Some of the best family attractions to visit in and around Cardiff
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There are so many things to do in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan, but here are the top 10.
Thanks to the generosity of wealthy spinster sisters, Gwendoline and Margaret Davies, who reputedly inherited £500,000 each – a fabulous figure in 1908 – the National Museum and Gallery of Wales houses a fine collection of Impressionist paintings. Works the sisters donated to the gallery include Renoir’s tender portrait of the girl in blue, La Parisienne; three of Monet’s Waterlilies series; along with magnificent pieces by Pissarro, Manet, Sisley, Morisot, Degas, Cezanne, and Van Gogh.
Take the kids to Techniquest, the UK’s most visited science discovery centre, that has been bringing the joys of the scientific world to a wider audience for more than 30 years. If you’d like to fire a rocket, watch a bubble race, check yourself out in a distorting mirror, or test your reaction times, then this is the place for you. Adults find the place as engrossing as the kids do.
While you’re there, visit the Senedd, the seat of Welsh democracy. Wales narrowly voted for devolution in September 1997 – following which, then First Minister, Rhodri Morgan, aimed to put “clear red water” between Wales and Westminster. The Senedd building, designed by Richard Rogers (mastermind of the iconoclastic Pompidou Centre in Paris), was the first step on that journey.
Catch a boat trip from Bute Park, the former private gardens of Cardiff Castle, down the river Taff to Cardiff Bay – it’s the most relaxing and entertaining way of linking the city centre with the waterfront. Boats ply the river on the hour.
Book a concert at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama’s dazzling auditorium. The acoustics are perfect for classical music, as well as the quirkier sounds of acts such as the Penguin Cafe Orchestra and Camille O’Sullivan. The cafe/bar and terrace overlooking the park are great for a glass of wine or espresso, and a relaxed chat.
Indulge in some fabulous Welsh produce at the farmers’ markets in the Vale of Glamorgan towns of Cowbridge and Penarth, and at Cardiff’s Riverside market. Chill out over a fragrant cup of Fairtrade coffee, cakes and chocolates, or take some home-made goodies back with you as a memento.
Or you could cycle, off-road, to Llandaff Cathedral and see Jacob Epstein’s famous Christ in Majesty, a moving statue of the tortured Christ on the cross. The attractive Llandaff village also has a green surrounded by handsome stone houses, atmospheric ruins, cafes, pubs, restaurants and shops, to add a lighter note to the jaunt.
Dyffryn Gardens in the Vale of Glamorgan, recently purchased by the National Trust, is a magnificent 55-acre Edwardian garden with an arboretum full of beautiful mature trees; a lovely Italianate terrace; formal lawns, waterways and fountains. There’s also a splendid mansion presiding over the lawns, which is slowly being restored to its former majesty.
Hire a bike from Pedal Power in Pontcanna and take a spin along the Taff Trail. If you are bursting with energy, you can pedal all the way to the market town of Brecon in the heart of the beautiful Brecon Beacons National Park – a one-way journey of 55 miles.
Book a ticket for a performance by Welsh National Opera. The production of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger drew fans from as far away as America, and the star of the show, Bryn Terfel, drew a standing ovation. Productions of Donizetti’s Anna Bolena, Verdi’s Nabucco, and Handel’s beautiful Orlando were also hugely well-received. A hefty donation from the Getty Foundation ensures that WNO’s programme will continue to dazzle.
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