Whether you're looking for gifts to take home, hunting for souvenirs, or just browsing, you'll like the shops of Cardiff. They are many and varied, ranging from a multiplicity of offerings in a modern shopping precinct, St. David's Centre -- a stone's throw from the castle -- to the stalls of a covered market.
The main shopping streets are St. Mary, High, Castle, Duke, and Queen streets, plus the Hayes. Most of this area has been made into a pedestrian mall, with trees, shrubs, and gracious Edwardian arcades. These arcades, a dozen in all, are the most famous shopping precincts in all of Wales. The best known is the Castle Arcade, constructed in 1887. The interior has a fascinating first-floor wooden gallery with a wooden second floor overhanging it. Dating from 1858, the Royal Arcade is the oldest of the city's shopping arcades. Look for the original Victorian storefronts at nos. 29, 30, and 32. The Morgan Arcade, from 1896, is the best preserved. Note the first-floor Venetian windows and the original slender wooden storefronts such as nos. 23 and 24. All in all, the arcades stretch to a length of 797m (2,655 ft.) in the city.
In St. David's Shopping Centre is a branch of Marks & Spencer, 72 Queen St. (tel. 029/2037-8211; www.marksandspencer.com), one of the country's oldest branches of a major chain store, offering clothing with emphasis on British-made goods. A food section contains a range of high-quality specialty items. This is the anchor store in the enclosed center, which has shops opening off wide walkways. You can get to St. David's by bus no. 2, 3, 7, 8, or 9. Shops are usually open Monday to Saturday 8:30am to 6:30pm (Thurs until 9pm).
The best Welsh craft shop in the center is Castle Welsh Crafts, 1 Castle St. (tel. 029/2034-3038), opposite the castle entrance. Shipping service is available, and VAT-refund forms are available for overseas visitors.
Markets are held at several sites. The Central Indoor Market, on St. Mary Street, is open Monday to Saturday. The Outdoor Fruit and Vegetable Market, St. David Street and Mary Ann Street, is open Monday to Saturday. On Bessemer Road, an open-air market is held on Sunday morning.
For a novel shopping jaunt, visit Jacob Antique Centre, West Canal Wharf (tel. 029/2039-0939), to see what's for sale from Grandmother Welsh's attic. Perhaps a Victorian fireplace, 19th-century jewelry, antique brass or hardware, pocket watches, and certainly furnishings mainly from Victoria's heyday. You can get there on bus no. 2 or 3.
Close to St. David's Centre, Capitol Shopping Centre, along Queen Street, is another place to shop for bargains or special gifts. In the complex is one of Britain's best men's stores, Austin Reed, Unit 4, Capitol Shopping Centre (tel. 029/2022-8357). You can get there on bus no. 70, 78, 80, or 82.
At the Martin Tinney Gallery, 18 St. Andrews Crescent (tel. 029/2064-1411; www.artwales.com), a short distance from the Cardiff rail station, you'll find the region's best commercial galleries. Finally, Craft in the Bay, the Flourish, Lloyd George Avenue (tel. 029/2048-4611), features the largest selection of handmade quality crafts in Wales -- baskets, pottery, jewelry, handcrafted furniture, ceramics, and the like.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.