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Weekend in Cardiff without a car

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Washington DC...
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Weekend in Cardiff without a car

My husband and I have made a last minute decision to spend next weekend in Cardiff. We'll be taking the train in and staying at the Marriott which looks very central. We've been doing a bit of research and we think we're good to go with a few attractions, but I have a couple of questions.

Will we have any trouble getting around on foot and public transportaion? From the reports I've read, it looks pretty easy, but first hand reports will be helpful

Any restaurant/pub/bar recommendations? We have pretty wide tastes, but are always on the lookout for something good or unusual.

Are shops really all closed on the weekends? Frommers makes it sound like they're only open during the week!

Thanks for your help!

Hampshire, United...
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1. Re: Weekend in Cardiff without a car

Where's Jim when you need him?!

Which places had you in mind to visit? You may well get exact routes and train/bus times etc. from Jim and Purpleceltic

We ended up at Pizza Express when we went to Cardiff (that's kids for you) - hardly exciting, but if it's a lovely evening, I do recommend looking at the restaurants along Mermaid Quay, and the boardwalk. Having dinner overlooking the water does make it special. They had all sorts from American diners to Turkish BBQ, Spanish and Chinese..

Shops closed at the weekends? Ha, ha, ha! That Frommers is such a kidder! Same as anywhere else, I should imagine. We were there on a Sunday afternoon, although it occurs to me the bits we saw were the restaurants, the Dr Who Exhibition (open until 8pm) and the rest of the restaurants, cinema and bowling in the Red Dragon Centre.

Seattle
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2. Re: Weekend in Cardiff without a car

RedSavage: I've never had any problem seeing the sights in Cardiff. I just walked everywhere. But here's the bus website in case you'd rather go that route: http://www.cardiffbus.com/

If you're into castles, you can visit Caerphilly via a 20 minute train ride.

Cardiff, Wales
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3. Re: Weekend in Cardiff without a car

Hi RedSavage

For a weekend visit you will have no problem packing in a good number of sites on foot and by public transport. The Marriott Hotel is a few minutes walk from the station. It is a large hotel (about 12 storeys?)so the upper floors will have some good views either north towards the castle/civic buildings or south to the Bay (hope you manage to get an upper floor - why don't you give them a ring to see if you can reserve one - although it may be a different room rate).

Before talking about the sites one word of warning - there is some building work going on around the Marriott at the moment - a new car park is being built for the hotel and practically all the other buildings around it - apart from the old ones - are in the process of being demolished as part of the St Davids 2 project. This should not affect the actual hotel at all - it's just that you may gulp at your first impression. Don't let it put you off though.

The Cardiff Visitor Centre is about 2 minutes walk from the Marriott, in the Hayes (the distinctive old library building) There are people there to help as well as lots of guides on things to see.

If you are interested in castles you can do both Cardiff Castle and Castell Coch. Cardiff castle is a few minutes walk from your hotel. From there you can get a bus to Castell Coch. As you walk out of the front gates of Cardiff castle go left and the 26A bus (run by Stagecoach, not Cardiff Bus) stops just around the left hand corner from Cardiff castle by the subway. It will take you all the way to the gates of Castell Coch. I'm not sure whether or not you need exact change on the Stagecoach buses.

St Fagans museum (highly recommended) can be reached by the number 32 bus leaving from gate B3 in the central bus station (again the visitor centre will give you the timetables).

The Bay is easy to get to by the blue bendy bus (the Baycar) which can be seen around the city centre at various stops about every 15 minutes throughout the day. The shuttle train also leaves for the bay from Queen Street station every 15 minutes (less frequent on a Sunday)The other thing you can do is have a citysightseeing tour - it leaves from outside the castle and does the city centre and the bay.

As far as eating is concerned in the city centre the brewery quarter is a few steps from the hotel, off Caroline Street. There are good bars and restaurants there, but it gets busy at weekends. The steaks and fish at Le Monde and Brasserie (bottom end of St Mary Street are excellent).

