A Weekend in Cardiff; From a Local to a Tourist

Today on the blog I have the pleasure of welcoming Emma Leigh-Hull, a travel and food blogger from Cardiff. In this post Emma is sharing with us a local’s knowledge and guides us through what to see, do and eat during a weekend in Cardiff. Over to Emma.

When I was a lot younger and I’d see school trips walking through the town centre, I would always question what brings them to Cardiff and why they’d chose to come here rather than somewhere more ‘exciting’. I have lived in Cardiff all my life but since moving away to Cheltenham for university (and returning 3 years later), I really do appreciate everything about the city; the independent food shops, the hours that I can spend roaming in the shopping centre, some great tourist attractions and some really great historical facts. I don’t watch Doctor Who really but knowing that majority of it was filmed in Cardiff is impressive too- my family in Australia watch it on obviously, the other side of the world!

If you are planning on visiting Cardiff over the next few weeks, or you are not sure where you want to go and need some inspiration for where to spend a great weekend, then here is a 48 hours in Cardiff itinerary, written by me, a local, for a tourist. I find that locals tend to write the best guides as they find all the hidden gems. Plus, I know how to get from one place to another to avoid ridiculously high taxi fares – especially on a rugby day!

Getting to Cardiff

Of course I have absolutely no idea where you’re staying, but I am going to assume that you’ve either got an AirBnB around Cathedral Road in Pontcanna (a lot of people rent these out as they’re super close to the centre) or you are staying in a hotel in the town centre/Cardiff Bay.

Airport– although Cardiff Airport actually says Cardiff, it is a little bit outside, near Barry, where Gavin and Stacey was filmed. They have a shuttle bus that runs to and from Cardiff town centre though, the T9 for £5 single or £8 for a return so from there, you can get a bus or train anywhere you desire; usually about £1-2 for a single to anywhere in Cardiff on Cardiff Bus.

Train Station– Good choice! You’re already bang in the centre. As you walk out of the doors you will have St Mary’s Street right in front of your eyes, no doubt where you’ll be spending your Saturday night. There is another train station at the other end of town, Queen Street, but this is around a 15 minutes’ walk, so definitely do-able, don’t get conned into buying another train ticket.

Coach– This is a great option if you do have an Air BnB in Pontcanna, around Cathedral Road, as it takes you right to Sophia Gardens where the cricket is usually played in the summer. If you’re staying in this area, everything is around a 5-10 minute walk so don’t bother jumping in a taxi! The town centre is probably around a 20-minute walk away from here, possibly less if you can do it quick time.

Finding your bearings for your weekend in Cardiff

Where better to start your adventure than the Tourist Information Centre? This is located around the side of The Old Library in the centre, just at the end of Mill Lane on The Hayes (again, where you’ll probably end up on the Saturday night). This is open 10-6pm daily. The main tourist centre is in the Millennium Centre down Cardiff Bay, around 10-minutes south of the centre on a bus, which is open the same time.

The town centre is kind of the base for most things, so there isn’t too much of a reason to venture too far out. The Millenium Stadium is opposite Cardiff Central, although thanks to the new BBC buildings, you may not spot this straight away. St Davids, St Davids 2 and Queen’s Arcade, three of our biggest shopping centres, are also in the town centre, as well as Queen Street where you’ll find Zara, Topshop, Topman etc.

Mill Lane and St Mary Street, as previously mentioned, are the key nightlife spots and they are also in the town centre. If you fancied booking into a show at either the Motorpoint Arena or St David’s Centre, then these are also both in the centre, as well as the National Museum and Cardiff Castle.

Where to eat over the weekend in the town centre

Here is a little list of my favourite Cardiff NO-CHAIN places that I think would be great for tourists.

I have a couple of great foodie places that I could recommend. Here are my top few that I think would be great for a Friday night. All of the below are independent to Cardiff so you literally won’t be able to get it when you leave!

Breakfast

Society Standard, Whitchurch Road– I have only recently found this spot but it really is definitely one of my new favourites. They serve a vegan breakfast, veggie breakfast and meat breakfast but as a meat eater, I would even choose the vegan breakfast as it comes with avocado on sourdough as well as a load of sides such as Bubble and Squeak and Spinach. The meat breakfast was pretty full on though, the sausages looked absolutely insane A bit out of the way though if you aren’t driving!

Grey, The Hilton– Ah, if you want to go on a boozer from 10am, then this is your place. Grey do a Bottomless Brunch, which you can check out here and whilst the non-stop flowing of Prosecco is super great, the food is also just as good. A great place to go for an event as it is quite a pricey breakfast for £28pp!

Pen-Y-Lan Pantry, Pen-y-Lan– A bit out of the way if you aren’t driving around Cardiff, but it is a lovely little spot for brunch. My favourite is their chorizo with eggs and avocado on sourdough. What’s more is that you can buy the best cheeses and local vegetables here too!

Milk and Sugar, Cardiff– There are three in the town centre; one near the Park Plaza, one on Windsor Place just off Queen Street and one near the Principality Stadium, so there will definitely be one a stone’s throw away. Either grab something small like a sandwich or go for the full whack with a Full English.

Lunch and Dinner

Laguna, Park Plaza– quite a bit of a walk from the vibrant nightlife of Mill Lane and St Mary’s Street but if you’re with a partner and you fancy a place with a good vibe then this is a nice atmosphere and nice food. Check out my experience of Laguna here!

The Meating Place/Madeira– These are two of my favourite restaurants in Cardiff, but you will definitely need to book! They serve meat hanging from the ceiling with a range of sides and sauces; a must if you can get in. I have never heard any complaints!

Grazing Shed, St David’s 2– In need of a fat, greasy yet delicious burger? Then head to the Grazing Shed just outside St David’s 2. I keep meaning to go here as I hear nothing but great reviews from my friends- choose your bun, choose your burger, choose your toppings. Oh, and what’s more, all the produce is local!