Cardiff has been named the UK’s ‘best city’, beating the likes of London, Edinburgh and Manchester to the top spot.
Not only is the Welsh capital one of the friendliest places in the UK, but it’s also my favorite place to spend a weekend.
Although you would automatically assume that cities like Brighton, York and Edinburgh would come first, you would be wrong.
Instead, it recently crowned Conde Nast Traveler Cardiff as the best city in the United Kingdom.
The shortlisted cities were ranked based on factors such as nightlife, restaurants and friendliness.
The top ten cities included Brighton, Belfast, Liverpool and Glasgow.
While other cities may attract more tourists, the capital of Wales is just as fascinating.
It actually took the top spot thanks to its “exciting independent restaurants, buzzing bars and up-and-coming neighborhoods.”
I’ve lived in Cardiff for just over a year, and often return to the Welsh capital for weekends.
While Cardiff is home to popular high street chains such as Pizza Express and Wahaca, it’s the small, independent restaurants that really deserve attention.
Located on Westgate Street, Curado is a Spanish tapas bar and one of my favorite places to eat in the city, with its small plates starting from just £4.
Other independent restaurants include Potted Pig and Pen and Wig.
But if you’re looking for something a little cheaper, head to Cardiff Market.
The large market hall is located under a Victorian glass roof and spans two floors.
While you’ll find all the usual market stalls, be sure to pick up a fresh batch of Welsh cakes and some cheese from the Cheese Pantry.
The Welsh capital is also home to plenty of drinking spots too, including the UK’s first Tiny Rebel pub.
Other pubs I always visit include The Cambrian Tap and the City Arms.
And if you want to party late into the night, there are plenty of nightclubs to choose from, including Live Lounge, Clwb Ifor Bach (also known as the Welsh Club), Metros and Mary’s.
At the end of a long night out, head to Caroline Street, known locally as Chip Alley, where you’ll find fish and chip shops and takeaways galore.
Alternatively, head to Parc Lane Fish and Chips where you can buy deep-fried Oreos.
What are the things to do in Cardiff?
There’s plenty to do in the Welsh capital too.
One of the city’s main attractions is Cardiff Castle. The castle was built by Norman invaders on top of an ancient Roman fort.
An entrance ticket to the castle costs £14.50 per adult paying full fees.
There is also the Cardiff National Museum, a museum and art gallery that houses more than 500 paintings.
Other city center attractions include Cardiff Arcades.
The Lanes are narrow covered alleys that are home to some of Cardiff’s best independent shops, including the world’s oldest record store.
Away from the city centre, there’s also Cardiff Bay, where you’ll find the Senedd (Welsh Parliament).
Not only is the Senedd eye-catching from the outside, but holidaymakers can also book to visit the exhibitions inside Parliament House.
But a trip to Cardiff wouldn’t be complete without watching a rugby match.
While it may be difficult to get tickets to watch the Welsh national team, local team Cardiff Blues also play at Cardiff Arms Park and their matches are just as exciting.
If you’re lucky enough to watch one of the Welsh national teams in action, you’ll be impressed by the kindness of the locals – even if you’re supporting another team from the home nations.
Further still is Barry Island, which has a small sandy beach and entertainment centre.
The Welsh seaside resort became famous as a filming location for the hit TV show Gavin and Stacey.
Other attractions include walking to Garth and following one of the hiking trails.
What is there to do in Wales?
Fortunately, there are plenty of other amazing destinationsIncluding Kaldi Island.
Caldy Island is located off the coast of Tenby in Pembrokeshire, and is 1.5 miles (2.4 km) long and 1 mile (1.6 km) wide.
The island is owned by monks and is home to a large monastery.
There are only 40 permanent residents on the island, but that number increases when day-trippers flock to Caldey in the summer months.
Meanwhile, St Davids in Pembrokeshire is the smallest town in the UK and is home to some great beaches including White Sands Beach and Curvay Beach.
In North Wales, Colwyn Bay, in Denbighshire, has been called a hidden gem thanks to its golden sands and wide range of water sports.