Cardiff travel information
You can get to Cardiff the capital of Wales by plane as there is an international airport or by train or by bus from London. Getting there is easy and comfortable. The airport is out of the city but there is a train or bus connection that links the airport to the centre of the city.
There are several railway stations throughout the city but the main one is Cardiff Central that is opposite the Bus station both being located in the centre of the city.
Getting around the city is also easy. The main public transport is the bus that runs in any direction. There are several numbers and link different quarters. Best ting to do first time you arrive in Cardiff is to go to the Information Centre that is just minutes away from the Station and get a bus, rail and tourist guide map which will show you all the routes and the streets. There are different zones throughout the city and you pay the fare according to how many zones you pass through, if you pass through only one zone you pay one pound if you pass through 2 zones you pay 1,30 pounds. If you need to travel throughout the city it is better to buy a day ticket from the bus driver that will cost you 3 pounds. Visitors staying a week could purchase a week ticket that is 13 pounds.
All types of tickets can be bought directly from the bus driver on the bus but pay attention! You need to have the exact amount of money as the driver cannot give you any change! It can give you a receipt that you can use to go to the bus station to collect your change but it is a waste of time to do this unnecessary trip.
All bus stations have timetables but if you know the code of a bus station and you need to be sent an SMS message about the timetable you can relax in your room and get a free SMS message from Traveline: 0870 608 2 608. There is a different number for different regions around UK.
A very nice way to see the city is by taking the waterbus and see the waterway.
If you want to visit the area around the city the best thing is to buy a day network pass that is valid on all Cardiff busses and Stagecoach busses. You can visit Newport and other towns nearby. The ticket costs about 6 pounds. Renting a car for a week will cost you about 90 pounds. But it is still better to go for this choice because with the bad weather that you are bound to have most of the time in Wales driving around in a car is far better than waiting for the bus.
Weather is mostly unpredictable and you can have more showers a day and a bit of sunshine in between, but rain is present most of the time, so you must not leave without your umbrella. Weather is moody but people seem to be used to it some of them don’t even have an umbrella.
The houses are typical, there are the houses you can see all around UK, with brick façade, brownish terraced and there is not much diversity. There are little blocks of flats and the main area is covered with houses. The posh neighborhood is considered to be Pontcana.
The main streets are Queen Street and ST Mary street, there is a pedestrian area and there are a lot of Arcades like Queen’s arcade and a lot of shopping malls like Mark & Spencer’s, St David’s Center and so on. It is very important to keep in mind that everything closes at 5 pm and only the big shops on the outskirts of the city like ASDA are opened after that. For souvenirs there is a gift shop right opposite Cardiff Castle that sells souvenirs with the Welsh symbol and the welsh flag on them but they are pretty expensive if you wonder about the city centre you can find the same things for half the price. Buying some Welsh cake, the welsh flag, a magnet or a rugby ball is a good idea for a souvenir.
The main attractions in Cardiff are: Cardiff Castle, the Millennium Center, the National Museum of Wales, Millennium Stadium, St Davids Hall, Cardiff International Arena, University of Wales, the National Assembly, Cardiff Bay and some other.
Cardiff Castle is particularly interesting to see and there is a guided tour for which you need to buy a 6 pounds ticket. There is a nice park around the castle area full of daffodils, actually the whole country is full of daffodils. It is nice to see them grow wild. In other countries you see them only in the florist’s. Cardiff is lucky to have a lot of green spaces, a lot of huge parks.
The Museum of Wales is a must see and there are a number of interesting exhibitions but you are not allowed to take photos or film. There are some nice guides that present things in an enchanting way.
The National Assembly is visited by thousands of tourists every year. It is a very interesting building and its architecture is intriguing the building is naturally lighted because of the huge glass windows that surrounds it and it is also naturally heated by the large pylons that are buried deep in the ground and take over the heat. Inside the building the representatives of Welsh people take all the major decisions concerning the country. They all have computers connected to the internet and they can have hands on information about everything, they can even get e-mails which is very helpful in case someone wants to inform them on a certain issue that’s being discussed. The National Assembly is in Cardiff Bay a nice area to visit but you won’t see many ships around maybe their number increases during the summer.
St Davids Hall is where all major concerts are held and it is a nice way to spend the evening. Of course the pubs are full during the evening and the one I liked very much was Hard Rock Café adorned with guitars and records and memorabilia of famous rock stars.
Some of the pubs feature karaoke but there is not much fun going on in the pubs unless there is a big rugby event for which the crowds gather in the pubs to watch the game on the screen and shout cheer while having a pint of lager!
There are a lot of fish and chips snack bars and you can have some nice jacket potatoes, but since neither the Welsh nor the English are famous for their cuisine you will find it easier to serve something in an Italian restaurant, Chinese, Thai, Indian, Greek and other restaurants.
People usually eat dinner at 6 pm probably because most of them finish work at 5 pm. Breakfast is usually light with some cake and tea and lunch is made up of a sandwich. They eat a lot in the evening as it is the main meal for them probably that’s why many teenagers are overweight.
Welsh people are kind in general and they are more ready to help when it comes to visitors. You will see more black haired people that in England where the majority tends to be fair or red haired. They do not have great taste in clothes and you will rarely see a smartly dressed woman. Teenagers do not really care about looks either.
There’re plenty of hotels in Cardiff, Marriot is one of them. So if you want to spend your time in a nice, classy hotel you can, cheaper options are colleges and host families, but I would recommend you think twice or better a hundred times before you choose to stay with a host family as they are not renowned for their hospitality. Check all the rules they have like being home at 6 pm for dinner and if you get a key to the house, how many times you are allowed to have a shower a day or things like that. A lot of students choose this accommodation as it is cheaper and they get the chance to have a “real” Welsh experience but many can get the “ wrong” one!