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A Local's Guide To Visiting Cardiff

Cardiff has always been one of my favourite UK cities. Ever since my uni days, I have felt a real affinity with the city. There is always something going on in Cardiff - but it doesn't feel overcrowded and busy. There are so many coffee shops and beautiful parks and hidden passageways running through the centre to explore. And the city really comes alive in the autumn time. Maybe it is the influx of new students coming to the city to study each September or maybe it is me projecting my own feelings that I felt back when I first came to Cardiff as a fresher but I love it. So, Cardiff was a natural choice for me when I decided that I should leave Devon. It was the last place that felt like home to me. Somewhere that I knew like the back of my hand but also somewhere big enough that there is still so much to explore. 

So, as my previous post 'Local's Guide to Devon' did so well, I thought I would share with you all of my favourite things about Cardiff.
Where to stay 

There are a fair amount of hotels in the centre of Cardiff that are actually quite reasonably priced. Personally, I would recommend the Mercure hotel if you are looking for something really nice and are willing to pay a bit extra because the rooms are gorgeous and the on-site restaurant is serves gorgeous food too. 

But if you are looking for something a bit more cheap and cheerful, I would recommend the Holiday Inn. I actually worked there as a waitress for about a year so you know it is good if I am still recommending it. The buffet breakfast there is actually quite nice and there was always a good varitey of options. The rooms always seemed clean and tidy and it is just a good option for a lower budget.
Where to eat 

Let's get onto the important stuff, shall we? 

There are so many places to eat in Cardiff that I couldn't even begin to fit my favourites into this post. But, if you are in the centre, I would suggest heading to either Coffee Barker or Waterloo Tea for breakfast. Both are situated in arcades so you know the surroundings are beautiful (and oh so instagrammable) but also the food is impeccable. Coffee Barker do more traditional breakfasts and a nutella latte that I highly recommend (it has nutella around the rim of the mug *drools*) whereas Waterloo Tea do good brunch stuff like avo toast and some gorgeous cakes (the lemon polenta cake they sometimes do is something else). Honestly though, there are so many great cafes in town - I may have to dedicate a whole blog post to it. 

Personally, I haven't had a huge amount of evening meals out in Cardiff but I have heard good things about The Potted Pig and Pasture has recently opened in the centre which I have already heard great things about - and my boyfriend said their Bristol branch was really good and he knows his food so it most certainly is very good. And, if you are vegan, the Greazy Vegan is great for vegan junk food. They even do a vegan Big Mac and battered sausages! 

For me though, I love travelling outside of the centre of town and heading to City Road to eat in one of the several authentic Lebanese restaurants. There are a few to choose from. I don't have a favourite - as long as they serve lamb koftes with a tonne of chilli sauce and some rice and bread, I'm happy. Even more so if it comes with a pot of black tea and honey.
Where to go for history 

If you are coming to Cardiff, you should be sure to have a look around Cardiff Castle. There is an outside section where you can just wander around and look at the sections of the castle and maybe pick up a coffee from the on-site cafe to sip whilst you soak up the history and feel all artsy and cool (best done whilst wearing a beanie and a big camera around your neck). Or you could go on one of the tours of the inside bit (living quarters?). I have heard it is very fancy but unfortunately I was on mum duties the day that I visited with my family and was very concerned about Ava destroying literally everything. They also have a tower which you can climb up and, at the top, there is a great view over Cardiff (and a good spot for a quick insta snap, amirite). But my favourite bit is the tunnels that surround the castle which are set up as they were during the war when they were used as bomb shelters. It is all dark and the air rade siren goes off and you feel like you're really there - kinda cool but also kinda haunting.

Another great history place that I am dying to visit is St Fagan's National Museum of History which is an open-air museum that is kinda made to look like an old-worldy town. It shows how people lived back in the day and how houses would have been set up. It also shows lots of different trades that people would have undertaken back then and, basically, it is just a great place for immersive history. Also I think it would be perfect for kids (especially ones around three or four) who are kinda interested in learning about stuff but still need space to run around in a setting that isn't filled to the brim with priceless artefacts.
Where to take the kids 

There are loads of options in terms of places to take the kids. As I said, St Fagan's is great. But there are also a tonne of parks dotted all over the city. Bute Park is directly behind the castle (and is somewhere that I love going with the kids) and has a lot of open spaces to run around. There is also a river there which you can pay to go on a boat on and that takes you to Cardiff Bay which is a fun little excursion. Or, if you don't mind the walk/bus journey, Roath Park is a great place to take little ones. There is a big lake that you can walk around and a great play park for kids. 

Where you'll find the hidden gems of Cardiff 

I would say that there are two 'hidden gems' in Cardiff that could easily be overlooked. The first is the arcades. There are several in the city centre and they are just so beautiful to walk through (especially at Christmas!) but they are also a bit blink and you'll miss it kinda thing. They are full of lots of independent shops (some of the more unusual ones like vintage clothes shops and retro gamer shops) as well as loads of amazing cafes. Some of them you can also go up onto the balcony and the view is really gorgeous from up there. 

The second is the Indoor Market in Cardiff's city centre. I absolutely love this market for getting fruit and veg but also for finding gorgeous baked goodies like the creamiest Welsh cakes. They also have an upstairs which I think is home to a record store amongst other things but it is definitely worth checking out if you are passing through.
Where you'll get the best snacks 

There are so many amazing places to get snacks in Cardiff (I mean, my bank statement would probably give you a more concise list of them *oops*) but, as not to turn this blog post into War and Peace, I am only going to be sharing my two current favourites. First off, we have the Deliver Dough donuts at Corner Coffee which are these awesome donuts that come in the most incredible designs and flavours. We got a purple galaxy one the other day. And they do Party Rings ones. Not only do they look so cool, they taste so good too. 

And, secondly, we have fabulous welshcakes from Fabulous Welshcakes (see what I did there). These welshcakes are insane. So buttery and delicious - and only 50p each! They do all different flavours and, oh man, are they good. 

Where to go for an evening stroll 

And finally, once you are full to the brim with welsh cakes and coffee and kofte kebab and whatever else I have pushed you in the direction of, I would recommend a stroll down to Cardiff Bay to have a little glass of something whilst you watch the sun set on the water. 

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