Planning a solo trip to Cardiff, Wales? Here’s everything you need to know for your visit:
- The capital and largest city of Wales, with a population of ~362,000.
- Known as the greenest city in the United Kingdom.
- Made a city in 1905, it is the political, commercial, and cultural center of Wales.
- Nickname: City of Castles (has five different castles surrounding it).
- Currency: British Pound (GBP)
- Spoken languages: English and Welsh.
- Best time to visit: from June to August, for milder weather (and less rainfall). The city also hosts many festivals during this time.
- Arriving via airport (Cardiff International Airport): buses regularly run from the airport to the city (bus #304) for £3.40 (you can buy a ticket directly from the driver).
- Taxis are also available, but are far more expensive (about 35-45 GBP for a standard saloon car).
WHERE TO STAY
- Cardiff Bay offers places to stay with waterfront views, while the city centre has plenty for those who want to be right in the middle of all the action.
- For a more relaxing visit, considering staying at a country hotel just outside the city.
- Backpackers’ and budget hostels are available in the city centre.
- Cardiff’s compact layout means that walking can be one of the best ways to get around – most of the main attractions are located near each other.
- Cardiff’s bus system covers the city and surrounding areas. A single ticket is £2 an all-day pass costs £4.
- Taxis are a viable mode of transport, particularly on wet days or at night. Use the Dragon Taxis smartphone app to call one (or call +44 29 2033 3333).
- Uber is also available in Cardiff. If you see some crazy surge pricing, however, a Dragon Taxi may be a cheaper alternative.
- Drinking age is 18, last call is 4 AM.
- Cardiff is known for its wide variety of live music venues.
- St Mary Street is the main nightlife hub – all the latest music played here.
- Greyfriars has the city’s top House, Dance, and R&B venues.
- Cardiff Bay has more of the upscale bars and cocktail lounges.
- The best bars for live music: The Moon and Fuel Rock Club (they’re next to each other).
- Great bars for solo traveler: La Pantera (mezcal, cocktails), Flute & Tankard (cozy pub), Cambrian Tap, Old Arcade, Tiny Rebel Cardiff, City Arms, and Mad Dog Brewery (for the beer lovers).
UNIQUE LANDMARKS TO VISIT
- Visit the Norman fort and the Roman ruins of Cardiff Castle, originally built on the foundations of a Roman fort. Additionally, visit the Welsh regimental museum.
- Rugby fans won’t want to miss the Millennium Stadium, first opened for the 1999 Rugby World Cup. Tours of the stadium are available.
- Built in 1107, the Llandaff Cathedral is an example of stunning architecture.
- Castell Coch (Red Castle) is a castle set upon a hill overlooking the entrance to the valleys on the city’s outskirts. A fairy tale atmosphere.
- Walk through Bute Park, which stretches from the castle all the way to the city limits.
- The Cardiff Centenary Walk is about 2.3 miles long. Starting at the Old Library, the trail takes you past the main areas of Cardiff, the castle, and friary. The walk ends at The Hayes. You can join at any part of the route – guides can be found online or at a tourist information centre.
- Impress the locals by saying thanks in Welsh: diolch (pronounced ‘dee-olch’).
- Cardiff is the home of the popular British TV show Doctor Who, and references/homages to the show can be found all over the city.
- If you don’t mind going a little further afield, check out Penarth – a Victorian seaside resort, affectionately nicknamed “the Garden by the Sea.”
- Great restaurants to try in Cardiff: Bullys Restaurant (French), Asador 44 Spanish Grill, Curado Bar (tapas), The Heathcock, The Classroom, The Potted Pig ($$$ – Welsh), Heaneys Restaurant, and Pasture Restaurant Cardiff (steak).
- Where to find good cheap food: Cardiff has a variety of food on offer from all over the world and caters for all tastes. If you’re on a budget, try searching out happy hour deals in the city centre. Alternatively, try the local pub food.
- Dangerous areas: avoid Rumney, Splott, Llanrumney, St Mellons, Trowbridge, Ely, Grangetown, Pentwyn, Butetown, and Mynachdy. These areas are not particularly violent or dangerous, but are best avoided unless you have a good reason to visit. To stay on the safe side, stick to the tourist areas.
Recommended trip duration: 2-3 days