Cardiff is a great city. There are no two ways about it. The capital of Wales, it’s packed with everything you’d expect from a major city. History, famous stadiums, shops, restaurants, parks, hotels, museums and a couple of cathedrals. And it’s on the water, so it’s also got Cardiff Bay.
But sometimes it rains in here in Wales! And that includes Cardiff! So you need to have a plan of things to do in Cardiff in the rain. Here are some ideas
Adventure through the Arcades
Cardiff is home to no less than 7 Victorian and Edwardian arcades. Opened between 1858 and 1921 there is so much history here. In fact Cardiff is sometimes referred to as the ‘City of Arcades’ because it has the highest number of indoor arcades of any British City. The bonus is that they are under cover so you’ll keep dry even when it rains. There are some very interesting independent shops and places to eat here. Even if you’re not hungry, or keen on shopping, the architecture is something to behold. They are all within easy walking distance of each other and stretch from The Hayes right up to the Castle. While you’re in Castle Arcade why not…..
Wander around Wally’s
Opened in 1981 Wally’s Deli is somewhat of an arcade institution. We’ve been popping in here since it first opened to sample the smells and flavours. Stocking food and drink from all over the world they have most things you can think of. And if they don’t, they can probably get it.
While you’re in here get some breakfast or just a coffee at the Kaffeehaus upstairs. Based on an Austrian coffee shop, prices here are very reasonable. They also have loyalty cards and gift vouchers available.
Make for the Market
Close to the Arcades is Cardiff Market, another impressive example of Victorian architecture. There’s been a market here in some form since the 1700s and on this site for over 100 years. Also known as Central Market you’ll find stalls selling pretty much anything you can think of. Such a vibrant place, the market is a feast for the senses and the fresh fish and fruit and veg are hard to beat.
If you fancy a second breakfast or just a snack this is a great place to sample Wales’ very own hot Welsh cakes. Be sure to the take yourself upstairs for a great view of the whole place. You may see things you wouldn’t expect!
There are two entrances. One from St. Mary Street and the other at Trinity Street, near St. John’s Church.
Transport yourself to Llandaff
By bus or by car, Llandaff is less than 20 minutes away from the city centre and is well worth the journey. Dating back to 1120 the Cathedral is obviously the main attraction but Llandaff itself is a really lovely suburb of the city and has a sort of village feel to it. There is a really nice high street with independent shops rubbing shoulders with the more well known high street names. This harks back to a more recent past than the Cathedral. A time when everything was found or bought on the high street rather than on the internet or out of town. There’s something special about being transported back there. And talking of being transported back.
For Doctor Who fans the fictional Leadworth Village is, in our world at least, actually Llandaff.
Head back to the bay
Another area just outside the city centre well worth visiting is Cardiff Bay. The largest waterfront development in Europe it’s home to as many bars and restaurants you could wish for. But it’s also the seat of the Welsh Government and there are some fantastic attractions here. Young and old. These are some of the things to do in Cardiff Bay in the rain.
Take in the arts at Wales Millennium Centre
Home to the Welsh National Opera the Wales Millenium Centre is free to walk around and study the architecture. The design is pretty impressive and it’s constructed entirely from materials sourced in Wales. This is the centre for arts in Wales and there is almost always something showing here. Whether it’s a band, a comedian or the theatre you’re sure to be entertained. There are even occasional free performances in the foyer, art exhibitions and workshops. You can also grab some refreshments here in the café, restaurant or bar.
Journey through history at the Pierhead Building
Today, it’s home to the National Assembly for Wales www.assembly.wales and you can explore the building for free. It houses an interactive exhibition of the role of the Assembly and hosts events, conferences and art exhibitions.
Step in to the Senedd
Right next door to the Pierhead is the main public building of the National Assembly, The Senedd. Another architectural masterpiece it’s also a sustainable building constructed from Welsh oak and slate. Heat is supplied from the bottom of the dock using an earth exchange system.
You can explore the building for free and have a coffee in the café. There is a public viewing gallery from where you can watch live Assembly debates when they are on. www.assembly.wales/senedd
See the Norwegian Church
First established to serve the large community of Norwegian Sailors in Cardiff Bay, this fine example of a Norwegian Church is right on the front. It’s a distinctive landmark and also the place where Roald Dahl was christened. Today it’s an arts centre housing exhibitions by upcoming artists. There is a restaurant downstairs with panoramic views over the bay and admission is free. www.norwegianchurchcardiff.com
Planning your trip to Cardiff
How to get there
Cardiff has great transport links. Just off the M4, the main motorway from London to South Wales, the city also has good train links from London, Manchester and beyond. Furthermore Cardiff also has an airport which is approximately 15 miles from the City with rail and bus links to the centre. Plenty of airlines fly into Cardiff Airport. We always use Skyscanner to check out the best current deals on flights.
Where to stay
The city centre is home to most of the big name chain hotels and plenty of independents, guest houses, B&Bs, Airbnbs and serviced accommodation. If we’re paying out of pocket we use booking.com to see what’s available. The Marriott is in a great location in the Hayes area right in the heart of it. It can get a little noisy outside on the weekend. The Hilton is in a fantastic location overlooking the Castle but we’ve never stayed here. Probably our favourite hotel around the city is the Novotel. It is a little outside the centre but only around a 10 minute walk and is ideal if you want get away from the hustle and bustle. Great for families, it also has a pool.
When we stay in the Bay we stay at the voco St. Davids Hotel and Spa. A 5 Star hotel right on the waterfront. It, too, has a pool and offers fantastic views of the water and Cardiff Bay. We book through Hotels.com as they usually offer a great bed and breakfast deal on this hotel. Plus you can pay using Tesco vouchers (but not for the taxes and fees).
How to get around
The centre of Cardiff is fairly compact which makes it a great city to explore on foot. There is an abundance of public transport. For example you can catch a bus or train to Llandaff or bus, train or boat to Cardiff Bay. Navigation is also pretty easy and there are plenty of good city guides out there.
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These are just some of the things to do in Cardiff in the rain. If you’d like more information feel free to contact us via one of our social media channels. If you enjoyed this post why not leave a comment or check out our other posts on Wales.