What You Need To Know
Cardiff is a port city on the south coast of Wales, where the River Taff meets the Severn Estuary. It was proclaimed the country’s capital in 1955. The revitalized waterfront at Cardiff Bay includes the Wales Millennium Centre complex, home of the national opera, orchestra, theatre and dance companies. Architect Richard Rogers’ modern Senedd building here houses the Welsh National Assembly.
Cardiff offers a startling range of unique attractions, top class entertainment and quality shopping with a difference – all within walking distance. Innovative architecture sits alongside historic buildings and Cardiff Bay offers entertainment for everyone.
Although it had a reputation of being an industrial city, Cardiff has changed dramatically in recent decades. It is now a lively and modern capital city, gaining popularity with tourists interested in its history and in Welsh culture and is quickly becoming one of the United Kingdom’s tourism hot spots. Summer is by far the best time to visit as the city hosts large festivals with al fresco dining and drinking becoming ever more popular due to large areas of pedestrianisation. The city centre has seen huge development over the last decade and is now considered one of the top ten shopping destinations in the United Kingdom.
Cardiff is a very green city, having the most green space per person in the UK, and this is complemented by Bute Park which sits in the heart of the city. It has a reputation as a city of castles, having 5 different castles within its surroundings
Area: 2.568 mi²
- the official cardiff’s currency is pound sterling (£)
- One pound is comprised of 100 pence and coins can be obtained in 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p, £1 and £2 denominations. Bank notes are commonly divided into £5, £10, £20 and £50 amounts.
- When handling coins, be careful not to dismiss the small ones as unimportant—some small coins are worth much more than larger ones. For example, the one and two-pence coins are significantly larger than the five-pence coin, and the two-pence is even larger than the ten-pence. The pound coin is about the same size of a 1p coin, though it is at least a good deal chunkier – not for nothing are they occasionally referred to as “nuggets”
- Obtaining money in the UK is quite easy. ATMs (known locally as cashpoints) tend to cluster around stations and main shopping streets. Many of the large supermarkets should have a cashpoint on site – usually near the main entrance. These will give free withdrawals of cash from any bank account. Cash machines can also be found in some pubs and newsagents. Be careful if using these machines as they are not always free to use (you will be informed of any fees though) and you may be charged. In more rural areas, cash machines are rarer and tend to be located near supermarkets or at the odd bank – if it’s open. Many rural branches are facing closure and if this the case the machine may not be working. Post Offices can give you cash over the counter against a card, but some lightly used ones may refuse, simply because they haven’t got enough cash. Beware of cash machines inside shops and bars as these can charge around £1 per transaction (and in some cases as much as £3!). Note: All cash machines in the UK run on the LINK network, the LINK network accepts almost all credit card types (American Express, MasterCard, Visa, JCB, Discover, Diners Club, BC Card and China UnionPay). Most of these logos are not shown but the cards themselves are accepted.
If you are using your debit card and are accustomed to entering your PIN alphabetically, make sure that you also know its numeric equivalent. Most UK cashpoints have only a numeric keypad. You need to know that DAZED is really 32933 or the queue of people waiting for cash behind you will grow really impatient!
- Visa and Mastercard are also widely accepted, but be warned that there may be a 1% – 3% transaction fee, depending on the card issuer, on every transaction. Over the last few years, American Express has also become widely accepted but a few merchants (usually small shops) will either not accept it or add a surcharge. Rarely you may find American Express cards do not work at a merchant’s automated machine (A Pay@Pump for example) but do work at the merchant’s manned terminal. Diners Club and Discover are very rarely accepted. You will want to find out from your credit card company exactly what their fees are. It is also a good idea to let your bank and credit card company know you will be using the cards overseas so they do not suspect “unusual activity” and put a hold on your account.
Cardiff has a maritime climate, characterised by mild weather. It is cloudy, wet and windy, and like the rest of the United Kingdom highly unpredictable. The average temperatures in summer, June to August, range between 51°F (11°C) and 71°F (22°C). Average temperatures in winter, December to February, range between 35°F (2°C) and 47°F (8°C). Rain is possible at any time of year, but summer is generally the driest season, with October, November, December and January the wettest months. Snow is rare in Cardiff. Springtime (March to May) is a popular time to travel to Cardiff, with mild weather and plenty of flowers to enjoy, though sporadic rain and wind is always possible. Summer, between June and August, is by far the best time to visit Cardiff, as the weather is at its best and many of the city’s most popular events and festivals are held over this period.
Health and security
- In 2009 Cardiff became the first Welsh city to be awarded World Health Organization (WHO) Healthy City status, joining only 13 other cities in the United Kingdom.Achievement of the award is seen as an important step in ensuring Cardiff continues to develop as one of the best places to live in the country and provides a real opportunity for a range of agencies working across the city to improve the health and well being of local people and reduce health inequities.
- The city has the highest recoded crime rate in Wales at nearly 70 per cent higher than the average for Wales. This has fallen over the past seven years (with some fluctuations).For health and well being Cardiff is ranked the lowest authority in Wales. In first half of 2009, the proportion of people living in Cardiff and travelling to work by car, van or minibus was much lower, at 64%, than the all-Wales average of 80%. Cardiff has the lowest proportion of the local authorities in Wales and is an ‘outlier’ compared with the other Welsh authorities.The rate (per head of population) at which people were killed or seriously injured on roads was well below the Wales average with the second lowest rate in Wales.The percentage of people age three and over who spoke Welsh in Cardiff in 2008 was 19.3 per cent, which was one of the middle ranked local authorities. In sport, Cardiff has one of the highest percetages of people taking up regular activity.
- Just avoid the southern half of St Mary St after about 10pm
- Thousands of young people from all over South Wales (and further afield) come to Cardiff at the weekend to get drunk! If you want to avoid this, get away from the massive, crowded chain pubs around the Wood Street area
- You won’t need to ask for directions to the striking slate and steel structure of The Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay. It’s nicknamed The Armadillo due to its copper-coloured dome. The centre hosts a huge range of concerts and performances in one main theatre and two smaller halls. It also features a number of cafes and restaurants, with regular free events creating a vibrant atmosphere.