Cardiff is a cosmopolitan capital city. It has plenty of impressive historic buildings to visit as well as handsome parks and gardens. The city offers a variety of restaurants and bars, excellent shopping and plenty of culture. It was listed in the top 10 places to visit in the world by National Geographic Traveler magazine in 2011.
Start at the white-stoned Civic Centre. Its impressive buildings are set in leafy parkland and wide avenues and include the National Museum Cardiff, which houses a remarkable collection of European paintings and sculptures. The Evolution of Wales exhibition takes you on a 4,600 million-year journey to find out how life has changed in Wales.
Two choices are open to you now. If you have the slightest interest in sport you have to head to the Principality Stadium (formerly Millennium Stadium) and take a tour of the 74,500 seater stadium. If not then you can indulge in some retail therapy instead. All the big high street names are here. But Cardiff knows how to stand out from the UK city crowd. You'll see how if you explore the Victorian Arcades. There are six in total, stuffed full of the quirky and unusual. Snug coffee shops sit next to esoteric club clothing boutiques and chic high end fashion stores. There's a shop that sells nothing but violins. And they’re next to a surf shop and a Welsh cheese shop. In the evening, take in a show at St David's Hall, the New Theatre or the Wales Millennium Centre. Explore the restaurants, bars, clubs and bistros.
Learn about Cardiff's history at The Cardiff Story museum in The Old Library, The Hayes. It's free entry and has art galleries, a learning suite, interactive exhibitions and other objects and stories that bring to life the history of the capital.
It's just a short journey to St Fagans on the outskirts of Cardiff. Here, you’ll travel back centuries when you visit the National History Museum with its reconstructed cottages, farmhouses, rural workshops, mill, chapel, village store and so on. There's plenty of options here for lunch – the Vale Restaurant, Café Bardi and the Gwalia Tea Rooms, a traditional 1930s tea room serving light lunches and afternoon teas.
After lunch, visit Castell Coch, a fairytale castle peeping out of the trees north of the city. Part of the Marquis of Bute's legacy to the city, Castell Coch is the whimsical brainchild of architect William Burges. Take a look at Lady Bute's tower bedroom. It comes with a fabulously painted double dome featuring twenty eight frolicking monkeys – quite risqué in its day.
Start your day at Cardiff Castle. It's like a big calm cube right in the city centre. Originally a Roman fort, it's now a mixture of buildings from all eras. Ultimately, it was the Marquis of Bute again, one of the richest men on the globe, who transformed Cardiff Castle into the mock gothic extravaganza we have now.
Continue to Cardiff Bay and take a boat tour from Mermaid Quay, enjoy the shops and restaurants, take a tour of the Senedd - the Welsh Assembly Government's eco-friendly debating chamber, or just have a Cadwalader’s ice cream.
Or why not visit The Doctor Who Experience, the first ever interactive Doctor Who exhibition that invites visitors to star in their very own Doctor Who adventure.
You can also choose to take a guided walking tour of the city, developed by an offical Blue Badge Guide. The tour takes around two hours and starts from Castle Welsh Crafts, opposite Cardiff Castle. It costs £7 per person with a group discount available.