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Travel guide to…Cardiff

Welcome to the capital of Wales, where ancient landmarks meet state-of-the-art architecture. From the 2,000 year old site of the majestic Cardiff Castle, to bustling shopping centres and a vibrant, fully modernised waterfront, Cardiff appeals to both history buffs and city slickers alike.

It also makes the ideal base for road trippers, acting as the gateway to Wales’ stunning southern coastline where sandy beaches, idyllic villages and mile upon mile of walking trails await. So whether you’re heading to the Welsh capital to take in the latest Six Nations rugby action, or simply looking for your next road trip adventure, our travel guide to Cardiff will keep you right. So book yourself a car hire and prepare to explore the land of the dragons…

Exploring the city centre

Image by Ben Salter
Image by Ben Salter

 

Cardiff Castle dominates the city’s skyline, ideally located within lush parklands which boast nearly 2,000 years of history. Take a tour of the Castle house and wartime shelters, and don’t forget to check out the remains of the Roman Wall, which forms a protective layer around the castle.

The city is also considered to be one of the best shopping destinations in the UK, with the St David’s Shopping Centre a particular highlight – offering a huge range of high street names in ultra-modern surroundings. You’ll also find several classic arcade-style retail locations, with Royal Arcade and the Queen’s Arcade home to everything from jewellers and fashion boutiques to chocolatiers and coffee shops.

If you’re travelling with kids, or fancy an adrenaline pumping activity with some friends, then head along to Cardiff International White Water for some pulsating action in the heart of the city. Based at the International Sports Village, you get the chance to try your hand at white water rafting thanks to a challenging canal system complete with rapids. Indoor surfing, river boarding and canoeing are also available. Great fun for those who don’t mind getting their hair (or just about every part of their body) wet!

Discover the Welsh coast

Image by Nigel's Europe & beyond
Image by Nigel’s Europe & beyond

 

Wales’ south western coast has long been a haven for holidaymakers thanks to its dramatic cliff drops, range of resorts, quaint fishing villages and mile upon mile of sandy beaches. And best of all; you need not venture far from Cardiff’s city limits to experience it.
Pick up your Cardiff car hire, follow the coastal route west and you’ll find yourself in the town of Penarth within a matter of minutes. Take a stroll along Penarth Pier and the beautiful esplanade or stop by one of the town’s many coffee bars for a spot of breakfast or lunch before continuing on your journey.

If you’ve got the whole day to spare then continue past Port Talbot and Swansea towards the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. Follow the route along the A477 for some spectacular views before reaching Broad Haven, a quiet town renowned for its stunning beachfront. Sandy beaches and dramatic cliff drops are the name of the game along this mesmerising coastal stretch, with towns such as Newport offering similar gems. Here you’ll also find the Newport Wetlands Reserve, a vast green space teeming with wildlife and featuring both footpaths and cycle tracks.

Brecon Beacons National Park

Image by David
Image by David

 

Rugged mountain landscapes, vast moorlands and charming villages; all within an hour’s drive of the city. Brecon Beacons National Park stretches across 500 square miles, with its narrow winding roads leading you to countless hiking trails and lookout points along the way.

Needless to say, it makes for a fairly spectacular drive as you begin the gradual climb into the mountain valleys. If you’re looking for a car to match the gorgeous scenery, then why not book a prestige car hire before you set off?

You’ll find beauty spots around every corner here, but due to the sheer size of the park it’s important not to be too ambitious – unless you plan on spending a good few days cruising the area. If you’re looking to make the most of precious time, make sure you visit the Blaenavon World Heritage Site, a wonderfully restored town featuring fascinating museums that provide a real insight into the area’s industrial past.

If you fancy a brisk walk with outstanding views, head to the Llangorse Lake area and follow the various trails into the hills where you’ll get a spectacular overview of the lake and beyond.

There’s no shortage of charming towns to visit along the way either, with Abergavenny a great place to stop for those taking the eastern route. Further north, in the Usk Valley, the market town of Brecon boasts some great pubs, restaurants and museums; perfect for an afternoon or overnight stopover.

Six Nations Rugby at Millennium Stadium

Image by Alessio Bragadini
Image by Alessio Bragadini

 

Wales take on Ireland in Six Nations rugby action on Saturday 14 March at Cardiff’s spectacular Millennium Stadium. Whether you’re cheering on the Red Dragons, backing the boys in green or simply a neutral looking to soak up the atmosphere, you’ve certainly come to the right place.

The 74,500 capacity Millennium Stadium is ideally located in the heart of the city, on the banks of the River Taff – just a stone’s throw from Cardiff Castle. This gives you plenty of time to wander round the city centre streets in the hours leading up to the game – no need to hop behind the wheel for this one!

Fancy a Welsh adventure? Check out similar posts for extra inspiration:

Autumn Drives
A Wild Welsh Adventure
12 places to see in 2014

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