why not head to the Welsh capital and discover what makes Cardiff such a stunning place to visit? Here is our guide to the top 5 tourist attractions in Cardiff.

Cardiff Castle
Cardiff Castle is right in the bustling city centre surrounded by the city’s main commercial areas with its brand new shopping centre and Victorian and Georgian arcades. Some of the best of Cardiff’s bars restaurants and hotels are here too.

The Marques of Bute, once the world’s richest man, gave the castle and its parks to the people of Cardiff in 1947. The walls surrounding Duke Street/Castle Street portion of the castle are famous for the wonderful stone animals sitting atop them. They appear to be simultaneously mounting an escape. The poor old ant-eater’s nose that had been missing for a number of years has recently been repaired and reinforced with steel! Inside, Cardiff Castle is positively labyrinthine including a whole mansion designed at Butes behest by world famous architect, William Burges. The highlights include art works such as the Invisible Prince and the totally over the top Arab room.

Castell Coch
Castell Coch, the “fairytale castle” is anything but typically Welsh but it is certainly beautiful. The name translates as the Red Castle due to the red tiles used in its rooves and how, sometimes, it appears red in the glow of the evening sun. The castle is pure Victorian fantasy modelled on the French hunting lodges of the medieval period. Again this is a Bute-Burges collaboration which sits on the site of a long since disappeared Norman fort. The opulence of Burges’ designs and Bute’s taste are evident here too though on a somewhat more subtle scale in Cardiff Castle. Nonetheless marquetry and gold plating are the order of the day in most of the castle’s sumptuous rooms.

Llandaff Cathedral
From the secular to the sacred. Llandaff Cathedral, parts of which date back to the twelfth century is a stone’s throw from the river Taff. It is dedicated to the Saints Teilo (pronounced Tay-low), Dyfrig (pronounced Dove-rig) and Euddogwy (Ai-thog-wee). It is the parish of the leader of the Church in Wales, the Bishop of Llandaff.
All cathedrals of note have exquisite stained glass windows and Llandaff is no exception. Among them are windows by the greats of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood Dante Gabriel Rossetti (a triptych), Edward Burne-Jones and the Hogarthian, Ford Madox Brown.

The Millennium Stadium
When in Wales you won’t escape the national obsession: rugby. The 75,000 capacity Millennium Stadium, the home of the national team, has hosted world cup rugby, many a bloody six nations confrontation, the F.A. Cup as well as a pop star or too. Tours of the stadium are available year round and in 2012 it will be hosting some of the Olympics’ football events.

The Wales Millennium Centre
The armadillo! The Millennium Centre in the heart of the redeveloped Cardiff Bay is a state of the art theatre and arts centre that can and does stage even the largest of musical and theatrical extravaganzas – including those on ice. The building was famously designed from the inside out so that there would be no compromise on acoustics or function. It is a Welsh building through and through from the 1,350 tonnes of slate of its walls to the strokable door furniture and subtle glass etchings all by local designers. Within the centre there are coffee shops, gift shops and restaurants. As well as the main theatre there are often free performances in the ground floor lobby.