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The Welsh capital magically combines the old with the new. Its stunning castle with 2,000 years of history stands a short distance away from the spaceship-like Principality Stadium. Nowhere is this combination of old and new more obvious than the newly developed Cardiff Bay area where red bricked buildings and old wharfs sit next to new piers and glass fronted restaurants. Old industrial cranes and the remnants of collapsed piers are now modern sculptures and the new boardwalks are lit by old fashioned street lights. The immaculate Pierhead Building, built in 1896, sits alongside the Millennium Centre – Cardiff’s equivalent of Sydney Opera House – with its protruding engraved frontage resembling the bow of an enormous container ship. If you prefer the old to the new then north of the castle sit three dramatic white Portland stone buildings – The Law Courts, City Hall and the National Museum and Gallery. This area is known as the Civic Centre, and it’s worth taking a stroll up the wide boulevard to admire the architecture. Cardiff is a compact city and easy to explore on foot and is so well signposted it is impossible to get lost, and you will notice that signs are in both English and Welsh. The street names are also in both languages and don’t be surprised when the person next to you at the bar orders a pint of Brains beer in their native tongue. For a small city, Cardiff gives the visitor an endless choice of attractions and distractions both old and new. And if that was not enough, there are even more fascinating museums and incredible castles on its doorstep as well as stunning areas of natural beauty such as the Brecon Beacons and the Glamorganshire Heritage Coastline.
There is much to do and see in Cardiff and the city's relatively small size makes it very easy to walk around and enjoy its various landmarks. You can stroll along Cardiff Bay, relax under the trees in Bute Park or discover the city's history in Cardiff Castle, and that's only a taste of what Cardiff has to offer.
Wales is famous for its lamb, cheese and delicacies such as laverbread and Welsh rarebit, which, according to the locals, is the “ultimate” grilled cheese on toast when served on toasted bread. Restaurants in Cardiff offer local Welsh cuisine combined with modern international dishes, but you can also taste foods from all over the world as well. There really is a little something for everyone.
Cardiff boasts a variety of cafes, tea rooms and eateries that will satisfy the needs of even the pickiest of guests with excellent coffee, delicious food and the typical Welsh hospitality. Cardiff has it all, from small, unpretentious eateries to elegant cafes and classy British tea houses.
Cardiff has over 350 pubs and bars and many of them are owned by the local brewery Brains Beer (www.sabrain.com). Wales has an impressive list of famous singers and bands such as Tom Jones, Shirley Bassey, Stereophonics, Manic Street Preachers, Catatonia and Feeder. There are numerous clubs and venues where you can go and listen to live music.
The majority of high street stores are located along pedestrianised Queen Street. The city also has two main shopping centres located off Queen Street – The St David’s Centre and the Capitol Shopping Centre. The city has several arcades, but the ones worth visiting are Morgan, Castle, High Street, Royal and Wyndham, they are all located along St Mary Street and High Street. Most are two storeys high and look like perfectly preserved Victorian streets filled with coffee shops, boutiques and jewellery shops. Cardiff Central Market is located between St Mary Street and The Hayes. Take a walk round the upper balcony and look down upon the hustle and bustle of the market and admire its central clock tower. If you are more of a department store type, then Howells Department Store, a member of the House of Fraser chain of stores, can be found on St Mary Street.
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