The Armless Dragon serves excellent Welsh food - it is a little out of the city centre, in Cathays, but is worth the walk / taxi ride.

Here is the website:

http://www.armlessdragon.co.uk/

At lunchtime you might want to try the Celtic Cauldron opposite the castle - it also has a good range of Welsh food but isn't open in the evenings - I haven't eaten there for a few years though so I can't vouch for whether it is as good now as when I last went there.

There are a large number of Chinese and Indian restaurants in Cowbridge Road, Canton (named after the saint Canna, not the place in China!), just over the bridge from the castle. There are also good restaurants and bistros in Pontcanna Street and Romilly Crescent. Le Gallois is the most well known - sort of Franco-Welsh menu - although some find it a bit pretentious but it is good quality. That area has some nice pubs as well - not too raucous and some are very popular with the Welsh speaking Cardiffians - Y Mochyn Du (Sophia Close), Cayo Arms, The Beverley, and The Halfway (all in Cathedral Road).

The bay area bars and restaurants are lively on a nice day/evening with everyone dining al fresco by the waterfront. I've had excellent food at the Pearl of the Orient and Ba Orient. The Terra Nova is a good place for a drink as it has three storeys with balconies - don't eat there though - the quality of the food has taken a sharp downturn recently.

As far as shops - all shops are open on Saturday, and many are open on Sunday. However, make sure you catch the indoor market and the Victorian arcades on Saturday when they will be open - the arcades are full of small independent shops and cafes etc and very few of those will be open on Sunday - they are also quaintly lit and designed and make for an enjoyable wandder.

Phew - I think that's many things covered - but don't hesitate to ask if you have any more questions

Cardiff, Wales
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4. Re: Weekend in Cardiff without a car

....forgot one thing - don't forget to post feedback on your trip!

Sacramento...
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5. Re: Weekend in Cardiff without a car

OOOOHHH, I have taken notes for our trip, we think we will be in Cardiff around Sept. 22nd or so and this will help us firm up some of our ideas!

Thanks for the info!

Milovany =)

Cardiff, Wales
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6. Re: Weekend in Cardiff without a car

One thing Milovany - Castell Coch will be closed from 9 September for a month for essential work on its roof. Also - I should add that the arcades and indoor market are open Mon-Fri as well as Saturday!

Washington DC...
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7. Re: Weekend in Cardiff without a car

Thanks to everyone for the info, especially Jim! I'll be sure to do a trip report when we get back.

I'm hoping for an upper floor at the Marriott. I'm a Rewards member and a high floor is one of my preferences so maybe that will help!

London
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8. Re: Weekend in Cardiff without a car

One thing worth pointing out is that Saturday 2nd is Gay Pride day in Cardiff.

This will mean that the area around the Marriott is likely to be VERY lively on Saturday evening as it's next door to two of Cardiff's leading gay bars, which usually spill out on this party day. So a room on a high floor is definitely preferable if you're not a party animal.

Secondly, as part of the Gay Pride day there's a free event (music stage/carnival/amusements) in Coopers Field, adjacent to the castle. It's usually a really popular day out with both gay and straight there in abundance - 40,000 plus expected over the day.

Cardiff, Wales
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9. Re: Weekend in Cardiff without a car

Yikes - and there I was thinking the Mardi Gras was the following weekend - oh there we are, on the slippery slope now.

Seriously though the Mardi Gras shouldn't get in the way of your weekend and should even add a bit of additional colour - it's a lively but friendly event, this year they are even including a car show which they are calling 'Top Gayer' - I wonder if Jeremy Clarkson will be making an appearance - somehow I don't think so!

Wales
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10. Re: Weekend in Cardiff without a car

ANd you can check out more at www.visitcardiff.com www.cardiff.gov.uk and www.visitcardiffbay.info.

I'm sure you'll have a fab time.