The Welsh capital has many interesting things to see, from antiquities to such modern pieces as Epstein's controversial carving, Christ in Majesty, at Llandaff Cathedral. If you're in Cardiff for only a short time, try to see the major sights described in this section.
Cardiff Bay's Inner Harbor
Allow 2 hours to visit this redeveloped area of the old dockland of Tiger Bay, lying about 2.5km (1 1/2 miles) south of the town center. The salty old sea dogs of yesteryear who used to hang out here between sails wouldn't recognize the place today. No longer tawdry, it bustles with shops, restaurants, pubs, and attractions.
In the 19th century, when the area was called Tiger Bay, it became notorious among sailors around the world. The setting for many a novel, Tiger Bay meant poverty, crime, and violence. Today, the panoramic view of the harbor is worth the visit alone, as are the scenic promenades along the bay and even a science center.
Drop in at the Cardiff Bay Visitor Centre, the Tube, Harbour Drive (tel. 029/2046-3833; http://cardiffbayvisitorcentre.co.uk), next to the Welsh Industrial and Maritime Museum, to pick up any information about the area. Information is free at the center, which is open Monday to Friday 9:30am to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am to 5pm.
Techniquest, Stuart Street (tel. 029/2047-5475; www.techniquest.org), Britain's leading science discovery center, is the chief attraction here. You can enjoy 160 hands-on exhibits, and visit both a Science Theatre and Planetarium. Some 100,000 people -- both young and old -- visit it annually. Admission is £6.90 for adults, £4.80 seniors or children ages 4 to 16 (free for children ages 3 and younger), or £20 for a family ticket. Techniquest is open Monday to Friday 9:30am to 4:30pm, Saturday and Sunday 10:30am to 5pm. Last admission is 45 minutes before closing.
Parks & Gardens
Cardiff has been called a city of parks, with some 1,092 hectares (2,700 acres) of well-designed parklands. Bute Park, in the heart of the city, spreads its green swath along the River Taff for the pleasure of residents and visitors.
Of special interest, Roath Park, Lake Road West (tel. 029/2068-4000; www.cardiff.gov.uk), is east of the city center, offering facilities for boating and fishing on its 13-hectare (32-acre) lake, as well as tennis courts and bowling greens. Rose and dahlia gardens, a subtropical greenhouse, a children's play area, and an island bird sanctuary add to the pleasures found here. The lighthouse clock tower in the lake is a memorial to Captain Scott. Admission is free, and it's open daily from 10:30am to 1pm and 2 to 4:30pm (bus: 32 or 62).
Close to 5km (3 miles) from Cardiff, Dyffryn Gardens, St. Nicholas (tel. 029/2059-3328; www.dyffryngardens.org.uk), stands in a secluded valley in the Vale of Glamorgan. This park of 20 hectares (50 acres) contains a landscaped botanical garden. Herbaceous borders, a rose garden, a rock garden, and the largest heather garden in Wales are found here, along with an extensive arboretum. Grass walks invite you for long, leisurely strolls through the grounds. A palm house, orchid house, cactus and succulent house, along with seasonal display houses of potted plants, are also on view. The gardens were restored to their original design, as conceived by Thomas Mawson in 1906. From November to February, admission is £3 for adults, £2 for seniors and students, and £1 for children. A family ticket costs £7. From March to October, admission is £6 for adults, £4 for seniors and students, £2 for children, with a family ticket going for £15. The gardens are open daily April to September 10am to 6pm, October 10am to 5pm, and November to April 10am to 4pm.
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.