Spring is a great time to visit Cardiff. Summer is pleasant, but I personally prefer spring when it’s not too warm, just nice and breezy with the fresh scent of budding flowers in the air.
Wild, Rugged- Absolutely Romantic
To me, Wales summons up visions of a wild land with beautiful rugged countryside and a dark Celtic past – terribly romantic. Interestingly, there are theories that King Arthur himself was Welsh and one account claims Sir Lancelot fled to Cardiff after the king found out about his affair with Queen Guinevere.
Legend aside, the modern world knows of Cardiff for its industry, particularly coal mining. However there’s actually quite a lot of exploring that a tourist can do. Originally an unassuming harbour town, Cardiff is now a lovely metropolis with just the right touch of being modern yet traditional, offering everything from beautiful scenery to a rich history dating back to pre-Roman times.
Relax… Chill… Take Your Time…
Cardiff is situated between three rivers the Taff, the Ely and the Rhymney, a strategic location which perked Roman interest in 4 AD, adding it to their list of conquests and building a fort over the site which is now Cardiff Castle.
I love castles- though they all seem alike, the truth is each tells its own story, reflecting the often turbulent history of a city within its walls. Cardiff Castle (Castell Caerdydd) is no exception. Built by the Normans in the 12 century over the original Roman keep, some of its original Roman structure can still be seen.
The best thing about Cardiff Castle is that it’s right in the middle of the city which makes it a good starting point for nearby places of interest. Other castles worth visiting are the Castell Coch (Red Castle) and Caerphilly Castle both just outside of Cardiff. If you need further incentive, Caerphilly, a small delightful town not 10 miles from Cardiff, is known for its cheese.
I also took a stroll along Cardiff Bay (Bae Caerdydd), once the largest coal exporting port in the 19th century. Located just one mile from the city centre, I chose to take a waterbus there but you could also drive or take a bus. There is also ample parking for those who would prefer to drive. The waterfront has pedestrian walkways and you can spend an entire day eating, relaxing and exploring its attractions by either going on a cruise or going to the discovery centre, Techniquest. There are plenty of other activities and sights to do and see and don’t worry, there’s no need to rush as there is accommodation if you want to spend the night there.
For a quick tour of the city, one could also take the Centenary Walk. I decided to try this and was quite happy to discover that I could learn much about the city at my own time and pace, assisted by the map and guidebook provided.
….Or Let Down Your Hair!
After a relaxing day ‘discovering’ Cardiff, I decided to be a little more adventurous and took a quick trip to the Oakwood Theme Park in Pembroke, just a few hours away. This is Wales’ largest theme park and definitely worth the trip if you’re into such fun. Warning: Be prepared to scream! Some of the rides aren’t for the faint-hearted! Don’t worry though, as there are more ‘sober’ rides which the entire family can enjoy together.
Besides all that, let’s not forget also that Wales is renowned for its beautiful countryside and rugged landscapes. A trip to Cardiff wouldn’t quite be complete if it didn’t include walking the Taff Trail where you can truly absorb a bit of Welsh countryside.
All in all, visiting Cardiff is a great way to do a little R&R – rest and relax. I certainly did both!