10 reasons why I fell in love with Cardiff


Cardiff’s beautiful city City Hall – topped by a Welsh dragon on the dome

This month marks the 10-year anniversary of my relationship with Cardiff and Wales – as it’s exactly 10 years ago that I first stepped off the train at Cardiff Central Station, to discover a city and a country that since then has grown into one of my favourite places in the world, which you can read about here.

But check the list below to find out why I fell in love with Cardiff in the first place…


The Hayes has been developed into a great city space since I first “met” Cardiff

1. Because it’s underrated

I have always been prone to love the underdog – and for me Cardiff was almost completely unknown among the European capitals when I took the decision to move abroad for a few months back in 2007 – just to try something different. I could have gone for classics like London, Berlin or Paris but was drawn to something new that I could discover on my own, and I have never regretted that decision. An underdog has great potential – and Cardiff has grown a lot during the last 10 years.


Cardiff Bay is one of the highlights of the Welsh capital

2. Its bay

Cardiff Bay was one of the few things I had seen photos of before I decided to go, and I wasn’t disappointed when I finally stood there at the water’s edge surrounded by world class architecture. Water means a lot to any city, whether it’s a river, a bay or the open ocean, and Cardiff kind of has it all. The story of the Bay’s transformation from abandoned harbour to a lively city-space and tourist magnet is truly admireable. A wonderful place to have a walk or just to hang out on a sunny day.



Bute Park with Cardiff Castle peeking through the trees

3. Its green spaces

I love green cities and Cardiff is greener than most, with several major parks as well as a long list of recreational areas and lovely gardens. You won’t miss space to chill out with a good book or a picnic on a summer’s day around here. My favourite is the multifunctional Roath Park, as well as the lovely Bute Park behind Cardiff Castle – the Welsh capital’s “Central Park”.


The lively St. Mary Street – the backbone for the nightlife in Cardiff

4. Its walkability

I prefer to walk than to take public transport if I can avoid it, and what I quickly realised about Cardiff was how walkable it is. A big city but still very compact, making it easy to get from A to B on your own feet. And the Victorian arcades in downtown serve as atmospheric and rainproof shortcuts from time to time. Even the bay can quite easily be reached on foot, although it’s separated from the city center. I have probably walked more kilometers in Cardiff than in any other city abroad.


Castle Arcade is a place you shouldn’t miss when you visit Cardiff

5. Its arcades

Speaking of Victorian arcades, these are some of the greatest features in the heart of Cardiff, offering the most atmospheric and unique shopping experience in town. I love to browse the many independent shops and drop by for coffee in cozy cafés like Barker or Uncommon Ground. And the architecture of most of these arcades is an attraction in itself.


The iconic Principality Stadium – set on the banks of the river Taff

6. Its contrasts

One thing that makes Cardiff really exciting to explore – and live in, is the city’s many colourful contrasts. Contrasts between historic arcades and modern shopping centers, between cityscapes and landscapes, between castles and contemporary architecture – and not at least between traditions and evolution. You get a bit of everything in the Welsh capital.


Welsh rugby fans sporting big symbols of Wales: Dragon, leek and daffodil

7. Its passion

I love the passion of Cardiff, well… of Wales in general. A contagious pride for being Welsh and everything that comes with it. From supporting the country’s underdog football team to celebrating the victories of their rugby heroes. You will feel the passion and pride in the capital, and not at least on big game days where the pubs are brimful of beating dragon hearts.



“Ball in the Wall” at Cardiff Castle became popular during the Rugby World Cup

8. Its energy

Back to the contrast between tradition and evolution – Cardiff simply has a great energy and many things happen here. From events at the bay to festivals in Bute Park and sporting highlights at Principality Stadium – like the Rugby World Cup, Olympic football and this year’s Champions League final in June. Simply impressive for a city that often feels “bigger than its body”.


Locals enjoy a summers day at the lake in Roath Park

9. Its people and local feel

People are generally very polite and friendly in Wales and one thing I quickly noticed is the nice custom of thanking the busdriver with a “cheers drive” when leaving the bus. Cardiffians and the Welsh people are lovely and rightfully proud of their city and their beautiful country. Just look at how the Welsh fans took everyone by storm at last summers European football championships in France. The friendliness also adds to an atmosphere that often feels more local in Cardff than in most European capitals – in a good way.


Caerphilly Castle can be reached in just 20 minutes by train from Cardiff

10. Its country

It’s impossible to stay in Cardiff for an extended period and not be drawn to the country surrounding the capital, which opens up its stunning landscapes just outside the city. From the rolling Breacon Beacons just north of Cardiff, to the wild coastline of Pembrokeshire further out west – the rest of wonderful Wales is easily accessible from here.

FIND MORE articles about Cardiff and Wales HERE

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By Brian Schæfer Dreyer