If you’re looking for quirky things to do in the Welsh capital, you’re in luck. There are plenty of unique ways to experience this lovely – and lively – city.2022 March 02
Cardiff may be known for its historical castles and epic sporting events (and rightly so!), but there’s lots to see and do off the beaten track. If you want to explore the city’s alternative side, read on; here are the best non-touristy things to do in the Welsh capital.
No trip to Cardiff is complete without a visit to its historic castle. But, if you’re looking for hidden gems in the city, make your way to the top of Bute Tower while you’re there to discover a serene and stunningly beautiful rooftop garden. Dating from around 1875, this tiled courtyard was built as a quiet retreat for Lord Bute, who had inherited the castle some years before. You can only access the rooftop garden by purchasing tickets for the guided tour, but it’s well worth it.
Castle St, Cardiff, CF10 3RB
Standing to the west entrance of Cardiff Castle you’ll find the famous Animal Wall. Designed in 1866 but not built until 1890, the wall is topped with 15 sculptures depicting different animals, including a bear, a wolf and a lioness. It’s a Grade I listed structure that’s loved by visitors and locals alike.
11 Castle St, Cardiff, CF10 1DN
Located close to the cultural hubs of Butetown and Cardiff Bay, DEPOT is a cavernous warehouse space that plays host to a range of events – and Bingo Lingo might just be one of DEPOT’s most popular. Put aside any preconceptions you have about the game before you arrive, because you’re in for something a little different. Expect big prizes, audience participation (warning: you might have to dance for your winnings!), great music and lots of laughs. It can get pretty busy, so you’re best off booking a ticket in advance. But, if you’re looking for a not-so-average night out, Bingo Lingo is a sound option.
Cardiff Williams Way, Curran Embankment, Cardiff, CF10 5DY
The Clink, a registered charity that aids prisoner rehabilitation and reduces reoffending, opened its Cardiff restaurant in 2012. Here, meals are cooked and served by prisoners from HMP Cardiff, and the staff are working to gain qualifications in catering and hospitality, thereby increasing their chances of employment on the outside. Offering a fine dining menu of hearty Euro-centric dishes, you’ll leave with a warm, fuzzy feeling and a full belly.
HMP Cardiff, Knox Rd, Cardiff, CF24 0UG
Castles are easy to come by in Wales. In fact, it has more castles per square mile than in any other country in Europe, with more than 400 castles still standing or in ruins. The Welsh capital is home to 3 castles: Cardiff Castle, Castle Coch and St Fagans.
The city’s eponymous castle is, unsurprisingly, its most famous. But, if you fancy soaking up some more history, Castle Coch and St Fagans are certainly worth a visit too.
Castle Coch (or the ‘Red Castle’) is a 19th-century castle that’s located just outside of the city, above the village of Tongwynlais. To get there from easyHotel Cardiff City Centre, you can get the train to Taffs Well; from here, it’s just a 5-minute walk. With its Gothic Revival architecture and forest location, Castle Coch looks like something straight out of a fairy tale – it’s definitely one of Cardiff’s most Instagrammable spots!
St Fagans is actually an Elizabethan manor house that’s built on the site of a Medieval castle. Located in a village of the same name, the castle’s fortifications remain, enclosing the Grade I listed mansion within its grounds. You can easily get to St Fagans and its famous castle from easyHotel Cardiff City Centre; it’s just over 30 minutes away by car or public transport. The site is now home to the St Fagans National Museum of History, an open-air museum chronicling the historical lives and culture of the people of Wales. There are over 40 re-erected buildings on the site, including a working blacksmith forge. Given its history, it’s no surprise that St Fagans is thought to be one of the UK’s most haunted museums; you can even book ghost tours here, if you’re feeling brave enough!
Castle Coch, Cardiff, CF15 7JS
St Fagans, Cardiff, CF5 6XB
The Dead Canary is an award-winning bar with an extensive and thoughtfully curated cocktail menu. With a 1920s speakeasy vibe, it’s a great place to go if you’re looking for a different kind of night out. Located in a Grade II listed building tucked away on Barrack Lane, it’s suitably unassuming – the only signage being a tell-tale canary cage at the entrance. Once inside, expect Jazz Age decadence; there’s a catalogue of retro tunes on tap and enough booze to sink a ship. And, during the weekend, there’s non-stop live music. So, if you’re up for a roaring good time during your visit to the Welsh capital, make your way to The Dead Canary. It's an extremely popular spot, so you should book a table in advance.
Barrack Lane, Cardiff, CF10 2FR
If you’re in need of some retail therapy during your trip to Cardiff, head to the Shipping Container Studios, located just 30 minutes from the city centre by car or public transport. Housed on former derelict sites, the two spaces – The Bone Yard and Bridge Studios – are made up of old shipping containers, repurposed as working studios and retail spaces for local artists, artisans, and small businesses. Though they’re separate sites, the two are less than 10 minutes from one another – and both are equally brilliant. You’ll find all sorts here, from handmade homeware to specialist skiwear (yes, really); there are also jewellery makers and plant stalls here, and countless street food vendors. So, make a day of it and discover Cardiff’s cool, creative scene.
The Bone Yard, Paper Mill Road, Cardiff, CF11 8DH
The Bridge Studios, Western Avenue, Cardiff, CF5 3BL
In such a historic city, it may or may not surprise you to learn that Cardiff is home to the oldest record shop in the world! Spillers Records, which you’ll find in the Morgan Quarter – a beautifully-preserved Victorian arcade, which alone is worth the visit – dates back to 1894. With an eclectic offering of vinyl and CDs spanning decades and genres, you don’t need to be a seasoned crate digger to enjoy browsing here. The space is also used for live gigs and events, so be sure to check out what’s on ahead of time if you want to make a night of it.
27 The Morgan Arcade, Cardiff, CF10 1AF
Whether you’re a history buff or want to find the latest cultural hotspots, there are plenty of interesting places to uncover in Cardiff. Book a stay at our city centre hotel and explore the more unique aspects of the Welsh capital.
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