Cardiff (or Caerdydd in Welsh) became the official capital of Wales (Cymru) in 1956. Located on the wide estuary of the Severn and traversed by the smaller rivers Taff and Rhymmey, the city has long been an important port. And thanks to its role as the cultural and economic center of the country, it makes an excellent base from which to explore South Wales.
Cardiff offers a wide range of entertainment opportunities, numerous well-attended festivals and a variety of sports facilities, including award winning golf courses. Its well-preserved Victorian arcades and streetscapes are fun to explore, and are home to excellent shopping and dining opportunities.
1 Cardiff Castle
Located in the center of the city, Cardiff Castle stands on a site once occupied by a Roman fort, parts of which (the walls, 4th century polygon bastions and the north gate) have been preserved and partially restored. The castle is in fact three fortresses in one. A new castle was built in 1090 on an artificial moat, and a range of richly decorated buildings added later (the whole complex was rebuilt at vast expense between 1865 and 1920). Highlights include the State Apartments, the Clock Tower, the Chapel and a spectacular Banqueting Hall with murals telling the tales of Robert the Consul and a huge ornate fireplace. Time your visit right, and you'll be rewarded with a chance to witness jousting tournaments, medieval markets and other fun events.
Hours: Daily, 9am-5pm
Admission: Adults, £12; Children (5-16), £9; Families, £36
2 Cardiff Bay
Widely regarded as the most successful in Britain, the superb Cardiff Bay redevelopment covers nearly 2, 700 acres of former dockland and is home to high-end housing, offices, hotels, restaurants, theaters, sports grounds and numerous parks. Highlights of a visit include the redbrick Pierhead Building, built in 1897 and now home to displays relating to the history of Wales, and Mermaid Quay with its trendy restaurants, cafés and boutiques.
It's also where you'll find the Senedd, the architecturally pleasing new home of the National Assembly for Wales, as well as the wonderful Norwegian Church, an arts center and concert venue in a former church often visited by Roald Dahl. (The writer's importance to the city is widely recognized, and includes Roald Dahl Plass, a large public plaza notable for its summer concerts.) Cardiff Bay is also where you'll find Techniquest, a fun hands-on science center featuring a planetarium and theatre.